Using SEO to Get More Accounting Clients 

Using SEO to Get More Accounting Clients 

September 15, 2020

|

Doug Haines

How to Use Search Engine Optimisation to Get More Accounting Clients 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the art of creating content and optimising your existing pages, so your website ranks on Google. 

Your customers use the search engine to get answers to their questions. If your website ranks for the right terms, people will click on the page when looking for answers. You can use this opportunity to sell your service. 

While the idea is simple, competition can be intense, and established websites are more likely to rank for terms with high-volume. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of opportunities for accounting firms that are new to SEO to rank. You just need to put in place a consistent, targeted strategy. 

In this article, we will show you how accountants can rank their website on Google. We will use the example of tax accounting, but the general tactics are valid no matter your speciality. 

How to Choose Which Keywords to Target

Keywords are the terms people search for on Google. Things like “best accountant in London” when looking for an accountant in their area. 

The first part of an SEO strategy is finding keywords to target. The best ones will have lots of users searching for them but few other websites creating content on the subject. The terms will also relate to the service you provide. 

There are tools you can use to find good keywords. At Kalium Marketing, we use a program called Ahrefs.

To find keywords using the program, sign up and head over to the Keyword Explorer feature. Then,  enter your accounting speciality into the search bar and choose the country you want Ahrefs to show data for. 

Your accounting speciality acts as your primary keyword. The software will use this information to show you related terms you can also target.

The search results page provides basic information about how to rank for the term. As you can see, according to the Keyword Difficulty rating, Ahrefs estimates that it will be relatively easy for a website to rank for “tax accounting.” A good sign.

The page also shows that this keyword has around 150 people searching for it every month.

To find other terms, click on “view all” in the “keyword ideas” section. Here you will see information about these keywords, such as the volume of monthly searches and the keyword difficulty.

There are 47 pages of keywords relating to the term “tax accounting.” This is too many to rank for, so we need to narrow down our list. You can add priority keywords to a list by clicking the plus sign next to the entry. 

When choosing keywords, you should also consider the intent of the person searching. 

For example, the term “tax accounting courses UK” is less relevant, although it has high monthly volume and low keyword difficulty, users searching for this term are searching for accounting courses, not the services of an accountant.

You can then export your selected keywords to a spreadsheet. Here are some we felt were promising.

They all have a relatively high volume, low keyword difficulty, and are relevant.

How to Rank Your Content

Now we have a list of keywords, we need to look at the best way to get our website to show up when people search for them. Google considers a large variety of factors when deciding which pages to show at the top of the search results. The most important factors are:

  • Backlinks: Backlinks are when a different website links to your site. More links from high-quality domains suggests to Google that content is high-quality. 
  • Searcher Intent: This relates to whether the page answers the specific question the user is searching for.
  • Keywords: High ranking pages will typically include the keywords people are searching for.
  • Site experience: The site should offer a good user experience. It should be fast to load and have high-quality content.

Backlinks

Your website receives a backlink when another site links to a piece of your content. The theory is that people link to useful content, so the more referrals a page or website has, the better the content should be.

Google considers the number of backlinks a site has, how relevant the referring page is to the content, and how authoritative the site giving the backlink is. A backlink from the Financial Times, for example, has significantly more ranking power for an accounting website than one from a cooking blog. 

Ahrefs provides much insight into the backlink profile of sites that rank on Google. The below image shows the top-ranking pages for the term “property tax accountant.” You can see that the site ranked number one has 1,006 backlinks from 42 domains.

The key things to look for on this page are the:

  • Ahrefs Rank (AR): A score that ranks the strength of the website’s backlink profile compared to other sites in the Ahrefs database. The lower the score, the stronger the website.
  • Domain Rating (DR): A score that ranks the strength of the domain’s backlink profile from 1 to 100, with 100 being a strong website.
  • URL Rating (UR): A score that ranks the strength of the exact URL’s backlink profile from 1 to 100, with 100 being the strongest. 

To rank for the keyword, your website’s AR, DR, and UR should be similar to the sites on the first page. This isn’t set in stone, though, as Google takes plenty of factors into account when ranking content. 

Searcher Intent

Google always tries to ensure its search results show content that matches what the searcher wants to find. 

