Why CPA’s Can’t Afford to Ignore SEO

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about search engine optimization (SEO). Other companies are doing it but why should an accounting firm care about it? We know that SEO is a fancy term for strategies that help search engines like Google find your website and other online content. With so much competition across the web nowadays, accounting firms without optimized websites risk not being found by potential clients. Costing you potential business.

SEO & Online Visibility: Don’t Get Left Behind

A recent study by CPA2Biz found that accounting and finance firms who are utilizing online marketing found that 75% of accounting firms already generate some new business leads online. Additionally, they found that 71% of all firms are planning to increase their online marketing budget next year.

The study also found that high-growth firms or firms growing five times faster than the average, are generating twice as many online leads as average firms. So what strategy did these firms say was the most effective in terms of their online marketing efforts?

You guessed it, SEO.

Why is SEO so Important to Attracting Clients?

More and more people looking for accounting services are turning to the internet to research and find prospective firms. Another study by CPA2Biz revealed that 81% of buyers of professional services go online to “check out” a firm’s website before buying a service. The study also found that 63% of potential clients perform a search in a search engine on the firm to see what turns up, whether it’s reviews, evaluations, court reports and more.

Firms that are not easily found online are quickly becoming invisible.

It’s important to note that accounting clients also search for specific topics online: accounting issues they’re dealing with, help with interpreting new regulations or trying to solve business problems. Firms that are using SEO to optimize their content whether it be whitepapers or blog posts will be the ones clients get their answers from.

So you see the value in SEO, but what are some other things you should know?

Website Optimization and Online Authority

SEO practices, in short, usually fall into two categories: optimizing your website and building online authority. To really succeed in SEO, you will need to focus on both.

  • Website Optimization: Make sure your site is responsive, meaning it looks great no matter what device you are on as well as looking at the technical “back end” of your site. It’s worth running a site audit to make sure you’re following best practices.
  • Online Authority: Activities that ensure the rest of the online community knows about your website and other content can also help boost your SEO value. The more online relationships you build across the web the better.

Google Rewards Quality

Google, which dominates the search landscape, is always changing and updating its algorithms to provide users with the most accurate and high quality results to what they’re searching for. Knowing this, it’s important to focus on quality rather than quantity. Accountants who pride themselves on offering quality solutions to their clients are in great shape to capitalize if you take the same approach when creating your website and other online content.

Duplicate Content is a No No

Google, like real people, likes original content. If your firm is subscribing to a service that provides content to your site, it really won’t help you. You could actually be penalized for it. Instead of simply publishing a news bulletin about a new tax law, try to put your own spin on it by adding your opinion or writing about how it might affect your clients.

Google’s emphasis on quality content that is relevant goes great with offline marketing tactics that accounting firms have used for years. For those firms with a great brand and strong messaging, using SEO to drive more qualified leads to your site will yield great results.

Ready to start an SEO partnership that delivers real results ?

Contact us today for a free consultation!

 

4 Major Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

So you’re a new business, and we bet it’s been pretty tough gaining traction in your target market, right?

Especially if you’re facing competition from established brands in your area. You know, ones that have been around for a couple of years! Thankfully, all this can change with one simple approach.

Yep, that’s right.

Doesn’t matter whether you’re a law firm in San Diego, a restaurant in Miami, or a jewelry store in New York.

Having a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will certainly level the playing field for you.

Going It the SEO Way

See, the beauty of local SEO is that it’s changed the realm of marketing and advertising as we know it.

No longer do you have to pay for expensive ads in your local listings just to get the word out that your business is up and running.

Or maybe hope to get your first client, who just so happens to be the chairperson of the neighborhood watch; and pray to God they put in a good word for you in the next members’ meeting!

Phew! Thank the heavens you don’t have to worry about all that!

All because of the internet of things. Specifically, the ingenuity of online advertising.

As the backbone of online marketing, SEO is THE MOST vital component when it comes to determining your site ranking on search engines like Google and Bing.

As a matter of fact, check this out….

