Accounting is a fiercely competitive industry where a single client can be worth vast amounts of money when all is said and done. Accounting firms that fail to market their services effectively will always lose out to more aggressive and proactive competitors.
Business owners and individuals looking for help with accounting most often turn first to search engines like Google. Three-quarters of all search engine users never look past the first page of results they receive, and eight in ten ignore all the ads.
When an accounting firm’s website features prominently in the results returned for relevant queries, lead-generating traffic follows naturally and for free. Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be used to make sure that every page will rank as high as possible. SEO is absolutely crucial for accountants, for these reasons and others.
The Single Most Powerful Way to Market an Accounting Firm
There are many ways, digital and otherwise, for accountants to get the word out about their services. There are enough options, in fact, that some firms and sole practitioners succumb to a kind of paralysis and end up doing very little marketing at all.
Whether for a firm with a robust, comprehensive marketing strategy or an individual getting by on word of mouth, SEO inevitably makes for an especially productive investment for accountants. Relative to the effort required, a well-optimized website will simply produce more new business than any other option.
The natural, organic website visits that effective, strategically informed SEO generates will always be valuable to an accountant. Some of the most significant ways by which SEO-derived traffic contributes directly to growth for accounting firms concern:
- Confidence. As with other professional service providers, people put a lot on the line when they entrust their affairs to accountants. Someone looking for an accountant will naturally be skeptical about clicking on ads that appear only because they were paid for. A link to an accountant’s website that appears as the top result on a search engine, though, carries an implicit endorsement. Visitors who arrive at an accounting firm’s website after clicking on a search result link tend to feel more confident and secure–and that makes them more likely to become clients.
- Persistence. Investing in pay-per-click ads or other one-off forms of marketing can quickly become expensive. Worse yet, any results that ensue will evaporate as soon as the associated spending ceases. SEO can generate website traffic boosts that continue long after the responsible work was completed. In some cases, an accounting firm that commissions a single SEO campaign will retain its search results positioning–and associated traffic–for years thereafter.
- Analytics. Accountants understand the value of hard numbers and help others do the same. SEO is a highly data-driven style of marketing that is a natural fit for the accounting industry. SEO campaigns can be easily, accurately measured and monitored, then adjusted as merited to produce even more impressive results. Accountants who are understandably suspicious of “softer” styles of marketing often feel right at home with SEO. In addition to being highly effective, SEO simply makes sense to people who are comfortable with numbers.
- Relevance. Although there are many intricacies, SEO revolves around identifying and targeting search terms that are particularly relevant to a given business. Choosing which keywords to emphasize in the quest for improved rankings means inviting website visitors who will be most likely to turn into clients. That will always open up many opportunities for accountants who are ready to do more business.
- Cost-effectiveness. Above all else, investing some amount of money and effort into SEO will almost always be easy to justify in purely financial terms. This is just as true of large firms in fiercely competitive markets as of solo accountants in small ones. Unlike other types of marketing, SEO can only help (a couple of pathological and easily avoidable possibilities aside). While there will always be some ranking battles worth walking away from, carefully targeted SEO consistently proves to be among the most cost-effective marketing techniques of all those available to accountants.
Many Ways to Boost Search Engine Rankings for Accounting Websites
Fortunately for accountants everywhere, there are always ways to use SEO to boost search results rankings and generate more website traffic. In fact, this inherent flexibility and accessibility of SEO is another reason why it so often stands as the best marketing option of all for accounting firms.
Most specific SEO techniques can be characterized as having either an “on-page” or “off-page” focus. On-page activities stick to the targeted website and pages themselves and center on issues like:
- Tags. The HTML that makes up web pages often includes tags that describe the structure, intent, and other characteristics of the content. Tweaking tags to make them more useful to automated indexing programs used by Google and other search engines can produce definite SEO improvements.
- Keywords. Although it is best not to be too rigid and formulaic, the keywords that web pages contain will impact their search results positioning. Adjusting keywords carefully can make particular pages more likely to take the top spot for valuable search queries like “small business accountant near me”.
- Content. Google insists that sites which publish useful, high-quality content will always receive plenty of attention from search engine users. Accounting websites that provide satisfying answers to common questions inevitably receive far more organic traffic than competing ones that don’t.
In addition to on-page work of these kinds and others, SEO can just as well include off-page efforts that are every bit as important. Some of the other tactics that are most often used to improve search results rankings for accounting firm websites focus on:
- Link building. Google sees high-quality, genuine links as endorsements of the destination. Reaching out to encourage authoritative, respected websites to link to an accounting company’s website can easily produce huge improvements in search results positioning.
- Directory listings, social media, and more. Making sure an accounting firm’s website and details are listed wherever makes sense will lend additional credibility. Having an active social media page can contribute to the cause of SEO, as well.
These are only a handful of the many ways accounting websites can be pushed higher in the search results rankings for relevant, lead-generating terms. For the reasons detailed above and others, solo accountants and accounting firms inevitably benefit greatly from effective, informed SEO work. While it is useful for most types of business, SEO is truly crucial for accountants — even for those who already have clients.
Why Start Now When There’s Already an Established Clientele?
Accountants get clients by networking within their target market, approaching local businesses, and taking ownership of their clients’ financial records. An outstanding job and positive customer service encourage existing clients to refer the firm to others. Although this is a common way to get customers and gain their trust, we can’t deny how the buyer’s journey has changed because of the internet.
Before, potential clients receive fliers or see ads on TV, and most likely give it a call. Now, they go online to look at all possible options before making a decision. They weigh the pros and cons of different accounting firms — and consider client reviews and online recommendations — before responding favorably to a call to action (e.g., calling to inquire, scheduling a free consultation, etc.).
SEO makes it easier for accountants and accounting firms to establish online visibility and boost accessibility. An optimized website provides a subtly significant opportunity to attract more visitors and convert more leads.
In addition to all the tools and techniques needed to create a new SEO strategy, accountants should also pay attention to these factors that contribute to the success of SEO:
- Content updates. Lead generation might suffer when web content updates are long overdue. Update existing content to reflect the firm’s services and what the target audience is looking for.
- Website quality. Dwell time, or how long visitors stay on a website, is more important than page views. Avoid a high bounce rate with a speedy load time and easy site navigability.
- Social media. A solid SEO strategy is often accompanied by a social media strategy. Potential clients are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so it’s easier to connect with them there.
- The ideal audience. Quality is more important than quantity. It helps to zero in on the needs of the ideal client base by using specific keywords and presenting viable solutions.
Although accounting is still a hugely referral-based profession, more people are looking online to explore their options. SEO makes it easier for your firm to rank higher on search engines and, ultimately, be found by potential clients.