The DOs and DON’Ts of SEO – The Easiest Way To Appear On Google

Google SEOGoogle’s new update – Hummingbird has changed Google’s algorithm. Fortunately, there are SEO properties that have and will remain constant. This article will illustrate the easy way to ensure your website is run optimally for both man and machine – the visitor and Google’s bots (crawler).

What you’ll find in this guide are a more concrete set of guidelines which are unlikely to change in the near future.

This means, delicate topics such as keywords and keyword density etc will not be discussed in this article as the rules surrounding them are prone to change.

As many of you will be aware, search engine optimisation is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. Only when viewed collectively will results begin to be noticeable – so don’t give up early on is the moral of the story.

 

Without further ado – The DOs and DON’Ts of SEO.

Page Titles

Page titles should define in a few words the content of the page. Effective page titles draw visitors to your site and give an indication to search engines the context of the page’s content.

  • Do: Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content
  • Don’t: Choose vague titles that have no relation to the content on the page or a default title such as “New Page 1”.

 

Metatags and Descriptions

Metatags and descriptions allow you to describe and/or summarise your pages content. Descriptions will be the snippet provided by google to help the visitor determine the value of the page before opening it. The text in the red box below is what the user sees.

MetaDescription

  • Do: Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description as a snippet in a search result.
  • Don’t: Write generic descriptions or use only keywords. Although no longer common, people have been known to paste an entire paragraph as the description.
  • Don’t: Repeat the same tags and descriptions across multiple pages.

 

URLs

*Changing your URL structure is not a small job! If it is ok currently then leave it as is.

Page URLs are often a difficult thing to effectively change if you’ve got a large website and/or have been using it heavily for a while. The reason for this is by changing the structure, all previous links will no longer work. The quick fix is of course to set up a redirect however this is far from ideal – to best utilise your site’s existing SEO capabilities you would have to correct all of the links. You’d probably still have to set up a redirect anyway as external sites linking to your page would also stop working.

  • Do: Your URL should contain words which are both relevant to your site and the individual page the URL links to.
  • Don’t: Choose generic page names such as “page1.html”
  • Don’t: Use unnecessary parameters/ID numbers
  • Don’t: Use excessive keywords, else risk getting the individual URL or even the whole site banned by Google.

 

Navigation

The menus on your site help visitors navigate your site. They also provide a template for creating an effective XML Sitemap which will help bots crawl your site. Having an effective menu layout is a win-win situation.

  • Do: Create a natural flowing hierarchy which makes it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate your site.
  • Do: Use text for navigation as often as possible – not everything has to be in a dropdown menu! (what this means is that often you can navigate visitors to other pages effectively using text on the page as opposed to everything being exclusively in the menu)
  • Do: Submit an up to date XML Sitemap to Google for both your main site and any mobile sites you may have – (update regularly)
  • Do: Have a useful 404 page. Many 404 pages simply have an error. Include a link back to a useful page such as your home page or main news page.
  • Don’t: Create a difficult, complex linking structure by either linking to too many things (that the visitor is unclear what to click) or by breaking your content up (so to increase number of pages but the visitor has to visit multiple pages unnecessarily)
  • Don’t: Have a navigation system based entirely on dropdown menus. As mentioned before, not only can this be frustrating for the user, it also has adverse SEO consequences.

 

Keep Your Text Easy To Read

Obvious really – the DON’Ts however will explain how Google can punish you for making your content hard to read.

  • Do: Write content that is easy to follow, concise and organised by using formatting options such as headings, bullet points etc
  • Do: Create fresh, unique content which is designed for your users, not search engines.
  • Don’t: Overuse headings/bolds/italics etc
  • Don’t: Use pictures to replace words. Pictures aren’t read by search engines which reduces SEO friendliness. Pictures also make it difficult for readers to copy/paste from your site (which although you might think this is a good thing, many would argue that the purpose of the internet is to share information).
  • Don’t: Deceptively hide text from users but displaying it to search engines (Such as having white text on a white background).

 

Links

Links on your page (both internal and external) are an important way of guiding visitors around your site. They also however help Search Engines decipher the page’s content and purpose.

Don't Click Here

  • Do: Try and describe what the link is linking to in the text. Hyperlinking keywords or phrases which define the link’s purpose will both help your visitor and Search Engines know what the link is pointing to.
  • Do: Format links so they are easy to spot (don’t try and trick visitors into thinking that normal text is actually a link). This means highlight them with a different colour.
  • Don’t: Use generic anchor text such as “click here”.

