In an increasingly digital age, most people use an internet search engine to find a business, product or service. Google is by far the most popular search engine in the UK, accounting for over 87% of all internet searches as of June 2019 (Bing has 8.2% of the market share while Yahoo has 2.2%).
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the work that needs to be done to boost a website's visibility on these search engines. Why's that important? Because a site with good SEO will appear higher up in the organic search results (the listings that haven't been paid for), making it easier for people to find.
With some studies estimating that 75% of people only view the first page of Google results, SEO is clearly essential to boosting traffic to your site. And an increase in traffic means there's a greater chance of receiving more enquiries from potential customers – a big advantage in today's competitive marketplace.
How do search engines work?
Search engines want to show visitors the most trusted, relevant and high-quality content for any given search. To do this they use special software to read, or 'crawl', the internet to gather information on content from billions of webpages.
The data is then 'indexed' and fed through a series of complex search algorithms. These algorithms look at hundreds of factors when deciding which pages offer the most authoritative and relevant content in relation to the search terms.
The pages that best meet the criteria are then ranked higher in the search engine results.
Why content is key to SEO
Although many criteria are used to determine a site's ranking position, content is the most important factor. Gone are the days when you could simply overload a page with keywords and watch it rise to the top of the rankings. Google now prioritises quality, interesting and informative content over everything else.
The good news is that as an accountancy firm, there's plenty of topical information that you can share with visitors. A blog or news section on your website is the ideal place to do this. Whether it's an analysis of the latest Budget announcements, advice on key changes such as Making Tax Digital or tips for filing your tax return, there's always something useful you can write about.
Not only does this type of content encourage people to visit the site regularly, it also creates opportunities to share material on your firm's social media channels.
Optimising key phrases on your site
As well as being well-written and informative, the content of each of your pages should also be optimised for relevant key search terms.
This means thinking about the words people are likely to enter into a search engine when trying to find a site like yours. For an accountancy firm, this might be its location (“accountants in Bath”) or a particular specialism (“accountants specialising in charities”). These key phrases can then be placed strategically throughout the website content. They'll also need to be factored into the 'behind-the-scenes' elements of the site including page titles, URLs and HTML tags.
However, it's important to bear in mind that while keyword placement is essential for SEO, it should never jeopardise the quality of the content itself.
Links are important too
When ranking a website, search engines will also make a judgement about the site's authority and relevance. And that's where links come into play.
Search engines such as Google look at the volume and quality of a site's inbound links to help determine its authority. If a high number of relevant and credible websites are linking back to your site, you're likely to achieve a higher position in the search engine results. For accountants, this might mean connecting your website with relevant online professional bodies such as the ICAEW.
Regularly posting new content on your firm's social media platforms is also a good way of generating backlinks to your site. Plus, if the content is interesting and useful then it's more likely to be shared online, increasing your visibility to potential clients.
Other factors to consider
While quality content and authoritative backlinks are crucial for SEO, in reality, it's not quite that straightforward. With Google using more than 200 ranking factors, there are many other points to consider when optimising a website.
- Mobile-friendly design – a site that displays well on a mobile or tablet is viewed more favourably by search engines
- User experience – a well-designed site that's easy to navigate and meets visitors' needs will result in a better user experience and improved ranking
- Security – Google now gives more ranking weight to websites that use https (as opposed to http)
- Site speed – search engines look favourably on websites that load quickly – and that includes mobile loading speed
- Optimised imagery – optimising images helps search engines to better index the page. This means paying attention to image titles, ALT tags and captions.
The importance given to each ranking factor changes regularly, meaning SEO is an ongoing practice that shouldn't be ignored.
What makes an effective SEO strategy?
An effective SEO campaign should contain a mix of both on-site SEO strategies (focusing on the underlying code and content) and off-site strategies (external link-building). If these are working well then you should see an improvement in the site's search engine ranking and an increase in traffic to the website (there are free analytics tools that allow you to monitor this).
However, it's important not to measure a campaign's success solely by its search ranking or the volume of traffic it generates. While that's important, the most successful SEO campaigns are those that result in genuine enquiries that you can convert into clients. And that's where we can help.
Let us do the hard work for you
It's clear that SEO is an essential part of maintaining a website. That's why our SEO service is included as standard for our accWEBSITE customers.
As part of the service, we'll work on your site's organic search results to help drive quality traffic to your website. If the people visiting your site are genuinely interested in your services, you'll stand a much better chance of converting them into clients.
To start with, we'll find out more about your firm, its marketing goals and the type of prospects you're hoping to attract. We'll then choose five key phrases to optimise that are both realistic and relevant to your firm.
And then the fun begins! Once we've established your aims, our techie team analyse the 200+ ranking factors used by Google and try to match as many of these as possible.
The optimisation process inevitably varies from site to site, but it typically includes a full SEO analysis of your website, modifications to the wording and code on particular pages and improvements to the site's internal links and external links. We'll also monitor your site to check how it's performing on Google, making any adjustments as necessary.
As experts in websites for accountants, we understand how to get the best SEO performance from your site. With SEO included as standard on our websites, you can sit back and let us do the hard work for you. Find out more about our website offering.