7 Tips for Creating Great Articles for Accountants’ Websites
In this series, I’m sharing with Accountants and Business Advisors a step-by-step process for improving the return on investment that an Accounting or CPA firm gets on their website.
In Part 1, SEO FOR ACCOUNTANTS: HOW WEBSITES FOR ACCOUNTANTS GET IT RIGHT, AND WRONG, I explained that getting a new website live—despite the euphoria of that milestone—is just the starting line. You then need to invest in getting traffic to your site.
In Part 2, BUYER BEWARE – 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SEO, I explained the important differences between on-page and off-page SEO and why your SEO provider needs to be a specialist in your industry or profession.
In this third instalment, I’ll share with you what it means to publish SEO-savvy blog content on your website and why your Accounting or Business Advisory business will benefit.
7 Killer Mistakes Most Accountants Make with their Website Articles
- Not beginning with the end in mind
- Not planning their content
- Writing for their peers instead of their prospects
- Not investing in quality content production
- Failing to appropriately SEO each and every article
- Not promoting their website’s blog articles enough
- Not tracking their blog posts’ results
Let’s flip these around to give you 7 tips for creating great articles on your accounting website that:
- rank well in Google and other search engines
- attract plenty of website traffic (prospective clients) to your site
- engage readers who spend time reading your articles
- educate your readers about important principles
- inspire your readers to want to take action and implement the ideas… with you.
Tip 1: Begin with the end in mind
When you have an idea for an article, the first 3 questions you need to ask yourself are:
- Who is the target reader?
The more specific, the better. It should be one of the Target Buyer Personas that form part of your business’s strategy. (For details on this concept, have a chat with us about our Strategy FastTrack program.)
- What is the desired outcome?
When a person finishes reading the article, what do you want them to do?
- Download something?
- Click through to a related article?
- Watch a video?
- Contact you?
- Register for a webinar?
- Feel ‘cognitive dissonance’ (a discomfort that creates an urge to change something in their life—such as in their business or financial affairs—to bring it in line with their newfound knowledge and attitude, which your educational article has re-shaped)? Tip: Until a prospect feels this, they will not change.
- What is the SEO keyword (target phrase)?
Each time you write an article, you should know which SEO keyword you want the article to rank well for.You’ll recall from the Keyword Strategy and Research section in , that an SEO keyword is a 3- to 6-word phrase you want your website to rank well for. Your ideal prospective clients are searching on these terms to find answers to their challenges.
Why should you SEO every blog post article?
Because savvy SEO on an article will be the difference between a handful of people reading your article and many hundreds or even thousands of people reading it.
Tip 2: Plan your content
In modern business:
- “you are who Google says you are” in terms of your business’s digital presence
- “content is king” when building your digital presence.
In light of this, it’s important to accept this fact:
Every business is now a publisher.
That includes your business.
In fact, educational content-driven marketing is perfectly suited to Accounting, Bookkeeping or Business Advisory firms. That’s why I founded our digital marketing agency specifically focused on the needs of Accountants and CPA firms back in 2009. These new forms of marketing, such as blogging, social media and video, are perfect for firms to harness.
Why do I say that?
To effectively market and sell non-compliance advisory services you need to educate your clients and prospective clients. Often, they don’t know what they don’t know in terms of all the amazing value you can bring to their business through cloud accounting, management accounting, having a virtual CFO, and so on.
It’s your job to educate them, which is what effective content-driven marketing does.
If you accept that your business is a publisher these days, you will realise that, like any publisher, you should plan your content out across the year.
This is where your Content Plan—sometimes called an Editorial Calendar—comes into play.
Your Content Plan can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists out the various months, the different topics and who is going to author, polish and SEO each article. Tech tip: Make sure you put the spreadsheet in the cloud (e.g. Google Sheets or Office 365) so that various people can access it, collaborate and know they are all working on the latest version. Don’t work on local files that you email to each other, as you’ll run into version control headaches.
I won’t run through the details of a Content Plan here, but feel free to email us at [email protected] and we’ll send you a Content Plan template in Excel format.
