UPDATE: After an email from a fellow accountancy consultant of mine, Mark Lee, I discovered that my seemingly great Google Plus success was primarily due to being logged into Google. Apparently Google ranks you higher if you’re logged in, to impress you. So, my apologies for getting that wrong, and I can now only stress that my point re “paid search” which I note below is more true than ever. Google will always show you what you want to see.
Recently I was looking at a load of different accountancy firm websites to see what terminology they tended to use on their website for “Resources”.
(As a complete aside, here’s what we discovered, in order of popularity: Resources, Publications, Forms, Expertise, Knowledge, Support, Free Guides, Tools, Insights, Media Centre.)
To find these random sites, I simply typed some generic search terms into Google like accountants, accounting, accountancy services. And to my surprise, for many of the words or phrases I chose, the Profitable Firm appeared on page one – sometimes three or four or five times – with links from Google Plus.
I was extremely (and quite pleasantly) surprised.
You see, the Profitable Firm has built our entire web presence organically. We don’t tend to spend our marketing budget (yet) on adwords or Twitter ads or pay per click or LinkedIn ads. We have every intention of it – and we’ve done some testing – but we’ve been spending a lot of time building content for our market (accountants), and ensuring that we write and share helpful and relevant content to you.
And we share everything on Google Plus, as well as the other social media platforms.
A few years ago we looked into Google Plus. I wasn’t a big fan of G+ on its own, and as far as we could tell the rest of the world wasn’t really either . Facebook was still the clear winner then, with Twitter and LinkedIn in their wake. But we did a bit of research and discovered that although no one really uses Google Plus as a social media site in and of itself, Google itself ranks it higher than any of the other social media engines, so it’s worth sharing links to it. So we did. We use Hootsuite to share blog posts, webinar invites, posts, anything we share on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn we also share on G+.
And somehow for many of the relevant words to our content – accountants, accounting, accountant websites – we’re appearing in the rankings.
(Bear in mind that you may not see the same results, as Google search results vary massively depending on the person who searches and your location. I add this because I know half of you have already left this tip to go search Google so you can write me back and say “Hey, I typed in accounting and you didn’t come up”.)
This is not simply a post to say “Use Google Plus”, although from what we’ve researched and from this recent experience it would probably be a wise (and fairly easy) thing to do. The point is, you get the best traction over time by consistently sharing good content that is relevant to your target audience.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
Set up a Google Plus page.
Make sure it’s a Google Plus page for your business, not a G+ profile for you personally. G+ works in a similar way to Facebook or LinkedIn – you can have a page for you individually, and a page for your company. Make sure to set it up right from the beginning. (If you’re on one of our monthly Outsourced Marketing Packages, we’ll do it for you at no extra cost.)
Brand it appropriately.
Pay a little extra to get someone to design a good cover image for all your social media engines – at a minimum, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube. If you use Facebook, include that too. You may eventually want a unique cover image for each one, but for now they can all be similar, as long as they look professional and match your branding and style.
Use a social media management tool.
Systems such as Hootsuite or Buffer integrate all your social media platforms in one place and allow you to:
– Schedule posts ahead of time
– Auto schedule posts, so they go out when more of your audience is online
– Share one post to multiple social media platforms at the same time
– Share social media posting via teams (ie, people from multiple locations or offices can assist)
We’ve used this for years and it’s how we have shared all these posts to our G+ page without thinking about it.
Note, in my experience most accountants do not like using Hootsuite. They find it too cumbersome and complicated, and often give up on it. If that’s the case for you, either get your marketing person to learn and use it, or outsource it.
Wherever possible, customise your posts to different social media platforms.
Despite the ease of sharing posts on multiple platforms, it’s still good social media practice to tweak your posts slightly so they’re all not exactly the same. Partly this is to test which ones are the most successful, and to do some trial and error with the wording, but it’s also because there are differing social media platforms for a reason. Twitter is short and sweet. LinkedIn is professional. Facebook is personal. Google Plus is….for SEO.
Use the primary social media platforms.
Most accountants I know are using Twitter and LinkedIn to the greatest advantage. I would recommend that, at a minimum, you have accounts or company pages for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google Plus. There are many others which you may want to consider, but those are the big players.
Share content that is relevant to your target market and audience.
One of the reasons our blog posts appear for words like accountants and accountancy is not because we hired some self-proclaimed SEO expert to stuff our website with them. We simply wrote good content for our target audience (accountants and accountancy firms who are keen to use online marketing to get more leads and more business), and it happened naturally. You don’t have to force it. If your target market is property owners, that phrase will appear in everything you produce for them – landing pages, videos, blog posts. You may want to be alert to that, and from time to time check that you’re using popular hashtags and keywords, but in general focus on your audience first and the rest will come.
Remember that it’s not about you getting leads, it’s about your prospects getting help.
When someone types anything into Google or another search engine, they have a problem or an issue and they are looking for help, or an answer. If you can help them, and you’ve shared that consistently, it will eventually come up. Google wants to ensure that you are helpful, relevant, and ethical. As long as you focus on those three areas, it will benefit you in the long run.
Paid search gets you found faster.
No matter what you’re doing organically – sharing content, being visible on social media, using multiple social media platforms – if you want fast results that are quickly trackable, with instant change possible, paid search is the way to go. Google adwords, pay per click, LinkedIn or Twitter ads….the list goes on. As you may already know, the world of SEO is a literal minefield, with every freelancer and their brother saying they are an “SEO Expert” and can “get you to the top of Google” and “maximise your website’s SEO” – usually for very cheap rates. All I will say on this is that you always get what you pay for when it comes to SEO and any paid ads – and I’m talking about the cost of having an outside supplier manage the process as well as the cost of the ads themselves. As a colleague of mine, Rob Deans, said once, “When it comes to SEO, the rich get richer and the poor get nothing at all.” If you spend loads, you get loads. If you spend a pittance, you get nothing. If you spend nothing, well, you’ll see results but it will take a looooooong time. Great online marketing success is the result of spending either time, or money. You have to choose which route you will go.
Don’t do it yourself. Outsource it.
You are absolutely capable of setting up a Google Plus page. You’re also completely capable of learning SEO, getting training on understand Google adwords, testing and trialing pay per click….but that is not the best use of your time. You’re the accounting expert. Focus on things only you can do and know and say. Run seminars. Deliver webinars. Record video. Write blog posts. In a sense, download the incredible expertise from your brain and share it with the world. And outsource as much as possible of the detail work so you can get on with what you do best.