Ask 100 search engine optimization (SEO) experts about the #1 element in your brand ranking, and 99 out 100 will answer “inbound links.” Why is this?
Inbound links are how the search algorithms cut through the online clutter. Basically, what others say about you means more to Google or Bing than what you say about yourself. Inbound links are hard to fake, so they signal that your brand is an authority worthy of a high ranking.
We have found that, in the tax and accounting profession, gaining just a couple of authoritative inbound links can make all the difference in terms of how your brand is ranked. The hard part is gaining these external inbound links; it takes some effort.
First, you need to be visible online. You need to build an active social media following and to share valuable content with your audience. We have also found success by reaching out to local bloggers, journalists and influencers to earn inbound links. If you share great content or make yourself available for a story, it is much more likely that these local authorities will mention your brand.
Think of this as a popularity contest. When you have more inbound links to your website, your brand will rank higher in search.
There are two types of inbound links. Branded and non-branded terms.
A branded inbound link is simple a mention of your brand along with a link (such as “Sonu Shukla, CPA”) on an external website. A non-branded link would be something like “Cleveland CPA”—with a search term linked to your website. A non-branded link will be more valuable to you in a search ranking. Be careful, though—you can’t game the system. Having a disproportionate amount of inbound links for non-branded terms can look spammy, which could cause the search engines to flag you flagged. You want to earn these inbound links.
One very good approach is blogging. Whether you are posting articles on LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, TaxBuzz.com marketplace or your own website, your content is more likely to be referenced and shared if is unique and valuable to your readers.
For example, I am now actively blogging on Forbes.com, TaxBuzz and ClientWhys.com. I also host webinars that I then add to my content library. As this content continues to grow, so do the external inbound links, and our brands move up in the search engines’ listings.
We provide several outlets to assist our ClientWhys marketing subscribers in sharing their expertise online. We recently launched Q/A, a tool through which subscribers can share their expertise by answering monthly questions about tax and accounting issues. We edit and publish these responses on the TaxBuzz.com blog, which has millions of readers each year. In addition, we have opened up the TaxBuzz marketplace as a free blogging and landing page tool for all TaxBuzz.com claimed profiles. In our marketplace and local city landing pages, professionals are able to spotlight partners, share tips on hot issues and promote their practices.
These tools are significant to tax professionals in several ways. They help tax and accounting professionals to add citations, inbound links and traffic that they would not be able to find using their websites alone.