 

Images

Images help beautify a site. They also slow down loading speed so only use them sparingly and avoid using high-definition photos unless needed. Slow sites appear lower on Google’s search results.

  • Do: Use brief, descriptive filenames and alt text. This will help search engines know what the picture is about and will serve a double purpose if the picture doesn’t load, the visitor will know what should’ve been there.
  • Do: Supply alt text when using images as links. Similar to what was said in the Link section of this article to help describe the link.
  • Do: Supply an updated image sitemap file
  • Don’t: Stuff keywords into the alt text – it can get you blacklisted from Google!
  • Don’t: Use only images as links for your site’s navigation
  • Don’t: Overuse high-def images as this will significantly reduce site speed

 

Headings

Headings should be used to help visitors scan your page for the applicable information. Avoid using them for unimportant content.

  • Do: Use headings as an outline – the reader should be able to read just the headings and have a clear understanding of what the page is about.
  • Don’t: Place headings that don’t help clarify the page’s structure and summarise the page’s content
  • Don’t: Erratically change heading tag sizes or put all of the page’s text into a heading tag.
  • Don’t: Use heading styles when italics or bolding may be more appropriate

 

Robots.txt

Robot.txt

Robots.txt files tell search engines what to crawl and what to ignore. Used effectively, they can help bots crawl your pages more effectively and reduce spam. Used incorrectly – your whole site could disappear from Google. To find out more about Robots.txt files and how Google utilises them, check Google’s developer pages

  • Do: Have an up to date robots.txt file – perhaps even a second if you’re attempting to block ssl pages.
  • Don’t: Allow search result-like pages to be crawled.
  • Don’t: Allow URLs created by proxies to be crawled.

 

Promoting Your Site On Google

There are many ideas you can utilise to appear on Google. So long as you don’t spam or buy your links – you should be fine.

  • Do: Sign up for Google Places if appropriate to appear on Google Maps and web searches.
  • Do: Include your website URL in all of your online mailings (blogs, newsletters and social media posts).
  • Do: Guest blog and comment on other’s sites with links back to your own.
  • Don’t: Sign up for schemes where your content is artificially promoted to the top of selected services.
  • Don’t: Purchase links from another site with the aim of getting PageRank instead of traffic.
  • Don’t: Spam link requests to all sites related to your topic area.

 

Google’s Webmaster Tools

Google’s Webmaster Tools are a great way of monitoring and optimising your site – USE IT!

  • Do: Use it regularly to keep up to date with how Google’s bots see your site and whether there are any issues which can be resolved to make your site appear higher.
  • Do: Rectify any issue which Webmaster tools suggests.
  • Do: Utilise analytics and other tools available to optimise the most visited pages and help navigate users around your site.
  • Don’t: Do anything reckless which you don’t fully understand – you could block your entire website from appearing on Google if care isn’t taken.

A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA)

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

For this week we’re looking at the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), an agency search firm concerning all things PR related. They do this by providing paying members (agencies) with industry data and helping them network with prospective clients.

PRCA

PRCA

They offer:

  • Agency search services where prospective clients can search through agencies listed with PRCA.

  • Offer data to paid agency members to further define their field of work and help them adapt to their environment as a company.

  • Networking opportunities, events and page listings for paid agency members to be found by prospective clients.

  • Training and qualification services aim to support practitioners in achieving their professional goals.

  • Mandatory communications management audits for agencies becoming members of PRCA.

Services for Agencies

Agencies can sign up to become a member of PRCA to gain access to a wide variety of benefits. Aside from being placed on the PRCA website to be found by clients, PRCA also help agencies train up for proposals and provide them with opportunities to network. One way they do this is by putting on various events where both agencies and prospective clients are encouraged to attend. PRCA take it one step even further by providing agencies background information and updates on the PR industry.

Services for Brands

If you’re a brand looking for an agency, PRCA provides many opportunities for you to have face time with a range of agencies and better understand what it is they do. Outside of having an agency search engine for brands on their website, brands are openly encouraged to attend meetings and events filled with agencies ready to strut their stuff. An example of this would be the “Hill + Knowlton strategies meeting” inviting senior experts from across the PR industry to speak on various topics.

