SEO is becoming one of the biggest sources of B2B leads out there, and it’s no different for accountants. Before businesses (unless specialised) would often just look for a local accountant and be done with it. The biggest opportunity for most accountants is to still start local, but now you’re able to attract national businesses with targeted content.
In this article we’re going to look at the practical methods you can use to grow your accountancy through SEO. As we go through we’ll talk about how to optimise your site for search, how to optimise your Google Business Profile, and the steps we need to take off-site.
Where should you start?
We always recommend to start with making sure your website is set up for success, it’s the only thing out of this process that you truly control, and that makes it easy to fix any issues.
So now we’ll go through and make all the checks we need to.
Any website needs a few things to rank well in the SERPs (search engine results page), it needs to be technically sounds (Google and other search engines can actually crawl it), it needs to match intent (ie; you’re an accountant if someone is searching for an accountant), and you need an off-page link profile.
The last part is up for debate about how strong a link profile you need (and even if you need a link profile at all), studies show that websites with more LRDs (link root domains) rank higher in Google.
Ok so let’s start.
How to check if my website is technically sound?
Without explaining in-detail how to to a full technical audit, there are a few checks you can do to make sure your website doesn’t have any major problems. The first thing we recommend is installing Google Search Console, it will let you know any major issues, including if you have a manual penalty.
Typically we don’t see many accounting sites with a link penalties, because well most wouldn’t even know where to begin building backlinks. Plus the fact they’re much rarer (link penalties) than they used to be.
This is a great starting point for any accounting site serious about their SEO, it will make sure that when we go and make the next changes, you’re in the best possible position to get the best results from your efforts.
Keyword Research For Accountants
We need to make sure we’re optimising for what people are searching for, to do this we need to do some keyword research. There are many different methods to do this, some are free, some are not. I’m not going to go through every method to do keyword research in this article, but I will cover how to do it at the basic level.
We’re going to cover our local area in this section, we’ll cover the more national based keywords later on in this article as we’ll need to create a different type of content for those terms.
There are so many tools out there that help with keyword research, however at Arken there are a few that we find ourselves using over and over. Whilst these aren’t the only ways to find great keywords, they are a great way to get started.
Each of these tools have their own guide to doing keyword research with their tools, it wouldn’t make sense for me to try and explain how to use Ahrefs better than they could themselves. So instead I’ll add some notes, to go along with their full guides.
Ahrefs is a great tool, in fact it’s our favourite. But try not to put too much weight into the keyword difficulty (KD) score. It only takes into account for the backlinks pointing to the top 10 pages, and this isn’t a great way to decide how competitive a term is.
For example, when doing SEO for accountants, you’ll come across Yell.com, and Clutch.co more often than not. They have really powerful link profiles, but lack the local relevance and are usually fairly straight forward to outrank.
SEMrush are probably the most accurate when it comes to search volumes, however we do prefer the amount of data that we get from using Ahrefs. So whilst SEMrush is good, Ahrefs is our go to.
However a great plus with SEMrush is they offer a 7 day trial, where as Ahrefs doesn’t anymore. So if you’ve looking to save some money, it is still a great tool.
Are your pages properly optimised for your terms?
The art of optimising your webpage is called on-page SEO. Essentially with on-page SEO we’re telling Google (and other search engines) what is actually on your page.
Doing it properly will help search engines and potential clients discover your content easily, but you must have the right practices to ensure you come out on top.
Most accountants assume that on-page SEO will be successful if you just sprinkle a few keywords here and there, but that’s not the case anymore. Although that is one part of it, you also need to start focusing on title tags, well-written content, internal links, and having good URLs.
It’s important to use the best practices as search engines, especially Google, will mark you down for over optimisation.
Optimising my accounting firm for local terms using SEO
So optimising goes a little beyond just making sure we’re an accountant, in this section we’re going to go through the steps we need to take to make sure our on-page SEO is on point.
Create compelling content
Before you even get started with the technical side of SEO, you want to ensure you’ve developed a piece of engaging content that your potential clients want to read, and inspires action. For example they will want to get in touch with you after reading it.
Ensure all the information is backed up and accurate, and that everything is clear and makes sense.
