This is an seo guide for accountants packed with tips to attract new clients to your website from the search engines.
Your Business Objective : Attract Potential Target Clients
According to Accounting Today, over half of accounting firm clients have been with them for 8 or more years.
So, a business or person is either looking for an accountant for the first time or they are dissatisfied and looking to switch from their existing one.
A phone call or website enquiry
When a person visits a website there are only 2 positive website outcomes; from an accountants perspective.
- The visitor telephones you.
- or complete an enquiry or website form.
You want 5 new clients each month.
So let’s say for every enquiry you get from the website 1 in 5 become a customer.
5 customers divided by 20% conversion rate is 25 web enquiries needed each month.
Let’s say you convert 2% of your website visitors each month into enquiries.
That would mean the traffic you need is 25 enquiries divided by 2% which is 1250.
What does Search Engine Optimisation mean to an Accountancy Business ?
Google is the largest search engine with over 90% market share and over 7 billion search per day.
Google is the world’s largest buyer research tool where people are searching for answers to their questions or problems.
Nearly 50% of those searches don’t result in a click to a search result.
And the majority of the searches that are clicked probably won’t be relevant.
Therefore you need a strategy to identify the relevant searches and clicks to reach your traffic goal.
There’s a number of keyword research strategies that can be deployed in order to identify what your potential clients are searching for and clicking on.
I use the consumer buying process as my framework for keyword research.
The framework can be summarised as follows:
- Problem Recognition – you have a problem
- Informational Search – you search to find possible solutions or answers
- Evaluation of Alternatives – you compare alternative solutions
- Purchase Decision – you finally decide to buy or go ahead with a solution
Keyword Research Example
So let’s say Tony owns a large number of properties that he rents out.
And he’s not happy with how much money he’s earning from his property investments.
So he makes a Google search:
“How to avoid paying tax on rental income”
Just for the record you can’t avoid paying tax but you can reduce it.
There are 1300 searches a month for that query.
My research in the screenshot below tells me the number of clicks, 99% will click the organic results and 1% click on the ads.
So you’d best served to create good content for a web page that helps answer Tony’s question.
Then I analysed the estimated traffic the top pages get in the organic search results.
They get 1303 visits a month on average.
So how come there’s 1300 searches for “How to avoid paying tax on rental income” and 8 top pages get 1303 visits each a month on average?
Top pages all rank for other similar search queries.
Different people type their question into the Google search box differently but they’re looking for the same answer.
In fact, the top pages rank for 562 search queries on average.
So the top pages are getting traffic from “How to avoid paying tax on rental income” then traffic from :
- how to minimise tax on rental income
- how to avoid landlord taxes
- less tax for landlords
- not paying tax on rental income
When you add up all the clicks from each of these search queries that’s how the top pages rank for 1303 visits on average.
But this is just one example
Identify more relevant search queries
You need to identify what your potential customers are searching for.
Accountancy is a very broad industry covering :
- Book keeping
- Company formation and structure
And accountants serve different types of clients including :
- Start ups
- Small businesses
- Limited Companies
So using these services and customer types as seed keywords in conjunction with the buying funnel can help identify what people are searching for.
Google Analytics and Search Console to improve visibility and traffic
What is Google Search Console ?
Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that helps you check, maintain, and troubleshoot your website presence in Google search results.
Improve existing rankings with Search Console
Search Console also provides some great insights into your pages that rank in Google and the keywords, position and clicks you receive.
In this example, you can compare the rankings of 2 search queries with similar impressions (traffic) but vastly different clicks and positions.
Taking this discovery you can now diagnose the reasons for the high position query and rectify it.
Google Analytics provides you with broader overview of your website.
- See your overall traffic
- View your top performing pages
- Your total, organic and paid search conversion rates
For example, I can see the top search queries this personal tax page is ranking for, the clicks and the conversions.
There are 338 monthly impressions (that’s similar to searches) and the page ranks at position 46 for “personal tax service”.
Thus the pages isn’t getting any clicks for this query or others.
There are 3 main reasons the page isn’t ranking on page one.
- User Intent – the page doesn’t give Google and the user what they are looking for
- Content – the page content isn’t answering the search question and user intent
- Links and authority – there are other pages with more domain and link authority that Google favours.
Search intent is what people search for eg: personal tax service whereas as user intent is what the user is looking for when they arrive on the page result.
So, for example, if the user searched “how to set up a limited company” they would be looking for a step by step guide to doing this themselves.
But if the user searches “set up limited company service” they would be looking for an accountant to provide details of their service on their page.
Content to drive organic traffic
Content is a term that covers words, articles, videos, case studies, guides, whitepapers and graphics on a web page or blog post.