According to Google Search statistics, Google records a whopping 40,000 searches every second, which then translates to 3.5 billion searches a day, and a mammoth 1.2 trillion annual searches worldwide!

So imagine what a first page, or even a second page ranking can do for your business…

You’ll be vacationing on that secluded Greek Isle, listening to Sade’s Sweetest Taboo in no time!

Sounds nice. But let’s snap back to reality for now….

A first page ranking might feel elusive at first. But with the right research, patience, and dedication, you might find yourself seeing a growth in organic traffic in time.

Keeping this in mind, here are 4 major SEO tips for local businesses that, when used correctly, will gradually increase your SEO ranking as well as online presence!

Optimizing your listings on Google

Hmm, optimizing your listings, does this sound remotely familiar? We bet it does because it’s one of the most vital factors for every website representing a business.

One thing you’ve got to understand is that Google automatically ranks your website the second it goes live, so that anyone searching for you will find you effortlessly.

And when they do, optimizing your listings- which is the process of including important information in your web pages regarding your business- is what will make it easier for them to locate you.

In fact, your website must have the following info to optimize your listings on Google:

  • The NAME of your business

  • The DESCRIPTION of your business. This could be content such as the mission, the vision, the goals, and objectives of your business.

  • The HOURS OF OPERATION. Are you a day, night, or 24/7 business? This can let a potential client know the right time to contact you.

  • The LOCATION. Where is your business located? Is it in Syracuse, Washington, or Miami? As Khabib Nurmagomedov would say, “Send me Location.”

  • The UPDATES. Have you made any major updates lately? Perhaps moved your main office, gotten a new executive hire, or even added some new products and services to your arsenal?

  • The REVIEWS. Honest reviews let your potential clients know that you’re an honest and trustworthy business.

  • The MENU. We can’t reiterate how important this is. Nearly every major business has a menu showcasing the different parts of its website that appears on a search. Everything from Products, Services, Contact Us, Blog, and so forth make for easier navigation.

Hold on, but what if I’m a local business planning to go national?

Well, if you’re local business planning to sprout your wings and soar the National way, then not only do you have to first optimize your local listings, but also invest a lot of time (and money) in OFFPAGE OPTIMZATION.

Hmm, but Good Monster, what is offpage optimization?

Well, let’s break it down for you. Offpage optimization refers to all the tactics applied by your business outside of its website to create multiple high- quality backlinks that will inevitably improve the position of its website’s search ranking.

Everything from backlinks, to anchor text, to domain popularity are facets of offpage optimization.

Many a national business prefer to hire a local SEO company to undertake their offpage optimization strategies.

If you’re a national/local e-commerce business, then Social Media Campaigns are the way to go

Ahh, e-commerce; the powerhouse that drives all online businesses. Unless of course you’re in the Blogosphere, which plays by its own set of rules and regulations.

For you to thrive in the world of e-commerce, you’ve got to have a strong social media presence. We’re talking the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and just about every other famous social media platform out there.

But how do you get such a massive following?

By having a series of great social media campaigns that ‘hook and sink’ as many social media users as possible.

There are many ways in which you can get started with your social media campaign.

However, most national e-commerce companies prefer to hire the services of professional social media strategists to handle all matters pertaining to social media on their behalf.

Last but not least, for both local and national businesses, hello keywords!

No matter the size of your business, keyword optimization is one of the major components of your SEO strategy.

That’s because factors such as keyword value and keyword density are some of the elements that Google bots use to determine the significance of your web page.

Are your keywords worthy enough to merit a first page ranking for a particular query?

Over the years, keywords have evolved dramatically. So much so that strategies such as keyword stuffing are pretty much dead right now, unless you want to get penalized by Google.

So we did a bit of researching and figured out some nifty ways to increase your keyword value for your website. PSST! Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret!

  • Placing a keyword in the description of your picture- The pictures that you have on your website are more than just objects of aesthetic value.

As a matter of did you know that Google actually shows the pictures of your website as part of your ranking?

So next time you have a caption or background picture text, make it a habit to include at least one keyword in there!

