Category: Websites

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Modern website design

Firms who allow their websites to become outdated risk being penalised by search engines. Search engines aim to provide internet searchers with the best user experience possible. New technologies, social media and the rise of mobile device use has changed how internet users interact with the online landscape.

Therefore, if a website is not kept up to date with user requirements, it is not considered to be user-friendly by search engines, which inadvertently lowers the page rank of the website. To increase opportunities for more traffic and exposure to their website, firms should consider the benefits associated with the elements of modern website design.

Navigation
Online visitors will not stay on a site for very long if they can’t find what they are looking for. A website’s navigation should be easy to use and consistent across every page.

Content
Publishing great content on a website can improve the reputation of a firm, and result increased visitors, sales and SEO benefits as well.

Mobile-friendly
Web users have moved to using mobile devices to browse the internet. Making sure a website is mobile-friendly can avoid any losses in potential website traffic.

Social media integration
Incorporating social media into a website may allow a firm to reach and interact with potential clients in ways that a website simply does not offer.

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The keyword challenge for accountants

The keywords chosen for your firm’s website are critical when trying to improve search engine ranking.

Keywords are an important aspect of SEO. However, because they are a homogenous group, those in the accounting and finance industries face a particularly tough challenge when it comes to SEO.

By offering similar services and products online, these firms typically share similar keywords.

Firms that want to stand out against the competition in an Internet search setting should use long tail keywords that are made up of 2 – 4 words. These long tail keywords should accurately describe exactly what the firm offers in everyday or colloquial language that people are most likely to use when searching online.

The reason why long tail keywords should not be any less that two words in length is because single-word terms are too broad, and won’t be touched by most SEOs.

They result in a broad list of products or websites that often have little to do with the term searched. By adding another word or two, the search is much more refined and targeted.

Search engines also often pay most attention to the first 200 words of a page, which is why keyword placement is so important. Firms should ensure they place all keywords appropriately near the beginning of their website or blog post.

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What you need to know about SEO

SEO (search engine optimisation) is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of search engines like Google.

SEO strategies vary from what firms can do to their website (on-page SEO) to improve its ranking, to promotional ‘off-page’ approaches firms can use to raise their website’s visibility (social media marketing, link building, etc).

A website’s ‘visibility’ refers to how high it appears for certain search terms on a search engine’s result page.

Here are just a few elements search engines look for in a website that firms should consider in their online marketing strategies to improve their website’s visibility.

  • Relevancy

Search engines serve to provide the most relevant results to a searcher’s query. Firms, therefore, need to make sure their website’s content is as relevant as possible to what clients and prospective clients type into Google’s search bar.

  • The quality of content

Firms need to focus more on user experience than how many keywords they need to have on their website. Regularly publishing helpful, useful articles for human beings, not search engines, should be part of every firm’s online marketing strategy. Search engines are now ranking websites based on a visitor’s intention as a whole, instead of the number of keywords in content.

  • User experience

Providing a good user experience carries many SEO benefits. Firms need an easily navigable, clearly searchable site with relevant internal linking and related content; all the website elements that keep visitors there, and entice them to find out more.

  • Site speed

How quickly a website and its pages load is fast becoming a differentiating factor for search engines.

  • Internal linking

Internal linking is a practice that firms can use when publishing articles to help move traffic around their website that comes with many advantages. It provides a firm’s audience with further reading options which can help reduce the website’s bounce rate.

It also contributes to improve a firm’s website ranking for keywords e.g. if firms want an article to rank for the term ‘SMSF basics’, then they can begin linking to it from other posts using variations of similar anchor text. This practice tells Google that the post is relevant to people searching for ‘SMSF basics’.

  • Local SEO

Google has started serving results to users based on their location. This practice is particularly important for firms in the real world who want to catch a searcher’s attention just at the right moment. Firms should ensure that all of their contact information is accurate and up-to-date, such as opening times, contact information and client reviews.

  • Social

Firms can raise their website’s visibility through non-technical SEO methods, such as social media marketing. Firms should be present on all relevant social channels (wherever their audience is) and be broadcasting helpful content and genuinely interacting with people in a friendly, helpful manner.