People use the search engines to get answers to questions they type.
And those answers are either read or watched; content.
Without serving up content to match the search query you won’t get ranked or traffic.
Content is vital because it is the asset that brings visitors to your website.
When you’re competing about millions of other web pages, your content not only has to answer the query or topic you’re targeting but it must be better content than anyone else’s.
- Search Intent – Find what people search for
- User Intent – find out what they want
- Write Page Title
- Write introduction
- Map out sub headlines
- Write for one person
- Use facts and data
- Write for people scanning page copy
- Add call to action
Link building is an off-page seo technique where most of the work isn’t carried out on your website.
Inbound links from other websites are like votes.
And the more relevant votes from other websites in your industry are, according to Ahrefs and Backlinko, the most important ranking factors.
If you look at these search results, you can see that Google tend to favour websites with a high domain rating.
So how do you earn links ?
- Buy Now – not approved by Google
- Earn them
There are companies who are match makers for links.
They will connect you with accounting industry websites where you pay to place a page of content (including a link to your website) on the other website.
This tactic is strictly against Google’s guidelines but difficult for them to detect.
However it’s one of the few guaranteed ways to earn a high quality relevant backlink.
The other strategies to earn links are :
- Producing a unique data study or survey and promoting it in the accountancy industry.
- Producing checklists, contract samples, how to guides
Here’s an online accounting firm called Crunch and they have 40 links to a sample balance sheet image.
Then they created a page containing freelancers contract samples.
23 other websites have linked to these contracts on that page.
These contracts are resources to freelancers who need a resource to sign a contract with clients and perhaps don’t have the resources to write or produce themselves.
Around half of all search have local intent so if your business can be found by looking for “accountants near me” then you boost your traffic opportunities.
The main local SEO ranking factors are:
- Where a person is searching from
- NAP – your company name, address, postcode
- Signals from your Google My Business account
- Keywords you use in GMB
- Online reviews
- Check-ins at your location
- Google Maps star ratings
NAP refers to your business’s name, address and phone number.
Search engines like Google are looking for consistent signals across the web from trusted business listing source or citation to verify you are who you say you are.
According to Moz, citation signals are one of the top local ranking factors.
So you’ll want to be found for “accountant + name of city/town”.
You can read my full guide to earning citations.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a property that helps a searcher find a company on Google search results and Google Maps.
This of it like a modern Yellow Pages entry.
GMB is a good place to start improving your rankings in Google for local search and place related searches.
- Name, Address, Postcode, Phone Number and Website Address
- Type of business and categories
- Photos inside and outside your office
And without doubt, using the Post feature will help to promote your website content and offers.
Websites such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and so on allow customers to review businesses.
Customer reviews send signals to the search engines about your business.
They also influence potential customers during the buying journey.
Positive reviews can influence potential customers and enable your practice to stand out amongst local competitor.
To procure more customer reviews, log into your GMB account and click the Share Review Form link.
Then copy the link and share via email or your social accounts.
On Page Search Engine Optimisation Tips
Here are the main on page SEO elements (download on page SEO checklist here) you should have when you create a page in your content management system.
Research has shown that a short url helps to better rank a web page.
Start with your main keyword & use modifiers such as best, guide, review, price, quote. Use 55 characters.
The heading of the web page should be wrapped with an H1 tag.
Put the main keyword at the start of the meta descriptions field and be fairly persuasive to encourage users to click on your result in Google. Use 155 characters.
Page length & topic
The average top 10 result contains 1890 words and pages around a topic or multiple keywords rank better.
So far, I’ve written 2420 words is this article in order to make the content better and more useful that any other SEO article for accountants.
Your main keyword should be in the first paragraph of your page.
Your page should have an outbound link to an authority site to help Google understand your page & have 3 links on your page to other pages on your website.
Page speed is a small ranking factor so check and use a page speed tool.
Images are the biggest culprit in slowing down a page.
Use TinyPNG to optimise your images before uploading to your website or use image compression plugin with WordPress
Images & videos
Images and videos can add to page quality and keep people on the page longer.
Related (lsi) keywords
Related relevant keywords help to determine the page relevancy and help to rank for multiple keywords.
Call to action
Include a get in touch button or download on the page, on the right hand side bar of every single page.
UX – Website Usability
Here are a number of website usability (UX) tips that have an impacted on your search engine optimisation efforts.
Mobile searches now form the majority of the 7 billion daily searches.
Figure vary but the accountants that I work with, between 30% and 45% of traffic comes from mobile devices.
Above the Fold
The fold is the bottom of your web browser.
It’s the content you see when you first arrive on a web page.
You don’t really have a lot of space on a mobile device so you need to make the most of it.