While we can guess what a user may be looking for, our idea of user intent may differ to Google’s. As Google controls the algorithm, you should make sure your content matches what Google thinks a useful page is. 

The best way to find out what Google considers a good match is to look at the pages that are already ranking for your target term. 

You should consider:

  • Type of page: Is it a blog post, article, webpage, etc?
  • Content on the page: Is it a list, an opinion piece, a news article, a how-to guide, a helpful tool, an ‘about’ page?
  • How long is the page? Does Google think a long in-depth article is required to help the user? Or is a short, snappy, article enough?
  • What content and information does the article provide? Try to cover similar topics in your content.

Looking at the results page for “property tax accountant,” you can see that most of the ranking pages are either web domains for property accountants or pages for general accountants that also offer property tax as a service. The pages are typically short and contain information about the service. For example, this one below from Jeffreys Henry LLP. 

To rank for this keyword, your best bet would be to create a page on your website that has details about your property tax accounting service and how it can help. 

Keywords

Including the search terms you are trying to rank for in your content helps Google define what your page is about. Accountants that want to rank for “property tax accountant” should include this and similar terms in their content.

You can put keywords in:

  • The page’s URL.
  • The page’s title.
  • One of the headings.
  • The first paragraph.
  • The meta description.
  • Throughout the general text.

The key is to include the keyword enough for Google to understand what your page is about, without distracting from the readers’ experience. 

Google will understand synonyms and similar phrases. For example, the Jeffreys Henry LLP page doesn’t contain the phrase “property tax accountants,” yet it still ranks for the term. This is in part because it uses the phrases “property accountants” and “property tax advisors.”

You can optimise a single piece of content for multiple search terms. The Jeffreys Henry page also ranks highly for the keywords in the image below. An accounting firm targeting “property tax accountants” may also be able to rank the same piece of content for the below terms. 

Site Experience

Google considers the experience of using a site when deciding which websites rank. Here are some factors that affect the site experience:

  • Does your page load quickly? Use Google Page Speed Insights to discover how quickly your page loads and get suggestions for what to do if it is slow. 
  • Is your website secure? Enable SSL on your website so people can connect securely via HTTPS.
  • Does your site perform well on both mobile and desktop? Your website should be responsive so that it works equally well on both mobile and desktop. Make sure images and fonts are easy to view and that all menus and content are accessible on both platforms.
  • Is your website well organised and easy to navigate? Think about how you structure your content to make it easy for users to find what they are looking for. Organising your website into categories and interlinking between articles can help.

Site experience is hard to define but you can get a good idea of whether people enjoy your page through Google Analytics. If people spend a long time on the page and view other content on your website, it suggests they enjoy the site. If they bounce straight away, it could suggest there is a problem. 

SEO Takes Time, But the Rewards Can Be Huge

While the information in this article may seem quite simple, it’s important to remember that implementing an SEO strategy takes time.

You need to create high-quality, targeted content consistently for several months before you are likely to begin to rank. Once you start to gain traction, the benefits are huge as you will receive a steady stream of potential customers visiting your site. 

Newsletters for Accounting Firms

Newsletters for Accounting Firms

September 15, 2020

|

Doug Haines

Newsletters for Accounting Firms

Previously we have covered how accounting firms can build authority and keep in touch with their audience using LinkedIn and by updating their blog. Email newsletters are another effective way to achieve both these goals. They have several benefits over other forms of communication:

  • Everyone has email: You can reach people who may not be active on social media sites.
  • You own your list: A change to a social media algorithm won’t affect your ability to contact leads.
  • People have opted in to receiving the email: This means there is a high chance they find what you say or do interesting. 

What are Email Newsletters?

Newsletters typically provide your audience with informational content about your industry and your business. They can include some promotional material, but most of the email should be content the person receiving wants to read and can benefit from. 

The main reason to send out a newsletter is to nurture leads and keep your company front-of-mind until the person is ready to buy. It can be especially useful for accounting firms as the sales cycle in the sector can be long.

Typically, you will send out email newsletters at regular intervals, so people know when they will receive them. Exactly how often you send out your email will depend on how much time you have to commit to email and the subject matter you are writing about. 

Target Your Emails

If you have already settled on a niche, this won’t be a problem. Those targeting real-estate customers can send updates and content related to real estate; those targeting the self-employed can do the same for freelancers and sole traders. 

