SEO or search engine optimisation is often thought of as simply being a box of tricks that gets your site to the top of the search engine results.
Many people will read up on SEO and think “so, I add keywords to the page and it will automatically appear in the results” but sadly there is a lot to more SEO than this as any SEO professional will tell you.
But before you start to think about the technical side of what you are doing (with the worry about meta tags, keyword density, no-follow tags, and all the other things that you might read about) you need to think about what you want to be found in the engines for.
Remembering that this blog is about SEO for Accountants we will take a look at why thinking about what you want to be found for is important to your business.
You are an accountant based in Cambridge for example, you’re a fairly small firm that has decided to concentrate on small businesses (say those with a turnover of less than £1m), your current clients are all based in a fairly tight geographical area (something that is not that unusual as the search engines say that people tend to look for professional services in their local area) covering for example Newmarket, Ely, Royston and Saffron Walden. Many people might say – “I want to feature for the word “Accountants” or “Chartered Accountants”” but we would suggest that you should be looking to be in the search results for “Accountants in Cambridge” or even for one of the other areas that you currently service.
Again, you want to feature for business tax returns and the temptation might be to say “CT600 Returns” using the terminology that the HMRC and accounting industry use – but stop to think for a moment, would the average business man use CT600 or are they more likely to type in “corporation tax” into a search engine? It’s all very well coming at the top of the search engines for a phrase that no-one would search for, but how much use will it be to your business?
There are many ways to come up with a list of valid phrases that you would like to feature for. A process that we find works well is to ask your family and friends (even those down the local pub) what they would type into a search engine to find your type of business – try to get as wide a mix of people as possible so that you cover the various services that you provide. Then look at the most popular results of this exercise and ask your SEO firm to see how popular the phrases are as reported by the search engines (and what the competition is like). The reason for this latter step is that if you have a choice between aiming for two phrases that have the same number of searches in a month but one has 5 million competing pages and the other only has 250,000 competing pages the latter should be much easier to feature for in a short time space. Of course, if you use a specialist SEO firm that only works in one industry sector then they may already know the best performing phrases that have worked with other clients and this could save you the time and effort in doing your own research.
I said at the top of this blog post that SEO about to get you to the top of the search engines, this is partially true but it’s real purpose (as with most forms of marketing) is to attract new clients for your business. Generally a typical Accountant’s website is not going to get people to sign up for you after a visit to your site, what they are usually aimed at is getting prospective clients to contact you so that you can talk to them, find out how you can help them and then sign them up as clients. Anyone that tells you that SEO is purely about getting you to the top of the search engines is missing out on the real purpose.