There are steps accountants and tax professionals can take to optimize how clients find them on the web and increase the visibility of their service offerings
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the science of optimizing a website to increase its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages. Unlike traditional digital marketing that involves actively reaching out to potential customers and usually interrupting their days, SEO targets users who are already searching for your products or services, making it a highly focused and cost-effective outreach strategy.
There are two main types of SEO that accountants can use: Organic SEO, which improves overall website visibility; and Local SEO, which is aimed at enhancing visibility in localized searches, making it ideal for location-based businesses.
Here’s what those two types look like in practice:
How we optimize for each SEO type is different, but they do influence each other. Having a well-optimized website gives us a better chance of appearing in the local results, but it doesn’t guarantee it. The same with having a well-optimized Google Business Profile, which can help us appear in organic searches.
You may be familiar with the basics of SEO, but a deeper dive can help you master your accounting firm’s SEO strategy.
Foundations of an effective SEO strategy
A few fundamentals make up the basis of a good SEO strategy for accountants, including having a technically sound website, making sure your content matches the intent, and adding backlinks that increase your website’s overall authority.
- Creating a technically sound website — A technically optimized website ensures that search engines like Google can easily navigate and understand your content. This means you need an organized structure, a relevant URL, fast load page times, and proper implementation of meta titles and headers.
- Using relevant and high-quality content — It is essential to put together content that matches the intent of your target audience’s queries.
- Leveraging backlinks — Backlinks are where other websites provide external links in their content that link to your website. You can increase the traffic to your content with quality backlinks from relevant and reputable sources. Not all backlinks are created equal, however, and there are some types of backlinks you may want to avoid.
- Establishing a Google Business Profile — This is only really important if you want to target potential customers in your local area; however, a fully filled-out and optimized Google Business Profile will massively help your efforts.
Strategic keyword research for accountants
When posting content on your website, you want to make sure you’re targeting the terms and pieces of content for which people are searching. For example, if people are looking for tax returns, and you offer that service, it makes sense to write content for that. This section is all about finding out for which subjects and terms people are already searching.
We do this through keyword research. If you’re new to doing SEO, it will take some time to get used to for what you can and can’t rank. Not all keywords are within our reach, and we need to take into consideration the competitiveness of the space. If you’re starting from scratch (in terms of website authority) your best bet is to target terms with a location modifier — for example, Los Angeles accountants.
How can we find those terms and keywords that people are looking for? We have a few options — some paid and some free. Some examples of paid options include Ahrefs, Semrush, or Keyword Insights, which is a cheaper alternative. Any of these will give you enough data to put together a list of all the pieces of content you need to create.
A free alternative is to use Google’s auto-suggest feature. You won’t get the search metrics behind the keywords, but you will get a good idea of what people are searching for. To use Google’s auto-suggest feature you just need to start typing what you believe people are searching for and it will suggest options.
Matching your content with user intent
Next, you will need to ensure that all content posted on your website matches the intent of your target audience’s queries. This all comes down to looking for the type of content that is already ranking well — a tactic that is often overlooked.
For example, you won’t want to rank a service page for one of your accounting services if you find that most of your audience is seeking answers to a specific question. You need to ensure you’re meeting your audience’s specific needs, and that’s when the traffic will flow in.
When looking for general accounting terms you likely will come across directories. While you shouldn’t be building a directory to match the intent, you should absolutely get a listing on them.
Optimizing your content to the fullest
Search engines like Google can be incredibly strict regarding SEO, so you want to ensure you’re optimizing your content without going overboard. You ideally want to get your main keywords scattered throughout the content naturally a few times.
It is really important to make sure you don’t over-optimize your page when doing this, if you’re keyword stuffing (putting in your keywords unnaturally to improve SEO) then you’re more likely to get a penalty than a ranking boost. Always lean on the site of sounding natural rather than risk being over-optimized.
In fact, a good way to check this is to see how often your competitors are using the same main terms.
Building backlinks to your accounting website
We’ve already briefly mentioned how backlinks are a great way to enhance the SEO for your website, but how do you get other websites to link to you? You need to be smart when doing this, and you should start by reaching out to those websites at which customers are already looking for accountants, such as business directories.
When doing this, it is always a good idea to ask yourself if you’d want this link even if search engines weren’t around. If your answer is no, you should probably avoid this backlink because it might cause more damage than good.
Ranking on Google Map Pack
Perhaps the most valuable real estate on Google’s first page, the map pack:
Having a well-optimized website will make this process a lot easier, as they do influence each other. Here you’re reliant more on location, customer reviews, and general optimization. You should be filling out your Google Business Profile completely, including all the services that you offer.
The biggest mistake businesses make when it comes to their Google Business Profile is selecting the wrong category. You should be checking to see what is ranking and then matching that. In the above graphic, for example, if this was our main term, we’d want to make sure we’re in the certified public accountant category.
Measuring success & planning further work
So, how do you know if your SEO strategy is working? The best thing to do is install Google Analytics which will provide insights into how many people are landing on your website, and most importantly where they’re coming from.
More critically, to measure search success, you should install Google Search Console, which can give you information about how people find various forms of content. This offers more optimization opportunities and can further help you improve your website and reach more customers who may be already looking for you.
You can find out more about how accountants can use SEO to their advantage here.