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Questions to Ask When Evaluating SEO Providers

     -     Jul 9th, 2018   -     Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

The ability to shape and position your accounting firm’s website to attract qualified leads is the core function of search engine optimization (SEO). While there are other types of digital marketing that are designed to enhance branding and drive engagement with potential employment candidates, the purpose of SEO (and content marketing which I include under the SEO umbrella) is to drive qualified leads to your firm’s website. The challenge that many industry professionals face is there are literally dozens of vendors in the CPA space that claim to have the expertise, services and solutions to move firms toward their lead generation goal. Therefore, how can one tell the difference between the various providers and rate compatibility for their firm? Let’s face it, different firms have diverse needs and it’s important to find a SEO provider that offers the right mix of flexibility, technical expertise and industry experience to deliver maximum value. Below is a list of key considerations to make before starting your search.

Before Starting

It’s important before starting your search for a SEO provider to assess your firm’s culture and website. It’s important to make sure your website is flexible enough to allow a SEO company to make the needed on-page and other changes to properly position your site. If your website is built upon a content management system (CMS) that is limited or inflexible it will be difficult to make meaningful change(s). Firm culture is also important because if you don’t have buy-in from partners it will be difficult to get approval to make changes to the site when the time comes. What’s more is that a key component of SEO is a content marketing program that should include partners, managers and other key professionals within the firm.

Important Considerations

  • Experience – The most common complaint I hear from clients that have come to us from other SEO providers is that the prior company didn’t understand the accounting industry. This applies both to the business of accounting and how to work with accounting firms. You don’t want to work with a vendor that thinks appropriate keyword terms for your firm are those better suited for banks and financial planners. Moreover, if the vendor doesn’t understand how accountants think it will be difficult to strategize and implement a long-term plan because rather than making incremental changes they’ll want change to happen all at once.
  • Process – Before working with any company it’s important to understand their process. How do they intend to take your firm from its current position to the top of browser charts? At FlashPoint we have a very specific process that we follow, and everything is clearly explained upfront. Just because you’re not a SEO expert doesn’t mean the potential provider can’t explain to you in clear English exactly how their process works. I think it’s important to note that they should allow time for questions because the reality is most accounting and accounting marketing professionals don’t have the same level of knowledge as those that work in this arena every day.
  • Price – If you are an accounting marketer you know price will play a role in the vendor you select. Whatever level of service you are seeking, it’s important to be clear about what you want and need and allow the vendor the opportunity to present a relevant solution. Since each SEO company does things differently it’s important to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. Otherwise, you may pick one provider because they are more cost effective but get less or a different level of service compared to what others were offering.
  • Reporting – In order to understand the effectiveness of tactics being used, monthly reporting is essential. While the information reported in Google Analytics is important, you should expect more reporting than just this basic information. Find out if the provider will submit keyword ranking reports, year-over-year and month-over-month reporting and analysis. This information will not only help you identify trends but will also provide you with a wealth of information to share at year-end with partners.
  • New Ideas – This is very important. Each firm is different and what works at one firm may not work at another for many reasons. However, it’s essential that your provider bring innovative ideas to you to consider. Innovative ideas don’t have to cost thousands of dollars to implement. They can be simple ideas, links to articles or news releases that offer insight into things you – the accounting marketer or accountant – are able to try and test on your own.

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