Search engine optimisation best practices for accountants and bookkeepers
Search engine optimisation (SEO) isn’t a new concept – you’ve probably heard the term a hundred times. You know it’s a way of optimising your presence online, but that doesn’t make it any less complex or multifaceted, and what does that mean for accountants and bookkeepers anyway?
SEO is one of many techniques you can use to increase the visibility of your accounting or bookkeeping firm online. While it takes some time and effort, it’s also free – unlike search engine marketing (SEM).
Here we explain how SEO works, and what you can do to give your business the best chance of being found by prospective clients.
The basics of SEO
People spend a lot of time online, and these days, if you need to find a product or service, it’s a simple matter of opening a new tab in Safari.
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches every day, so while there’s plenty of pie to go round, you also want to make sure that you’re the slice that gets picked first. That means coming out on top.
Research shows that listings on the first page of a Google search receive over 70% of organic traffic, compared to a meagre 5.59% on pages two and three. Search engines want to deliver the most relevant and credible content possible, so they rank websites based on several factors. The better your website performs, the more likely it will appear higher on the search results page. Prominence is vital for increasing traffic and enquiries through your website.
Explaining the jargon
Before we dive into SEO strategies, let’s first decipher what all this SEO terminology means.
- Search engine. A software system designed to search for information on the web using search bots
- Search bots trawl websites, evaluate the information they find and add that data to an index, to deliver high-quality results for people.
- Search engine results page (SERP). The page of web listings you see after typing in a search word in a search engine. Websites highly ranked by the search engine will appear first.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO). Optimising your website so you get the most organic and free traffic possible from search engines, e.g. Google.
- Search engine marketing (SEM). Paid or sponsored ads funnel relevant traffic from the search engines to your website, e.g. Google Adwords.
- The words or phrases that people use to search for something online, e.g. ‘accountant near me’ or ‘local bookkeeping firm’
Here is a list of 12 common digital marketing buzzwords you need to know
Get found online, increase your search rank
There are over 200 factors that affect how your website ranks
You don’t need to nail every single factor for your accountant or bookkeeping website to perform better. Essentially, people – and therefore search bots – are looking for unique, high-quality content that loads well, is current and can be trusted. And any changes you make to improve your online visibility will result in a better client experience – which will also push your website higher up the ranks.
Here are the top factors we recommend focusing on, and tips for increasing your chances of ranking number one on a search results page.
A website that is hard to access – think mobile incompatibility and slow download speeds – will have people hitting close before you’ve had a chance to connect with them. You want to focus on providing the best user experience possible, which means giving people what they want and quickly.
Here’s what to do:
- Review your load speeds and test your website for mobile with Google’s helpful tool.
- Try reducing image sizes and compressing video files.
- If your website isn’t mobile-responsive, upgrading your platform is non-negotiable.
2. Ease of navigation
This refers to how search bots and people find their way through your website. Think of a map without street names – you wouldn’t know which way to turn. It’s the same with your website. That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative, but make sure any changes make logical sense too.
Here’s what you can do:
- To ensure your website is logical and has easy navigation, regularly review categories, sub-categories, page titles, descriptions, buttons and links.
3. Quality content
This is about quality over quantity. Search engine algorithms are constantly learning and evolving in a bid to deliver the most valuable and relevant search results. In the context of marketing your accounting or bookkeeping firm, that means you need to consistently create and share content that is well-written, thoughtful, engaging, useful to your clients and relevant to your business. The more valuable people find your content, the more likely they are to share it.
Here are some tips and tricks:
- Post new content on your website regularly – written blogs, high-quality images and videos.
- Share that content on your social media channels to attract a wider audience to your website.
- Boma’s content library is filled with quality, ready-to-share articles that are timely, relevant and engaging. Quickly customise the content to suit your business, then easily share it with your clients through email, social media and your website.
Linked to our previous point, relevance is about how closely your website content matches what is being searched for by your target audience. This is where keywords come in, but don’t get caught trying to cram them into your copy – it won’t do you any favours. Do your homework, step into the shoes of your clients, and ask yourself whether your website clearly explains how you meet their needs and how you can add value. The keywords that make sense to your business and clients will appear naturally as you write, and from there you can work to optimise them further.
- Review page titles and descriptions – do they accurately describe the page content?
- Focus on one keyword or phrase per page. Keywords like accountant or bookkeeper will be highly competitive, so consider adding your location or specialisation, for example, Invercargill bookkeeper or Shopify eCommerce accountant.
- Include keywords in the text on your website, especially in headlines, sub-headers, and URL links.
5. Bounce rate
When users land on a website, only to hit the back button after two seconds, it’s an indication that the page they clicked on wasn’t a good search match. How often this happens, also known as bounce rate, is something you want to keep to a minimum. A high bounce rate can indicate your page titles and descriptions don’t match your content, your pages don’t provide enough information – or they’re poorly designed.
Here’s how to fix that:
- Use an analytics tool to assess each of your website pages – and identify any that have high bounce rates.
- Then, critically reflect on your website design and copy – is your design clean and professional and is your copy clear, concise and easy to read?
6. Web traffic
The more people visit your website organically, i.e. not from an ad, the more they improve its search engine ranking. To do attract them, you need to extend your reach – by giving prospective clients a reason to visit your website.
Here’s how to do that:
- Promote and share great content across your social media channels.
- Grow your network by interacting online with your peers and clients and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field.
- Partner with other firms to grow your reach.
7. Build backlinks to your website
When people outside of your accounting or bookkeeping business start linking their website to yours, it’s a great indication that people think your content is valuable – and will help move your website up the search engine rankings. Ideally, you want highly ranked websites with lots of traffic to link to you, and they should be relevant to your business goals.
Get started building links by doing the following:
- Make sure relevant business associations and online directories have your business details published on their websites – and the information is up to date.
- Ask past clients to write reviews through Google My Business or on Facebook.
- Reach out to professional accounting and bookkeeping organisations and offer to write a guest blog on a topical issue or host a webinar.
Good SEO requires continuous improvement
The most important thing to realise about SEO is it’s not a one-and-done thing. Websites are no longer the static brochures they used to be, which means there’s always room for continuous improvement. Make a regular habit of optimising your website and its content and people will more likely pay you a visit – and other businesses will too. For your accounting or bookkeeping website to rank higher for more search terms, it needs to become a trusted source of information.
Download The Digital Marketing Guide For Accountants
Digital marketing requires a whole new set of skills – that’s why we put together our e-book, Digital Marketing: For Accountants and Bookkeepers. It’s designed to help you make the most of marketing opportunities in a way that makes sense for your business and your brand.