The emergence of the Internet as an information source and marketplace has changed the way prospective buyers approach the buying process. Previously, executives would tap their existing network to obtain a referral from a colleague or associate. Now they can turn to the Internet to conduct due diligence and find a provider that may fall outside of their business network. The new reality is that warm prospects are searching the Internet for professional service providers. Accounting marketers need to know how to address this growing market.

One method of attracting prospects to your Web site is search engine optimization. SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a Web site or Web page through organic or unpaid search results. While this is a newer tactic, the need for implementation and potential for new business is understood by many in the accounting marketing field already.

"As more people go to the Internet to find providers, firms that don't invest in SEO may miss new business opportunities," said Karlye Rowles, marketing manager for Schneider Downs, a CPA firm in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

The results of targeted SEO support this assertion. "In November alone, we got 10 leads directly from our Web site," said Katie Tolin, director of marketing for Rea & Associates, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. "They range from an individual looking for help with back taxes to a consulting engagement to a local manufacturer who needs a business valuation."

It is essential that accounting marketers understand how to optimize Web sites with search engines. The optimization process needs to become part of the broader marketing strategy. If you are unfamiliar with SEO, then make an investment in optimizing your site. The key to success with SEO is to make developing and optimizing new content a priority in daily marketing activities.


Brian Swanson is a principal with Flashpoint Marketing, a marketing and lead-generation company serving the accounting profession. Reach him at

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