Standing out in a competitive industry such as accounting proves to be a challenge. With many accounting firms vying for the same pool of clients, accountants are looking for effective ways to market their business — a majority of them taking their chances with digital marketing, specifically with search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is the art of ranking high on the search engine results pages (SERPs). If a client searches for “accounting firm in NY” online, you want your company to be the first name they see. When your website ranks well on Google and other major search engines, you increase web traffic, which means more clients.
With SEO, it’s OK think big. It’s OK to want to reach more within the state or target national audiences. But if you’re a small accounting firm starting in the industry or wish to build a client list, going local with SEO is a better first step.
Go Local to Seek Clients Within the Area
Fifty-nine percent of Internet searches are performed with local intent and approximately half of mobile users go online to learn more about a local business, which includes details about directions or operating hours.
What do these statistics mean for CPAs and accountants?
Individuals and companies in need of accountants seek businesses within their geographical area (city, town, or area) to assist them in resolving accounting, business, and tax concerns. Local SEO offers a more customized approach to searches.
When clients search for “accountant near me,” Google will automatically display businesses that pass its search standards. To gather data on local businesses, search engines rely on signals such as social media profiles, local content, citations, and links to provide users with the most helpful local results.
On the side of accounting firms, there are four ways local SEO tactics can help you move the needle on your firm’s marketing efforts:
“Near Me” Searches.
Near Me searches continue to gain popularity on search engines and currently, these are no longer about finding a particular place. These searches could also include specific product/service, in a specific location, at a specific time.
For example, a user types “accountant” in Google assuming it’s local and Google suggests adding “Near Me.” If the user accepts, Google returns all local search results according to the searcher’s current location.
Keyword Only Searches.
If a user looks for a CPA or an accounting firm without including keywords (e.g., their city’s name), they depend more on traditional organic ranking factors, which offer limited results.
An example of this type of search involves a user living in Chicago, IL searching for a CPA. Instead of searching with the term “CPA in Chicago, IL,” they use “CPA” only. Since these search types are shifting to a more locally-focused list of results, your accounting firm needs to make adjustments so users can see your business. Keep in mind that Google prioritizes delivering the most relevant search results to users and will always use local results first.
Keyword + Location Searches.
Keyword searches that include important details such as the city name rely more on Google’s local ranking factors. As a result, the search engine will list down results pulled from local listings such as Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, and other directories.
An example of the Keyword + Local Search type is “Forensic Accounting in Chicago, IL.” This search type clearly states what the searcher wants to focus on.
Searches on mobile devices can yield different results from searches done on desktops. Google and other major search engines can determine the device you’re using and search results that will suit your device.
Regardless of the type of search, local SEO dominates the SERPs. You can drive more customers to your website by investing in local SEO first. Apart from more leads and sales, you’ll also reap other benefits:
An Abundance of Traffic
Achieving better search rankings on the SERPs provides a steady stream of traffic. The more traffic you have, the better your chances of converting visitors into paying clients.
Since you are competing with other accountants in your local area only, it’s easier to see the results of a solid SEO strategy. You can land on the first page of the SERPs or the local listings in a month (or less).
So How Can You Make Local SEO Work for You?
Winning more local clients can be summarized into five steps:
Step One: Find Your Keywords
Make a list of basic keywords that accurately describe your services. Common keywords associated with accounting firms are “accountant,” “tax advisor”, and “CPA.” Once you’ve finalized your list, create a Google AdWords account (don’t worry; it’s free!).
By signing up for Google AdWords, you gain free access to Google Keyword Planner, which is where you can put your chosen keywords into the tool to see the traffic it gets, as well as get suggestions for related keywords.
Before you finalize your keyword list, keep in mind that all keywords fall into one of two categories:
- Research Intent: searchers with this intent are often “just looking.” They might need an accountant in the future, but not today. Research intent keywords do not guarantee quick conversions but they offer great opportunities for FAQs and blog posts. These posts introduce your website to potential clients who might remember you when they need the services of an accounting firm.
- Buying Intent: searchers using buying intent keywords are ready to use your services. If someone searches for a “tax attorney in NYC,” they probably have tax-related concerns that require immediate solutions.
Step Two: Optimize Your Keywords
Once you have your list of keywords, optimize them in two places — your website and your Google My Business Page.
- Website Optimization. Start with your core pages (homepage and service pages). Optimize them with your buying intent keywords before you optimize your “content” web pages (blog posts and FAQs) for your research intent keywords.
- Google My Business. Your Google My Business page acts as a mini-website that appears in the “Map” section of your local listings. It offers a snapshot of your business, gives you quick search ranking boosts, and improves your online presence. Optimize your Google My Business Page by filling out your basic information and adding high-quality images of your business.
Step Three: Gather Links and Citations
After building the basic structure of your campaign, you can start gathering links and citations. Both increase your presence online while boosting your rankings on the SERPs.
- Links. Gather a collection of inbound links from high-quality, authoritative websites. Build relationships personally or online with businesses that offer services that complement yours. Use online tools such as Moz Open Site Explorer to find out where other accountants find their links.
- Citations. Citations are listings of your company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) in an online listing or directory. While most directories are free-of-charge, a few accept paid citations. Before you pay, check Google Analytics to check if the website drives citations.
Step Four: Ask for Reviews
Online reviews offer two benefits for your accounting firm: they convince potential clients to trust your services, as well as reassure Google that your business is credible. While all reviews are helpful, Google will only boost your rankings if you have plenty of page reviews on your Google My Business.
Run a Google search for your business’s name and send the URL to your clients when you ask for a review. If you make this a habit, expect a steady flow of reviews.
Step Five: Track Your Results
How will you know if your local SEO efforts are successful? Track your results!
Tracking enables you to also identify the areas that need improvement. There are different ways you can track your results, but the following metrics are more important:
- Search rankings. The display on SERPs is customized according to the searcher’s browsing behavior. To see your current rankings, ask your webmaster to install Google Search Console, a free tool that offers deeper data analysis. If you want more insight, invest in paid tools like RankRanger.
- Conversions. Think of conversions as concrete actions you want potential clients to take. As an accountant, you want prospects to use your services. Google Analytics allows you to track both web and phone conversions, determine which of your services drive the most conversions, and learn which of your pages have the lowest and highest conversion rates.
- Traffic. Google Analytics also enables you to track your website’s visitors. You have the option to check on your overall traffic, each web page’s current traffic statistics, and the percentage of visitors that come through your website. Check these reports at least once a month and look for long-term trends.
Rock the Local SEO Scene
Now that you know why local SEO is pivotal to driving more leads to your accounting firm, it’s time to get to work. If you wish to learn how to drive traffic to your financial services website, seek help from reputable digital marketing companies like ScalingYou.
Talk to us today to learn how we deliver quality organic and local SEO results to boost your search rankings. Call us to get a free consultation.