In an era when about 93% of potential clients will first find your tax or accounting firm online, either on social media or via a search engine like Google, you need to do anything you can to stand out in a crowd. That's part of why SEO (search engine optimization) is so critical – the higher you rank, the more likely you are to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Think about your own online searches. Do you tend to click on the first or second result, or do you click all the way through to page 4 or 5? The odds are good you never even make it past page 1.
Ranking highly, though, isn't something that happens automatically. If you want to rank as highly as you can on Bing, Google, and even Facebook search, there are a few key SEO best practices that you should follow.
1. Optimize Relevant Keywords
By far, the number one SEO best practice tax and accounting professionals should follow involves doing as much keyword research as possible. Remember in competitive industries like yours, you need to think "niche." So, don't just craft content targeting taxpayers in a general sense. Go after "personal income taxes" or "small business taxes" – or niche down even further and focus only on “restaurant owners” or “daycare providers.”
2. Focus on Value, Not Services
Another SEO best practice that is invaluable for tax and accounting firms is focusing on value and outcomes, not the services you provide. In other words, rather than promoting the fact that you offer tax planning packages, showcase that you can solve a pain point for your clients.
If, for example, a prospective client comes to you with complaints about overpaying their taxes, explain that your tax planning services could save them thousands of dollars in tax liability every year.
Every time you meet with someone, determine what problem that person has that you have a solution to. How will their lives be better after they enlist your help than before?
Always put the emphasis on the client and what you can bring to them that nobody else can. This should be true in your blog posts, white papers, and even on your website’s service pages.
3. Don't Neglect the Technical Side of Things
Many accounting and tax firm clients in particular often forget that search engine optimization is about more than just keywords – although they are very important. You also need to make sure your site is functioning properly at all times.
For the best results, it needs to look and perform just as well on a mobile device, including both smartphones and tablets, as it does on a desktop or laptop computer. Ideally, it should fully load in three seconds or less. Regularly check for broken links and missing pages.
These are the types of technical SEO elements that could get you penalized by engines like Google if you neglect them.
4. Be Helpful Above All Else
When creating content, the number one thing you should do as a CPA, EA, or other financial professional is help whenever you can. Provide people with something of value without necessarily expecting anything in return. If, for instance, you get the same frequently asked questions over and over again, write a blog post with useful answers. Include a call-to-action to schedule a discovery call with your firm at the end, but don't expect anything – providing worthwhile content for the sake of value will pay-off in the end
The more helpful you are in an organic, authentic way, the more people will pay attention. The more traffic you get, and the more time people spend on your page, the higher you'll rank on Google.
5. Keep Things Up to Date
Finally, always make sure that your website is timely and accurate for the best results in terms of SEO. If you open a new firm location, create a new "Location" page for it and link to it from your primary domain. If your telephone number or operating hours change, make sure this is reflected everywhere on your website and on listing aggregators like TaxBuzz, Google Business, Yelp, and Bing Places.
The more inaccuracies there are about your business around the web, the more likely you are to be penalized on search engines like Google. Ensuring that you have consistent contact information across the web is includes regularly checking phone numbers, physical addresses, and business hours on directory sites. This gives the algorithm positive feedback on your practice, which can affect how you rank against competitors with “dirty” data.
6. Social Media Matters
If you’ve ever heard the term “social cues,” this section is for you. Although social media doesn’t directly impact search engine results pages (SERPs), your social presence has an indirect impact on your rankings.
Imagine, for example, that you have a blog post go viral thanks to social media shares. Google will pick up on the fact that your site traffic has increased exponentially, and this will signal the algorithm that you are currently popular in the tax and accounting space.
In other words, the more traffic social media drives to your website, the better offf you will from a search perspective.
Five-star reviews around the web play a similar role in rankings. These positive reviews help search engines know that you are well-respected by your clients, thus making the algorithm more confident in the fact that it can rank you highly.
If you'd like to find out more information about the SEO best practices that an accountant or other financial professional should follow moving forward, or if you'd just like to discuss your own online needs with someone in a bit more detail, we’re here to help. We love SEO, we love content, and we want to help your firm thrive.
If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to contact us to speak with an expert.
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