When you’re running a professional services business, you need to do anything you can to stand out in a crowd. Accountants, CPAs, estate planners, financial planners – these are all industries that are growing more and more competitive with each passing year.
They’re also types of businesses that naturally depend on a high volume of satisfied, repeat customers to thrive. Someone probably isn’t just looking for an accountant to use once – they’re looking for an accountant they can trust forever. You need to capitalize on every opportunity you have to reflect that.
According to one recent study, an incredible 93% of all online experiences between a consumer and a business begin with a search engine. That’s part of what has always made SEO (search engine optimization) so critical – the higher you rank, the more people see you and make contact.
But to that end, there is an even more powerful opportunity here than even what was available with the standard SEO best practices of a decade ago. These days, organic search and local SEO have become hugely essential for businesses like yours. This is true in a wide range of different ways, all of which are worth exploring.
What is Organic Search/Local SEO?
Simply put, organic search traffic is the standard results that you see whenever you use an engine like Google. On Google in particular, these results will appear below paid ads and map listings.
This is important to note because, according to one recent study, roughly 70% of the links that search users click on are organic. Not only that, but an estimated 70% to 80% of them ignore the paid ads entirely. That’s why it’s so important to focus on local SEO – because as statistics like those go a long way towards proving, you can’t just “buy your way to the top” and expect to generate an enormous amount of traffic.
That’s not to say that those paid ads aren’t valuable, because they are. But when an estimated 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, it becomes clear that they don’t want ads – they want relevant, high-quality information provided organically.
Generally speaking, Google uses a few different factors to determine your visibility in local organic search results. These include things like:
- Your Google Business profile. Not only does this give people an easy, convenient way to find your business and get information like contact info and operating hours, your Google My Business profile also serves another important purpose. Google verifies all business as authentic and once it does, you’ll often receive more prominent placement on the sidebar when local searches are being conducted.
- Business directories. Business directories play an important role in off-page SEO, which helps to establish yours as a voice of authority. That in turn improves how you rank in terms of local SEO.
- Social media profiles. Having an active social media presence is one of the keys to local SEO success as it helps constantly create new opportunities for your business’ name to rank, thus increasing authenticity in Google’s eyes.
- Website design. Finally, Google pays particular attention to not just how your website looks, but how well it functions. It should load as quickly as possible, for example – anything longer than three seconds just won’t work. It also needs to function well on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet.
All told, the benefits of appearing as highly in organic search results are plentiful. They include but are not limited to ones like:
- It helps create greater online visibility for your business. The higher you rank, the more people will see you and the more traffic you’ll ultimately generate back to your primary website.
- You get a chance to outrank your competitors. If you rank higher than a competitor does and a user finds the information they’re looking for from you, they likely won’t even see that competitor at all.
- It’s an invaluable opportunity to educate your customers so that they are far more likely to pick you over someone else. Even if they’re not ready for accountant or CPA services today, you’ll still stay at the top of their mind so that when this day does roll around, the first number they dial is yours.
Local SEO Tips
By far, the most important step you can take to leverage the full power of local SEO comes by way of improving your Google My Business profile. After you’ve created and verified your page, be as active on it as you can. Use Google Posts within the account for example to keep things updated and to constantly turn out new content. Whenever you can, encourage people to leave reviews of your business and to share those reviews online.
If you do get a review, respond authentically and use location-based terms if you can. So instead of saying “I’m so glad to hear that you liked our accountant services” in a response, try to add “I’m so glad to hear that you liked our accountant services in Cleveland, Ohio.”
Next, make it a priority to be active on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. While doing so, you should also add those posts to your Google Business Profile. The more often you update these types of things, the more “timely” Google considers your business to be – allowing you to rank higher as a result.
You should also claim your business on local business directories, if for no other reason so that you are in control over what is displayed there. While you do, be sure to optimize your presence there. If there are no photos or if the ones that exist are of a low quality, replace them with new, high-quality ones. Add any relevant information about your business that may be missing. Post reviews from your existing, satisfied customers. The list goes on and on.
While you’re doing all this, be sure to maintain consistency when it comes to your brand information. Your name should be written the same way and in the same format on all locations. Make sure that your listed address is always accurate. Even something as simple as having two different phone numbers on two different pages could cause a significant amount of confusion and harm your local SEO efforts.
There are also a number of on-page best practices that you can follow to help improve your local SEO efforts dramatically. These include things like:
- Optimize the more technical side of your site, including things like the URL, the title tags, the headers, the meta description, and more. Use local and location-based terms in all of these whenever possible.
- Create local content. If there is a breaking news story in your industry that you can provide a local perspective on, do it. If you participated in an event in your area recently, be sure to call out the exact location. All of these things help.
- Add location pages to your website. If yours is a business with multiple locations in different cities, be sure to create unique “Services” pages for each one. Doing so gives you a chance to rank highly for each one, which will also prop up your larger domain.
Finally, be sure to engage your local community whenever you can. If there is an accounting or CPA blog with a big following, for example, reach out and offer to write a guest post for them. They’ll get content, and you’ll get a link from their website back to yours. As Google undoubtedly thinks that they’re a trustworthy site, that will in turn influence the quality of your own reputation. This can also help to improve other search signals like your relevancy, too. It stands to reason that the more people are talking about you (which backlinks are an indication of), the more attention people should be paying to you in general. Your local SEO rankings will soon start to reflect that.
Attend a Surefire Local Marketing Platform Demo
At its core, the Surefire Local Marketing Platform was designed to be the business intelligence marketing software you need when you need it the most – all at a fraction of the cost of what you would pay with other tools or agencies. It helps you manage all the most important online marketing activities within a single, easy-to-use platform. That way, you can spend less time focusing on the mechanics of local SEO and more time on growing your accountant or CPA business – exactly the way it should be. If you’d like to find out more information about the ins and outs of organic search traffic and local SEO, or if you’d just like to see what the Surefire Local platform can help do for your business, please contact us today or attend a demonstration at your convenience.