Charges and Fees

PRCA runs a membership model where agencies pay on a regular basis to take advantage of a full range of services. These come at multiple levels of annual memberships for multiple type of agencies including::

  • Individuals

  • Regulation and registration

  • Students

  • Freelancers

  • Consultancies

  • In-house

  • International agencies

Key members of staff

Who is PRCA right for?

PRCA are an all inclusive package for public relations agencies to improve their skills and gain client work. Training provided by PRCA may be more or less helpful depending on the agency undergoing that training but offers that as a strong incentive to be involved as a member. Their offerings are perfect for an agency to get in, learn some skills, make a few clients and then leave if they so choose. Being membership based makes it flexible for an agency to move in and out of their system so it’s easy to test the waters and be involved in several of their events and courses early on in a working relationship with them.

Shortcomings

Hands on appraoch – Their entire search and development system is more face to face and hands on, rather than a single easy to use and searchable presence for an agency. This could be a blessing as getting clients to interact with an agency is often what they are after.
On the other hand though it does mean an agency spends much more time out of the office and engaging with prospective clients rather than working on current ones while waiting for their presence on the website to bring in more.

PR focus – PRCA focus on public relationship management service agencies first and foremost, rather than the entire range of marketing agencies out there. So if you’re looking for an great all inclusive services agency, but aren’t quite as focused on PR as you are other marketing activities, this may not be the search agency for you.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the Agency Search Firms Listly

Warm email introduction – copy this campaign

Ever got an introduction to a new business prospect and wondered why they didn’t reply to your email enquiry?

Let us show you how to guarantee they read your message

Burning_Email_Symbol

Scenario:  Rebecca (that’s me) introduces you to Jonathan Lewis.  Hey, you should meet Jonathan, I’m sure you guys could work together.

What happens next is one of three possibilities

  1. Rebecca emails Jonathan and cc you into the message – this is the best possible next step because Rebecca is known and trusted by Jonathan so he’ll open the message and see the introduction.  PLUS you are cc so he gets your email and you see his and can reply direct keeping Rebecca cc if appropriate.
  2. Rebecca says she’ll email Jonathan and ask him to get in touch – this is the worst possible next step because you have no control over whether she does it, what she says, you don’t get Jonathan’s email address and you don’t see the message.  AVOID
  3. Rebecca gives you Jonathan’s email so you can get in touch – this is the median situation.  Your message will arrive in his in-box but he doesn’t know you, your email address won’t be white-listed and you risk being ignored

How to overcome scenario 3 above.

Your email subject line is critical

Writing this email is important – it’s your one big chance for Jonathan to notice you and make direct contact.

Ready for the perfect subject line?

Subject: Rebecca Caroe

Yes – that’s it.  Make the introducer’s name the subject of the message – this will grab their attention and they will surely notice your message.  Why is he writing to me about Rebecca?  Hey, I know Rebecca maybe that’s news about her?

Dear [First Name]

Rebecca Caroe and I met this week and we were talking about [name the project / expertise] and she has recommended you and I connect.  Her reason is that we are [state your business] and we need [state their business].

Can we fix a time to speak.  I am available on [name 2 dates and times here – at least 3 days ahead of today].

Very much looking forward to learning more about [name their business].

[your name]

Why this email works

It sets the context quickly – it does all the ‘thinking’ for the recipient.

You should be trusted with one phone chat or meeting because of the mutual connection (Rebecca) and you’ve given them an easy route for the reply message by suggesting the dates.

Go on, try it and tell me whether it worked for you!

New business development copywriting: Stalled prospects

September is the time business gets down to work after the summer break.  Blair Enns at the Win Without Pitching team say this is the perfect time to clean out your list of prospects and new business opportunities.

Find out which ones are going to buy and which aren’t worth your time chasing further.  Blair writes

Below is a simple email template that you can use to raise deals from the dead. It works throughout the year but this week, more than any other period in the calendar, is when it works best.

THE EMAIL

It was taught to me as The Takeaway but I refer to it by the subject line that I prefer: Closing The Loop. Draft it, modify it if you dare, but send it to all those prospects you were talking to over the summer about real projects only for them to disappear on you. That’s the intended purpose of this email – to raise deals from the dead and solicit a response from someone who has been avoiding you over the summer.

