Basic SEO Tips for Local Accountants

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A well executed local SEO campaign can work wonders for any small business accountant, whether it's an established practice or a start-up.
Getting the foundations right makes it possible to build a strong local online presence and with that can come multiple listings high up in the search rankings.
Here are some basic tips to help get that solid foundation built.
Keyword Analysis Before you get started with any marketing of your practice online it's important to determine exactly what services you provide and then consider what people are actually going to type into Google in order to find you.
For example, are you a small business accountant, do you offer professional bookkeeping services or do you specialise as a tax return accountant.
By using Google's Keyword Tool you'll be able to get a better idea of which popular terms are most suitable for your practice.
Website Once you've got a nice list of relevant keywords it's time to look at optimising your website.
We're making the assumption here that you have a website.
If you're just setting up a new practice and your budget is limited that shouldn't prevent you from having a website as there are plenty of economical options available.
For an optimisation starter it's a good idea to have your address in your website footer.
That way it shows up on every page and gives Google a strong signal about your exact location.
The next thing to focus on is your title tag.
This is the text that shows up for your home page in the search results and also appears when you hover over the tab in your browser.
This title tag is probably the most important element of SEO, other than the actual content of your site.
It should be a clear and accurate description that tells the search engines what each page on your website is about.
Google only shows 70 characters of the title tag, so there is little point in writing anything longer.
Each title tag should only use 2 or maybe 3 keywords and should also include the location where possible.
As an example, if your target clients are small businesses who need bookkeeping services in the Guildford area then the title tag for your homepage could look something like this: Small Business Accountant and Bookkeeping Services Guildford The title tag for each page on your website should be unique, so that's where the keyword analysis comes in handy.
You can have separate pages for all the different services / keywords you would like to target, for example "Payroll Services", "Annual Returns", "VAT Returns", etc.
Google Places Claiming and optimising your Google Places listing is one of the most important things you can do to help your local search rankings.
This is a good place to go for some initial Google Places help, then head over to Google Places itself and follow the instructions to claim the listing for your practice.
Once you've claimed your listing you can go ahead and complete it with all the information Google asks for.
Company / Organisation - must be the name you do business as.
Don't include any additional details here such as city or town names and don't include any keywords unless they are part of your actual business name, e.
Joseph Bloggs Accountants Ltd.
Address - should be wherever you conduct your business.
If you work from home then enter your home address, not a P.
There is an option to hide your address so that the searching public cannot see it, but Google needs to know where you are (see image below).
Phone number - should be a local number and not a Toll Free one or call centre.
Email / Website - these two are pretty self-explanatory.
Description - this is a 200 character sales pitch for your practice.
You can include a couple of keywords in here, but it should read well and not be at all "spammy".
It should attract clients, not turn them away.
Categories - probably the most important section of your listing and should reflect what you are rather than what your business does.
You can choose up to 5 categories, but the first one by default should be "Accountant".
The remaining 4 will depend on the services you provide, but could include things like "Bookkeeping Service" and "Payroll Service".
Complete any additional relevant information, including opening hours and methods of payment.
You can also include up to 10 photos and 5 videos if you have them.
These do help to fill out your listing and can help to convert more searchers to clients.
Once you're finished just click on submit and you're all set.
Citations What is a citation? For local SEO a citation is a mention of your business on another website.
The best citations will contain your business name, address and phone number (NAP), which makes it vitally important that you are consistent with these.
Google looks at all these citations and if inconsistencies start to occur then it starts to get confused.
For example, if your firm is called Joseph Bloggs & Co then you shouldn't use J Bloggs & Co when building citations.
The best places to start with citations are directory and review sites, which would include sites like Yell.
com, Qype.
uk, Twitter, Facebook (sorry!) and then specific accountancy sites like the ICAEW website and others.
To improve your local rankings it's all about getting your foundations right, then building citations and getting customer reviews.
It can be a rocky road at times but persevere with it and the rewards can be generous.
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