One of the greatest myths among the accountancy industry is the desperate need to “get your website number one on Google”.
Whilst being number one seems an easy target and a safe bet, search engine optimisation (SEO) is more complicated than it first appears – and so is the placement of your firm’s website on either Google or any other search engine.
Here are a few thoughts, and then some SEO tips for you:
Oddly enough, being number one is not the point.
If your website is number one, but its pages and content are either “okay” or “poor”, it does you no good at all. Your site visitors will leave – or worse still, choose one of your competitors and compare their site and content to yours.
Number one for what?
You may think “accountants in Leicestershire” or whatever your geography, but as we’ve looked at before, your prospects are no longer looking for just an average accountant. They want someone with personality, modern methods, expertise in their industry or issue.
Why be number one in your geographical area if you have multiple clients who are property owners, dentists, expats, or dog owners? Your prospective clients want to come to your firm website and realise that you understand them, and their needs.
Once you’re number one, how do you stay there?
You can probably pay off any self-proclaimed “SEO Expert” (or guru) to get you to the top of Google. (To do this, they may use some pretty underhand tactics which will burn you in the long run.) But can they keep you there? The watchword is content, and if your site doesn’t change, it will slowly slip in the rankings.
Getting a quick SEO fix may deliver a few leads here and there, but good content plus some paid-for ads is going to be your best bet in the long run.
Here’s what we recommend:
- Fresh content. Read our list of 27 suggested calls to action for your accountancy firm website.
- Blogging. This is another great way to deliver fresh content – and despite what I’ve been preaching for some time, there are still so few accountants who are actually doing this well. Buck the trend.
- Niche marketing. This does not just mean “an industry”, as we’ve talked about before. It means you choose something, almost anything, that you can talk and share on with reasonable competency, and that helps your visitors feel you understand them.
- Adwords. If you do this, you’ll have to lay out significant money on Google ads. The little guy gets penalised these days for not having a marketing budget – but it doesn’t have to be massive. Spend a little and focus on your target market or niche, with website calls to action that fit them.
- Cool WordPress SEO plugins. Despite our horror of bad SEO tactics, there are a few small things you can do with your site that help a lot. If you have a WordPress site, the Yoast plugin, or the All in One SEO Pack, are two decent SEO plugins that will help direct you on each page of your site how to better your rankings over time. Best of all, they’re both free.
- Image titles. It is shocking how many website images have names and titles such as “IMG_0497-1.jpg”. You’re missing a huge SEO opportunity there. Rename the image something like “Succession planning webinar” or “Tax Guide 2014” – but make sure the image actually reflects that title. Go through your whole site and change the image titles (including the “alt tag” appropriately. NOTE: Don’t create image titles like “Best accountants in Wolverhampton” or “Tax Compliance Payroll VAT Returns Birmingham” – you’ll become known as a spammer and Google will penalise you for it by dropping you lower in the search engines.
- Tags. We’ve talked about this before, but tagging your blog posts can help – if you do it wisely. Look at a tag cloud (like the one we have) to get an idea of how this is supposed to work. Again, don’t be a spammer and fill up with seventeen tags per blog post. Use two or three. Keep it simple.
So when it comes to SEO, it is not only difficult to always be on the first page, but I would argue that it’s a misunderstood priority. I would even more strongly recommend that you build good content and get found that way.