Search engine optimisation for accountants – the basics

published on January 22, 2010 in SEO & PPC

Search engines are the starting point for many web users when they are looking for a new accountant (or a new “anything” for that matter). That’s why it is vital, not only for your practice to have a website, but also that your site can be found in the search engines (at the top, preferably).

Fact: In the UK, Google has close to 90% market share and is THE search engine to target first and foremost.

Although Google should be your main focus, Yahoo and Bing (formerly Live Search) can still bring in some traffic and some leads, so they shouldn’t be ignored. Luckily, the steps you should take to optimize your website for Google will also have a positive impact on your website ranking on the other two search engines.

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimisation (or Optimization according to Google) is not rocket science nor is it black magic. SEO is simply the application of many, many known rules to make sure that search engines find your website and “understand” what it is about.

Don’t get me wrong, Search Engine Optimisation is a time consuming process that requires bucket loads of very technical, and some not-so-technical, knowledge, but almost anybody can do it if they are willing to read until their eyes cry, learn until their head hurts and work at it 25 hours a day.

SEO basics

To get you started, here are some very basic information of what Search Engine Optimisation is about.

First, you need to know that Search Engine Optimisation is only a small part of a greater ensemble called Internet Marketing. Another part of the Internet Marketing ensemble is called Search Engine Marketing, often referred to as Pay Per Click (PPC) or Sponsored Listings.

Second, you need to know that SEO is usually split in two main task-groups: on-page and off-page. On-page covers everything that can be done to optimise your site itself while off-page broadly covers the link building work and your site’s neighbourhood analysis.

On-page Search Engine Optimisation in more detail

On page SEO generally involves making sure that your pages are structured properly, that your site has an adequate format and that the internal links use the important words that identify your business.

If your site doesn’t contain anything that prevents search engines from crawling it, page titles and links anchor text (blue underlined text) are usually the main on-page culprits for a poorly ranking site. This is because they are two of the most important on-page factors in the search engine ranking algorithm.

Example: if you are trying to rank for “Accountants in Birmingham” and “Accountants West Midlands”, it will be a lot easier if your page title includes the words “accountant”, “Birmingham” and “West Midlands”. It may look like “Accountants in Birmingham, West Midlands – Your Practice Name” for example.

Off page search engine optimisation in more detail

Off page SEO is the time consuming part of Search Engine Optimisation, and it is at the root of a successful B2B website. Off page SEO is usually associated with link building / link baiting or link popularity: it is the quantity, and most importantly the quality of the other websites linking to yours that will help your site gain top rankings in the search engines.

Links from other websites to yours are seen as a vote of confidence and the more “popular” the website linking to yours is, the more impact the link will have.

Links from related sites or pages – and by related I mean talking about taxes or accountancy related subjects – will also have more impact than a link from an unrelated source.

There are some other factors that determine how much impact a link has, but for that I invite you to read the “what makes a good inbound link” [link] article.

Examples:

  • a link from the BBC website will have more impact than a link from your local car dealer;
  • a link from an accountancy resource will have more impact than a link from a florist.

These really are the basics of both on-page and off-page Search Engine Optimisation and I will cover each point, as well as other important points, in more detail in forthcoming articles.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim from Accountants Harrogate February 5, 2010 at 4:34 pm

In your link examples you mentioned:
- a link from the BBC website will have more impact than a link from your local car dealer;
- a link from an accountancy resource will have more impact than a link from a florist.

How would you compare links from the BBC to links from an accountancy resource?

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netaccountant February 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Hi Tim,

First of all thank you for being the first commenter on this blog :)

I guess it would depend. The case of the BBC is a bit extreme as I believe that a link from such a site would probably outweigh any other, but generally I tend to recommend using site in the same “niche” first and then more generic sites.

Hope this answers your question.

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Martin from seo brisbane September 3, 2011 at 9:56 am

The point about the BBC and the local car dealer – I sort of hear what you’re saying.
If you were getting a link from the BBC and it was about selling cars, the local car dealer might be better, if he is considered an authority on selling cars for example.
I think what you’re meaning is that the BBC generally is considered a trusted source of information, so their ‘vote’ counts for more than a local car dealers’ site that may possibly not have had any SEO work done on it. In that case, you are absolutely correct.
The ideal situation would be that the BBC would write an article about your business, and it gets onto the front page, in which you’re quite likely to get a very large proportion of the pagerank 8 page authority to your site, as well as a mass of traffic.
I think the important thing here is that you don’t try to write for SEO – write a good quality article for humans to read, but try and weave it with little nuggets that a search engine would like. Search engines love high quality relevant information, because humans do, so both should lead to lots of traffic, and a better ranking.
Good started post indeed, nice to share some of the love, as well as being a good bloke and sharing some ‘link love’ with us all.
Martin @ seo brisbane also wrote Brisbane SEO Company- What questions to Ask

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