Tip 3: Write for your prospects, not your peers
Articles for Accountants’ websites that are dry and technical do not get read. We know this for a fact; there’s plenty of website traffic data to support it.
So, why do many Accountants and Bookkeepers make this killer mistake with their articles and blog posts? In my experience, having advised hundreds of accounting firms around the globe about their digital marketing strategies, the cause of this is usually “writing to impress peers”.
It’s not the goal of an article to show people how smart you are, or how up to date you are with the latest complex piece of legislation or regulation. Nor is it your role to turn your readers into Bookkeepers or Accountants. They’re paying you the big bucks to look after all that!
One of my mantras is this:
If you always write about your CORE,
you will always be seen as a BORE.
Instead, write about topics that, through the eyes of your Target Buyer Personas, are compelling or inspiring. Write about topics that relate to what you do but are more focused on helping your clients and prospective clients solve problems and achieve goals.
We find that these sorts of articles are popular with readers:
- Planning-related topics: How to achieve a better future (cash flow planning, business planning, etc.)
- Tech-related topics: Specific tech tips that your clients will appreciate because they will save them time and make them more efficient and profitable.
- Opinion pieces: Where you see an industry or area of business going.
- Personal development: Yes, you read that correctly. Accountants and Bookkeepers writing about how to achieve focus, avoid overwhelm, get things done, prevent burnout, manage their money, grow their wealth, improve their lifestyle, and find more time to spend with their family and friends.
See how these topics are on the periphery of your technical core, rather than being about the technical core of what you do?
Tip 4: Invest in quality content production
Are you a professional copywriter? Someone trained in how to write professionally and persuasively? If not, don’t be the sole author of your articles and marketing content.
It’s the same situation you may have with your clients: Are they trained and certified Bookkeepers? If not, they shouldn’t do their own bookkeeping.
And it’s not just about the wording of an article. There’s also the SEO, design and web tech aspects of publishing and promoting each article. (More about that last item shortly.)
Each month, we create original blog posts for many progressive Accounting, Bookkeeping and Business Advisory businesses around the globe. Our Blog Article Service workflow involves:
- Copywriters who research the article topic and write the base copy (first draft).
- Copywriters who polish the original article so that it’s great to read, with:
- an excellent headline (without this, an article’s readership will be low)
- a clear structure
- good formatting, with subheadings, lists and use of strong (bold) emphasis
- an appropriate tone of voice to match the brand of the firm or advisor
- a call-to-action that remains professional in tone.
- SEO specialists who do keyword research to choose the best SEO phrase for the article — a phrase that matches the topic and gets a high volume of searches each month. Often two phrases that are similar in meaning can have vastly different search volumes each month, which can be the difference between 50 people reading your article and 500 people reading it. It pays to do keyword research for each article.
- SEO copywriters who craft the article’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) metadata, such as the article’s SEO title, meta description, URL and so on, as well as looking for opportunities to subtly weave the target SEO phrase through the article. (Check out the section ON-PAGE SEO FOR ACCOUNTANTS — EXAMPES in Part 2.)
- Marketing coordinators who search through online image libraries to find images that support the message of the article.
- Graphic designers who edit the chosen image to match the firm’s brand (by applying colour filters, for instance) and add text overlays to the image to help get attention for the article in social posts. This really helps an article ‘pop’ and get noticed in social media feeds.
- Marketing coordinators who load the article into the blog so that it’s formatted perfectly and loads quickly.
- Social media coordinators who promote the article on social media.
- Marketing coordinators who promote the article to your list via your email newsletter.
In the same way that it’s not worth a client’s time to be doing their own bookkeeping, it’s not worth your time to be doing that blog article workflow in-house. Use a specialist digital marketing agency to drive this process for your business
Our clients tell us the time-saving element alone covers their investment in our service — not to mention the benefits of ending up with articles that are vastly better than an in-house DIY effort.
An important note: You will not find all the required skills listed above in the one person. An in-house marketing coordinator cannot be great at writing, SEO, design, web tech and social media. A team workflow is required.
