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Search Engine Optimization: CPA & Accounting Website Design BasicsPosted on October 26th, 2011
A lot of accounting practices wait until their website is published before considering things they can do to better market it, and this is a huge error. There are some extremely imperative steps your practice can take during the design stage that can pay outstanding dividends in the long run. Your practice’s CPA website design can be without flaw and still be a complete failure. For it to make money the proper prospective clients have to be able to locate your site at the right time, and the most reliable way to do that is to acquire an enhanced ranking in the search engines.
Meta tags are an essential ingredient of any CPA website design process, and the most authoritative meta tag is called a page’s “Title”. Don’t try to take over the internet with unreasonably long title tags. You can make a title tag as long as you want but after 70 characters or so the search engines are going to ignore them. I’d recommend using some variation on this title tag:
Your Town, ST CPA: Your Practice’s Name
You’ll notice that in this example we used “ST” as the abbreviation for your state. When writing page titles keep in mind that very few searchers actually write out the name of their state, so as a rule it’s best to optimize your page to the abbreviation.
Title tags do appear in the margin of most browsers, and as a result many web noobs want their firm name to figure prominently in their page title. This is almost always a huge mistake. Titles are a primary element of a pages relevance to a specific search term so unless your firm has a recognizable brand like “Netflix” or “Kelly Clarkson” it’s not likely to actually be used as a search term by people looking for your service. It’s also something of a waste to use your title on words that nobody else is competing for. For most firms ther name just isn’t on anybodies keyword hot list. If you only get 70 characters to describe your page do you really want to spend them on your firm name? Unless there are 10 other firms with exactly the same name it’s pretty likely you’ll be able to get on the first page for that search term without any trouble. Stick to your town, your state, and a primary keyword like “CPA”.
The “Page Description” is also a meta tag, and it’s rather like the red-headed stepchild to the “Page Title”. Google doesn’t use it to rank sites anymore so a lot of CPA website designs ignore it, and this is a mistake because Gooogle actually displays this tag as part of it’s search results. This actually makes age descriptions really important since they are often the first impression searchers get of your firm. A good search ranking won’t help you as much if you have a lame description that costs you clicks! Keep your description tag below 150 characters or Google won’t display the whole thing or may not even use it at all.
Add Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free product that allows you to view the traffic that occurs on your website. If a visitor comes in from a search it will tell you what keywords they used to find you, which page the search landed them on, and whether they stayed long enough to read it or just “bounced” back to the search page. The amount of information provided by this product makes it an absolute must for any serious CPA website design. Even if you don’t use it right away I can guarantee at some point you’re going to want exactly the kind of conversion data that Google Analytics offers. All you need to do to make it work is add a strip of code to the bottom of each page.
Google Analytics offers a lot of market research factors that most site owners never use, but as an accountant you’ll very likely see some value in it. For example, you can use IP addresses to get a pretty good idea what nearby towns your visitors are coming from. This can help you determine where your marketing dollars are returning value, and where you might be wasting money. For more information on Google Analytics and what it can do for you, just type “google analytics” in a Google search.
Offer Relevant Content
Meta tags in and of themselves used to be enough to get a CPA website good rankings, but scores of meta driven sites began to crop up with truly terrible content. This resulted in pages of spammy irrelevant content appearing at the top of search pages and Google quickly changed their algorithm. The search engine robots have become very sophisticated and can easily compare a pages tags to it’s visible text and make sure they match.
To demonstrate to Google that your tags and content are relevant to one another use the keywords in your title tag prominently and often on your page. Don’t overdue it. Make sure it looks and reads well, but as a rule you want a keyword density of about 1%.
Keyword placement is also a relevant factor. If they see keywords in headers they tend to assume they are more relevant. The same is true of keywords found in opening paragraphs or in the article summary at the very end of the page. So do keywords that appear in headers, boldface, and italic fonts.
And You’re Off to a Good Start…
This isn’t going to be the end of your journey, it’s just the begining.
It’s doesn’t matter how search engine friendly a accounting website design is if you’re not willing to carry the ball all the way down the field.
You’re going to have a lot more work to do to rank well in today’s competitive market. You’ll need to do a bit of serious “off-site” search engine optimization by hustling up as many incoming links as you can, and you’ll need to improve your listing in the local search results by claiming your firm and asking your clients and associates to leave your practice a number of good reviews.
All we’re trying to do with this article is put you on the right track. If you pay attention to these central CPA website design rules while you’re still in the planning and design phase of preparing your website you’ll be in a much better position to step into the forefront of this innovative, exceedingly competitive marketplace.