Help! SEO Nightmare | AccountingWEB

Help! SEO Nightmare

I am in the process of a website redesign from a 20 person company who assured me at the start of the process that they are experts. Don't they all?

Someone whose use of English is appalling has attempted to adjust my text for SEO purposes and produced bits of meaningless gibberish, so I now have no choice but to do this myself. I understand that headings are important. I have three key areas of business, and in the first heading on the home page I am told that I must show eg Book-keeping (one of those areas) and one of the towns I have selected. Because I am in the London area I've been  told that you can't use London as everyone else does - and I can understand this.

My problem is that the titles are going to look pretty offputting for a person reading the page, if they are in (say) Central London. How do you experts out there suggest I get round this?

Any suggestions would be gratefully received.



SEO Nightmare

Michaelr205 | | Permalink

What does SEO mean?


(I've never been afraid to show my ignorance, its better to ask than to remain ignorant)

Seahorse UK's picture


Seahorse UK | | Permalink

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.  It is the process of tweaking your website so that the search engines (mainly Google which accounts for around 87% of web traffic) will rank your website highly on a search page.

For instance if you are based in Milton Keynes, you would use certain keywords so that when someone types 'accountant in Milton Keynes' into Google, you will appear on the first page, hopefully at the top.

In answer to your problem, Moonbeam, you could say that you are based in (eg Central London) but serve (name of town).

eg. Moonbeam bookkeeping services, based in London, also serving Harlow, Epping and Loughton

The problem with this is you don't want to limit it to just those areas.  There are so many areas to SEO and although the headings are important, it really depends on the area you are in and the competition for those keywords.  I would concentrate on getting your keywords in the text but not at the expense of readability.  Change a few things and see how it affects your ranking in Google - it could take about four weeks for the changes to be noticed by Google depending on how often it visits you site.  If you are not getting good results, play with the headings and see if that makes a difference.

I hope this helps

Kind regards


Seahorse (UK) Limited

NetAccountant's picture

Two things to consider

NetAccountant | | Permalink

The first one would be what keywords you want your site to appear under? If you are focussing on 3 main areas of accounting in one geographical area, I would still put the 3 areas followed by your geographical area one your homepage with copy mentioning all the keywords that appear in your title (your 3 areas + the geographic one).
ex. Bookkeeping, Tax Planning & VAT Returns in Your Area
this area is the exact one you target (ie. not London but which area of London for example Islington, Greenwhich or even smaller).

I would then have 3 individual pages targeting each accounting area with larger geographical areas mentioned in both the title of the page and its copy
Bookkeeping in London including smaller area 1, 2 and 3.
Only 3-4 additional areas (one of which should be the same as your homepage) as the more you add the less impact the new one has (it also slightly devalue the previous ones), and having two pages with cohesive title should give you an indented listing).

The second thing to consider is what layout does the search results has for "your keyword in your area"? Do you see the new listings (with map pointers and pictures merged with "normal" results) or not.

As you probably see the new results, you should probably start by making sure your website is recognised and that the details are as complete as possible (including pictures and reviews). Everything is done in what's called Google Places and if you look for "your practice name in your area" you should see a map with your office (hopefully) and a link to Google Places with text "places page" (on the right of the map).

For areas as competitive as London, on-page SEO (tweaking title and copy) should only represent 25% of your time / worries. 75% of your time should be spent finding websites to get links from, and getting links to your website homepage and internal pages (the 3 services pages mentioned above). There should be a constant stream of new inbound links (links from other website to yours) found by Google, so this is a steady on-going task rather than a one-off. Links should include the keywords targeted by the individual pages they link to as well as your practice name, so a mix of "practice name only" and "keywords only" links.

Finally, the problem is that SEO is not an exact science, and different people will approach things differently. Traffic coming from search engines should only represent one quarter of your inbound traffic, the rest should come from online marketing (pay per click), links (other websites, local directories etc...) and direct traffic (originated from traditional offline marketing).

Hope this helps and Good Luck.

NetAccountant - SEO for Accountants

More4Marketing's picture


More4Marketing | | Permalink

Hi Moonbeam.


That sounds terrible! There are way too many cowboys in this industry.


Kindly supply us with your website URL and I'll post an analysis with some steps to take.


Kind regards,






Moonbeam's picture

SEO problems

Moonbeam | | Permalink

The main point in case it wasn't clear before is that I am tied into a contract with a company to redesign my website and do my SEO. I can't just start doing my own thing, but they have agreed I can adjust the text.

What I wanted from Accounting Web is the sort of information you have given me - unbiased and quite detailed advice.

Zoe - thank you for your thoughts. The web design company has a whole SEO department that is supposed to know what it is doing - they just won't speak to boring old customers and prefer to let us suffer with a junior member of staff making a mess of things.

I have been told the "office manager" (no doubt a young lad of 16) will call me on Monday to discuss in more detail what I need to do. I will raise hell if this person is not an experienced SEO specialist but am getting quite tired of being very angry.

I am relieved you agree with me that the text should be readable at all times.

