Are you Ready for Your Firm to be Seen?

Are you Ready for Your Firm to be Seen?

If you’re a small to midsized accounting firm trying to build up your client base around your geographic or niche area, you need to be paying attention to your search engine optimization (SEO).

Which means, you must pay attention to your website.

You already know that your website is the online version of your firm shingle. You already know that there is a need for your services (accounting, tax, advisory, etc.) in your area. The clients are out there. Referrals are great; but what about another way to generate leads?

This is where SEO come in.

When you add in blogging with well-designed SEO optimized images, it’s the perfect strategy for the firm who is focused on expanding its presence, both online and in its geographic area, building out a specific practice area and developing thought leadership in your market.

SEO best practices are changing all the time. And it can get confusing. I caught up with Amna Shamim, SEO specialist and founder of Legal Green Marketing to talk shop. Shamim works with small and medium size cannabusinesses who are looking to come up first among the ranks of Google. Can the same strategies be used for accounting firms? Yes. Especially those firms who identify themselves as cannabis CPAs.

LG: You have a three-part process when you work with your SEO clients. Can you tell us about that?

AS: Yes, the roadmap to a well-optimized and high-ranking site is in three steps. The first is your site analysis, which is assesses your current site status. This includes your authority numbers, some sites with which you share keyword competition and up to 10 keywords you are currently ranking for and where. The second part is implementing your on-site recommendations, which digs into the top areas to target to improve your on-site SEO.  This can be a range of things.  Some examples might be: optimizing your meta-descriptions, rewriting your copy to be more Google-friendly, optimizing your images, etc. And third is your off-site strategy, a way to raise your authority numbers (and with them your Google ranking) and to drive traffic to your site. Depending on what part one looks like, this could be press releases, guest posting, building your presence on social media etc. I also do regular broken link and spam link checks as part of this on-going service to ensure all links are good and driving traffic/SEO juice.

LG: For the off-site part of the process, you only work with clients for six months or longer. Why is that?

AS: This is an on-going process that takes time. I require my clients to sign up for a six-month contract. This is because a white-hat SEO strategy generally takes 18 months to fully take hold and about three to six months to see any progress. Anything faster requires shady methods that Google could notice and punish the site for by deindexing it.  Deindexed sites are impossibly hard to get back into Google (there are people who do nothing but help deindexed sites get reindexed…there are no guarantees…for lots of money.) If you’re trying to rank for a really tough keyword (“lawyer nyc” for example) it takes longer and can cost six figures/year.  Really. Usually there is some improvement to report within six months so although the client may not be where they want, they’re at least seeing progress.  In a non-competitive market (“breast implants reading pa” for example), it’s often possible to get on page 1 within 6 months and then the focus is getting to the top.  

LG: Part of the off-site process requires building up your online presence. Blogging is a great way to do this. For many firms, coming up with four blog posts a month can be challenging. How often should a firm or company publish new blog posts?

AS: As they say, more is better.  I recommend at least 4 blog posts/month but have allowed clients to sign up for as little as 2 blog posts/month with the written understanding that their SEO rankings could take much longer to improve. Fresh content is very important to Google so if we’re only publishing twice a month, we’ll still see results but slower. Increasing the length of the blog posts can help mitigate some of impact of fewer blog posts/each month.

LG: What do you say to people who know they need their website to be more optimized but don’t know where to begin?

AS: I feel like SEO for most people is like taxes. You know it’s important and you need to do them right so you don’t get penalized. However, learning how to do them correctly while getting the most return is really time-intensive and scary and takes away from actually building your business. I pay an accountant and most people who are serious about their ROI also pay a SEO person, whether that’s in-house or a consultant.


Screaming Females Let Loose

Screaming Females Let Loose

Yo. So meet the Screaming Females. They’re out of New Brunswick, New Jersey. They kick it pretty hard. Marissa, the singer, has a pretty incredible vocal range. At least I think so.
I had the opportunity to interview them over email recently for GO! Magazine. You’ll be hearing more about them. In the meantime check out their myspace page and read what they did to my questions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use all the info they gave me for the story, so I’m running their responses here. Oh, one last thing: they were uber-professional to work with. Mucho grateful for that. Enjoy:

How would you describe the band’s musical style?
Mike: Uhhggg…
Jarrett: We either like to call it “rock” or “lesbian dinosaur space rock” depending on how specific you want to be.
Marissa: We’ve been written up as, “Generic hardcorish rock”

Musical influences?
Mike: Hunchback.
Jarrett: John Cage, Stravinsky, and the RZA.
Marissa: Oh my god, the Aerosmith documentary, “PUMP”. A masterpiece.