Your natural inclination is probably to do the opposite of what I’m about to suggest. Resist. Do not send an overly polite email. Do not make excuses for your prospect’s behaviour over the last few weeks. Do not email in pursuit of a yes or even an answer. No, your mission is to strip away all emotions and matter-of-factly just let your prospect go. Below is how to do this and then what to expect afterwards.

Ready?

Read the detailed email Blair recommends

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A Closer Look at Agency Search Firms – Trinity P3

This blog post series looks in depth at firms from our List of Agency Search Firms. These are businesses who help to match brands with agencies, while helping those agencies handle pitches and get meetings. You’ll learn exactly what agency search firms do, the different services offered and what your agency needs to look for in a search firm.

This week we’re taking a look at Trinity P3, a firm that focuses specifically on aiding marketers and agencies find work. Trinity P3 work very closely with their clients. Instead of working through lists that agencies and brands can search, they specifically communicate to the right people to match agencies and brands together. Throughout this process they help their clients manage themselves and their connections.

Trinity P3

Trinity P3 at www.trinityp3.com/

They offer:

  • Brand resource acquisition and allocation services

  • Agency benchmarking and assessment services

  • Environmental company alignment services

  • Agency search and selection services for brands

  • Budgeting services for both brands and agencies

Services for Agencies

With Trinity P3, agencies get matched with brands and can have their company processes assessed and improved. In addition to budgeting, benchmarking and company stats tracking, Trinity P3 also offers agencies an assessment on their environmental impact as a company.

Services for Brands

With agency search and selection services (including agency assessments) and resource acquisition and allocation, Trinity P3 are an all inclusive package company for finding the right agency for a given brand. They also offer budgeting services for brands on their work. Like agencies, brands can also have their work processes reviewed and revamped by Trinity P3. They also receive the same offerings for their environmental impact that Trinity P3 offers agencies.

Charges and fees

Trinity P3 charges clients (both agencies and brands) on a case by case basis and every service they offer on their website comes with a description accompanied by a link to submit a request for a proposal.

Key members of staff

Who is Trinity P3 right for?

Trinity P3 works closely with their clients by maintaining communications rather than using menus and forms. This means they establish a close connection with you as a client and help you with more than just project management and project acquisition or deployment. Trinity P3 offers a good range of services for connecting companies to the marketing industry, suggesting they are appropriate for clients just starting out.

Shortcomings

Few contact free services – The only way to interact with Trinity P3 and their services is through direct messaging of general contact or for proposals.

Difficult to compare agencies as a brand who is searching – They do not have a detailed list of firms and contacts available to you for your assessment outside of directly messaging them. This makes search and selection difficult although still possible as they have links to their contacts so you can assess them individually.

For a full list of companies in this blog post series, click through to the Agency Search Firms Listly

Facebook Icon On Fire

How Facebook Boosted My Newsletter Subscribers

Email or FacebookFacebook hasn’t replaced any newsletter (at least not yet but you never know what Facebook’ll do next). What Facebook has done is equal the amount of traffic driven to our website from our weekly newsletter.  And helped us to recruit new opted-in newsletter subscribers.

Better yet – it’s all free.

Key things to note: Our weekly newsletter has over 4,500 subscribers. Our Facebook page had just 400 (over the course of this experiment we increased this to 550).  Wow – that’s ten times fewer subscribers but they’re visiting and re-visiting the website.

Everyone knows the theory of email newsletters – their open and clickthrough rates so I won’t waste time here. We’re going to tell you how you can drive more traffic to your website from Facebook.  Then invite visitors to join the newsletter.

What we were doing

We posted 3 times a day on Facebook, for Facebook – all of which was shared from other users and pages on Facebook. These posts were backed up by regular blog post entries (one every day) which were automatically fed to our Timeline. Very standard.

So what did we change?

There were 3 major changes.

  1. The first was to do with posting amounts and timing. We increased the frequency of posting and changed what time of day we posted Facebook updates. This was increased to 5-6 times a day (effectively doubling our previous posting frequency).
  2. The second major change is where we post from. We changed all sources of our posts to our website and then linked to them.
  3. Our third major change was where we sourced our content from. It’s important to note here we hardly ever created original content – we either shared others or repurposed our archived content.