If you plan to create content about a variety of topics, asking people what type of content they want to receive when they sign up can be an excellent way to segment your audience before sending your emails. 

What makes the Smith and Williamson email newsletter sign-up page great is that subscribers can choose exactly what type of content they want to receive. 

Types of Content to Include in Your Email

#1. Curated Content on a Specific Topic

Curated content newsletters are those where the company provides links to a variety of articles or resources on a single topic that interests the reader. You can link to stories you have created or third-party content. 

The aim is to provide a complete rundown of everything that is going on in the industry you cover. The good thing about curating content is that you don’t have to spend much time creating content; you just need to write the emails – although curation can be time-consuming. The downside is that when people click on third-party links, they will leave your platform. 

Accounting Example: KPMG Tax Matters Digest

A good example of a curated newsletter is the KPMG UK “Tax Matters Digest.” This is a bi-weekly email about tax issues and government announcements related to tax. Each email typically covers a specific topic and links out to other useful resources. KPMG also publishes the newsletter online.

Non-Accounting Example: FoundersGrid

FoundersGrid is a weekly newsletter that provides readers with news about startups and investing. 

The team behind the newsletter curates all the week’s top stories, providing a resource that makes it easy for subscribers to keep up-to-date with the industry. 

What is interesting about the newsletter is that in late 2019 it was bought by venture capital firm Smash.vc. 

The company kept the newsletter the same, just adding their own branding. The actual content of the email is not promotional. By continuing to create a useful resource, the company gets its brand in front of a relevant audience. 

An accounting firm could implement a similar strategy by creating a targeted newsletter that potential customers would find useful. The key is to find a unique idea.

Imagine a firm that created a newsletter with updates about all the most important small business stories in the local area. This would be incredibly useful to local business leaders.

This could ultimately get your accounting firm in front of a highly targeted group of potential customers.

#2. Your Own Content

Accountancy firms can create newsletters that link to their own blog content and reports. This type of newsletter will typically have a central theme that the email covers. Many of the Big Four firms send out their own content via email. However, for this example, we have chosen a newsletter from a smaller firm. 

Example: Knight and Company

In the Knight and Company newsletter, the firm sends out an email that includes stories relevant to small businesses, sole traders, and freelancers. Each newsletter has links to articles on the company’s blog. 

It is quite a simple newsletter and could be more interesting if the company added some analysis or comment on the links. Nonetheless, it is a useful resource for small businesses.

Use Stories To Show How Effective Your Service Is

Use Stories To Show How Effective Your Service Is

September 15, 2020

|

Doug Haines

Customer Success Stories

Customer success stories, or case studies, are an essential part of your content marketing strategy. They allow you to show future customers how effective your service is and how it has helped people in a similar position.

The key to creating an engaging customer success story is to make it relatable to the people reading it. You can do this by telling an interesting story with a personal angle, and by being specific when explaining how your accounting firm can help. 

We’ll illustrate each of the points using a case study from PwC titled “Kapsch: A strategic transformation”.

Here are seven points you should consider when creating a customer success story.

#1. Tell an Interesting Story

Case studies need to resonate with the people reading them. While facts and figures do help, people relate most to engaging stories. 

There are not many organisations better skilled at storytelling than Pixar. The company has shared the rules it uses to craft great stories, which we can use when creating case studies. The fourth rule is of particular benefit to us – it says that you should always use this basic structure when telling stories: 

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

To make the rule applicable to accountants, we can translate it into:

  • Introduce the character — namely, your customer.
  • Explain what their life was like before they used your service. What challenges were they facing?
  • Talk about why they hired your firm and how you helped them.
  • Show how their life is better now you have solved their problems.

Example:

The PwC case study does an incredible job of setting the scene. It sets the story up as a historical family business that has continued to stay at the forefront of technology for over 100 years. Here are the first two paragraphs of the article.

There is a thrilling magic to watching nocturnal traffic dart across an illuminated urban landscape. Lights blur into colourful patterns as millions of vehicles dance their way to different destinations, their tempos moderated by lights, tolls and road patterns. In the 21st century, this mosaic is being infused with new technology that is helping to speed up journeys, reduce pollution and avoid congestion in ways that will significantly change urban life. At the forefront of this transformation is Kapsch TrafficCom, part of the Kapsch Group, a family business which is in the process of morphing its own business to keep ahead of these changes.

