Measure what? Websites for accountants common SEO mistake

By Posted in - Public Blog on June 13th, 2016 7 Comments

Websites for accountants - The common SEO mistake

We see a lot of mistakes made by providers in the websites for accountants space. Unfortunately for most Principals and Partners of accounting firms, they are not marketing savvy enough to know they’re not getting strategic advice when it comes to their website.

And that’s understandable. They’re accountants, not marketers.

Sadly accountants are being given superficial advice at the ‘marketing for pretty pictures’ level, not at the pragmatic, strategic level that produces results.

In my opinion, accountants are being ripped off. Not by unscrupulous providers. Just by out-of-date, incompetent ones. Which is most of them in the ‘websites for accountants’ category. Accountants are paying thousands for websites that are not part of an overall ‘marketing machine’. The websites of most accounting firms are just electronic brochures. Virtual shingles.

Importance of marketing education for accountants

This lack of marketing savvy in the accounting profession is why we’re passionate about educating accountants and business advisors about marketing strategy. We do this through our online Modern Marketing Academy and our soon-to-be-released Modern Marketing ImpleMENTOR platform. And this education-focused approach works.

Award-winning, high-growth firms such as Growthwise, Inspire CA, CHANGE Accountants, Otium and Zerobooks—which have all been through our Academy—can attest to the difference-between-night-and-day impact that being up-to-date with modern marketing makes on their ability to attract inbound leads from people and businesses that match their ideal target market.

In this day and age, all business owners and entrepreneurs need to be clear on their marketing strategy and which marketing tactics and tools to use.

And let’s face it. As a business owner you cannot effectively engage or delegate to marketing providers such as website developers, graphic designers and copywriters (who create the content) if you are not clear on your own marketing strategy, the modern digital marketing frameworks and how you plan to measure the effectiveness of your marketing.

You’ll be flying blind. ‘Signing a cheque’ and hoping for the best.

And that’s risky business when it comes to your website. Your firm’s site obviously plays—or has the potential to play—a crucial role in your business’ online marketing presence and lead generation.

Ask yourself: What is the purpose of your accounting firm’s website? To make you look good? To ‘get your name out there’? To position your brand? To generate leads? Not sure?

What should your website’s main KPI be?

An effective website can achieve many things, but what should your primary Key Performance Indicator (KPI) be for your website? What measure will you be tracking?

“Number of leads!” I hear you think.

Well, not in the first instance. Yes, ‘number of leads’ is where the rubber hits the road in terms of the return on investment (ROI) your website provides your business but, in a way, it is a lag measure. It’s the end result of getting other things right. There are important lead measures upstream from the KPI of number of leads that you need to focus on.

You want to know your website traffic—the number of visitors—but more specifically, you want to know how many visitors you are getting from what the SEO geeks call ‘organic search’. This means people who discovered you by searching on words and phrases in Google and other search engines; not people who click on a link in an email from you or who typed your website address directly into their browser because they’re already your clients, for example.

Visitors who come from organic search are like new customers who have walked ‘into your ‘store’—to use a retail analogy—for the first time. They have stumbled across you, and are having a look around.

Valuable website traffic

This is extremely valuable traffic to a business, depending on…

  • Which words and phrases they searched on,
  • Which in turn is an indication of their likely fit for your firm, and
  • Whether your website converted them into email subscribers and/or social media connections.
  • Why is that last point important? So you can continue to communicate with them by adding value with relevant, educational, useful information that helps them in their financial or business life.

The topic of website conversion is something we’ll address in future posts. It’s crucial. There’s little point pouring water into a leaky bucket, just as there’s little point in working to increase website traffic to a website that has a high ‘bounce rate’. But more about conversion on another day…

When you combine a website that:

  1. Has healthy traffic from organic search, and
  2. The traffic is targeted traffic (people who are ideal prospects for your firm), and
  3. Converts that traffic into subscribers and social connections…

…what do you have?

You have a growing marketing database. And it’s far better than any list you could buy from a list broker. Why? Because these people have given you permission to communicate with them. It’s a warm list. They like you and are starting to trust you. And they will come to know, like and trust you over time, as your marketing machine continues to educate and add value to them with great content.

The ability to organically grow your business’ marketing database is like modern-day alchemy—you are creating gold for your business.

But guess what? You cannot stop your marketing focus here. We need to keep going upstream.

Going upstream

If organic search is about attracting people to your website who are searching on specific terms, what do you therefore need to get clear on?

You guessed it. You need to define the search terms and phrases that you want your website to rank well for. These phrases are called ‘SEO keywords’. You need to do keyword research based on your focused strategy about the types of people and businesses you want to attract. Which phrases are they searching on that relate to questions you can answer and problems you can help solve with your services?

Document these SEO keywords within your wiki or intranet and give them to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) provider. (SEO Implementation is an area we can help you with and where we’re kicking some big goals for subscribers to this service.) You can then track your website’s search engine rankings—and your competitors’, if you want to—for these specific search phrases.

Our Modern Marketing ImpleMENTOR platform will track your SEO keyword rankings for you automatically—across a range of phrases and variations of phrases—and it automatically emails you a report each month. And as an accountant you know, “What you can measure you can manage.” and “What you measure, improves.”

A crucial modern marketing skill

I would rank—no pun intended—the ability to understand SEO keyword strategy, do keyword research and have your SEO providers then focus on getting to you Top 3 in Google for each target phrase as a modern marketing skill that is right at the top of the tree.

So much flows from getting this right. And if you fail to do this step, the rest of your digital marketing is very ‘un-strategic’.

Sadly for 99% of accountants in public practice, this is an area of marketing where they have unconscious incompetence—they don’t know that they don’t even know about it. It’s just not on their radar as entrepreneurs.

The data shows where accountants are getting it wrong

How do we know this? We have data on it. Very specific data from our free SEO Report Card tool where we see the SEO target phrases that accountants have been entering for analysis. Their entries show a strategic ineptitude that is a significant weakness for any modern day business owner.

You’ve just GOT to know this stuff if you want to out-compete.

How off-the-mark were the SEO target phrases entered by accountants? I’ll let you judge for yourself. In our next post I’ll share with you a series of real-life examples of strategically useless SEO keywords to target as an accounting firm, as well as examples from the handful of SEO-savvy accountants who are on track to get their website traffic cranking.

(7) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Louis ryan - Reply

    March 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    Awesome article about SEO mistakes. It’s very helpful for newbies in SEO industry. Appreciate your valuable hardwork. Keep it up. Keep updating new post.

  • Thomas - Reply

    June 27, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    Great artical. Helped me to improve my accounting firm site. Thank you.

    • MC Carter - Reply

      August 3, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Great to hear Thomas! Thanks for your comment.

  • gis - Reply

    July 26, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    This is great article that tells about the mistakes which most of newbies SEO did. I am also one of them.
    I will take care now. Keep writing…

  • Shivam Sahu - Reply

    January 2, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I’m new to online marketing, and this is really helpful! Since getting started, I’ve been bombarded by “spin writers” and such to create a TON of content quickly, but you seem to say that these search engines have become sophisticated enough to determine when your content is crap. Am I understanding that right?

    • MC Carter - Reply

      February 3, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks Shivam. Regardless of whether search engines can detect crap/spun content, don’t publish it on one’s own site. Black Hat SEO techniques like this are too focused on rankings and traffic, and they ignore the fact that the content/website then needs to impress and *convert* visitors to take the next step along the ‘conveyor belt of influence’ (a.k.a. funnel). Crap content—even if it helps SEO—should be avoided.

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