  • Keywords as part of your tags- Whether it’s your title tags, or your web page tags, include at least one or two keywords as part of them to improve your keywords value.

  • And of course, the proverbial keywords in the text- Yes, as part of the Google business spectrum, it’s a given that you’ll have to include some researched keywords in sections of your text. Remember, the higher the value and positioning of your keywords, the better your chances of ranking.

And voila folks! All good things must come to an end. But we do hope that you’ve internalized all we’ve mentioned in terms of building your brand in the realms of SEO.

Do you have any questions about SEO strategies and directives? Feel free to send us a comment or email here at Good Monster!

3 Reasons Why Organic Search is Better

Remember when you worked on SEO and lived and died by your placement in Google? Happy days if you ranked #1 for relevant keywords! It meant increased traffic and increased revenue. Today however, it’s different. We diversify. We look at more sources for generating traffic and revenue. Now, we use Adwords and create identities across social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Gone are the days sites are living and dying by their Google Rankings. Organic isn’t one of the cool kids anymore. It’s so 2013.

Or is it?

Undoubtedly, diversification is a must, and – if you are smart with your digital marketing plans, no longer are you at the mercy of Google. However, did we forget about our organic listings and how beneficial they can be?

“Organic search trumps other traffic generators, driving 51% of all visitors for both B2B and B2C businesses.”
BrightEdge, Cracking the Content 2014

Trends, they are a changin’

At Good Monster, we’ve noticed that companies are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems as if there is less urgency about attracting organic traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. It wasn’t long ago that sites were diligently paying attention to Google and its standards to court traffic.

Yet, should this be the direction company’s head in? With the shrinking of organic listings and the push below the fold across many SERPs, is organic still even worth it?

Here are 3 reasons why you should NOT overlook your organic listings.

1. Organic is still awesome

Organic Search is Better

It’s possible the chart may have changed slightly since BrightEdge published its report last year, however, the data still let’s organic traffic shine. To put it simply, organic is better for delivering relevant traffic. The only channel that does better in some cases is paid search ads, but that is only for conversions.

We do see that by combining channels we can outperform either channel by itself. BrightEdge states that “research supports that a blended approach is best for delivering high performing content. Not only will combining organic and paid search increase website traffic, but it will offer a bigger return on the investment. For example, take retail, technology and the hospitality industry – organic and paid search combined make up more than ⅔’s of their total revenue”

If you are ignoring your organic listings, your paid ads are not doing as well as they could either. You are leaving money on the table in both paid and organic search.

2. Getting them to stay

Paid ads and social media are great traffic generators, however they are not long-term customer creators. The bounce rates are higher and the number of pages visited is sometimes low. This makes sense, think about if you click something on your Facebook feed. If you’re like me, you view the one page and leave.

Facebook is meant to drive article visits, not overall site traffic and customer loyalty. Twitter is meant to promote customer loyalty, not create post traffic while paid ads are offering the user a reason to come visit, but not necessarily a reason to come back.

Organic on the other hand is quite different. Matching keywords to user intent means you may be present in a number of searches. The user may find you consistently, and once they get to your site, they are more likely to stay. Organic users are your best long-term customers. We have seen lower bounce rates and more pages visited. Not only that, but they are more likely to return.

3. Investment

The issue with paid referral sources is that it’s a “pay-to-play” game. You need to keep feeding the meter. Once you pull your money, you will see an instant dip in traffic. Not only this, but keep in mind these users are not seeking you out; you ran across their path and they thought “cool, something I need right this second”. If they have a great experience on your side, they may come back, but the ratio of retained visitors from paid is low in the sites we see.

When you pay for traffic, it’s like renting an apartment. Your get an immediate action but there’s no long-term buy-in from most of the visitors you get this way.

Search engine optimization and organic search however, the user’s mindset is quite different. In that case the user is looking for you (your products/services). When they find you, if you offered a great user experience, they often come back. If you are a smaller, unknown brand, repetitive appearances across results can start to increase brand recognition and brand loyalty.