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SEO practices your firm should avoid

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a viable online marketing strategy that all firms should incorporate into their marketing. However, it is a type of online marketing that comes with many ‘black hat’ practices.

‘Black hat’ SEO refers to the use of disruptive SEO tactics and strategies that focus only on search engines and not a human audience. These strategies usually do not obey search engine guidelines, and can result in a Google penalty.

Even though they may look like an ‘easy win’ at the time, firms should avoid the following SEO black hat strategies at all costs:

Keyword stuffing
Overusing keywords on your website’s pages is a practice that is penalised heavily by search engines, especially when the number of keywords affects the readability of your firm’s website. Using keywords is still beneficial and necessary for SEO, however trying to include as many keywords as possible should take a backseat to writing content for your firm’s audience.

Over-optimising internal website links
While internal links are important for spreading link equity throughout your firm’s website, over-optimising these links could land your firm in trouble. Firms should use natural language that makes sense to their readers.

Using irrelevant keywords just to rank
Including unrelated or irrelevant keywords in new or existing content to rank for those keywords is a short cut many content marketers use to get around publishing regular content. However, since search engines have become quite capable identifying this kind of practice, it is best firms avoid it at all costs.

Duplicated content
If a search engine finds two identical pieces of content, it will only index one of those pages. Make sure none of your firm’s pages misses out on being ranked by ensuring there is no duplicate content on your site.

Link exchanges
Search engines look for natural links, so instead of asking for link exchanges, firms should work hard to create high-quality content that naturally attracts links.

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Five ways you can promote your blog

The growing importance of regularly sharing fresh content and new information online has pushed many firms into spending more time creating and publishing posts to their blogs in the hopes of improving their SEO ranking.

However, what many firms don’t realise is there is more to online marketing than just writing blog posts. Hours spent creating an amazing piece of content will be for nothing if firms don’t promote their blog to get it in front of the right people.

Taking the time to promote firm content is crucial if you want to succeed with blogging, and now is the time firms need to stop taking the approach of ‘pressing publish and hoping for the best’.

If your firm is struggling to come up with ideas on how to promote your blog’s content, here are five techniques that you could use:

Share you blog post multiple time on social media
Sharing a link to your post once on social media and then forgetting about it will have little to no effect, especially on sites like Twitter. Due to how quickly content moves on Twitter, firms are highly unlikely to reach or engage with their followers.

Since followers are online at different times throughout the day, firms should aim to share content multiple times to extend their reach. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create multiple social media posts, and schedule them to send at different times and on different days throughout the week.

Message your LinkedIn network
Even though it is a highly professional social channel, LinkedIn is surprisingly one of the most underutilised social media channels for promoting content. One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is your network. When firms create a new blog post, they should send a message to the people in their network that they think would find the information interesting.

Firms should keep in mind that this method is far better when they keep in touch with LinkedIn connections on a relatively regular basis. Contacting connections once a year to notify them of a new blog post can make a firm look like a spammer.

Share your blog post in LinkedIn Groups
As well as reaching out to your LinkedIn network, another great way to promote your content are LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups work well because you’re guaranteed to get your content in front of people who are interested in your industry or topic.

But firms should only share a blog post with groups when it is relevant, and avoid oversharing. Sharing too much information that offers little value to a group will result in being known as a spammer.

Include a link to your most popular posts
A much-overlooked tactic to promoting blog posts is by linking new content to existing content. If your firm publishes an article that’s related to another popular article you’ve published in the past, don’t forget to include a link to the new article inside the older one. This can attract more traffic to the new post and the internal linking is also beneficial for SEO purposes.

Share your content with your email list
While this tactic might seem obvious, many firms don’t send emails to their subscribers when they publish a new post because they incorrectly assume that their client subscribers are already aware of their new content.

Depending on how often your firm publishes new blog posts, don’t forget to send an email each time you have a new article or send a weekly newsletter that contains all the latest posts.

