Search engines like Google are a great way for accountants to gain new clients via their websites. It sounds simple enough, but how do you actually improve your search engine rankings to attract new potential clients?
In this short, simple guide we outline 5 ways websites for accounting can be improved for search engines. Some of these can be done yourself, if you are confident.
Others will require the help of a professional accountant website designer or developer.
#1 Websites For Accounting & Mobile Responsiveness
With Google’s recent Mobile First update, accountant websites must now be mobile-responsive if they are to stand any chance of doing well in the search engines.
If your accountant website is relatively new, then your designer should have made it responsive to tablets and smartphones. If your website is more than a few years old, then it might not be.
If your accountant website has significant mobile responsiveness issues, then you really need to seriously consider investing in a new website design.
In some minor cases, you can get a developer to address some of the mobile issues on your existing site. In either case, make sure you speak to an experienced designer or developer to check what’s required to get your website on track.
#2 Update Your Meta Data
Behind that pretty image on your homepage, there is “alt text”. Or at least, there should be.
This is a line of text which you assign to an image on an accountant website, which tells search engines what the image contains. After all, you might be able to see that it’s an image of a man holding a calculator. As clever as Google is, however, it has no clue unless you tell it!
So, one way to improve your SEO is to go through your images and assign alt text to each of them. Just make sure you accurately describe what’s in each one. Try also to include a target keyword in there too.
In a similar vein, make sure you look at your blog posts and web pages. Check that each of them has a “meta title” and a “meta description”. These refer to the title and description displayed in Google, when your website link is displayed.
If you use a Content Management System like WordPress, you can download a plugin like “All In One SEO” which will allow you to update these quickly, within the “Posts” or “Pages” view on WordPress.
For instance, this is what it looks like on our own AccountantLift WordPress “Pages” area. The meta titles are listed under the “SEO Title” column, and the meta descriptions under the right-hand column:
#3 Decrease Page Loading Time
Google takes user experience of accounting websites into consideration when deciding how to rank them in its search engine. In other words, if your website is slow or frustrating to use, down it will go!
There are some quick, free and easy ways to check how quickly your website pages are loading.
Google PageSpeed Insights, for instance, will tell you your website speed on both mobile and desktop devices. It will also list some actionable items so you can improve your quality score.
Some of the issues affecting accounting websites are relatively straightforward to address. For instance, if your website is loaded with large, cumbersome images, then one way to speed things up is to compress them. You can do this without compromising the image quality using a free tool like Compressor.io.
#4 Optimise Your Links
High-quality links to your accounting website are a huge boost to your search engine rankings. At the same time irrelevant, low-quality and inappropriate links (e.g. porn) can hurt you.
One way to check your website’s backlink profile is to use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer. This will highlight bad links you should disavow, and good links you might want to strengthen.
Tools like this can also often show you where broken links on accounting websites reside. For instance, you might have linked to an external source in a past blog, which now no longer exists.
Finding and removing / replacing these kinds of links will therefore quickly take away some of your negative rankings factors.
You should also look at your own linking profile, and make improvements there. For instance, in your blog articles have you linked to any authoritative, external sources to back up what you’re saying (e.g. HMRC, .gov.uk, BBC etc.)?
Linking to these kinds of sources can show Google that your site is more trustworthy, which is a very positive ranking factor in its search engine algorithm.
In addition, accounting websites should also look carefully at their internal links. For instance, if you recently published a blog article about helping people understand their tax code, have you linked this to a relevant landing page on your website?
If so, great. If not, you are missing an opportunity. Not only does this drive traffic throughout your website, increasing user dwell time, it also helps Google crawl your website and find appropriate pages to rank for your target audience.
#5 Review Your Contact Information
This one is a bit more speculative, but there is strong anecdotal evidence across the web to support it. Accounting websites with up-to-date, accurate and comprehensive contact information are likely to rank better than those which do not.
Think about it and put yourself in the shoes of a potential accounting client. Which kind of website are you more likely to trust – one which transparently displays its company information, or one which withholds much of it? Clearly the former!
Since Google is always looking to find ways to improve the quality of its search engine results for users, it is likely that Google will prioritise websites of the former type.
Make sure you therefore review and carefully display your contact information on your accounting website – especially on the Contact page, and probably also in your footer.