Success, Online Indentity, and Your CPA Firm
Best practices for marketing Professional Services like Accounting practices over the internet are quite out of the ordinary. Commonly customers who will purchase a fruit basket over the net from thousands of miles away would never even consider hiring a CPA with an out of town office. This means normally, when a prospect conducts a search for a CPA firm, they are mostly searching for a nearby practice. Performing a search on the keyword “CPA” or “accounting firm” generates largely irrelevant results. Most likely a search on such a generic term will result in accounting organizations (like AICPA and NASBA), Wikipedia pages, CPA Exam sites, directories, and maybe one or two tax mills. They will more likely search on a location and a service, such as “Washington Accountant” or “Oakland CA CPA”.
Google, Yahoo and Bing recognize such local searches. When they detect a local search, they will present the local listings higher then the organic listings. These listings are often to a great extent more relevant then the organic listings.
There are other local directories such as AT&T Yellowpages, ReachLocal, Kudzu, and many others. It’s probable that many of them already include your accounting firm in their list.
The source data for your listings probably originated from a mixture of third-party sources. These directories may also have differences in your company name, physical location, or phone and fax numbers. This esentially creates multiple representations of your firm on the internet. This decreases the potential of the various local search engines to know which of your listings is the true identity.
Updating Your Contact Information
Change your address or phone number and update your CPA website? Your new data may not be updated in these directories, unless you have control over your listings. The online directories make every effort to see to it that they have accurate data. The longer you have been at your previous address however, the more likely there could be hundreds of sites and directories that show your business at the old address. All that outdated info can tempt the major search engines into believing that is the right data.
As the public is moving more and more toward a mobile work, they are relying on local data more and more. In fact 45% of local searches are performed by people who know the company they are looking for. These searchers rely on the accuracy of your data and expect to find your current contact information and driving directions. They are relying less and less on getting it from your website.
For these reasons it is important that your company controls and proactively manages your local business identity. This increases the confidence of the local search platforms that they have valid and accurate data. This also increases the local platforms ability to link other unique content such as social media and customer reviews.
It’s a lot of work, but if you want to you can probably do this yourself. It’s a lot of work, so plan your time appropriately. It’s also very important to have a fast, reliable internet connection. The work’s not tricky, but it is toilsome. First, use Google and Bing to uncover all of your existing listings and make sure all the business information is up-to-date. Once that’s done search for as many new directories as you can and submit your business to them. Keep careful notes! If your business information changes in the future you’ll need to be able to change your directory listings, too.
Don’t worry. You don’t need to do all this work yourself.
Numerous businesses have “Local SEO” services that optimize and manage your CPA firm’s local listings for you. Your business identity is submitted to and consistent across scores of directories, including all the significant local search engines. The precise number of directories changes from service to service, but here at my CPA website design firm we submit to more than 100 different sites. When you change your address or phone number your SEO should also make sure your information is updated in the local directories. This ensures existing and new customers alike are able to find your accounting firm.
Brian O’Connell is the CEO and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the country’s leading website design companies oriented exclusively to CPA website design. His firm currently provides websites for more than 4000 CPA, accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation firms.
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