What is SEO and can it help my accountancy practice gain new clients?
This first question marks the start of a fortnightly Q&A blog post that should provide accountants with a better understanding of what search engine optimisation is and how it can help drive prospects to their website.
I will try to keep things as jargon-free as possible during these sessions.
What is search engine optimisation (SEO)?
Search engine optimisation (optimization if you are not in the UK), also referred to as SEO, can probably be summarised as:
Improving a web page’s ranking in the search engines results
Although this definition captures the essence of SEO, it is probably too simplistic to be totally accurate: three main component of SEO are missing.
Web pages vs. website
Search engines rank pages not sites, and this differentiation is important. When working on search engine optimisation, work should be carried out on individual pages as well as the website as a whole. Improvements should also be carried out “outside” of a website in order to obtain links, which are the basis of today’s search engines algorithms (ranking factors). Quality links are essential to obtaining good rankings for competitive keywords.
Our definition becomes more accurate even though two components of SEO are still missing:
Improving all the different aspects of a website in order for its pages to obtain better ranking in the search engines results.
Organic (SEO) vs. Sponsored (PPC)
Search engine result pages are usually split in 2 areas: organic results and sponsored listings.
Some result pages are a bit more complex and include mixed result types that can be map, videos, images, search trends, stock market information … these are called “universal” results.
Search engine optimisation will only help improve your web site ranking in the area said to be “organic” (areas highlighted in yellow in the above images). The good thing is that organic results are usually the ones that receive the most clicks even on universal result pages. Our SEO definition is now:
Improving all the different aspects of a website in order for its pages to obtain better ranking in the organic search engines results
Better, but still not perfect as there is currently no mention of relevancy.
Relevancy is the last component of search engine optimisation: relevancy of your keywords to your target audience / market and their search query.
There is no point in trying to get good rankings for keywords that your target audience is not looking for *. Accountancy, tax, business and geo-keywords should therefore be very high on your list of words you want your pages to rank for.
You should ask yourself: are people looking for “accountants in your town” or “accountants in your county“? Are they searching for “reducing tax liability” or “how to reduce taxable income”? Answering these questions will help you create content that your audience is looking for and should help convert visitors into prospects.
Our definition of search engine optimisation is now complete:
Improving all the different aspects of a website in order for its pages to obtain better ranking in the organic search engines results for relevant search queries.
*Brainstorming is usually a good way to get started on keywords list creation. Nothing then beats a good thesaurus. Finally, you can then use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool and Google Suggest Scraper Tools to sort which keywords are the more popular.