Digital marketing: How to climb the SEO ranks
Over the past year, more and more accountants have been enhancing their websites and investing in search engine optimisation (SEO).
This trend was confirmed by last year’s Practice Excellence Awards entries, 40% of which incorporated this technique into their outreach efforts. What made this figure even more impressive was how it spiked from 25% the year before.
Such is the power and influence Google has over our day-to-day lives, it’s no wonder practitioners have embraced SEO. While an Any Answers thread earlier this year saw AccountingWEB members recommend external SEO services, there are many ways firms can optimise their websites themselves.
An accountant’s website tends to have a general selling or dedicated services page. While the practitioner may have optimised the page with a range of keywords, there are only so many of these that would come up in a potential client search.
In a recent webinar Harry Ward, PracticeWEB’s search specialist, advised practitioners to blog consistently - because Google rewards that approach.
A prospective client could potentially discover thousands of results if they searched for a question on tax. There’s no way an individual practitioner can target all the keywords that relate to that tax topic. That’s where a blog can be effective.
“You can produce content that targets the client’s pain points and the questions that your clients and prospects are facing,” Ward said. “It doesn’t really work as a selling page, but it works as a starting point.”
Not only does blogging demonstrate an accountant’s area of expertise, it also helps enlighten clients and prospects. However, Ward warns budding bloggers to not just blog about anything – they should take the time to research what people are searching for and the keywords that can be used to target within that blog.
Underpinning all of this is whether the blog is actually useful. As Ward says: “It’s all well and good saying how you can fill out your tax return, for example, but is there anything you can add in a blog to make it that bit more useful for someone that's reading it?”
He added: “Can you suggest that they do something else or link to another blog that you've written about a secondary thing?”
Once you’ve mastered writing regular blogs, Ward recommends practitioners experiment with more dynamic content such as podcasts, videos or infographics.
“All of these examples add benefit and varies the content on your site, which increases user engagement and means people are more likely to return back to your site, and later down the line, ask you for a service or convert as a lead,” said Ward.
These examples are quick wins. But as Ward says, the difficulty lies in figuring out how you can get a client or prospective to perform an action in the simplest and easiest way possible. That’s why practitioners should investigate if there is an easy way of navigating content - can the prospect follow a path through to a potential conversion point?
Another way accountants can benefit from picking up traffic is to take advantage of local search. Ward recommends accountants mark up their business address on the contact page with the correct coding and add their business details to local online directories.
Keywords and effective AdWords
While accountants may see a return in their SEO investment over the long term as their webpage climbs up the Google rankings, another option to boost website visibility is AdWords. But as AccountingWEB regular Glennzy commented earlier this year on Any Answers, AdWords is “a dark art”.
In essence, AdWords is an advertising platform which allows website owners to bid on keywords. A £3 keyword, for example, would likely get more returns than a keyword priced 20p. This, in turn, boosts the performance of the website over the campaign’s limited period.
As discussed in the Any Answers thread, the AccountingWEB members who have devoted marketing spend towards AdWords have seen a return, but as Glennzy warns: “If you don't know what you are doing you can burn loads of money with little quality in return. There are also a lot of sharks who say they will do it for you without any guarantee of success.”
For example, AccountingWEB member Marks pays £90 a month on AdWords and gets a “steady stream” of enquiries. Meanwhile Spilly says a good campaign should generate 5% leads and that translates into a 1% conversion rate of new clients from initial contact.
Whether an AdWords campaign is worth the price was a debated point on Any Answers. PracticeWEB’s Harry Ward recommends running at least a small Google AdWords campaign – that way website optimisers can get good keyword insight that can then be integrated into their SEO research.
Do you invest much time and effort into optimising your website? Have you seen a profound uptick in business and prospects by tinkering with your site’s SEO or through an AdWords campaign?