Marketing for Accountants

How to Diagnose a Crash in Search Engine Rankings

By November 28, 2018 No Comments

Few things are as frightening – or as frustrating – in an accountant’s marketing than seeing a steady or even sharp dip in search engine rankings.

Occupying real estate in Google search is hugely important for generating brand exposure for your accounting business, and generating new leads to grow your client base. It is, therefore, crucial to quickly diagnose what has gone wrong in this area of your accountant marketing, and fix it urgently.

In this article, we’re going to outline some of the most common reasons we come across when helping accountants address a dive in their SERPs (search engine ranking positions).

Use this as a starting guide if you are an accountant encountering similar issues, and do not hesitate to contact one of our marketing specialists if you need a specialist to audit your website in more depth.


#1 Google Penalties

This is one of the most serious reasons why an accountant’s website might be plummeting in Google search. Google penalties can occur for a number of reasons including cloaking on your accountant website, thin content and user-generated spam. You can also attract a penalty if Google comes to believe that your website has been hacked.

Fortunately, if you have a Google Search Console account with your website assigned as a property, it will be fairly quick and easy to determine if you have received a penalty.

To check, log into your GSC account and navigate to Search Traffic, and then to Manual Actions. Any penalties you might have received will be listed here, along with instructions for resolving them.


#2 Competition

It could well be that your competitors have stepped up their game in the search engines. As a result, they are now ranking higher in Google for your users’ searches than they were previously, and are possibly shoving your website down to lower search engine rankings.

You will be able to determine whether this has happened quite easily if you have rank tracking software used by accountant marketing agencies. Ahrefs and Agency Analytics are good examples.

If it is, in fact, true that your competitors are pushing your website aside in the search engines, then you need to spend time ascertaining what strategies they are using. For instance, is their technical on-site SEO better than yours? Are they publishing content more regularly than you are, and is it higher quality? Once you have your finger on the issue, you can set your own strategy in place to get back on track.


#3 Page Speed

These days, Google factors in a user’s experience on your website when judging where to place the latter in its search engine results. This makes website speed very important in the world of marketing for accountants. If your website does not load quickly, then your visitors will rapidly get frustrated and leave your content in search of a better experience elsewhere.

You can diagnose your website speed using a tool such as Google PageSpeed Insights. Simply type your website URL into the search bar, and let the report run. From there, your website should receive a score out of 100 to show your page speed performance on both desktops and mobiles.

It is particularly important that you take notice of the latter. It might be, for instance, that your page speed is average on a desktop but particularly terrible on mobile devices. Google will focus primarily on the latter when it comes to judging the user experience of your website, due to their Mobile First algorithm update earlier this year.


#4 Lost Links

Broadly speaking, there are three things Google considers most important when it decides how to rank your accountant website. These include the nature and relevance of your website content, the quality of the user experience, and your link profile.

The latter – your backlink profile – is what we will focus on here. Simply put, a backlink is a link from another website to your own website. For instance, if a prominent blog in your industry links to an article you published on your own website, then that counts as a backlink.

Google likes relevant, high-quality backlinks because it acts as a signal of trust and authority. In other words, if lots of other websites with a strong online reputation are linking to your website, then that probably means your website content is trustworthy and worth pushing up the search engine results to show other users.

On the flip-side, however, this does also mean that if you suddenly lose lots of these links your website tends to lose search engine rankings. Similarly, if you start attracting lots of low-quality links to your website (e.g. links from porn sites, link farms etc.) then that can also damage your backlink profile.

Here at AccountantLift, our software allows us to quickly and regularly monitor our clients’ backlinks in order to preserve and steadily build their backlink profile. If you wish to do this yourself, then try Ahrefs or Agency Analytics mentioned above.


#5 Algorithm Updates

Sometimes, a decline in your search engine ranking might simply have to do with a change in the Google algorithm. Google makes changes all of the time, often unannounced, in an attempt to improve the quality of its search engine results to users.

However, sometimes there are big changes to the algorithm preceded by an announcement. These can massively affect your search engine rankings if you are not ready for them.

For instance, it could be that one day Google starts penalising websites without any video content. This isn’t certain to happen, but given the worldwide trend towards video content in search engines, we would not be surprised. This kind of monumental change to the Google algorithm would likely be announced well ahead of time, to give websites a chance to adapt.

In these cases, you can prepare. However, in other cases your website rankings might just be fluctating because Google is testing a new feature of its algorithm in your particular industry. In these cases, you might do best simpl by riding out the storm for a while.