To facilitate changing the source of our posts to our website we installed new plugins. People will spend less time on our Facebook page because we are directing them to our website. As a result, many of the plugins we installed were to make sure our content is still shared (which often doesn’t happen once you leave a social media site). As we knew many of our visitors would also be arriving from a mobile device (Facebook’s App is becoming more widely used) we paid particular attention to how our site looks on mobile devices.

Step 1: Smarter Posting Times

Our audience is active at all times of the day. We were initially posting 3 times daily between 9am and 5pm – Not the smartest move when you look at the graph below of our visitor traffic over 24 hours.

When Fans Are Online

Click To Enlarge

For this reason – we opted to post every 4-5 hours. Remember – we don’t want this to take up all our time and we definitely don’t want to be up all night so we chose to schedule our Facebook posts. To enable auto-posting of blog at all times of day we installed new plugins which I’ll discuss below.

Step 2: Make The Website The Destination

We want to drive traffic off Facebook to our website.  This is marketing real estate that we control and manage.  We’re not dependent on Facebook’s grace.  Making most of your posts direct to your website is therefore logical.  And remember our objective is to drive readers from Facebook to becoming opted-in newsletter subscribers.

This of course means publishing content designed for Facebook on your website. Whether you’re sharing an article or a photo, upload it to your site (add a link on the post to credit the photograph if appropriate).  Don’t just link them straight to the original source, ideally you’re seen as the source of the content so they spend longer on your site and less elsewhere.

With our new plugins – photos are uploaded from our website to Facebook automatically. When a user clicks on a photo expecting it to enlarge they are instead redirected to our website (where there is a larger image front and centre). Bingo – we’ve just driven traffic from Facebook to our site. From here you have 2 challenges –

  1. How can they share this with their friends?
  2. What’s going to keep them from leaving your site?

The first challenge is easily answered – plugins which I will discuss later on. The second is to have an attractive website littered with quality content – this is discussed just below.

Step 3: Sourcing Quality, “Original” Content

To ensure our content is appealing, we need it to be socially shareable. While there are no guarantees, using already proven socially shareable content is a start. But you don’t want to appear a copycat. So how do you get proven socially shareable material while still looking “fresh” and “original”? The easiest strategy is to find content from sources other than Facebook. Pinterest was a great resource for me as pictures make the best Facebook posts and most photos came with a short description or piece of information – perfect.

Setting Up Your Website: Plugins Used

Below is a list of the plugins you’ll want to install if you’re on WordPress. I’ve described the types of plugins you want before stating what plugin we used. These plugins are all free and you may have your own preference.

  1. New Automatic Posting To Social Media (Facebook/Twitter).

    • NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster [Hands down the best autoposter plugin. Fully customisable, plenty of social media options and looks like the posts were shared straight from Facebook. 2 great features of this plugin are that you can choose individual posts to be image posts or linked posts etc & Imports Facebook comments so your website appears popular]

  2. A more simple “Like Us” button further up the News main page.

    • Facebook Social Plugin Widgets (This plugin installs widgets to be used wherever – we used them in the sidebar of our blog page [note page and not post])

  3. When someone enters our site (for the first time) a like us on Facebook plugin pops up [This doesn’t interfere with our pre-existing Newsletter signup popup].

  4. Horizontal social sharing toolbar along the top is non intrusive and doesn’t cover any text unlike many vertical floating ones.

  5. Sharing of individual pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest by simply hovering your mouse over the picture.

  6. Floating Sharebar down that follows the user down the side of the post. It allows sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc

    • Digg Digg (Leave a comment if you’d like my custom CSS code so the spacings etc look nice and clean with no borders or ads)

  7. Mobile Plugin so website looks good on every device

 

Results?

Results of Our 1st Change

So what were the results of our changes? The graph below reveals all. With a simple change in the frequency and timing of posts our weekly reach exploded. This is most likely due to reaching more individuals as opposed to reaching the same people multiple times.

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Click To Enlarge

 

Results of Our 2nd Change

The screenshot below is of our website’s referrals for the 2 week period before and during our Facebook efforts. As you can see, vast improvements. We basically received 1000 extra page views each week (remember, at the time we only had 400 people liking our page). I’ve highlighted the Twitter referrals as well (t.co) as although we designed this campaign for Facebook – using the NextScript Autoposter plugin we also published the same content to Twitter (although we changed the structure of the titles and links etc from within the plugin’s settings). You’ll notice the amount of referrals we got from Facebook Mobile (m.facebook.com). Good thing we had WPtouch installed so our page would look good on any device.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

 

Did Our Plugins Do Their Job?

