For your accounting firm to go from surviving to thriving, there is one marketing tool that will help you every time: Local SEO. However, SEO for local accounting affirms is underutilized when it comes to getting attention and drawing in business. 

SEO (search engine optimization) can be classified as either “Local” or “Traditional.” They differ vastly when it comes to what your SEO goals are.

With local SEO:

  • Your goal is to rank at the top of search results in your local market
  • Location should be your focus
  • People searching locally are usually looking for a business like yours
  • There are many off-site tactics you can use

Meanwhile, with traditional SEO:

  • Your goal is to rank well based on keyword phrases, so location doesn’t matter
  • Ongoing content is the core focus
  • Searchers are usually looking to find a solution
  • It’s harder to rank

If you’re looking to hone in on your CPA SEO, local SEO is where you want to put your energy. The best news is you don’t have to be a marketing genius in order to take advantage of what accounting firm SEO can do for your firm. All you need are my simple 6 steps to guide you through tapping into this powerful strategy that will change the direction of your marketing approach.

Here’s why making sure your local SEO is optimized is essential to the success of your business:

“Roughly 97% of people who use online searches look for local businesses.” (Source: 99Firms)

“‘Near me’ searches have increased more than 500% in the past few years.” (Source: WebFX)

“And, according to a study by Chitika, 92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results.” 

Bottom line: It pays to optimize your local SEO. So how do you begin creating your strategy?

First, you need to keep in mind that the level of competition found in your field will affect your final results. 

With that in mind, here are the basic (and painless!) steps to take to improve your local rankings.

Step 1: Create and Optimize a Google Business Profile

A Google Business Profile is a free tool through Google that helps you improve your online presence when people are searching for an accounting firm. If someone searches your firm’s name, a profile, called a knowledge panel, will pop up with your firm’s information like address, phone number, and website URL. 

With a Google Business Profile, a searcher could type “accounting firm near me” and three choices, known as the Google 3-Pack, will appear. Optimizing your Google Business Profile means you have photos of your firm, positive reviews, and posts to announce information you want the public to know. A well-optimized Google Business Profile means your firm should be part of that 3-Pack.

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Creating a Google Business Profile is your most basic key to helping local people find your business. 

If a listing already exists, Google will let you know. Don’t panic as this is a common occurrence. If you are authorized to manage the listing, you can request that Google transfer the ownership of the listing over to you. 

Need additional help? We’ve created this easy-to-use guide on creating your Google Business Profile. Simply visit our webpage, “Let’s Set Up Your Google Business Profile (A Guide for Small Business).”

Create Google Business Profile? Check!

Now, let’s optimize it with additional details about your business so that people in your target market can easily find you. 

While Google is always updating Google Business Profile, some features are effortless to optimize:

  • Pictures of your business – We are a visual species, and pictures catch the attention of people quicker than just about anything. Give your audience pictures of the interior and exterior of your business. Also include photos of employees and any products you may produce. 
  • Reviews – A good reputation will get you far today, and establishing a reputation has never been easier than it is now with online reviews. You will want to showcase these reviews as part of your Google Business Profile. More information on how to do that is later!
  • Posts – Google Business Profile has a post function that allows you to feature recent content posts you’ve made such as blog posts, sale announcements, event promotion, and more. Take advantage of this feature!

Taking advantage of the robust features of Google Business Profile will help potential clients find you and learn more about what you have to offer. 

If you need further help with optimizing your Google Business Profile, visit our webpage “How to Optimize Your Google Business Profile.” 

Step 2: Build Your Local Citations

An online citation is a mention of your firm and its information (address, phone number, etc.) online. It’s important to build your local citations because the more times your firm is mentioned online with correct contact information, the better your local rankings will be.

Areas to build your local citations include:

  • Facebook
  • Yahoo Local
  • Yellow Pages
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing

Even your Google Business Profile is a citation site. 

One last place you might not have thought of is your local chamber of commerce website. Being listed on their website as a business in the community can help boost your local SEO. 

Citations are so important because the majority of research that’s done before buying something is done online. If your business appears consistently (meaning the same name, address, and phone number) across the web, your local rankings will be boosted. 

While just a piece of the small business SEO puzzle, citations are an important piece. The more your business appears online, the better off you’ll be. Be sure to make citations a part of your overall SEO strategy.

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The image above shows how citations appear in search results.

How can you build citations for your business?

