Local SEO Guide for Accountants: 5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

/Local SEO Guide for Accountants: 5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings
Local SEO Guide for Accountants: 5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Google Rankings

Accountants face numerous challenges when trying to bring in new business. A major hurdle is the fact that if someone needs an accountant, she will typically run a Google search and then call the first accountant or two in the search results. To build your client list, you need to make your way to the head of the rankings.

We will lead you step by step through our proven process to boost your firm to the top of the list. But first, let’s look at why local SEO is essential for all accountants.

3 Reasons Accountants Should Invest in Local SEO

1. The Yellow Pages Are Gone, and Google Is King:

Until recently, accountants could drum up new business by placing an ad in the Yellow Pages and waiting for prospects to call. Today, however, a full 97% of people search for local businesses online, and Google is the undisputed king of the hill.

2. Free Traffic:

Its face is changing rapidly, but advertising is still one of the largest expenses for the majority of small businesses. If you improve your Google rankings, you will enjoy a steady stream of free traffic that you need only to convert into paying clients.

3. Quick Results:

While national and international companies do not see much change in their Google rankings for an average of 6 to 12 months, accountants have a major advantage. You are competing only against other accountants in your local area, not those half a world away. And many of your competitors have not yet harnessed the power of local SEO. With a targeted campaign, you could move to the first page of Google local listings in just 30 days!

Step 1: Determine Your Keywords

The first step is to make a quick list of basic keywords that describe your services. For example, you might write down “accountant”, “cpa”, and “tax advisor.” When you feel that your list is reasonably exhaustive, create a free Google AdWords account.

There is no need to worry about an ad campaign, but signing up for Google AdWords allows you to access the free Google Keyword Planner. You can input your chosen keywords into this helpful tool to see how much traffic there is, and to see suggestions for additional related keywords.

Now you are ready to decide on your final list of keywords. All keywords fall into 1 of 2 loose categories:

  • Buying Intent: Prospects searching for buying intent keywords are ready for your services now. For example, someone searching for “tax help Brooklyn” probably has specific tax questions that need to be answered as soon as possible.

    Focus primarily on buying intent keywords, which drive the speediest conversions. Make sure they are featured on your homepage, and develop service pages around them.

  • Research Intent:Prospects searching for research intent keywords are “just looking.” They might need an accountant eventually, but not yet. For example, someone searching for “what is a cpa” might be trying to understand what an accountant could do for her.

    Research intent keywords do not drive fast conversions, so they should be of lower priority in your campaign. Don’t get rid of them, though, as they are a great choice for blogs and FAQs. These posts introduce you to prospects who might remember you when they are ready to hire an accountant.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

With your final list of keywords in hand, you are ready to optimize for them in 2 places—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s how:

Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is a sort of mini-website that appears in the “Map” section of Google local listings. It provides a quick snapshot of your company, improves your online presence, and even gives you a fast rankings boost. This is because it is much easier to get a Google My Business page highly ranked than a traditional website.

Make sure the page is fully and accurately filled out, following these steps:

  • Verification: Claim your page and submit it for Google verification. You will know this was successful when you see a checkmark and the word “Verified” next to your business name.
  • NAP: Your business name, address, and phone number(NAP) should be both accurate and identical across all of your web listings. Tell Google that your business is local by listing a local phone number instead of an 800 number.
  • Categories: Google requires all categories to focus on services instead of results. For example, in addition to Accountant, you might also try Certified Public Accountant, if you have that credential. List any ancillary services as well, for a total of 3 to 5 categories.
  • Description: YThink of your description as a short overview of your company that closes with a call to action. It should be 100 to 200 words long, and formatted similarly to: {Name of Firm} offers professional {tax assistance and bookkeeping, or similar} in {Your City}. {Provide some information about your background and/or why clients love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first service!
  • Hours: Your office hours must be correct and consistent across the internet. If you offer expanded hours during certain seasons, such as tax time, share that information in a separate paragraph.
  • Images: Images can boost customer engagement, and humanize you to your prospects. Add a few photos of your office and staff. Your images must have a sharp focus, be sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. We also recommend replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Begin with your “core” pages (your homepage and service pages), optimizing them for your buying intent keywords. Later, you can optimize your “content” pages (FAQs and blog posts) for your research intent keywords. Here are the keys:

  • Homepage: The 50 to 65-character title tag is the most important element on your homepage. It is roughly equivalent to a chapter title in a book, and should be formatted similarly to: Accounting Services in {Your City} | {Name of Your Firm}.

