Most business owners would rather be serving their clients than looking for them. Surely, accounting professionals are no exception, but the fact remains that a sound marketing plan is an important part of a successful practice and will set you apart from your competition.
More than ever, technology can help make this happen. Understanding where to begin and how to use the tools available are the first steps toward success. Building an effective online presence is complex, and the digital marketing strategies that make the most sense for you depend on who you’re marketing to.
In some cases, you’ll be looking for business in the area where you work. When local clients are searching for an accountant, they’ll ask the people the know for advice, check out review sites such as Yelp, or turn to Google.
On the other hand, if you’re focused on a specialty or niche—for example, tax, forensic accounting, or mergers and acquisitions—the channels customers use to find you won’t change, but your strategy for drawing them in will.
Understanding your market is an important first step in determining which marketing strategy is right for you. So, consider your specialities and the clients you want to attract. Then, think about the decision-making process prospective clients go through when looking for accounting help. That will help you build a presence in the most important areas.
Here are a few basic tools and tactics for marketing your accounting firm online that will set you on the right track.
1. Use Google My Business
Most prospects will turn to Google, first, when looking for an accountant, even if their search started with a recommendation from a friend or associate.
Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to take ownership of your presence on Google Maps and a “local” listing at the top of location-focused search results. Establishing a local presence through Google My Business helps build the authority and professionalism of your practice. It’s also another great way to get to the top of the results for searches for terms such as “accountant near me” or “CPA in [your city].”
There are a variety of guides available to help you make the most of your listing. If you haven’t taken the time to build out your business’s presence on Google, or if there’s room for improvement on your current listing, this should be a top priority.
2. Optimize your website content
While many guides on finding an accountant advise people against relying on Google, your website is still an important marketing channel.
A Google search likely won’t be the first time many potential clients encounter your name, but it’s rare that you’ll engage with a prospect who hasn’t first visited your site. Local search engine optimization (SEO) is how you’ll use your website to show online searchers you’re open for business and looking for clients in your area.
Do you use your location in the title of your homepage on your website? If not, it’s best to update your homepage content to include your location. Try a format like:
[Your Firm Name] | Certified Public Accountant in [City, State]
It’s also useful to use your location in the title of your “About Us” page, if you have one. If you don’t, consider creating one! A similar format can be applied here:
About [Your Firm Name] | Tax Preparation CPA in [City, State]
You’ll also want to include up-to-date contact and location details on these important places on your site. These elements are good for people and good for Google, both of which will be looking for that information about your business.
It can also be helpful to include information about you or your team on your “about” page. Include any important details that will help prospects understand who you are and why you’re a trustworthy expert. In particular, information that confirms your certifications also helps build your authority. These are the kinds of details that can be easily overlooked when you’re immersed in your business, but add a great deal of value to folks who aren’t familiar with your firm.
Beyond these basics, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your website is optimized for local searches.
Here are two good resources if you’d like to dive deeper:
- The “Website Updates” section of Hubspot’s Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2019.
- Chapter 4 of Ahrefs’ Local SEO: A Simple (But Complete) Guide.
3. Pay attention to Yelp
Many prospective clients may also check out your Yelp listing before sending business your way. In many cases, if someone is starting their accountant search in Google, Yelp will also be at the top of the results for a search such as “[city name] accountant.”
In addition, Yelp’s listings have a presence on Apple’s Maps app. If someone is looking for directions to your firm on their phone, it’s likely they’ll see how your business is rated on Yelp in the process.
It’s unlikely that your prospects will go through their decision-making process without encountering Yelp, so make sure your listing is in top shape.
4. Level up your blog with keyword research tools
Regardless of your niche or speciality, don’t neglect the tips described above. They’re best practices, no matter what industry your clients work in. But, if you’re focused on reaching a market beyond local clients, you’ll want to take a slightly different approach to your blog and web content.
Blog about business-related topics you find interesting and you think users will find valuable. Then, to boost brand awareness, share content on your website that helps visitors get to know you and your firm … but don’t miss opportunities to create content you know users will find valuable.
Thanks to a variety of helpful tools, it’s easier than ever to help web users find answers to important questions about accounting. Keyword research is how you’ll do that.
Here are some tools to create blog content that will show up in Google’s results and start driving users to your website:
- Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress. Yoast is a plug-in that comes with all WordPress sites, and it’s the first exposure many folks have to SEO basics. While Yoast won’t necessarily help you find new content ideas and opportunities, it’s a good way to evaluate content already on your website.
- Answer the Public. This tool is great for creating content that’s focused on providing answers. It helps spark content ideas by generating questions around the topics you enter. Try entering your accounting specialty into the tool to see what kind of questions people might be searching for around that topic.
- SEMrush. Once you have some topics you think you can provide helpful content about, use this tool to learn about the demand for content around those topics. You’ll need to do some additional learning to effectively use this tool, but once you understand the principles, it’s a powerful tool that’s easy to use. SEMrush is free for up to 10 queries per day.
Putting it all together
Marketing an accounting firm takes lots of time and energy, but paying attention to how your potential clients find what they’re looking for can take some of the work out of figuring out where to begin. Take control of the brand elements that will help you stand out from the crowd in your market.
Even if you already have a website and blog, Google My Business listing, or Yelp listing, revisit those channels often to look for new opportunities. Best practices in digital marketing change often, and this list is intended to be a starting place. Beyond this list, there are many other ways you can set yourself apart online, whether through social media, advertising in search, video content, or email marketing.
Pay attention to your competition, and approach your online presence like you would a personal fitness routine. This requires constant monitoring, maintenance, and upkeep, but it’s worth it in the end.