  1. You can build citations manually. Find sites where you think your business can be listed and go to each site to manually enter your business details. This is definitely on the labor-intensive side, but it can be done. 
  2. Build citations using established citation building services like BrightLocal or Whitespark. I personally recommend this option above the others because of their ability to quickly and efficiently build your citations. Other places that provide these services include Synup, AdviceLocal, Yext, and MozLocal. 
  3. Build clean and consistent citations. Google aims to get the most accurate picture of your business to point someone in the right direction. The businesses mentioned above can not only build your citations, but they can clean up your existing citations so that they are clean and clear. 

“68% of consumers say they would stop using a local business if they found incorrect information in local directories. And 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses if they see incorrect or inconsistent contact details or business names online”(Source: BrightLocal)

Want more help setting up your local citations? Check out our webpage “How to Get Your Business Listed on Local Directories.”

Step 3: Take Online Reviews Seriously

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. In today’s world, that means online reviews from (hopefully) happy clients who had a positive experience with your firm. 

How important are online reviews for your firm? According to BrightLocal’s 2022 Consumer Review Survey, 86% of consumers read online reviews before deciding to work with a company. Consumers also read an average of 10 online reviews before deciding that an organization is trustworthy enough to get their business. 

What does that mean for you? That means stepping up your customer service and encouraging clients to leave online reviews helps immensely when it comes to local SEO for accounting firms. Positive and negative reviews are just one of the metrics used to determine your ranking on search engine results pages. 

What can online reviews do for your business? Here are just a few things:

  • Build trust – BrightLocal reports that customers read an average of 10 online reviews before they decide to trust a local business. BrightLocal also reports that when it comes to what businesses a customer trusts, an online review is taken as seriously as a personal recommendation.
  • Generates more sales – If your business gets 4 and 5-star reviews, statistics show that it will greatly impact your click-through rates. That means that the more stars you’re given, the better the chance that a potential customer will click on the link to your business, taking them one step closer to buying. 
  • Higher Rankings – Search engines consider online reviews when creating rankings on a search results page. This is particularly true for local searches. 

What does this mean? It means people trust reviews, and getting positive reviews can only do good things for your business.

If you need more convincing, take a look at some of the key statistics below taken from BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2022:

“89% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews.”

“More consumers are reading online reviews than ever before. In 2021, 77% ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read them when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020).”

“More consumers use Google to evaluate local businesses than ever before. In 2021, 81% did, but the year before that, just 63% did.”

 So to get customers to leave the reviews you want, create a procedure for asking, reminding, and leading customers to review your business in places like Google, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau.

We can help you set up your online review funnel. Check out this post for help on setting up your review system and getting it rolling

Step 4: Create Content With a Local Focus

A lot of small accounting firms get intimidated by the idea of writing any kind of content, much less local content. After all, what is there to write about when it comes to a field like accounting?

Well, a lot actually. And what you find to write about that has a focus on the community around you is going to help you with your SEO. The best news is that it isn’t as hard to write local content as you may think it is. 

First, create a plan for your content. What problems are you going to solve for your ideal client? What information about your firm or accounting, in general, do you think your ideal client will find useful? How can you incorporate content that features things in your community in between all of the other content?

If you’re looking for ideas on how to focus on local, how about:

  • Demystify the local, state, and federal tax code for your audience. 
  • Write about local accountants who specialize in specific areas of accounting.
  • Feature the accountants in your own firm and how their specialization can help clients.

While thinking local, write about what you know. Write about what your local clients would like to know. Focus on problems that are specific to clients in your area and how the services you offer can help them. 

“If you want your accounting company to rank for a local audience, write local content. If done right, it’s a powerful strategy to improve your rankings and outrank your competitors.”

There are some things you want to do and things you want to avoid when it comes to creating your content.

Let’s look at things to avoid first. 

Don’t go into the creation of content blindly. Make a list of topics you want to write about and what your focus should be for them. Don’t crank out a lot of local content just for the sake of creating content. That appears too spammy to an audience. 

Always keep in mind the needs of your customer and how your business fits with those needs. Showing how the two go together will help drive traffic to your site. Just make sure to write with the person who wants to read it in mind.

5. Master On-Page Local SEO Basics

You’ve probably put a lot of time and effort (and money!) into your website. However, no matter how cool or visually pleasing it is, if it isn’t functional, it isn’t a good website. In this particular case, that means making it functional in terms of SEO basics. After all, if you don’t end up at the top of the SEO heap, no one will even see your website no matter how cool it is. 

