SEO Bare Essentials for Local Tax Firms

I’m a big fan of the Pareto Principle, which says that 80% (or more) of your outputs are generated by 20% (or less) of your inputs. The 80/20 rule is well known and has been demonstrated to be true across many arenas, from the income gap to agriculture to marketing results.

One area where I have long espoused an 80/20 rule viewpoint is in the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a marketing strategy in which you seek to be at the top of the Google search results for a particular search term. For example, this blog floats around the top five in the search results for keywords such as “tax resolution marketing”. Today, I’m at #2 for that term, and #1 is an article I wrote for Canopy.

This ranking is not an accident.

At one point, my tax practice site ranked in the top three on Google for many search terms related to tax relief, tax resolution, and the IRS Fresh Start program. I gave up those positions several years ago when I stopped doing the activities that maintained the position, but I’m confident I could reclaim them with a little bit of work.

SEO in particular is one of those marketing strategies that has a well defined Minimum Effective Dose (MED). This is a Tim Ferriss term, and describes the bare minimum work you need to do in order to see the majority of positive results. Note that this isn’t about being lazy, but rather about being efficient.

Now, while I encourage tax professionals to utilize a service such as TaxProMarketer for your complete website, SEO, and social media marketing, there are plenty of people that either don’t want to commit the financial resources to a service provider, or that just enjoy the process of doing this stuff themselves. So, from an 80/20 perspective, here are the things you should focus on for achieving top search rankings for your local practice.

Website Content

Users are always on the lookout for unique and appealing content. And as has been proven over and over, quality content is the number one trick to improve your SEO ranking. People think it doesn’t take much to come up with content but on the contrary, it’s quite difficult. You want to add content that is helpful and is interesting. Your users will much appreciate your effort to create original content, and that will greatly increase the traffic on your website.

You also want people to know about your content and spend time on the website. This will increase the time people spend on your site, which is a signal of quality to Google. If your website contains useful information, users will visit your website more and tend to stay longer. You’ll further have to identify a keyword for each page; keywords that you think users will search for. Once you’ve included the relevant keywords on the webpage, just wait for the traffic to flow in. Just make sure you don’t ruin your content by adding too many keywords, a practice called “keyword stuffing” that can actually get your site blacklisted by Google. SEO ranking is important but not at the cost of losing your readers.

With time, it’ll become vital to update the content regularly. In this fast paced world, users are always on the lookout for recent data and to stay relevant, you have to adhere to this trend. When you regularly update content, your site will be viewed as relevant; a label which definitely affects the SEO ranking of your site. I suggest posting new articles to your blog at least every other week (yes, I know I’ve been slacking here on this blog for two months).

Business Listings

In order to gain relevance in local SEO rankings, you have to make sure that your business is listed on other local websites. The availability of your business listing means that locals will be able to find you more quickly. Search engines are always on the search for local businesses to improve the experience of local users. Over 28% of searches for places nearby result in a purchase, so you need to be prepared to capture this.

Make sure that all local listings websites have your complete and updated information. If any changes are required, make them immediately. Your business should be listed in the appropriate categories. It’s also a good idea to add photos, videos and your website URL to the listing wherever such is supported. This way, you offer more information to the users, making things easier for them. Website visitors hate seeing incomplete profiles and listings.

Online Reviews

What your customers think about you is an important factor that influences your SEO ranking. Always try to provide the best services to your clients and then prompt them to give you online reviews. Businesses with online reviews gain relevance in the SEO rankings and make a good impression on potential future clients.

The more authentic and positive reviews your business receives, the higher the chances of your business expanding. Search engines just love reviews; they show that the business is known and loved by the locals. You can also encourage your clients to use social media to post their reviews.

All these reviews will do you no good if you fail to respond to them though. Your engagement in responding to these reviews and queries is vital in increasing your SEO ranking. Be proactive and respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative. In fact, negative reviews require more attention and your reply can make all the difference for your business. You can use this chance to turn an angry client into a brand ambassador by publicly providing them with a positive experience.

Beware of posting fake reviews. Many businesses resort to this in hopes of increasing their visibility. Not only do the search engines catch on to these false reviews but then your ranking is bound to suffer the consequences.

Media Coverage

A great way to get noticed by locals is to get featured on credible news sitea. Not only will this give you greater coverage but it will also have a long lasting positive impact on business.

Getting media coverage will increase your SEO ranking if they’re willing to give you a backlink to your own site from their’s.

You can start off by directly contacting local media outlets. PR will play an important role here and the more familiar you are with the people, the better. Contact them and tell them about the services your business offers and how they’re beneficial for the community. This is a great opportunity to boost your local reputation.

Social media interactions also play a vital role in deciding the visibility of your business. You should go for a proactive social media strategy so that your page attracts potential clients. Once they come to you, it’s up to you to keep them engaged by interacting with them. By engaging with your followers regularly, you can make sure that you stay present in people’s mind. Keep track of the current trends and try to incorporate them in your social marketing strategy.

As a last resort, there are several press release distribution services that can get your press release (and link) on to most local radio, TV, and newspaper websites. Look for these services and inquire about local or regional distribution options, instead of nationwide.

By posting regularly, making sure you get online reviews from clients, engage the media, and claim your business listing on local websites (or local sections of national websites), you’re doing a good chunk of the leg work needed to obtain local SEO success. Do these relatively simple things, and you’ll be much more than 80% ahead of most of your local competition.