Any particular bits of pop culture right now you’re inspired by?
Mike: World’s most Blankiest Blank, America’s funniest home videos…
Jarrett: I’m inspired by the fact that…uh…pop culture has made me feel as though we’re in a new dark ages…
Mike: Explosions are cool.
Marissa: I like to read Star magazine in the supermarket. Cat Fancy…you know…

So the band make-up is Marissa, King Mike and yourself. Can I have full names? Who plays what and how did you all get together? I hate to be a prick reporter and ask this, but I gotta know for the mag’s sake: who is queer among the bunch?
Marissa Paternoster – Guitar/Vocals
Jarrett Dougherty – Drums
KingMike – Bass
Marissa: Michael and I were in a band called Surgery on TV. He was still in high school and I had just started going to Rutgers University. That band lasted about six months until one of our members left for college. Jarrett was working on a New Brunswick compilation with a couple other kids, I had two songs on it and he contacted me about doing an interview for a music zine he had started….
Jarrett: …and hanging out. It was a shitty zine. I had given up on ever being in a band in New Brunswick. When Marissa came over to hang out I had no assumptions that we would ever play in a band together…
Mike: I just got lucky. I was hanging out with the right people.
Marissa: Needless to say, we regrouped as Surgery on TV until we decided to just go for it as a three piece. We changed our name and that was that. Mike’s kissed more boys than I have but I guess I’m the queer one. I hate this question.
Marissa: Jarrett is the least queer. Can you write that?
Jarrett: What?
Mike: You’ve kissed less dudes.
Jarrett: I don’t like your definition.
Marissa: Mike develops man-crushes all the time.

I have to admit your rifts and lyrics are pretty catchy and encourage body movement. I imagine you have followers mouthing along with you at shows. When that happened the first time, what was that like? It seems you’d be a killer party band. What’s your most memorable playing-out experience?

Marissa: Most people don’t know what I’m singing. They make effort to mouth the words and I really appreciate their enthusiasm.
Jarrett: People started adding their own little things to the music which is fun. They do more than just sing along. Our good friend Cheeseman, who is a very large man, screams “I’m reaaaadyyyy!” when he just sees us on the street.
Mike: He is a huge man.
Jarrett: Most of the shows we have played are in New Brunswick, NJ. Shows in New Brunswick aren’t parties. If I was hanging out in a college town working a shitty job after I’ve graduated just to throw parties I’d feel pretty sad about myself.
Mike: We don’t like parties but we like to party.
Jarrett: In Burlington, Vermont we played for our roadie. We were going to leave after playing one song, but then the promoter showed up and told us we couldn’t leave. We did anyway, went down the street and played at a hardcore show. Another memorable experience was at some show in Brooklyn, were a manager type fellow told me I had to “jump through hoops” or I would never make it in this business. In San Francisco we were playing this co-op record store where we played for a hundred people freaking out.
Mike: There was this time that we played a show, and uh, we sucked really hard, and then it started raining and everyone got their equipment muddy except for us because we already played. It was pretty sweet.

How’d you name the band?
Marissa: We picked it at random out of a book of poetry. I don’t even remember what book it was.

And do you all do this full-time?
Jarrett: I spend all my hours working on this band, drinking beer, or working at my shitty job.
Mike: I spend most of my time drinking beer.

If you had a band motto what would it be?
Mike: Ten more songs!
Marissa: Ughh….
Mike: Life sucks, go on tour!

What has the band been up to as of late? Do you have an album?
Jarrett: I just moved into a new house. We got home from summer tour.
Marissa: We have two albums. One is called “Baby Teeth” and the other one is called “What if Someone is Watching their TV?” We also have a self-titled 7″.
Jarrett: We release everything ourselves.

What’s coming up?
Mike: We’re going to go play some festival or something. It’s gonna be fun. I’m gonna have a good time.
Jarrett: We’re going to record a third album. After this interview we’re going to practice. Then we’re going to go to a BBQ. Then we’re going to go to Mike’s house to see Hunchback.
Mike: I’m going to put all my beer in my room so no one steals it.

Who updates your blog, it’s rad?!
Mike: Once in a blue moon I will.
Jarrett: Marissa put up pictures and art. I write about Walt Whitman and weird shit.
Mike: I put up that post about the canned cheeseburger.

And lastly, future goals, what are they? What’s the scene like in New Brunswick, New Jersey?
Jarrett: Well, last night there was this mongoloid on the corner and he was peeing on the street and he was yelling at everyone that passed by…and he said…”blah blah blah, you’re going to suck his balls later…”
Marissa: Oh, it’s just terrific.
Jarrett: If you’re at a good show in New Brunswick, it’s probably the best place in the world. There are good shows often. The time in between is just a bunch of drunk mongoloids…overpriced rent…
Mike: We have these sandwiches that people like…
Jarrett: Stop.
Mike: Maxim magazine is a fan of those sandwiches…from the grease trucks.
Jarrett: Some magazine voted it the number one sandwich in the country.
Mike: Yeah, Maxim.
Marissa: Let’s not talk about the grease trucks.
Mike: My future goals? Not to go back to school, ever.
Jarrett: My goal is to never make a resume.
Mike: I want to play music or see music for the rest of my life.
Marissa: I want a cat.
Mike: I want a cat named Henry really bad. I’ve wanted one for years. My dad would never name our cats Henry.
Jarrett: Thank you so much for writing an article about us even though we don’t have a publicity agent. Thanks to everyone who lets us play even though we don’t have a booking agent.