When we’re talking about on-page SEO, we’re talking about:

  • Website coding
  • Website copy
  • Website structure

Some of the easy-to-optimize SEO basics include:

a. Optimize Your Homepage

Your homepage is probably the most important page on your website. After all, first impressions are important. To keep the focus local, incorporate location-based keywords into your content. A key strategy for accounting firms to follow is incorporating location-based keywords in the copy. Local keywords help search engines locate a firm and serve it up to the local prospects looking for accounting.

Your homepage should also contain a few client reviews. As mentioned above, potential consumers take reviews very seriously whe
n considering hiring someone for the services they offer. If they’re on the homepage, they’re sure not to be missed. 

b. Optimize All Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Titles are not just the first thing most visitors to your website see, but they also count for you when it comes to where you land on a search results page. Make sure your titles contain where you are and what your firm does so that people searching for either will come across your site easily. 

The same goes for when it’s time to write your meta description. A meta description is the little description of a webpage that appears with the page link in an internet search. Meta descriptions don’t have much influence on your ranking, but if you use the right keywords that someone is looking for, you are more likely to get a hit. A meta description that includes the area you service and the services you’re offering helps busy searchers narrow down the websites they visit and the websites they ignore. 

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The image above is an example of a page title and meta description.

c. Optimize the Footer

A website’s footer is the section of content found at the very bottom of a webpage. Optimizing your footer for local SEO means making sure your business name, address, and phone number are there. Your information in the footer is one way that search engines identify your location and help people looking for services in your area. 

This information should be on every page on your website starting with your footer, and it should look identical everywhere you put it. Especially make sure that it looks identical to the information you’ve listed on your Google Business Profile. This helps the search engine identify that you are one firm and not multiple. 

d. Embed a Google Map Right on Your Webpage

Don’t just tell your potential clients where you’re located. Show them. 

An embedded Google Map can give them the precise location so that your more directionally-impaired clients can physically see where your firm is located. 

To embed a Google Map, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Google Maps.
  2. Find the directions, map, or Street View image you’d like to embed.
  3. In the top left of your screen, click Menu.
  4. Click Share or embed map.
  5. Click Embed a map.
  6. To the left of the text box, select the size you want by clicking the Down arrow.
  7. Copy the text in the box and paste it into the HTML of your website or blog.

e. Add an Alt Tag to Your Images

The trick to good SEO is to get as many local keywords on the page as possible. One of the secrets, though, is that not all of those keywords need to be visible. 

To help bump your ranking, try adding Alt attributes to images on your website. These are descriptions of the picture that is included in the code that helps viewers with visual impairments know what the picture depicts. It’s also a great way to include more local keywords. Give the images on your site descriptions that include your service area or location and what services your firm offers.

f. Create a Unique Page for Each Service You Offer

Your accounting firm offers more than one kind of service, and your website needs to reflect that. While a unique page for every service gives each service a spotlight, it will also help your local SEO efforts. 

When all of your services are listed on one page, Google has a harder time identifying that you’re an expert in your specific area. You know what that means: a serious decrease in your ranking potential. 

A different page for every service has other benefits, too. It gives you more room to include location-based keywords that potential clients are searching for online. Make sure each page has a minimum of 350 words including keywords that not only describe your service but also where you’re located and the areas you serve. 

g. Create Unique Pages for Every Location

If your firm has multiple locations, your website should contain a page for every location with specific keywords that pertain to that specific location. This lets Google associate your service with multiple service areas when a potential client is looking for accounting services nearby. 

Avoid the urge to get too spammy with your location, though. For example, if your firm is in Denver, don’t include the word “Denver” 30 times on your unique location page. Instead, find ways to naturally incorporate your location in a way that will let potential clients know where you are without overdoing it. 

Ready to master the on-page local SEO basics? Check out our webpage “Master On-Page Local SEO Basics With These 7 Tips” to help you.

Step 6: Build Local Links

You’ve probably picked up on the idea by now that the more links to your website can be found online, the more likely it is that you’ll get traffic to your website. To keep your focus on targeting local clients, you need to specifically focus on local link building, meaning getting your link out on local sources. 