Include relevant long-tail keywords
One of the biggest mistakes accountants make on their web pages is placing too many keywords on the page. Sometimes they aren’t even relevant to the piece of content. The best practice is to research less common long-tail keywords and sprinkle them in relevant areas of your page. Start with one in the title, and add a few more throughout the main text.
Some people refer to this as adding in “LSI Keywords” but LSI keywords don’t actually exist.
There’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry.
— 🌽〈link href=//johnmu.com rel=canonical 〉🌽 (@JohnMu) July 30, 2019
Prepare short, clear URLs
Some people gloss over the fact that a URL is an important on-page SEO practice, but it can do a lot for your web page. You are going to want to develop a URL that tells the potential client what the page is about before they even click on it.
For example, if you’re called ‘Actually Accountants’ and you have an article on the best tax practices, you’ll want your URL to be: actuallyaccountants.com/best-tax-practices.
Typically the majority of success for a local accountancy comes from their homepage, but your service pages should follow these rules.
Use internal links
You may have heard the myth that you shouldn’t use links to other websites on your content as it’s a bad SEO practice, but this is all false. In fact, when you present relevant links that relate to your web page, it helps Google identify what your content is about better. At the same time, visitors can find out more information and you develop more strength as a brand.
Adding important URLs also helps our other pages do better, you should always link to key pages on your site where it makes sense.
Here’s an example of what not to do:
Whilst here’s an example that are doing well:
Optimising your Google Business Profile
A much simpler process than optimising your website, this comes down to a few more simpler things. Category, proximity, and reviews. It’s VITAL we’re in the correct category without it we’re putting ourselves at a major disadvantage.
It’s very easy to see what category we need to be in, we just need to search for our terms and see what the competition is doing.
It’s pretty simple for accounting firms, you can see from the above screenshot there are 3 firms showing up (excluding the ad) and they all have different categories. Chartered accountant, accountant, and accounting firm. They’re all correct, and match the intent, so quite hard to go wrong really. It’s just vital we get it correct.
Should we put our keywords in our company name?
This is something that shouldn’t happen, but it often does, and Google is rewarding it. In an ideal world, you shouldn’t be “stuffing” your keywords in your business name, but Google is rewarding 2 of the 3 websites in this very example that are doing just that.
So this is a personal decision, we always try to keep ours as natural as possible to future proof the work we do, however sometimes it takes doing it to compete. Look at your competition, are they doing it? Whilst Google is cracking down on it, it’s still everywhere to see.
So this is a decision you need to make, are you OK with the risk that Google will change your company name and then your rankings will go down?
How important is proximity?
Proximity is incredibly important for accountants. Since accountancy is a huge market, it can be hard for any business to stand out in the crowd. However, a part of one of Google’s algorithms allows searchers to find accountancy firms that are closest to them.
When people search for an accountancy firm near them, Google will sort the results in terms of relevance, prominence and proximity. These rankings will work alongside other SEO factors, but it helps smaller businesses come out on top amongst the sea of competitors.
Therefore, if you are looking to gain clients that are closer to you, then yes, proximity is important. You can make this algorithm work for you by creating unique web pages that focus on the location of your firm. Similarly, you may want to introduce your business on sites such as Yelp and the Yellow Pages, as it will help people find accountants in their area.
How important are backlinks for SEO for accountants?
If you’re unsure what a backlink is, essentially it is a link from an external website to yours. You know, the little blue text linking one page to another.
These are like “votes” for your website, but not all votes are created equal. In this section I’m going to talk about what makes a good backlink for your accounting website, and a couple of quick ways in which you can build them yourself.
What makes a good backlink for your accounting firm?
Here’s a quick video where I show you a few things to look out for when looking at link profiles:
There are some fantastic guides out there that cover the various ways to build links in far more detail, but a great method to get links for your accounting firm is through guest posting. As accountants you have unique insight into a lot of the tax laws, and can offer a lot to websites focused on growing businesses. With guest posting you’re agreeing to share a lot of that information in exchange for a backlink to your website, be careful to not put time and effort into building links on sites that offer no value. If you’re gauging the value of a link on domain metrics alone, you’re going to have a bad time. I recently wrote a post on domain metrics, and whether or not you should care about them.
There is more to a good link than metrics alone.
How can we help?
Want us to manage this for you? Get in touch to find out how we can help boost the clients you’re getting through your website, through SEO. We have case studies from other accounting firms we’ve helped just like you.