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Industry Perspective – SEO

     -     Sep 8th, 2011   -     Accounting Marketing, Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

As Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) continues to grow in popularity among accounting marketers, there is a great deal of dicussion around whether a firm should manage a SEO campaign effort in-house or turn to an outsourced vendor for assistance.  What risks does a marketing manager take by bringing it in-house? How difficult is it to get results? How much will it cost to outsource? How do I know which vendor is best for my firm.

To help provide perspective on this topic, Flashpoint Marketing spoke with Jennifer Fehrenbach, Senior Marketing Specialist at The Bonadio Group in Western New York. She is responsible for managing her firm’s SEO and digital media marketing.  She provided a great deal of interesting insight from her experience on the topic, which we think will help our readers learn from her experiences. 

How did you “sell” SEO as a viable strategy to partners/or others in marketing?

After reviewing our current site and the current SEO strategy I realized that I could be doing the same, if not better job, internally with our optimization. I showed our managing partner how much we were currently spending on SEO through our agency and informed him that I could be doing all of this in-house as part of my current job description, in turn, saving the Firm the money we were currently spending by outsourcing.

 Do you outsource your SEO efforts or conduct them in-house?

We conduct all our SEO internally

Please share your thoughts on what are the benefits/drawbacks of outsourcing SEO? What do you think are the benefits/drawbacks of in-house SEO?

I think the major drawback to outsourcing is what I mentioned above – not having someone who understands your content and is dedicated to refreshing, testing, and tracking results on a consistent basis. When we outsourced we create a plan for optimization that was done 1 time per year, and then analyzed at the end of the year to see the progress that was made. Now that we have it all internally we can test, track and measure on real-time results.

The drawbacks to in-house though is that there is never enough time in the day, you can always be doing something to improve your SEO and with the other demands of my job I don’t get to dedicate as much time in a week as I would like to.

 How does your firm measure the ROI of SEO efforts? 

Traffic, number of page visits, time on the site, ranking for key words we are trying to optimize, qualified leads (warm leads that come to the site based off a key word and request to be contacted from that visit – much better for a follow up than a generic visitor that just fills out a contact us form)

For accounting firms currently deciding whether to outsource their SEO or tackle it in-house, what advice can you share from your experience?

My advice is to first take the time to gain a full understanding of what SEO is, what it can do for your site, and best practices. Whether you decide to outsource or keep in-house, you need to have the knowledge base to know that you can tackle what it takes to drive results, or to know that you are getting what you are paying for when it comes to outsourcing the job. Ask lots of questions if you decide to outsource to make sure that the ‘experts’ you are paying understand your objectives. Don’t be hesitant to keep your agency accountable for the results your SEO is garnering and question how it all works. It will give you peace of mind that you are getting value out of your investment, and you might learn something new along the way as well!  

Once you have a full understanding of SEO – the sky is the limit.  Put a strategy in place, dare to try something new, track what works and what doesn’t and measure your results.

Do you think that SEO is the next big thing for accounting firms? What role do you think SEO should play in a firm’s marketing program? 

I think that SEO is a very important function for the marketing department. Whether you decide to tackle in-house or dedicate the budget dollars to an outside vendor, you need to be ranking when it comes to key words for your industry in your geographic reach. However, I see the role of SEO as needing to go hand-in-hand with the time dedicated and spent towards having a reputable website. Yes you want to be found, but at the end of the day – you want what your potential prospect finds to be something that looks professional and provides them the information they need to take the next step in their decision process whether it be filling out a form to request more information or picking up the phone to make an appointment. Once your site gets ‘found’, is it a user friendly site, do your calls to action make sense? Tying your SEO strategy into having an engaging website is when the quality leads will come in and where the true ROI lies

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