I was initially skeptical when installing the Facebook Page Promoter Lightbox – no one likes popups. After 2 weeks though, we picked up 50 likes from external “Like” buttons. These buttons were only in 2 places, the first was in the sidebar on the blog page the second was the aforementioned lightbox. I’m almost 100% sure the lightbox is where we picked up all of those likes.

Click To Enlarge

Click To Enlarge

Sling pic and both social sharing bars (vertical and horizontal) picked up a few extra “Likes” and retweets which was nice – nothing to write home about but every little bit counts. WPtouch can be attributed to the 13 mobile likes as although it means people liked our Page from Facebook (on a mobile device), the website must have been attractive enough to have convinced them.

Conclusion

The initial results are all very promising, only time will tell how good a long term strategy this is. The short term gains were an instant increase in likes going from 400 to 550 in 2 weeks, engagement going up and a large increase in unique visitors and page views. There were of course more minor, intricate strategic choices made during this period and still being made now – these will be discussed in a later post.

 

If you’d like any help setting these plugins up or want to discuss how this can apply to your online strategy get in touch by leaving a comment below.

Online marketing for accounting firms: a research summary

Accountancy firms are the backbone of the business economy serving every sector of the community. Business owners use their accountant to get advice and recommendations on a wide range of commercial issues. They are trusted advisors for New Zealand business.

Yet accountants often present themselves poorly online. They are difficult to find on the internet, their websites are dull, unremarkable, and aren’t easy to use for prospective clients who want to research and find an advisor.

The attributes of a good business website:

  • Findable on search engines for search phrases that relate to the industry or product not the business name
  • State the services or products offered in clear, non-technical language
  • Illustrates specialisms and points of difference for the firm
  • Helps guide the customer to the correct service they need
  • Enable the customer to get in touch with the business by a range of communication channels – including social media as well as traditional telephone and email
  • Name key members of staff and their contact details
  • Show office locations, ideally on a map

Every business uses some form of marketing promotion to bring in new clients and to keep current clients coming back for more.

A website is the linchpin of modern business marketing activity. Most other marketing work directs curious web searchers to the website. These days, who hasn’t got a business card without the firm’s URL?

Creative Agency Secrets has appraised a substantial amount of accountancy firms’ websites for evidence of current marketing and promotion activities within the industry.

 

Here’s what we found

  • Over one quarter of all firms surveyed do no marketing promotion aside from their website.
  • 38% have some basic promotion, normally in the form of a newsletter.
  • And at the other end of the scale 6% are very active and seek to engage website visitors and encourage them to get in touch with the firm.

Where does your firm sit on the proactive marketing scale?

Top performers include

  • Deloitte
  • Cabbage Tree Accounting
  • William Buck
  • Astill Hawke
  • DJCA
  • Gilligan Rowe

What sets these firms apart?

The best accountancy firms have several key attributes in common

  1. They are highly informative both on their business, what they offer, and their industry
  2. Their web pages maintain public resources for research and self-discovery
  3. The have prominent and recent communication activity using written, audio and visual media which engages readers and keeps them on the website
  4. They encourage the visitor to reveal his identity to the firm

Why do prospective clients find these factors appealing?

Imagine going into a shop for the first time – you browse around looking for the product you want to buy and at “just the right moment” a sales assistant steps forward and offers to help you. They guide you in an un-pushy manner to the product you want but stay on hand to answer any further questions you have. A modern website needs to do the same job for the firm.

But on a website a visitor is anonymous.

You have no idea who has visited your site – just tracking cookies and the number of visitors in your analytics. The Firm doesn’t know their names, what their interest is and whether they are looking to buy some accounting advice.

Social Media

Businesses are moving into the social media scene. Yet most accountancy firms have not taken advantage of the core social media sites.

twitter researchfacebook researchother social media research

Our research reviewed accountants’ websites for public links to social media sites. We expected to see LinkedIn used the most because it is the professional business social media site but we were wrong: 34% had LinkedIn pages; 34% had Twitter and 46% had Facebook profiles.

Firms with an active social media presence tended to also have higher scores in overall web presence and influence. There are many additional influencing factors and it is important to note that where a company is on social media, they also have invested time in YouTube videos, blogging, or email marketing as well.

