google places optimization for accounting firms

Google Places Optimization – Generate More Leads for Your Accounting Practice

Could your accounting practice use more customers? If so, think Google Places.

Google reports that 97% of consumers today search for local businesses online, so having a virtual presence in our digital age is essential. Google Places brings potential customers and local businesses together first online, then in the real world. It’s a savvy way for accounting and CPA firms to be found in today’s competitive marketplace.

Make It Easy to Get Found

Did I mention that Google Places is free? If reducing marketing expenses isn’t enough to pique your interest in the online platform, consider this: a page on Google Places (your Place Page) provides consumers who are new to your area with an easy way to get to know you, read reviews of your services and take action.

Sure, you have a website that works hard to give your accounting practice visibility, but if you want to make sure your accounting firm appears in Google search results, Google Places makes good sense. It’s a more direct way to advertise your practice than putting your dollars in newspaper ads, yellow pages or other local efforts.

What’s more, iPhone and Android users can find your business listing immediately while on-the-go. They don’t need to be in front of a computer to do a search or visit your accounting firm website.

Learn From Your Relationships
As part of your free Google Places listing, you can add content and visuals to your Place Page, highlight special offers or services, and use the platform’s reporting tools to gain valuable insight about potential and existing customers.

For example, the Google Places dashboard is especially useful for understanding how customers find your practice. Review how many people are seeing your Place Page at any given time, find out how they have come to your page and see where they have come from. The dashboard makes it easy to see how many times your listing appears as a result of a Google or a Google Maps search, and what keywords people are searching to get to you.

It’s also useful for tracking effectiveness. Check the dashboard’s top search query results to see how many people found your listing when looking for an accounting firm. Google Places makes it much easier to measure online advertising effectiveness and determine how new business inquiries correlate to Web traffic than, say, a Yellow Pages ad — and, it’s a whole lot cheaper. With Google Places, you can make more informed decisions about how to be found on Google and interact with your customers.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

If you can find 15 minutes to spare in your day, you can gain visibility on Google Places. To get the most out of your listing, follow these guidelines to get started.

  • Represent your accounting practice exactly as it appears in the offline world. The business name field is just for that: providing the name of your practice. This is not the place to include your marketing tagline, phone number or website URL — unless they are truly part of your business name. You will allow for better searches if you stick to a concise name rather than trying to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords.
  • Use a precise, accurate address to describe your practice’s physical location. One out of five searches on Google are related to location, so every Google Places business listing must have a mailing address. If you office out of your home, you can specify a “service area” during the sign-up process and choose to hide your physical address. If you specialize in multiple services, it’s best to create a single listing that highlights all of the specialties rather than creating multiple listings.
  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual practice location as directly as possible, and provide one website that best represents your practice location. This should be pretty straightforward (in any line of business).
  • Be specific, but brief, in categorizing your practice. Say what your business is (Certified Public Accountant, Accountant, Enrolled Agent) instead of what you offer (tax accounting). This information can be added in your description.
  • Complete the registration fully.  Provide Google Places with all relevant information like hours of operation, photos, and appropriate logos.  As part of their algorithm, they measure the percent of completeness so lightly completed Google Places pages are seldom visible.
  • You must validate.  Your Google Places account must be validated just like a newly issued credit card.  No validation, no exposure.

This is extremely important for lead generation.  Yes, it will take a little extra elbow grease and results are not immediate.  For example, correcting your address in Google Places can take weeks.

Your website developer is not responsible to registering your business online and creating usernames and passwords.  Just suck it up and do it.

If you want more detail, below are links to articles that go into more depth.  All three articles are excellent.

http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/11/5-ways-local-search/

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/13292/5-Steps-to-Google-Places-Optimization-Zen.aspx

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/optimizing-your-google-places-page