A while back, Google released some guides and case studies to help website owners provide users with a better web experience.
The main UX guidelines Google offered were as follows :
- Clear CTA above the fold
- Descriptive CTA
- Use click to call if phone call important
- Clear benefit above the fold
- Remove carousels and revolving images
- Use legible fonts
- Add urgency
- Provide answers to questions users might have before they’d feel comfortable filling out a form
A good website structure provides the foundation of your website and how all the pages are connected to each other via links.
The structure, layout and website design can have a huge impact on generating rankings and traffic.
Let’s run through the key elements of the website.
The home page explains your accountancy practice, who you are and links to services you provide.
Ideally you want to have a separate page for each service you provide.
If your accountancy practice provides a vast array of services then you may want to have different service categories.
As per the keyword strategies above an accountancy website will have a blend of service pages and articles tackling different topics.
If you look at Crunch you can see they have categorised articles into different sections:
- Self Employed
- Law etc
You’ve heard the expression people buy from people they know and trust.
Accountancy and finance is a “money or your life” business category where trust and professionalism are of the utmost importance.
Your website should contain professional portrait shots of the key practice and department heads.
In addition, photographs and images added to your website can found by people using Google Image search when you apply ALT Tags to your images.
The logos of accreditations and bodies that you and your practice belong to should be prominently displayed at the foot of your website.
You should also consider directly linking from these accreditation logos to your profile on the professional bodies website.
This link helps act as a strong citation or mention of you; building trust and domain authority.
The objective of the website is to generate phone calls or web enquiries.
You simply cannot rely on a contact form.
Your non-service pages, ie: articles, should contain an offer to encourage people to take action.
This could be a download guide or checklist you offer in exchange for the user’s email address and name.
Whilst the user may not be ready to use your services today, you can nurture them over a series of emails turning them from a stranger into a customer.
Digital Marketing for Accountants
Statistics prove over 90% of visitors leave your website without taking any action.
You can add tracking code to your site that enables you to “retarget” those people who previously visited and took no action.
Retargeting or remarketing using Facebook or Google is probably the cheapest advertising tactics.
From the screenshot below there are 2400 searches a month for tax accountant with a cost per click of £4.95.
Google Ads typically appear at the top of the search results; above the organic results.
You’ll get traffic very quickly but you will pay heavily.
Could paying for clicks be profitable ?
Let’s run through this ad campaign scenario.
- £4.95 a click
- 2% website to enquiry conversion rate
- £246.50 per enquiry
- 20% enquiry to new customer conversion rate
- Cost of getting a new customer is £1237.50
Let’s assume you can retain that customer for a 24 month period.
Having spoken to a few accountants, they expect to retain a client for 60 months.
So I am under selling this strategy.
But the annual income per new customer isn’t (£300 x 12) it’s actually £1950.
And over a 24 month period the income per new customer is £5550.
Let’s assume 30% of that revenue is absorbed in costs such as staff etc
That leaves £3885.
Less cost of getting a customer of £1237.50.
Leaves a profit of £2647.50.
Changing any of the factors in this scenario will significantly impact his profit.
Facebook Ads enables you to run a campaign aimed at your target audience based on interests and demographics as opposed to the keywords they type.
So, for example, you could target small business owners within 5 miles of your town.
Or if you wanted to target IT contractors you might target people interested in Oracle, SAP or Microsoft.
According to MailChimp, the average open rate for email marketing is 21.56% and click through rate is 2.72%
Whilst these numbers seem low email marketing is still a very effective and low cost tactic for accountants.
Most people in business check their email, especially on a mobile device, so your message gets right to the heart and hand of prospects and customers.
Common Mistakes and Fixes
I know you’ve got clients to service, staff to train, manage and maintain and your website may appear to be low priority.
Some of the key seo related mistakes I see accountants make are :
You don’t provide content people are search for
Over 90% of web pages earn no traffic because the website owner doesn’t research what potential customers are searching for
Out of date content
Remember Google and users want the most relevant content.
The government regularly change taxes and policies so any content you have on your website needs to be regularly updated if you want to maintain or improve your rankings and traffic.
Too focused on local queries and results
There’s only a few top spots in the local search results so your chances of being found aren’t high.
That’s why you need a research and content strategy to target who problems and questions are looking for.
If you want your website to rank higher, you need to invest in the domain authority of your website.
- Get citation links
- Get industry and accreditation body links
- Create content such as industry statistics for others in your accountancy and finance industry
Do It Yourself SEO
An accountant trying to do their own SEO is a recipe for disaster.
You will lose focus on your business and clients; let experts work with you on research, content, conversion and digital strategies.
For an SEO strategy every 2 week, enter your email address or to request a 30 minute consultation, book an appointment here.