We ranked firms comparing their activity on the web by assessing how often they updated their marketing activities and what tools they used to market themselves online. This shows that activity really does boost your noticeability as an accounting firm online. What’s more interesting about these results is the outlying firms with our assigned activity scores of 2, 3 and 4 who also have a good Alexa Rank which suggests that content is an important factor in gaining a prominent online presence.

Online Marketing Tools used by Accounting Firms

There are a lot of opportunities to display expertise using content marketing techniques online.

Newsletters

When searching there accountancy firms’ websites for newsletters, we looked at whether firms actively requested prospective clients’ email addresses, and the ways in which the firm used them. Many displayed historic newsletters but they were often displayed in PDF format which is less searchable or sharable.

Of those with newsletters, a significant amount website visitors had no way to subscribe to receive the news online. Giving visitors the ability to subscribe gets you their email address for a mailing list and analytics information about those visitors. Mailing lists are a great way to start a dialogue with customers by building a self-service database. An opportunity lost by these firms.

Opted in databases of email addresses are among the most powerful marketing assets a firm can own. They can even be used to deliver a series of emails called autoresponders. These can welcome new subscribers, give them an introduction to the firm, and explain its services.

Blogging

Many of the news pages or blogs for the accounting firms we researched are static and have not been updated for many months or even years. They have no clickability or linking to other pages in the website and they are created on a single web page. This means an individual article cannot be hyper-linked, only the whole page.

By creating a blog-style page, the opportunity exists to create more internal and external links to your site which again increases the chances for search engines to visit more frequently as well as encouraging visitors to browse across multiple website pages. This also provides opportunities for other websites to link to specific articles from you which ultimately lead the visitor to your website.

Videos

Larger accountancy firms host videos on their websites, mainly used for training. None have made use of online broadcasting technologies like webinars, podcasts or recordings. Video and audio recording is now cheap and easy to do. They are a good way to communicate and to enable listeners to share your content and are far more engaging than text.

Training

Many accountants provide training and conduct seminars for in-person attendance. It would be very easy to broadcast a training event or record it at the same time for later broadcast. Training is a fantastic marketing tool but if someone can’t make the event time, watching a recording means they can still gain value from it.

 

In Conclusion

Most accounting firms have the beginnings of a good website presence. However they need to add new functionality that works to continuously draw new visitors into the website from search, from the email database and to encourage them to reveal their identities and join in a dialogue with the firm. This can be enhanced by including social media in their marketing plans as they create more and more points of contact for potential clients, as long as you know your clients use social media to connect. LinkedIn is particularly good because of its professional nature.

If you’re an accounting firm looking for a free website appraisal, you’ll find one here at Creative Agency Secrets.

Get in touch with us.

Website not showing up in Google: BNI New Business Development tip of the week

THis week I’m focusing on a client whose website was not showing up on Google – not for pages and pages.

He knew this was a problem and had been overcoming it by paying for SEO to put it onto the top of search.  But he knows this is a short term solution which he doesn’t want to continue.

We investigated and found 3 quick things to correct

  1. Site meta tags were not populated
  2. Blog was created as a page not posts
  3. Photo Alt tags weren’t used and images were uploaded with the camera image id (long string numbers)

So some easy quick fixes.

Medium term, we’re teaching them how to use links and key words in blog posts which will reinforce search queries as well as social sharing and reciprocation.

 

Check out Otautahi Tattoo’s amazing story as refugees from the Christchurch earthquake and relocation, growth and reinvigoration in Auckland – the photo is of All Black Keven Mealamu having his latest ‘rose’ design added.

Otautahi Tattoo with Keven Mealamu All Black rugby player

Otautahi Tattoo with Keven Mealamu All Black rugby player

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Brands Seeking Agencies 25th April 2013

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Brands Seeking Agencies

Americas

  • Beauty products group searching “how to write the perfect creative brief”, OH, USA
  • Transportation & logistics group researching “how to write a good creative brief”, ON, Canada
  • CPG sales promotion agency searching “dear valued customers letter”, USA
  • Bedding manufacturer searching “creative brief template for advertising agency” Canada
  • City lobbying group for urban planning reading How to write an awesome creative brief, NY, USA

Europe

Africa

Asia Pacific 

RFPs

Agencies

Brands