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Industry Growth Brings a Challenge

According to recent studies, the number of accountants/auditors employed in the U.S. currently stands around 1.32 million as of the FY 2021. While current demographics place the highest concentration of these professionals in the cities of Houston and New York, you can find accounting firms in just about any city of size today. Annually, the accounting industry is a $140 billion market as of 2022, a 6.3% increase over 2021.

With this huge size and growth, it is difficult, especially for smaller, single community-based accounting to compete, who don't have the big bucks for intensive advertising campaigns.

So How is SEO for Accountants the Solution?

So - what's the solution to this dilemma? You need clients but don't have them - or enough of them. You also may need high-quality staff, especially as there is a growing shortage of accounting professionals, according to a 2019 AICPA report.

Here's a bit of insight: You don't need to compete against the world - or even national accounting firms. Companies needing accounting services don't necessarily want to be 1 of a 1,000 clients of a national firm. They also often believe that these larger firms charge too much for their services.

That means that most small-to-medium (and sometimes even large) firms may have an interest in working with you -- if you can get their attention.

And that is where SEO comes in. SEO, as you may have heard, stands for Search Engine Optimization, and SEO encompasses a range of techniques and strategies to get your website noticed when people go searching online. SEO for accountants is nothing more than an adaptation of general SEO principles and strategies to the specific needs of accounting firms.

SEO and Searcher Intent - and Your Website

Let's begin with this: Why do firms seek out the services of an accounting firm?

  • Bookkeeping Support: In this area we would include A/P (Accounts Payable), A/R (Accounts Receivable) and company payroll.
  • Taxation: This of course includes the record-keeping and work associated with preparing tax documents, as well as ensuring that the proper amount of tax is being paid.
  • Auditing: While bookkeeping support and taxation are typically recurring tasks performed by a firm on retainer, auditing is usually done by a firm independent from companies who do the day-to-day accounting work, to ensure objectivity and regulatory compliance.
  • Specialized Services: This would be things like merger/acquisition support, international taxation and company valuations.

It's important to realize that when firms are looking for accounting help, they are not usually searching for "accounting" firms - they have specific needs in mind. This is a reflection of what is called searcher intent. And it's important to incorporate searcher intent in your SEO strategy. Properly targeting searcher intent is the KEY to getting targeted traffic.

For example, your website might be showing up and well-ranked for the search "bookkeeping services [location]" but if your firm is not looking to take on more bookkeeping work, that traffic will not likely be of much (if any) value to you.

Is Your Website a Help - or a Hinderance - to Searchers?

Keeping searcher intent in mind, effective SEO for accountants begins with an honest look at your website.

And by "look" we are just not talking about its appearance. We are also concerned with how it functions and the content that is actually found there.

Content: The key here is to find a balance. Some sites have very little content on them, others have too much. It is not necessary to have a page-long listing of every single service that your firm provides.

Instead, think about searcher intent. What services seem to be in most demand in your area? You may wish to focus your site content on those services. Another strategy is to also showcase services you offer that have the highest profit margins or services that your firm is highly rated for.

Information Depth: One of the best ways to convince prospects that you/your firm are experts is to use your site to showcase that expertise by providing deep-dive content.

While your competitors may shy away from doing this, thinking that companies may try to "do it themselves" if you give them too much information, rest assured, they are not likely to do this. Accounting is something best done by experts, and client companies know this.

But by giving them depth in your content (really getting in to the "nitty gritty," offering checklists, problems/pitfalls to avoid, etc.) you will be proving you know your stuff - and are much more likely to convert a site visitor to a client.

Site Navigation Issues: In addition to having the most relevant content, detailed content, on your site, you need to make sure that visitors can navigate (move from page-to-page) easily.

And make sure to check your links. Both navigation/category links as well as internal links (links placed within text content) are not broken. Nothing is more frustrating for people than for them to click a link that does not load a page because it is broken. Broken links can be generated whenever you change your site structure or remove pages. And internal links can become broken even if you have done nothing, simply because an external source you have linked to no longer exists.

Is Your Site a YMYL Site? What Google May be Telling You …

Have you ever heard of a YMYL site? Google has defined YMYL sites as any site where acting on information in that site could have a significant impact on their happiness, safety, finances or health. Many sites fall into the YMYL (short for "Your money or your life") category, such as medical practice sites, dentists and doctors, those dispensing medical advice or information, banking/finance sites, investment sites and the like.

And an accounting firm is certainly in the YMYL category, as accounting expertise (or the lack thereof) will surely impact client experiences.

So let's do a little bit of competitor analysis. Go to the search engines, do a little searching, and locate your site and make a note of its current ranking (position in the results listings). Now find some of your competitors. Where are their sites ranked compared to yours? If they are currently being ranked higher - especially much higher - there is a reason for that.

