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The Basics of SEO for CPAs

SEOThe World Wide Web has been around for 20 years now and has fueled a number of new careers, from Internet marketer to YouTube sensation. One such new career is specializing in search engine optimization. SEO is the science of getting a website or page a better ranking on search engine result pages (SERP). With more than 130 million domain names worldwide and a countless number of web pages, competing for a top spot on a SERP can be a daunting task.

It’s not as easy as building the “Field of Dreams” of websites. Just because you build one doesn’t mean visitors will come. One has to promote that website and you will compete with other similar sites for positioning whether it’s to just land on the first SERP or the first site listed. Additionally, SEO rules are constantly changing to keep up with search engine algorithms (which are, of course, secret).

The first step is getting your website to show up in SERPs, we’ll tackle how to get your website a better ranking in a future post.

For starters, familiarize yourself with the search engines people use to find your website. Google is the most popular by far with almost 80% market share, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore Bing or Yahoo. Conduct a simple search on each of the search engines and see if your website shows up. If your site is already indexed, you’re halfway there. If not, don’t worry, the search engines provide an easy-to-use tool to tell them your website exists:

You’ll need to create an account for both if you don’t already have one. You’ll be using your Google login quite a bit for other services they provide, so keep the login info handy.

Now you need to tell the search engine where your sitemap is. A sitemap is basically a listing of every page on your website. Most content management systems automatically create a sitemap and update it whenever you create a new page. If you don’t know if you have one, check with your webmaster. If you need to create one, Google has an overview on how to create one. If you’re not a programmer, have no fear, Google also lists a number of third-party tools that can create one for you.

It can take a few days for the search engines to crawl your sitemap and even when they do, that doesn’t mean your site will magically appear on SERPs. Just be patient and it will show up as the search engines get to it. Meanwhile, you should make sure you’re signed up for an analytic and metric reporting system for your website. Many CMSs include a reporting module, so be sure to check with your webmaster. In either case you probably want to sign up for Google Analytics (it’s free!). Just work with your webmaster and follow the instructions to insert the required code and verify ownership of your website.

You are now ready to tackle more advanced SEO concepts and tailor the content on your website to appear higher on SERPs. In the next issue of this series on SEO tactics, we’ll take a look at content dos and don’ts. 

, AICPA Staff. Greg serves as editor for CPA Letter Daily, AICPA News Update, AICPA Insights and IFRS Report, and manages the CPA Letter Daily’s Twitter account and various other communications projects.

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