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.