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How to make every page on your website engaging

There is no doubt that landing pages are valuable, but they are not always necessary. What is always necessary, however, is making sure that every page on your firm’s website functions as a landing page of its own.

A good landing page has a valid purpose. Therefore, every page on a firm’s website must have a purpose. Accountants should consider the purpose of each page on their website in terms of how the pages will help the online visitor. Many online visitors seek something that will help them improve their lives, which means pages should provide information users can use.

Every page must have a unique and valuable message. An accounting firm’s ‘About Us’ page shouldn’t just be about the firm. In between the information provided on this page should be a message that readers can use to help them make decisions.

Another example might be your firm’s services page. This should include more than just details on your services or how great they are; there must be a message of how your firm’s services can help make readers lives better. Don’t settle for pages of information when you can craft a message that speaks more closely to what the visitor truly desires.

A primary value of a good landing page is in its visual appeal. Line spacing, image placement, colours, headings and text breaks all contribute to making a landing page visually appealing to readers. All of those elements matter for a firm’s website pages.

Firms should think of different ways to present the content on a page in such a way that suits the message of that page. This might mean using two images instead of one, placing a call-to-action in a different location or using bolder font choices.

Finally, every page on a firm’s website needs a call-to-action for the visitor to take. When a visitor finishes reading the content on a page that has no call-to-action button, they are left with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

The most likely scenario is the visitor will go back to the website’s home navigation to figure out what to do next. At worst, they’ll leave the site because there was no obvious action to take.

But firms can guide visitors to take the next step. Firms should spread different calls-to-action throughout their website’s content. Make sure you always provide users with the next step and make it clear exactly what it is they need to do to take it.

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Quick SEO tips for accounting firms

Blogging is one of the best online marketing practices firms can use to improve their brand – but only if they do it right.

Giving out free information reels in clients, which is why blogging is one of the best ways accountants can market their firm. A blog provides accountants with a way of bombarding clients with a steady stream of content without scaring them away.

Today, businesses and companies with a blog typically receive more leads than those businesses and companies without a blog.

Clients will ignore advertisements, but a blog with free information is something they will want to read. Blogging can also create a human side to your firm and keep your firm in front of current and potential clients.

Here are three quick tips when blogging for SEO:

  • Tip 1. It is all about quality

Search engines are looking for blogs that convey authority and trust. They want to know a blog’s author knows what it is talking about and that online users agree.

When it comes to blog content, quality is better than quantity. While not every blog post an accountant may be sensational, every post does need to provide value to readers.

  • Tip 2. Keep it fresh and keep it coming

Search engines and readers love new content. Therefore, a firm’s blog content needs to be fresh; not stale or outdated. However, firms shouldn’t just churn out robotic or boring content. Make sure your firm switches it up every so often.

  • Tip 3. Commit to the long haul

Blogging won’t necessarily get your firm to the very top of Google’s search page overnight. Blogging is a long-term strategy. It will take time to build trust, value, and momentum to build quality relationships with both readers and online search engines.

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Writing effective headlines for online content

Firms should never overlook the importance of a good headline.

A good headline can ensure that the effort spent writing an article does not go to waste. It can also help search engines pick up a firm’s content in the weeks and months following the article being published.

Good headlines make more people want to click an online item whenever they see it, so spending the time thinking up the right headline can make a world of difference to the success of your firm’s articles.

Here are a few things to consider when writing the next headline for your firm’s blog or website:

  • Headlines should be descriptive

Online headlines need to be descriptive. Non-descriptive headlines don’t perform very well when they are read out of context, and they also don’t work very well for SEO purposes. In short, your headlines need to tell readers what they can expect from the article.

  • Avoid clickbait headlines

Clickbait headlines typically aim to provide just enough information to make a reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content. Often, clickbait headlines do not deliver on their promises.

Headlines need to be enticing, but don’t overdo it. Headlines that promise something but only bring in traffic are disappointing, and will not work as a long-term strategy.