And for YMYL sites, Google has told us that E-A-T in site content is critical. They must be able to determine that your site content has been prepared by experts. EXPERTISE is the E in the E-A-T acronym. That's why your content should include written bios/summaries that provide proof that the writer is qualified to write on that topic.

Mentioning degrees and certifications attained, years employed, awards given, past writings (if published) are all ways to demonstrate AUTHORITY, the A in E-A-T. Another important aspect of authority is what other people are saying about the content writer or the business as a whole. If that person is seen as an authority by others, as opposed to someone who is a self-appointed authority, your authority score will go up significantly.

Overall, you need to satisfy the search engines (as well as any humans who may be inspecting you) that your site can be trusted in the information it is providing. TRUSTWORTHINESS is the T in E-A-T, and your entire site should scream "This is a source of information that you can trust." And ideally others should be saying that as well.

How can you make that happen? Often this will require writers to get out there and get their content onto other sites, syndicating it through various channels, especially if it is generating significant positive responses, linking, retweeting, etc.

Website Authority and Blogs

ALL businesses should have a blog section, and that blog should be updated frequently with up-to-date content. Following the above advice on E-A-T and making sure that you have subject-matter experts (SME's) prepare your content, making sure that their credentials and background/experience are fully detailed in the author bio, is an EXCELLENT way to not only demonstrate authority and trustworthiness, but over time you will be building a reservoir of useful information.

This content will eventually be crawled and indexed by search engines (like Google and Bing) and if it ranks highly enough, those blog pages will be visible to humans who may pop over for a look around.

By the way, did you know that we have content writers who are very skilled in writing on financial topics, including accounting? You can get detailed and researched content (complete with external links to authority sources if you like) that you can review and once approved, you can use to keep your blog fresh - or to put into syndication (think LinkedIN or a company Facebook page). You have a lot of options here, so we invite you to book a consultation call to discuss what options are available to you.

Social Media Tips for Accounting Firms

An important aspect of SEO for accountants and accounting firms is to make sure that you are present and active in the social media sphere.

Social media is important to SEO because it is a living ecosphere: its where people are sharing and interacting with one another in a two-way (sometimes multi-way) "conversation" of posts, reposts, likes/dislikes, etc. And the more people have a chance to interact with you, get to know you and your outlook, the lower the barriers to working with you will go. And when they feel comfortable enough, they will reach out to continue the conversation 1-1 as a prospective client.

There are three keys to success in social media:

  1. Post regularly. Most companies fail in social media because they make a good start and get content out there, but soon the pressures of other priorities cause this activity to fall by the wayside. Most accounting firms have had better success by assigning the task of SM interactions to one or more staff who have the interest and time to keep it going.
  2. As to content, don't bore people. For example, most people don't have an interest in recent changes to the specifics of auditing procedures, but they do have an interest in knowing what documentation they need to compile before the audit is conducted, so write about that. And any tips you can share on how to save money by cutting costs or lowering their taxes will surely find an audience anywhere.
  3. Set aside time to interact with commenters. The third major mistake firms make when stepping out into the social media world is that they underestimate the time that will be needed to interact with their online audience. Some will even see this in a negative light - taking time away from other pressing needs.

But interacting with your online audience (followers) is the whole point of the SM experience. And the more successful your SM efforts are, the more time interactions will take. But at the end of the day it's totally worth it because when someone posts a reply to something that you have posted, that person's followers will see it also - and that multiplies your audience reach to these second- and third-tier connections.

How SEO Professionals Can Help

As you can see from the above discussion - and we've only touched on a few areas that are of the highest importance - there is a lot of moving pieces to SEO. And there a number of things we have not even covered in this overview.

We would like to propose that your best course of action would be to get professional assistance for your website's SEO. Why?

  • Time & Money. If you handle SEO tasks in-house, you should be prepared to spend a lot of time and money to get the job done. SEO can be a labor-intensive activity, and staff who are pressed for time because they have other responsibilities inevitably make mistakes or take shortcuts. And hiring someone on your staff to do SEO full-time is expensive. You'll be much better off (especially in your pocketbook) if you use a third-party provider.
  • Expertise. How much to your staff know about SEO, really? Don't risk your website ranking on someone who is just a "dabbler" in this field. Wrong tactics can sink your web rankings. It's just not worth it. Your clients chose you because of your expertise in the field. You need to choose experts who know what SEO works for accounting sites, and what doesn't.
  • Whole-vs-Parts Strategizing. Some think of SEO in terms of its parts. Link building. Content. Social. Technical issues. But the power of SEO comes into play by developing an overall, comprehensive SEO strategy to get you top rankings and keep you there once you've won the top spot. And for that you real professionals.

How to Get Started Today

Don't think about this any longer. SEO for accountants is a reality, and the longer you delay that harder it will be to catch up to your competition.

We're not asking you to spend any money. We are asking you to reach out and schedule a booking call with us so we can talk to you and determine what strategies will work best to move the needle for your site.

We're waiting to hear from you - and excited to work with you, so why not reach out today?

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