Have you ever wondered how to get your website ranking number one in the search results when somebody searches for bookkeepers on Google?
There’s no failsafe way to get that coveted top spot, but there are lots of methods for trying to get your website to rank highly in search results. Souping up your website so that it ranks well is called search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s a massive topic and can quickly become overwhelming. But, since most small businesses don’t do any SEO, even doing some basic SEO can reap huge rewards and put you closer to the top of the search rankings.
In this introduction, I’ll highlight some important tips specific to bookkeepers. But I strongly recommend looking at our general SEO guide to make sure you’re covering all your bases.
How word-of-mouth relates to SEO
Bookkeepers, by and large, get most of their clients from word-of-mouth referrals. At the recent ICB Bookkeeper summit, I canvassed the audience at our seminar for where their new clients come from and almost every bookkeeper present said that word-of-mouth was their main source of new business.
How does word-of-mouth impact SEO? Put simply, your website needs to rank well for your name and your business’s name. This isn’t true of all industries. Imagine, for instance, that you own a small supermarket. Chances are, your potential customers are likely to type in “supermarket”, “groceries” or some other similarly generic phrase into a search engine—not, say, “Best Price Mart”. But because people on the hunt for a bookkeeper tend to rely on recommendations from friends and acquaintances, there’s a much greater chance that their search query will be either your business’s name or your own personal name.
SEO is all about identifying the key phrases and words that you want to rank well for when typed into a search engine. For bookkeepers, we recommend that you first try to ensure you rank well for your business and personal name. Here’s how to figure out what your potential clients are searching for.
Optimise your website for local search
In this day and age, with the prevalence of cloud bookkeeping software and tools, a potential client could be a long way away from where your office. But the fact is, most of the time a bookkeeper’s clients are usually locals. That means you need to target search queries specific to your location.
How? You need to mention your suburb, city, or region on your website—preferably often. If you mention your location in a heading on a webpage, that’ll have a greater impact on your ranking than when you mention your location in the main body of your text on the page (but it still helps to pepper your location name throughout those paragraphs too!). Basically, the more you include those location-specific words or phrases on your website, the better. Put them in your headings, body text, and blog posts.
(Warning: overusing these [or any] words and phrases can actually hurt your ranking, because search engines like Google will become “suspicious” and penalise your website with a lower ranking. But don’t stress—so long as your website reads naturally and isn’t stuffing those location words into sentences where they don’t fit, you should be fine.)
Another absolute “must” is setting up your business on Google “My Business”. It’s free and will do wonders for your local search rankings. Find out more about Google My Business here.
Optimise for your specialities
If you’ve ever heard a webinar or presentation from Karen Reyburn and the team at The Profitable firm you’ll have heard about marketing to your niche. What are your areas of particular expertise? Do you have experience in a particular sector. For example, Kim Parks at Parks Bookkeeping Services has a clear differentiation as a project management and costings bookkeeper. Her site is very new and good rankings take time but focussing your content and SEO activities on a specialised areas is a good way to generate traffic in the right places.
Perhaps you have a real expertise in a particular software. Another Rocketspark client, Clare Owen-Jones of Loud and Clear accounting has focussed her all-important About Us page on being a Xero Certified Bookkeeper and if you are in the UK and search the phrase Xero Bookkeeper Cardiff Clare was ranking as the top natural search ranking (i.e. after the paid adverts). A top ranking is not guaranteed to stay there though so it’s important to have multiple pieces of content supporting a particular topic. Which leads us nicely to the next section.
Share some of your expertise for free
One of the very best SEO techniques is to give away lots of useful information for free. Google tends to reward websites that offer quality content by giving those sites higher rankings. By freely offering quality information, you’re showing potential clients that you know your stuff about bookkeeping, so when they look for a bookkeeper they’ll probably come to you.
The best way to do this is by having a blog. You can answer your clients’ most frequently asked questions through your blog. For example, for Bookkeepers in the UK you might write a blog post about how to do ‘gift aid’ in Xero. There’s a good chance than anybody who types “How do I do gift aid in Xero” into Google will end up reading your blog post. If you specialise in charities, you might land some more clients by showing them that you’re a guru in the field (and by being kind enough to share what you know!). Learn more about sharing your expertise in a blog here.
A great place to start with blogging about bookkeeping is to think about the top questions your clients ask you and write articles that provide the answers. An added bonus is that you’ll be able to use these blog posts to efficiently answer client questions and you’ll also demonstrate your expertise to any word of mouth referrals checking out your site.
Only scratching the surface
There’s more to learn about SEO. A lot more. This blog post is just scratching the surface, covering the stuff that relates specifically to bookkeepers. If you want to make sure your website appears near the top of the search results when somebody is searching for a bookkeeper, you’ll need to put in some serious time and effort.
SEO can be daunting. But don’t worry—we’ve made it a whole lot easier by condensing the important stuff into plain English. Take some time to work through our SEO guide here. Also, check out our blog posts about SEO. We’ve written a lot of them and they’re a valuable resource for getting your website to the top of the Google heap.
If you’d like to create your own bookkeeper website with Rocketspark you can start a 30 day free trial of our website builder and sample our bookkeeper templates which provide an excellent starting point for creating a highly effective bookkeeper website.