  • Headlines have to work on their own

When writing an article, it can be easy to think of simply placing a headline at the top of the article and forgetting that that same headline is often seen out of the article’s context. Headlines are usually the only part of an article that is seen in tweets, news feeds, newsletters and search results pages.

Since headlines often have to compete for attention with other online, they need to be able to work alone and without the support of the article content.

  • Add keywords to your headlines

Adding keywords to your headlines can help with the article’s search engine ranking. Keywords can also catch the attention of a firm’s target audience on social sites, in newsletters or in search results.

  • Consider headline length

Online environments put limits on the length of headlines in various ways. Search engines like Google will only show the first 55-60 characters of a page title, so bear this in mind when creating headlines. Social media posts also have character limits and shorter headlines are more likely to be viewed in full.

It is also much easier to read and digest a shorter headline quickly. Making a heading too long and people are less likely to read it.

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What accountants need to know about SEO

In simple terms, search engine optimisation (SEO) is the umbrella term for all the methods accounting firms can use to ensure the visibility of their website on search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO plays a significant role in what accountants upload to their sites, and acquiring the right SEO skills can help accountants write for the web effectively and ensure that their content finds its audience.

However, accountants should be aware that quality always comes first; if an article or blog post is rubbish then no amount of SEO knowledge will help.

Developing the ability to write should be followed by developing the ability to give the content created, and the website it was written for, the best chance of showing up in search engine results.

Here is what accountants who write for their websites need to know about SEO:

How to write headlines

Headlines written for the online environment need to be alluring and descriptive. The keywords included in an article or ones accountants want to rank for should also be considered.

How to use keywords

Accountants should compile a target list of keywords and phrases that relate to the central theme of their website and that tie in with the services they offer. When writing headlines or content, these target keywords and phrases should be considered.

Thinking up a strategy of allocating target pages for each keyword or phrase is a sensible way of distributing internal link equity and avoiding individual pages on the same website competing against each other for rankings.

Understanding internal linking

Internal linking is an easy-to-use SEO strategy that can boost a firm’s search ranking and increase its website traffic. It is an onsite SEO strategy that refers to the practice of publishing links on a particular page of a firm’s website that lead directly to another page on the firm’s website. Simply linking to related articles within the same site can have beneficial effects for both readers and the website.

Despite its importance, internal linking is often one of the most overlooked tactics that can be used to achieve search engine ranking goals. While this may be due to websites now having more complex navigation menus, internal linking has been proven to deliver significant results simply through the optimisation of internal navigation structures.

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Setting realistic expectations for SEO

Even though search engine optimisation (SEO) is a viable online marketing strategy, many firms continue to fail when it comes to their SEO campaigns.

This is usually due to firms setting their expectations too high and expecting immediate results from their SEO efforts.

Modern SEO is a powerful means of optimising a firm’s search ranking and gaining organic website traffic, but it is a strategy that takes a lot of time to show results.

And those who are going to invest successfully in SEO, are those whose expectations are properly set. Crafting an expectation timeline is one such way firms can do this.

  • Start thinking long term

Firms must remember that search engine optimisation is a long-term strategy that should be based on long-term goals. Trying to achieve immediate results is a futile exercise.

SEO campaigns have no end date, as they must continue through the lifetime of a firm’s online marketing strategies. The more consistent a firm is with their SEO campaign, the better ROI they’ll achieve, as long as they stay committed to quality content and best practices.

  • You only get out what you put in

SEO is a strategy that heavily relies on the amount of effort a firm puts into it. If you’re part of a small firm, adjust your expectations accordingly and prioritise your key channels for optimisation to achieve success.

  • Re-evaluate

Upon starting an SEO campaign, firms will likely have a set of expectations and beliefs about the general course of their campaign. But since every firm is unique and circumstances are entirely unpredictable, a firm’s expectations should not remain stagnant throughout the course of the strategy.

At each milestone in an SEO campaign, firms need to take a serious look at their progress, current strategy and goals to make adjustments for the future. But these adjustments don’t have to be big; instead, firms only need to make tweaks and adjustments throughout the process to fine tune their strategy until they get the perfect balance of investment and payoff in the areas they want to develop.