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.
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.
- 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.