Do People Really Use Search Engines to Find Accountants?
People use search engines to find all kinds of stuff on the internet. And they are doing it more often than they used to because it empowers them to locate an accountant that provides the exact type of service they are searching for, has the proper qualifications, went to the appropriate colleges/universities, and is the right sized firm for their needs.
"97% of people use the internet to search for local businesses"
People like you and I use search engines to find everything from rare antiques, lawyers, doctors, architects, restaurants and even real estate brokers. Whether the search is for something in your neighborhood, secondary residence, or far away from home, search engines are becoming an excellent resource to find information so we can make more informed purchase decisions. Particularly when the services in need are perceived to be unique like forensic accounting, outsourced controllership, QuickBooks accountant, small business accountant, business valuation, expert tax witness, IRS tax representation, CPA firm for construction firms, etc.
People are more adept at refining their searches geographically and to the exact needs they want. They trust search engines because it's fast, easy, effective and free. In other words, the prospect is actively hunting for the perfect match, motivated to buy, and wants options to consider, not just one vague recommendation from a friend.
For example, suppose you are a doctor and want to locate a CPA firm that specializes in accounting services for doctors because you believe that your business needs are unique and this specialized type of service will yield better advice. In other words, you do not want a generalist accounting firm, you want a specialist for your business. So, you go to Google (or another search engine) and type in "cpa firm for doctors", hit search and Google indicates that there are 2,560,000 matches.
Surprisingly, there are quite a few CPA firms that provide this specific service. Now, if the prospect wants to refine this search, they will narrow the scope of the search geographically and type in "cpa firm for doctors in Illinois", which narrows the number of matches from 2,560,000 to 69,400. And then refine it even further to "CPA firm for doctors in chicago". Try this search yourself and then try it for your niche services.
How to Secure Placement in Search Engines
To be found in the search engines, there are two primary ways to be found towards the top of searches, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic a website receives from the search engines. It requires the website developer to design the website in a fashion that the search engines prefer and reverse engineer the website content by anticipating the key words that prospects will be typing into search engines. While it sounds simple, it takes considerable planning, knowledge, work and takes time to deliver results. It's best to choosing an website developer who understands SEO for accounting firms.
The faster way to secure top placements is with pay-per-click advertising using programs like Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing.
Winning the Beauty Pageant
In addition to getting found in the search engines, your website should motivate prospects that you are the right firm to handle their needs and further the vetting process. The initial phone call may take 15-20 minutes, often requires a follow up via email with some additional information, and if you play your cards correctly, you may close a prospect (sometimes without meeting them in person) and save tons of time in the process.
And while the number of new clients obtained from the internet is relatively low, the ROI and efficiency of this process is staggering. And over time, the frequency of new clients coming from the internet will just continue to grow as more people use search engines and become more proficient.
In summary, people really do use search engines to find accountants. The financial rewards and time savings are very attractive.
By Hugh Duffy, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Build Your Firm
About Build Your Firm
Build Your Firm is dedicated to the tax and accounting profession. Build Your Firm works with accounting professionals all over the United States to help them learn how to market, price, and sell their services. The firm's proven accounting marketing program helps accountants acquire business clients with ease, operate at higher hourly realization rates and profit margins, and achieve true work-life balance. BYF also builds Search Engine Optimized website for accountants.