Accountants are indispensable to all businesses, irrespective of their scope, scale or preference. Quite similar to the engagement of lawyers, businesses attempt their very best to itemize and tabulate their expenses independently. But soon after a few months of operation, consulting accounting experts turns essential for organizations. Hence, most proficient accountants are initially able to engage clients through referrals and associations. However, when it comes to expansion and finding newer leads, traditional, service-oriented business like accounting firms face major hurdles.
This is due to the fact that, even though most businesses and high-earning individuals need accountants, they plan to employ their services in the case of a predicament or when the logistics get too complicated to be dealt individually. In these cases, accountants need to reach the businesses where they are and at the opportune moment that they need them.
Traditional marketing methods usually fall short in these scenarios as customers no longer rely solely on referrals or word-of-mouth to find accounting professionals. According to the Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by Bright Local, over 96% of individuals referred to online reviews on different feedback forums and social media sites prior to contacting a business. The study also found that on an average a consumer reads at least 7 reviews before selecting or consulting a business.
These statistics are clearly reflective of the fact that potential clients no longer depend entirely on traditional methods of research to find and consult professionals, especially in terms of local experts. For service-based businesses like accounting which can be highly localized to a particular region or city, this alteration is particularly relevant.
Additionally, accounting is a niche service with over 71% of its revenue generation dependant on employment by other businesses. Hence, in order to attract newer leads and clients, accountants not only need to reach the customers where they are but also ensure that they do this in a manner that doesn’t dissolute or compromise the exclusivity of their services. So, how can accountants achieve that? Is internet marketing a good option for accounting firms? Read on.
How does SEO work?
One expedient internet marketing strategy which is ideally suited to accounting firms is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Whether you are well-versed with the different forms of digital marketing or are a beginner who has just initiated its implementation for their services, you must have heard the echoes of this term throughout your journey of online marketing. But, what is SEO and how does it benefit your business?
Search Engine Optimization as the acronym suggests is the process of optimizing your website for search engines. Stated simply, it is the task of making your website more attractive to different search engines on the web, most prominently, Google, Yahoo and Bing. So, how can you make your website more engaging for Google and why does your accounting service need to do that?
I’ll begin with the answer to the latter question, which is actually quite simple. You need to optimize your website for Google or Bing because a significant section of your potential customers is available at these portals. The search frequencies for the terms, ‘accountants’ and ‘bookkeeping services’ range from 10,000 to 100,000 times per month on Google.
This is a brief estimation of the immense popularity and vitality that these search portals have among users. By streamlining your website and making it more accessible for search engines to understand, your business can be made visible to this wide and varied audience.
Now that we have visited the importance of being visible on search engines, I will address our first question – how can you make your website more engaging for Google? The answer to this question is as complicated as it is simple. The solution is establishing a healthy, barter relationship. Search engines aim to provide the best results feasible to their users. Hence, they tend to rank websites that are inclusive of relevant, interesting and authentic content higher. Simultaneously, websites aim to attract audiences that are searching for queries that analogous to their services directly in order to convert potential leads into viable clients. Hence, they populate their website with content which is genuinely useful to their target readers. The closer the alignment of this content is with the search queries that people are looking for, the sooner and higher your website gets ranked.
So, is good content all you need to include to rank your website on Google? Yes and no. While good content is absolutely imperative, there are several other tactics to keep in mind. This is because the internet database is populated with over a billion websites. You need more than apposite content to mark your website as useful to Google and Bing.
To find better content, search engines send out robots also known as ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’ that identify and analyze every piece of content available on the World Wide Web. These spiders then classify the data collated in different categories, labeling and assigning them a rank. This process is known as indexation. While the algorithm for indexation is quite complex and transient, there are certain factors that can help in streamlining your website’s SEO. So, what are these factors? Let’s find out:
Pointers for accountants to ameliorate their SEO
A reliable adage that you should keep in mind while determining the SEO strategy for your business is that you should always try to position your website as a resource that assists readers rather than a portal that benefits your business. Though this goal may not directly align with your marketing objectives, this approach to SEO and internet marketing wields long-term benefits for your website as well as brand reputation. Since specialized professionals such as accountants need to be especially cautious about their credibility, they need to establish a brand presence which is reliable as well as practiced. Your SEO strategy should be reflective of the same. Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind:
There’s no substitute for quality content
Phrases like ‘content is the king’, ‘good content wins the day’, and ‘content is the only thing that sells’ are used so frequently that they have almost become trite and cliché. However, things become cliché for a reason. So, as banal as it sounds, when it comes to an effective SEO strategy, quality content is the key. The content for your website needs to be pertinent, topical, genuine and cogent. Regularly update your website with content on topics that are relevant to the industry and the economy. Keep the tone relatable and the information clear. Include statistics and data which are actually beneficial to your audiences and help them find a comprehensive answer to their query.