Kapsch was founded as a precision workshop in Vienna 1892 to build telephone equipment and Morse telegraph devices. Over the past century, the rhythm of Kapsch’s own business has changed many times, much as traffic flows themselves, as technology shifted and new markets emerged. Around the turn of this century, Kapsch started to invest in electronic toll collection systems, and installed these worldwide. Today the company’s state-of-the-art traffic and mobility technology touches millions of vehicles across the world. Kapsch is a well-known brand in Austria and the parent group, which employs more than 7,000 people, has revenues of 1.1 billion Euros of which 700 million Euros comes from the Kapsch TrafficCom operations.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to be quite so poetic in your own case study. But this is still a great example of how you can tell a story that is far more than just explaining how you helped a business with its accounting.

#2. Give Your Stories a Human Element  

People relate most to characters they can empathise with. To make your story more appealing, include personal details that bring your stories to life.

For example:

  • Instead of saying a small business was struggling with cash flow, say the owner was worried they would have to let some of their long-standing staff go due to cash flow issues. 
  • Instead of saying better processes helped save a sole trader five hours every week, talk about how they no longer have to work late into the evening to organise invoices, and how this lets them spend more time with their family. 

Be sure to focus your interview on how your service affected your customer’s life, and make sure the questions are open-ended. Don’t be afraid to get customers to expand on answers if you think what they say is interesting.

Example:

PwC makes the case study personal by introducing the CEO of the company and talking about his vision for the future. It also includes quotes and even a video.

The entrepreneur, who took over as CEO in 2001, has a vision of a future in which connected cars, equipped with internet access, constantly communicate with other vehicles and roadside infrastructure to offer new ways for people to live, park and shop. This would include new services that help people navigate and intelligent communications embedded in the cities of the future, making all the different travel options available: from cars to public transport to bikes and autonomous vehicles, “We knew the time was right to transform our business and organisation, and we have already successfully done that back in 2001” he says.

By introducing the “vision” it sets the CEO up as someone with a dream he wants to achieve. This is a far more compelling proposition than just saying he needed to restructure the business. 

#3. Choose Examples Similar to the Businesses You Are Targeting

The point of a case study is to show potential customers how your service can help them. The subject of the case study must be similar to your target audience.

If you are targeting freelancers, the case study should show how you have helped other freelancers. If you target energy companies, then show how you can help them specifically. If you want to target multiple sectors with different needs, try to create a case study for each one.

Example:

As one of the Big Four, PwC targets large companies around the world, which often need help on large and complex projects. In the case study, PwC mentions that the Kapsch parent group has revenues of 1.1 billion Euros, an ideal customer.

…across the world. Kapsch is a well-known brand in Austria and the parent group, which employs more than 7,000 people, has revenues of 1.1 billion Euros of which 700 million Euros comes from the Kapsch TrafficCom operations.”

#4. Make it Specific 

It can also help to include details about the results you helped a company achieve. If you helped a small business reduce their tax bill, explain precisely how much they saved. Talk about the things they were doing wrong and how you were able to cut the bill. 

Example:

PwC put the most impressive figure straight after the introduction. Any CEO of a large company considering restructuring their organisation is going to be impressed by the results.

Kapsch TrafficCom introduced a new corporate structure that reflected Strategy&’s Fit for Growth* approach. It has helped free up more than US$100 million for new investments since 2014.

#5. Don’t Forget About Design

The case study should appear professional. Include plenty of headings, images, and diagrams that help tell your customer’s story. 

Example:

PwC includes plenty of design elements throughout the page, including videos, diagrams, and quotes that help tell the story. They also break each section of the information up into small, easily digestible chunks.  

#6. Include Calls to Action

If someone is reading your case study, they are almost certainly considering using your service. Because of this, you should be sure to include specific calls-to-action throughout the report. 

Consider asking them to set up a meeting with someone from your team to discuss the issues they are facing. 

#7. Promote the Case Study

It’s important to promote your case study effectively, PwC uses various channels. 

Example:

PwC is incredibly active in its content promotion efforts. It has Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of followers that it uses to share case studies.