Some ways you can do that include:

a. Get Listed in Local Directories

Getting listed in a local directory is good for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s another way for your firm’s name, address and phone number to be picked up by Google, and 2) the local directory you’re on will tie your business to the community you’re targeting. 

b. Partner With Other Local Businesses

While you’re looking for ways to get links back to your website, you can guarantee that there are other business owners in your community who are doing the same thing. Reach out to other businesses and build a network of local businesses that can share one another’s link. 

Make sure to choose businesses that complement your firm and the services you offer, not compete. A simple way to do this is to create a partner page on your website that features these local businesses. Businesses can be linked on your partner page in return for linking to you on theirs. 

c. Sponsor Local Events

Your community probably has a lot of events on the calendar throughout the year. Sponsoring some of these events is a great way to get links back to your website. To advertise the event, organizers often include a sponsor page on their site giving you another opportunity to link online. 

Look for events that are either relevant to your services or align with your values. This way the sponsorship seems authentic to your audience. 

d. Join a Professional Organization

Your local chamber of commerce can assist you in finding professional organizations that are relevant to your firm and the services it provides. When seeking these organizations out, inquire if membership includes being added to their directory, thus adding another link to your website. 

e. Host a Fundraiser

Like becoming a local event sponsor, hosting your own fundraiser builds relationships in your community by getting the word out about the cause your fundraiser is benefiting. The cause’s online communications will likely link to all supporters as it’s being advertised online through multiple different channels. 

f. Write and Promote Local Content

Once again, we cannot stress enough how local content can help boost your rankings. Create content that is related to local issues in your community including events, n
ews, local trends, and more. This local content will assist Google in associating your firm with your location. 

“The more backlinks you have pointing to your website, search engines will reward you with higher rankings. One of the best things you can do to improve your Local SEO.”

g. Look for Round-Up Pages

A “Round-Up Page” is probably something you’re already familiar with. They are local websites that share lists of “the best” places in your area for particular kinds of services. Getting onto a Round-Up doesn’t necessarily mean immediate results, but another link to your firm’s web page never hurts. 

Reach out to local websites that write these kinds of articles and ask them to consider your firm for a future article. What’s in it for them? You can reciprocate by linking to their content on your own webpage to give them a traffic boost as well. 

Another strategy is to write your own round-up page and ask businesses you are featuring to link back to your webpage. 

h. Be a Guest on Blogs or Podcasts

Being a guest blogger or a guest on a podcast relating to your services is a pretty common practice. It benefits you because it draws traffic to your own website, and it benefits the blog or podcast because you’re helping create content for them. They get free content and you get a bigger online presence. Win-win. 

i. Create a Detailed Local Resource Page

After you’ve created individual pages for all of your services and locations, it’s time for one last special page: a local resource page. 

This page should include helpful information and links that relate to the services your firm provides and that are unique to your service area. Like all other places where you are linking to other businesses, make sure to request that they link back to you in return.

Need a hand with link building? Our post “10 Tips to Build Your Business With Authentic Local Link Building” will point you in the right direction. 

Rise to the Top of the Results Page with Local SEO

It’s common sense that the more people hear about your accounting firm, the more clients you will gain in the long run. After all, that’s the whole point of SEO: to get your name and the services you offer out to the masses. Local SEO is even more specific as it targets people who are most likely to walk into your office and seek your assistance. 

Marketing can be an overwhelming thing to tackle. However, the simple steps listed here are not difficult tasks to conquer. They take time and effort, yes. But seeing your accounting firm rise in the ranks of Google search results is the reward you’ll get for being strategic. 

You work hard every day to be number 1 in your field for your clients. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be number 1 in a Google search. With these six local SEO strategies, you can easily outrank the competition. 

Use McBreen Marketing to Conquer Your Local SEO

Improving your Local SEO is easy if you have the right strategies and the right partners. McBreen Marketing will partner with you to help you outrank your competitors every time. Our SEO services will help your accounting firm get listed in the right directories, optimize your business for local SEO and enhance your site for search engines. With us as your partner, we can improve your ranking and help you grow your business. 

Are you ready to let McBreen Marketing help you tackle your local SEO? Get started by contacting us for a free consultation today.

This post originally appeared on the McBreen Marketing blog.

About Craig McBreen

Craig McBreen, the owner of McBreen Marketing, is a marketing professional with 25 years of experience working with small businesses. He specializes in helping businesses develop distinct, cohesive, and systematized marketing that brings results. He is a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. Specialties: Brand Development, Marketing Strategy, Content Marketing, and Local SEO.