While much has changed in the commercial use of the Internet since the World Wide Web was first created in August 1991, it's fascinating to contemplate the things that haven't really changed all that much.
For example, the first web browsers were completely text-based, with no image capabilities whatsoever. Today, despite the plethora of audio and video streaming options available over the web, the reality remains that text is still the primary format for information dissemination. We read text, we search based on text strings, and even all that audio and video content needs to be transcribed into text in order to be searchable.
In a similar vein, when it comes to marketing your tax or accounting firm online, the same three items that have been the most important since the first search engines were created are still the most important:
No matter what fancy tactics a digital marketing agency or SEO firm deploys to help get traffic to your firm website, it still revolves around these three core elements.
Today, I primarily want to focus on the third item: links. All the major search engines (let's be honest, we're really just discussing Google) use the number and quality of backlinks to your firm website as an important ranking criteria. In general, the more links you have going back to your website, and the better "quality" (highly subjective, of course) the website is linking back to yours, the higher your own website will rank.
The fine folks at Moz, Inc. have created a proprietary metric called Domain Authority (DA) to help gauge the quality of any particular website. Brand new websites all start with a DA of 1, and the maximum score is 100. Google.com, for example, has a DA of 95. IRS.gov has a DA of 92. These are extremely high numbers.
Most tax and accounting firm websites, if they've been around a while, probably have a DA within spitting distance of 20. A common target for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professionals is to get your DA to at least 40. They do this for your firm by getting you links from other sites.
If you're not looking to pay four figures a month to an SEO firm, but want to increase the rank of your own site, there are some simple things you can do to get more backlinks to your site.
First and foremost, be sure to claim your Google My Business listing and enter your website URL. Any SEO consultant that you speak with that is worth their salt will tell you that this is the top priority in terms of profile listings you need to create that will include a link to your website.
Second, if you are a tax practitioner with a PTIN, make sure that you've entered your website in your PTIN profile so that your website is listed on the IRS tax professional directory.
Third, if you belong to any professional trade organizations, make sure that your website is listed in their online membership directory.
Fourth, be sure to claim or create your listing on industry directories such as Avvo.com (for attorneys) and TaxFirms.com.
Fifth, send emails to a few of your professional colleagues and ask them to trade links with you. In this, they put a link to your website on theirs, and you do the same. This is commonly done by placing a link on a "Resources" page, or writing a short article on a specific technical topic that is placed on the blog section of the site with a link in the "author bio" section of the article.
If you follow these five simple steps, you'll be well on your way to doing more for your own SEO than 99 percent of the tax and accounting firms currently in existence. These are the proverbial low-hanging fruit of backlinks, and something you can get all set up in a couple hours or less.