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The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Accountants and CPAs

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What is SEO and why do accountants need it?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and it is a set of methods used by SEO specialists, webmasters and business owners to help their website move up in search engine results for relevant queries. SEO is not just something that large companies can benefit from – the opposite is actually more true. No matter how small your business is, if you have a website, investing in search engine optimization can help your company get new clients, move up in search engine results and one day get on the first page of Google, which will result in a huge influx of website traffic and new leads.

Local (Google My Business) vs national results

When it comes to Google and other search engines, there are two types of search results for business-related queries: local and national results. For instance, if you search ‘accounting company’, all the results you’ll see will be websites of large national accounting firms that have huge budgets for SEO and advertising. If your company is small or medium-sized, it will be very difficult, expensive and time-consuming to get your company to the top of search results for national queries.

On the other hand, when you search ‘accounting firm Montana’ or ‘accountant Silver Spring, MD’, the search results will include a few nationwide directories and many websites for local accounting firms. Since there are a lot fewer local accountants in your area, it is much easier to promote your website in local search results.

List your accounting company on Google My Business

One of the easiest ways to improve your company’s rankings in local Google results is to list and claim your business on Google My Business. It is free and easy to do. Plus, having your company listed on Google allows it to rank on Google Maps, which actually has its own search algorithm. This will help bring in even more traffic to your website.

Keep in mind, however, that promoting your business listing on Google Maps takes additional effort, such as keeping your listing’s information up to date, regularly adding photos and posting updates about your accounting business.

How to promote your accounting company’s website on Google?

SEO is an extremely broad and ever-changing field since Google updates its algorithm every single day. We would need to write hundreds of articles to cover all aspects of search engine optimization for accounting and CPA firms! But don’t worry, below you’ll find a short overview of the main SEO parameters, which will give a solid foundation for your SEO journey.

SEO keywords for accountants

Long-tail keywords

Quality search engine optimization begins with keyword selection. You might be tempted to tailor your website to the most popular accounting-related keywords and phrases, such as ‘accounting firm’, ‘CPA for hire’, etc. But while these keywords are most frequently used by people who are looking to hire an accountant, they are also extremely competitive since all accounting companies will have those phrases on their website.

On the other hand, so-called ‘long-tail keywords’ are a lot less competitive and therefore, using them will give you better chances of getting traffic on your website. Some examples of long-tail keywords include ‘accounting company in Tucson’, ‘CPA in Atlanta’, etc.

Keyword intent

When it comes to intent, there are two keyword groups: keywords that have a research intent (i.e. ‘how to do your taxes’) and keywords that have a hiring intent (i.e. ‘cheap accountant near me’). People who search for hiring intent keywords are usually looking to hire an accountant quickly, which means this traffic can bring in lots of new leads and customers. Therefore, hiring intent keywords should be prioritized on the main pages of your website.

At the same time, while research intent keywords usually don’t result in immediate leads or sales, they can bring in lots of traffic to your website, showing Google that people find your website informative. This will help your site move up in Google’s rankings, making it easier to find for potential customers.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is an SEO technique that was popular in the early 2000s but has since become obsolete and even harmful. In the early days of the internet, people tried to stuff as many relevant keywords on the pages of their websites as possible, which resulted in poor quality pages for website visitors. Today, you should avoid keyword stuffing at all costs and prioritize user experience, as Google views keyword stuffing unfavorably.

On-page SEO

Once you’ve chosen the right keywords for your website and created lots of engaging content, you need to make sure that all the on-page SEO parameters have been taken care of. For instance, it’s not enough to just write an informative article, you also need to ensure that the page has a specified meta title and description that contain relevant keywords. Plus, pages and articles need to have H1, H2, H3, etc. headings that are marked using appropriate HTML tags. You also need to specify the image alt text for all the pictures used on your website.

Technical optimization

Search engine optimization of accounting websites usually requires extensive technical evaluation and improvement. First, the website is evaluated using an automated SEO crawler tool that detects common technical flaws and errors. These flaws include missing pages, broken links, server errors, incorrect or missing robots.txt and sitemap.xml files, broken images, etc.

As part of technical search engine optimization of your accounting or CPA website, you also need to evaluate your website speed and ensure that the website has a responsive mobile version. The latter is especially important since nowadays, the majority of Google searches are performed on smartphones. The search engine recognizes this and assigns higher search rankings to websites that have a mobile version. You also need to ensure that your website uses the HTTPS encryption protocol instead of the outdated HTTP.

Off-page SEO for CPA and accounting firms

Off-page search engine optimization strategies involve all the actions that are not being done directly on your website. This includes acquiring links from other websites to yours, getting your company listed in directories, promoting your accounting firm on social media, etc.

Build a quality link profile

For many years, getting a large number of external links to your website was considered to be one of the cornerstones of search engine optimization. Website owners purchased thousands of cheap, low-quality links the only purpose of which was to help the website rank higher in search engine results. This strategy worked for a number of years but then Google learned to distinguish between different kinds of links. Today, cheap links from websites that have nothing to do with your industry can actually hurt your website’s search rankings.

On the other hand, high-quality links from relevant blogs and other quality websites in related fields can have a positive impact on your site’s Google rankings. Google’s guidelines prohibit website owners from paying for links, which is why you need to reach out to website owners and other accountants who might want to help you by promoting your website on their own sites. If you’re in doubt about which links will lend your website credibility in Google’s eyes, use this rule of thumb: if a link doesn’t benefit your website in any other way (there’s no traffic or leads via this link), it most likely won’t help your website rank better on Google. On the other hand, if the link is beneficial for your website in general, for example, it brings a lot of traffic and even new leads to your site, then there’s a good chance that the link will also help your site’s SERPs.

Add your accounting business to directories

Another way to promote your website, bring in traffic and improve your site’s local SEO performance is to list it on all major directory websites online. These directories include Angie’s List, Yelp, Yellow Pages, CitySearch, Better Business Bureau, Merchant Circle, YahooSmall Business and any other local or accounting directories you may know about. Getting your website listed in several directories will add additional credibility to your site in the eyes of Google and your clients.

Use the same address and business name across all websites

No matter how small or large, old or new your accounting firm is, when you create your website and start submitting information about it to Google My Business and various directories it is crucial that you use the same company name, address, phone number and other details across all platforms. There’s no detail too small. For instance, if your business address contains the word ‘street’, you should decide whether you’re going to spell it out or abbreviate it and stick to that spelling.

Ask clients for reviews

It’s no surprise that having lots of positive reviews helps your business become more popular with potential customers. But a large number of reviews also encourages Google to rank your website higher in search results.

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