Net Accountant -  It's so nice to hear from you again. I have already agreed 3 areas of work and 2 geographical towns. Your idea of having individual pages for each location makes a lot of sense, but unfortunately I just have 6 pages, either targetting a different area of work or being a home page or location page. You do say elsewhere that there are different approaches to this and I have been assured there will be lots of links to other listing type sites.

I am fast coming to the conclusion that I should insist that the company start again with the word docs already supplied and ask me to OK the copy when they've done the SEO adjustments properly and in line with the English Language. I really don't think I should have to do the SEO work when this is part of the deal. I certainly shouldn't have to accept poor quality adjustments to my text.

If we ever get to the stage where I think the text can be viewed publicly, I will give them 3 months with the SEO to see whether I get any good quality enquiries. If no decent results are achieved I will move the site somewhere else and have a go at SEO myself, although I am concerned about how good I will be.

So thank you for your assistance - it's all power to my elbow in the angry conversations I shall have next week!


NetAccountant's picture

Location & keywords

NetAccountant | | Permalink

Hello again Moonbeam,

The "problem" with location based search is that Google's latest changes of layout - where they blend map results with what's call "organic" results - is that if your office is not physically in the town you are trying to target, it is a bit more difficult to rank well (especially in and around London).

Before, you could just create an optimised page targeting the keywords "Accountant in Aberdeen", get links from other websites to that page with the right anchor and see it rank in the top 10, even with offices in Londond.
Now you only have at the most 5 places left - the results are usually split like this: 2 organic, 7 Google Places, 3 organic - and unless you are in the top 2 you have almost no chance of being seen for a place where you do not have an "official" office - ie. registered in Yell and with address on your website. The Google Places results are also much more prominent (with picture, marker, address and phone, sometimes reviews etc...)

When you say "I have been assured there will be lots of links to other listing type sites.", are they talking about online directories? Will there be any other source of links (press release, blogs, social media sites, "normal" websites)?

The questions I would ask the "office manager" if I were you (I know that you are in a contract but it may make them think twice about providing a sub-standard service if they think you know what you want):

  • What impact does he think the new Google listing layout (where Google merges Places/Map entries with organic results) will have on the two geographical town you are targeting - he should reply something along the lines of them trying to get you listed in Google places (if you have an office in this town) or above it (if you don't). If he minimises the impact, check your keywords in Google and tell him what you see - if results are merged
  • What elements are taken into consideration by Google to get the Google Places listing - reply should be along the lines of: office, with an address, in this town almost mandatory, fairly reasonable number of links pointing to your site using the town keyword, keyword in page title can help but doesn't seem to be mandatory for Google Places listing (other factors may push the site above the rest)
  • What types of sites will they get links from? Reply should be, the more varied types the better. Online directories both with and without links to your site (those without should allow them to add your business address to it to help improve Google Places listings), blogs, forums, news sites, social media sites etc...
  • Will they cross link any of their other clients' sites with yours? Answer should be no!
  • Will they use any of their own website to link to yours? Answer should be limited to 1 or 2 MAX (otherwise when you stop being a client of theirs they can easily pull the plug on all those links). Anyway this practice is also considered link-farm which is against Google TOS.
  • Do they force you to link back to them in your website footer? Answer should also be no! You pay them to do a job, not to get free advertising on your website.
  • Will they submit your site to Google? - answer should be it's not necessary getting links from other site is enough / Google already found your site there is no need.
  • Will they sign you up with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools? Reply should be yes to both (or at least ask you to do it) - the first shows visitor stats, the second shows many information about how Google sees your site.

Anyway, again I hope this is helpful.

Leo a.k.a NetAccountant

Moonbeam's picture

Thank you Net Accountant for your excellent further comments

Moonbeam | | Permalink

Dear Leo

I should have asked you to attend the meeting I had with the sales consultant for this company before I even signed a contract. It was partly because of his professionalism that I was encouraged to go ahead. Yes, professionalism at sales admittedly, but he is a helpful and thoughtful person and I wagered that he would not work for some rough little outfit.

He freely admitted to me at the meeting that he was not a techie in any way, so would not have been able to answer your detailed questions. Of course the problem with so many of the SEO companies (not, I am sure, yours) is that they employ cheap labour as is probably the case of the company I am contracted to. That means there is a compromise on quality. There doesn't appear to be adequate supervision at the website design stage which is where I'm at now, but I suspect there aren't many good writers working at this company. They therefore wouldn't notice an ungrammatical bit of nonsense unless it was pointed out to them.

My feeling is that they are going to be in breach of contract if they can't do the SEO adjustments on my website in a reasonable style.

I will not be allowed to ask the questions that you pose of their 16 strong SEO team because their policy seems to be to leave me in the hands of the hopeless junior. I do however suspect that SEO is a stronger area for them than making sure the text makes sense to someone reading it and I am not quite so bothered about how they do the SEO as they are well aware that I will leave them if I don't get results within 3 months of the website going live.

Your remarks have made it very clear to me that as SEO is an everchanging process there is no way that I can do this for myself without spending a great deal of time working out what to do and how to do it and while I have lots of paid work to do I am better off paying someone else to do the SEO if they can get results.

And I am now off to work out how to set up the email settings for my ISP email account whilst my domain name is transferred to the new company. That is how low level my knowledge is!

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