Upscale industries like accounting also suffer from the stigma of incomprehension and monotony. Hence, accountants need to be especially careful to ensure that the content used for their website is easy to comprehend but also credible.
Examples of content topics which are useful yet easy to understand
Examples of content topics which are useful yet easy to understand
Additionally, since the expanse of accounting and bookkeeping is so vast and varied, a good way to underscore your content as specialized and useful is by focusing on the specific services that your organization provides or excels in. Instead of including content from all verticals of the finance sector, write about the services that you specialize in. Provide in-depth and engaging insights into these specialties to rank better for your services. Other content pointers that improve your SEO include:
Establish your website’s authority by writing frequently and on definite topics.
2.Procure multiple inbound links
Inbound links are connecting hyperlinks that are used by other content portals to lead back to your website pages. Getting inbound links is not easy and it’s not immediate. But, it is essential as multiple inbound links from reputed sources mark your website as a more authentic resource for users. This works in a way similar to traditional word-of-mouth marketing. Just as good recommendations from genuine users enhances the credibility of a business, inbound links from different websites make your portal more dependable to search engines. Inbound links imply that your content is shareable and useful to other websites, making it valuable for potential customers as well. This enhances your search engine rank considerably.
A direct route to good inbound links is through original and innovative content. If your website is populated with content which is individualistic and unique, other sources are bound to hyperlink it, giving your SEO an organic boost. Additionally, inbound links from reputed portals such as news outlets, educational institutions or a research publications are considered more reliable by search engines and can be a lot better for your SEO than multiple hyperlinks from not so credible websites.
There are several other methods beyond content that can aid your website in getting effective inbound links. However, it is important to keep in mind that search engines are continually evolving their protocols for rooting out fake or redundant inbound links. Hence, it is recommended not to pay for outside links that do not have any correlation to your services.
3. Streamline your website
Navigation and loading speed are vital factors that can affect your search engine rank substantially. Furthermore, premium services like accounting are upmarket and acutely requisite. Most individuals and businesses searching for your services need them urgently. Hence, it is important to make sure your website is accessible as well as easy to navigate.
Ideally, your accounting website should be quick to load, convenient to traverse and aesthetically engaging. The website also must have a design which aligns directly with your brand objectives. Each of these factors can be implemented by making little but precise changes to your site design and content such as the use of secure protocols, coarcted images and on-page elements and, upgrading your hosting service and optimizing your server response time are a few factors that can shorten the loading time for your website considerably.
Another factor to consider while streamlining your website is the announcement Google’s mobile-first indexation policy. Post the implementation of this plan, indexation of websites which are only optimized for desktop will be impeded. Hence, in order to remain accessible to potential clients online, it is essential for accountants to ensure that their website is mobile compatible.
Other website pointers that benefit your SEO include:
Lack of duplicate content
Lack of error pages
Placement of navigation terms that are inclusive of commonly searched keywords.
5. List your services
Irrespective of the type and scope of your services, it is necessary to catalog your business on different consumer review sites such as Yelp, Better Business Bureau and Google reviews, social media platforms and limited search engines. Even though customers rely greatly on Google and Bing to find professionals, they also evaluate the reviews available on these consumer platforms to gauge the accessibility and validity of the services. This is especially important for specialized services such as accounting which can be localized to a region. Listing your firm on local business directories such as Yellow Pages CA, Hotfrog CA and Can Pages CA is also beneficial for your website’s search engine rank.
It is also recommended to register your business on Google’s business listing website – Google My Business. Creating profiles on social media platforms like Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn also increases the visibility of your business and provides potential clients essential contact information such as your address, number and office timings directly, with a simple search. It also enables the search engines to view your business as more credible, improving your website’s SEO.
6.Include eminent call-to-actions and contact forms
The call to action on your website in the form of contact forms, chat boxes and pop-up menus should be notable, evident and easy to access. Do not include intricate procedural steps in your contact form before enabling conversation with the customer representatives. Keep the mandatory information that needs to be completed to request an appointment minimum and easy to provide. Ensure the cell-phone compatibility of the pop-up menus and chat boxes on your website.
Finding newer leads and potential clients for premier services such as accounting can be difficult, especially with the use of traditional marketing. However, a carefully designed and smartly executed SEO strategy enables accountants access to viable leads at the very opportune time that they need them and also establishes their reputation as a credible and experienced organization. For more insights into the execution of an efficient SEO strategy for your business, drop a comment in the section below, and I’ll get back to you at the earliest.
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Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing – Canada’s fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500’s and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company’s customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they’re most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.