Tip 5: Appropriately SEO each and every article
I emphasise “appropriately” in the above subheading. Do not “keyword stuff” by jamming the target keyword phrase into the article dozens of times. Such over-optimising is actually penalised by Google — it will hurt, not help, your article’s search engine rankings.
In our Part 2 article I covered many on-page SEO tips and have also referred to a few in Tip 4 above, so I won’t repeat them here.
One new tip for you: We use SERPsim to craft the SEO metadata before we publish a blog post for our clients (and for ourselves!). It’s a cool tool that simulates what the article’s listing will look like in Google search results before you publish it. You can also click Desktop and Mobile icons to see how the listing—the SERP—will look on different-sized devices. You can also paste in a web address, such as an already published blog post, your website’s home page or any page on your site, and SERPsim will pull in and display the title, meta description, etc.
If I had a dollar for each time I have seen Accounting and Bookkeeping websites with poor or missing SERP details, well, I could buy you all lunch. The classic mistake is a website that has the title in SERP for its homepage as “Home”, and that’s it. That’s all that people see as the blue hyperlinked text in Google: Home.
What a wasted opportunity! That’s costing their website traffic because it will get a lot fewer clicks in the search engine listing. The title should instead be structured like this:
[Insert Brand Name] | Accountants for [Insert Speciality], [Insert Location]
The SEO title needs to work hard for you — it’s a headline calling out to people searching Google, “Click me! Click me!”
The title of each blog post needs to be carefully crafted as well, and it does not need to be the same as the article’s on-page headline, as each has a different purpose. Our team crafts SEO titles and article headlines differently, in light of this important nuance.
Tip 6: Promote your website’s blog articles repeatedly
Guess what? It may be a shock to some, but not all your social media posts are seen by everyone you’re connected to. In fact, only a small percentage of your followers on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will see each of your posts.
When you post on social media about a new article published on your website’s blog, only around 20% or less of your followers will see that post in their feed.
This means that if your article is about an evergreen topic—one that doesn’t date quickly—you should repeatedly promote the article with a variety of different social posts across the coming weeks and months. Don’t worry — it won’t come across as repetitive due to the people-don’t-see-all-your-posts factor.
We schedule repeated social posts for each blog article we do for clients. Over time, this builds up nicely to create a strong and authoritative presence for the firm and author.
Part of your initial promotion of a blog post should also be inclusion in your monthly email newsletter. Include each article’s headline, image, opening sentence or two, and a “Read More” button. This will also allow you to track the number of click-through for each article, which is a brilliantly valuable guide as to which article topics are most appealing to your clients and prospects on your email list. We do this email newsletter promotion for each of the articles we create and publish for clients.
Tip 7: Tracking the results your blog posts are achieving
If some of your business’s blog posts are more popular than others, you’d want to know which ones, right? Here are the metrics you should know for each blog post:
- Rank: Article’s Google rank for target SEO keyword (phrase).
- Traffic: Number of unique visitors each month to each article.
- Time on page: How long readers are staying on the page. Time on page of more than 2 minutes is a win. Over 3 minutes is great. It means your website visitors are reading and not clicking the Back button to “bounce” off your site back to their search results or wherever they clicked the link. It means your articles are engaging!
- Conversion: If your article has a conversion goal, such as a download or booking link click, you’ll want to know that conversion rate percentage.
The goal of your blog posts is to attract targeted traffic to your website and then to convert them into your email list. That’s the short-term goal. This means it’s also important to track your email list growth each month. If it’s not growing, it means your website is failing in one or both of these areas:
- It’s not getting enough traffic.
- It’s not converting the visitors.
The good news is, each of these issues is easy to address. Modern marketing is wonderfully measurable. The data is there for you to use. We’ll help you use it.
In Part 4 of this article series I’ll take a deeper dive into how to promote your articles and website content.
PARADOX digital marketing support packages all now include SEO Implementation. If you’d like to have a chat about your business’s SEO or digital marketing needs more broadly, you can book a time with one of our Digital Marketing Advisors here.