In the constant battle for online relevance, accounting firms often worry that committing to content marketing will cause them to lose out on all-important success with search engine optimization (SEO). Creating content takes time and money, and without hard data proving a solid return on this investment it can be a hard sell to firm leadership.
How can marketers achieve firm-wide buy-in for serious investment in content marketing? The most important point you can make is that the title of this article is completely invalid. There is no conflict between success with content marketing and success with SEO. The perceived dichotomy between the two is a false one. In fact, these goals, often seen as competing, have now become utterly intertwined.
Success with content marketing leads to strong SEO and drives precisely the results you want to see from it. There is no more efficient way to benefit the firm’s bottom line than through investment in content marketing. Ever since Google rolled out its 2011 Panda update, the king of search engines has been very clear on one point: content that’s good for readers is good for the firms that publish it. If your focus is SEO before the content itself, you are doomed to live in the depths of the internet. Offer real benefit for readers, however, and your content will pop up at the top of relevant search listings.
The standards are pretty simple. Maximize SEO by creating content that is:
- Unique. Sharing articles and information published by others can be a fine thing, but it won’t do much for your SEO. Google rewards only the first site on which particular content appears, so go ahead and write up something original some of the time. There’s sure to be a topic that will benefit your readers and about which you have valuable information.
- Relevant. Answer specific questions (the ones your clients ask you, or those that might be typed into a search query) and give real advice. Not the highly detailed kind you’d bill for and tailor to each individual client, but still concrete and usable. Discuss emerging issues and new or potential legislation. Tackle serious issues as well as timely topics that are light or even silly.
- Well-written. Put that flair for writing to work to craft highly readable, professional quality articles of every length and ask others to help you edit. Writing isn’t your thing or you don’t have the time? No problem – just jot down a few notes, bullet points or an outline and hand it off to a ghostwriter. Content that doesn’t flow logically or that contains spelling or grammar mistakes isn’t fun to read. It also won’t earn you the SEO or professional reputation you want.
- Widely read. You can’t force others to read your content but you can encourage them by sharing each blog post, white paper or other contribution by publishing it on your site, on LinkedIn, in your newsletter and on as many social media platforms as you have available. Make sure each links back to your website to drive traffic there and show Google that this content is something lots of folks find interesting.
- Properly optimized. Link farms and keyword-stuffing yield disastrous results, but there are plenty of legitimate ways to help your content reach appreciative audiences. Use Yoast or another tool on your website. Make sure you include the appropriate keywords and ideas in your content and then add them to tags, meta-descriptions, alternate media text and all the other places you can so that webcrawlers will recognize and reward your contributions with a high search rank.
The convergence of SEO and content marketing mean efforts in the latter automatically benefit the former. You don’t need to feel defensive in the least when encouraging your firm to invest in a well thought out, long-range content marketing plan. It makes sense to Google, the undisputed master of big data, so it darn well ought to make sense to accountants.