In today’s digital landscape, having a robust online presence is essential for businesses across industries. Professional service firms, including accounting firms, are no exception. As a consultant working closely with professional service firm executives, I have come to understand the unique challenges firms face in maintaining a competitive edge. One powerful tool that can significantly impact their online visibility and success is a well-defined SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy.
In this article, we’ll delve into what an SEO strategy entails, why it’s vital for accounting firms to incorporate into their digital strategy, and how content, particularly in the form of topic clusters, plays a pivotal role in its success. To illustrate the effectiveness of a strategic SEO approach, we’ll also present a compelling case study.
Understanding SEO Strategy
An SEO strategy is a comprehensive plan aimed at improving a website’s visibility on search engines, primarily Google. It involves a combination of on-page and off-page techniques designed to increase organic (non-paid) traffic to a website. The goal of an SEO strategy is to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords and phrases relevant to the business’s offerings. For accounting firms, this means appearing prominently when potential clients search for services like “tax consultation,” “financial planning,” or “auditing services.”
SEO’s Importance for Accounting Firms
- Enhanced Visibility: Accounting firms operate in a competitive market. An effective SEO strategy ensures their website is visible to potential clients when they’re actively seeking professional financial services. This increased visibility can lead to higher website traffic, greater brand recognition, and ultimately, more business inquiries.
- Credibility and Trust: High search engine rankings are often associated with credibility and expertise. When a prospective client finds an accounting firm’s website at the top of the search results, it reinforces the perception of the firm as a trusted authority in the field.
- Cost-Effective Marketing: Traditional marketing methods can be expensive. In contrast, a well-executed SEO strategy offers a cost-effective way to reach a targeted audience. By appearing in organic search results, accounting firms can reduce their reliance on paid advertising while still attracting valuable leads.
The Role of Content in SEO Success
Content lies at the heart of any effective SEO strategy. High-quality, relevant, and engaging content not only attracts visitors to the website but also keeps them engaged and encourages them to explore further. One powerful content strategy that aligns well with SEO is the concept of “topic clusters.”
Related Article: The Value of Creating Original Content
Topic Clusters: A Game-Changer for SEO
A topic cluster is a content model that involves creating a pillar piece of content around a broad topic and then supporting it with a cluster of related content pieces. For instance, an accounting firm could create a comprehensive guide on “Navigating Tax Regulations for Small Businesses.” This pillar content serves as a hub and is linked to various cluster content pieces that delve deeper into subtopics such as “Tax Deductions for Small Businesses,” “Quarterly Tax Filings,” and “Understanding VAT.”
Topic clusters offer several benefits:
- SEO Synergy: By interlinking cluster content with the pillar content and vice versa, topic clusters create a web of interconnected information. Search engines recognize this structure, leading to improved search rankings for all related content pieces.
- Comprehensive Authority: Developing in-depth content on specific subtopics showcases the firm’s expertise and establishes it as an authoritative resource. This authority is recognized by search engines, further boosting search rankings.
- User-Friendly Experience: Visitors find all the information they need in one place, enhancing their user experience. This encourages them to spend more time on the website and increases the likelihood of conversion.
Case Study: Hall CPA’s Strategic SEO Success
Hall CPA, a mid-sized accounting firm, earned a few thousand keyword rankings and numerous page one placements for their website, but there was no targeted strategy for intentionally dominating keyword families. This led to some disarray and haphazard results, which became more damaging in terms of their site health at scale.
The Winding River team created a focused, ambitious SEO strategy for the website, optimizing core pages, historical blogs, and creating a cadence of weekly blog content. They also created and deployed topic cluster strategies, using a pillar page (3000+ words) and related blogs (8-10 in total) to maximize the signal and magnetize the site for highly relevant, high-intent keyphrases.
We wrote a “Guide to Short Term Rentals” long-form pillar piece and 8 subtopic blogs with a skillful interlinking strategy, setup for real time tracking in HubSpot. To date, the Short-Term Rentals Topic Cluster has been responsible for 3,991 site sessions for Hall CPA. The pillar page has a time per page view of four minutes. The best performing subtopics have a five-minute session duration, and the piece on maximizing losses has a 21% lower bounce rate than the blog as a whole.
The results were remarkable:
- Blog performance Year over year: Blog views increased 13.1%, entrances to the site through the blog increased 12.84%, CTA clicks increased 10.37%, and the CTA rate increased 0.37
- Content Views Year over Year: Content views increased 26.39% between 2021 and 2022
- Lead Generation: In September 2022, 573 qualified leads were recorded coming from Google Search.
- Keywords and Traffic: Increase of 3,400 keywords between September 2021 and 2022:
According to Google statistics, to achieve the same traffic via paid search, Hall CPA would have to pay approximately $31,600/month.
For professional service firms like accounting firms, an SEO strategy is not just a tactical choice but a strategic necessity. It enhances visibility, credibility, and cost-effectiveness, all while catering to the needs of modern digital consumers.
Content, particularly in the form of topic clusters, plays a critical role in maximizing the impact of an SEO strategy. By embracing this approach, firms can position themselves as industry authorities, attract valuable organic traffic, and ultimately drive business growth. The success story of Hall CPA serves as a testament to the effectiveness of a well-executed strategic SEO approach.