The different levels

Additionally, the amount you invest in organic search can and should change. While an extended “break” is never suggested, there are times that money can be put towards other resources for a short time. For example, let’s say you are an online retailer. In the few weeks leading up to the holidays, you are not likely to get more organic placement than you already have. Not to mention, there is a very small window for shipping gifts in order for them to arrive before Christmas. Once the holidays are over, you then have your “slow season”.

In this scenario, you might decide to take a break and shift that money into immediate “last minute” sales through paid advertising. Your organic will not suffer, and your money will generate additional traffic.

Keep Organic Alive!

While you are killing it with paid advertising on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, don’t forget to invest in your organic results. The organic results will help you during those times when you cannot put more money into your paid budgets. Diversification is good, but so is organic search traffic, don’t forget about yours.

The Attention Show Q&A: Landscape of SEO and Components for Success

Attention-05-featured

Watch the full episode on YouTube here


 

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

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What do you do when you want to find a product or service? You google it. If you think about how often you use a search engine to find something, the answer is probably quite a bit. Search engines always seem to answer your question with relevant results. What makes this possible? The answer is search engine optimization.

SEO is important, that we know. But why? Let’s say you are the best law firm in the area. When someone types in “personal injury lawyer” into a search engine, your firm is no where to be found on the first 5 pages.

In this episode of the Attention Show, we dive into the landscape of SEO and its components, discussing how it has changed, ranking factors, driving traffic as well as content and social media.

Local SEO Picture in 2015

 

Google continues to roll out new updates that could be hurting your businesses online strategy, the most recent being Pigeon. This constant change and evolution has forced the local SEO industry to adapt to these new sophisticated updates.

Local search has always been and will continue to be important. Google’s new local algorithm update, has brought a higher level of specificity and accuracy to local search.

What are some things you need to know?

When did it Roll out?

Pigeon rolled out on July 24, 2014. This update changed some local results and altered how Google handles location “cues”. Google is constantly rolling out updates to it’s core algorithms. Pigeon, is an attempt to align Google’s local algorithm with it’s core algorithms.

Pigeon affects Google Maps Search and Google Web Search

Searching for something in Google Maps previously returned very different results when compared to searches conducted via Google’s web search. Once Pigeon rolled out, web search and map search are more connected in terms of search results.

Specific types of Businesses Affected

Darren Shaw of Whitespark and Search Engine Land have observed that many different types of businesses experienced a negative hit from Pigeon. Some of these businesses/niches include:

  • Mold removal
  • DUI lawyer
  • DUI attorney
  • Real estate/realtors
  • Emergency plumber
  • Commercial: Painting, construction, remodeling (anything with commercial in front of it)

What do you NEED to do?

Google is becoming smarter and better at understanding of location and what users are looking for. As changes in local search continue, how can you implement a search engine optimization strategy to best position your business in 2015 and beyond?

Have a Consistent Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)

You will want to avoid sending any kind of mixed signal to Google. Be sure your name, address and phone number are consistent throughout the web. This includes directories, social accounts and even your web pages. Tools like Moz Local make it a bit easier to be sure your NAP is consistent.

Optimize Your “Google My Business” Listing

Make sure your business location is entered correctly on the map so it is easy as possible for users to find you. You can even drag the map marker to your exact business location to make the process even easier. Additionally, fully complete your Google My Business profile with pictures, hours, payment types, website URL, etc.. Lastly, most people will ask someone they trust about a product or service before making a purchase. With Google My Business, be sure to encourage customers to review your business by clicking “write a review” on the local Google+ page.

Build your backlink portfolio

For this tip, view backlinks as “votes”. The more “votes” (backlinks) you have pointing to your web page, the higher authority Google will give it. The more authority Google gives your business, the higher you can rank in the search engine results. To gain these backlinks, you can join local resource lists or directories or even publish a piece for your local business journals website.

Conclusion

The Pigeon update marked significant changes to local search for 2014 and into this year. No longer will citations along with great H1 and title tags suffice. This was only the latest significant update brought on by Google and you can expect many more to come. Take a look and see if your business was one of many that were affected and take the correct steps to regain your ranking.