    The meta description is 100 to 150 characters long. It briefly describes your primary services and ends with a call to action. Try to approximate this format: {Name of Firm} offers quality {bookkeeping and accounting, or similar} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for 10% off your first service!

    The visible headline, also known as the H1, must be clear and concise, and should include your primary category. This format works well: {Accountant} in {City, State}.

    The last key element is your page copy. It should include your primary keyword in a natural way, be approximately 500 to 1000 words long, and be strongly written and edited. Provide some background on your firm, briefly explain your core services, and close with a strong call to action.

  • Service Pages: Build a separate service page for each of your core services, and optimize it for a buying intent keyword exactly as you did your homepage.

Step 3: Gather Citations and Links

With the basic structure of your campaign in place, you can gather citations and links. Both increase your online reach while boosting your Google rankings.

  • Citations: A citation is simply a listing of your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) in an online directory. Your options include general national directories (yellowpages.com and Facebook), general local directories (Chamber of Commerce website), and targeted accountant directories. Make sure your NAP is identical across all listings.

    Although many directories are free, some accept only paid citations. Before you pay, take a look at Google Analytics. It makes no sense to invest in a site that is not driving traffic and conversions.

  • Links: An important element that affects your Google rankings is a collection of inbound links from high-quality, authoritative websites. Build relationships in person and online with companies that offer services that complement yours, such as financial planners. Then ask to trade web links. Use a tool like the Moz Open Site Explorer to determine where other local accountants find their links.

Step 4: Ask for Reviews

Online reviews can do 2 important things for your firm: they help to convince prospects to try your services, and they reassure Google that your business is legitimate. All reviews help, but your Google rankings will see the fastest boost from Google My Business page reviews. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to send a direct link to the review page. Instead, run a Google search for your company name, and send that URL to your satisfied clients. Ask them to click on Write a Review on the right side of the page. If you make this a habit, you will soon have a steady flow of reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

The only way to determine whether your local SEO campaign is a success, and to identify areas that need tweaking, is to track your results. Many different analyses can be performed, but these 3 data metrics are the most critical:

  • Rankings: Displayed Google search results are customized according to the searcher’s previous browsing behavior. The only way to see your true rankings is with a tool. Ask your webmaster to install the free Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools), and look at your results at least once per month.

    You can get deeper data analysis through a paid tool, such as the one available through RankRanger. This tool will track both your Google My Business page and your webpages, and will provide automatically updated ranking data from all of your SEO campaigns.

  • Traffic: Google Analytics is among the best options to track your traffic, or visitors to your website. You have the option to see your overall traffic, each webpage’s individual traffic, and even what percentage of visitors come through Google search. Take a look at your reports at least once each month, with an eye toward discovering any long-term trends.
  • Conversions:A conversion is simply a concrete action that you want your prospects to take. As an accountant, you might want prospects to contact you for 10% off one service. Google Analytics lets you track both phone and web conversions, find out which of your services drives the most conversions, and learn which of your webpages have the highest and lowest conversion rates.

Are You Ready?

Now you know why local SEO is absolutely critical for driving more prospects to your accounting firm. Work through the steps in order, and fully finish each one before you start the next. Here is a recap of the 5 steps:

  1.    Keyword research
  2.    Keyword optimization
  3.    Citations and Links
  4.    Reviews
  5.    Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping accountants attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

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