I visited over 80 UK accountancy firms’ websites and checked out if they had a blog or news section, what they were blogging about, and how often they updated their content.
The abandoned blog
Not all the accountancy firms’ websites had a blog, although this was certainly in the minority.
Very many of them had blogs which had been abandoned. Most seem to have been abandoned in 2018 or 2019, although there were a few that had been abandoned in 2016, and even one which hadn’t had a fresh article posted for Google to index since 2013.
My first thought was that the companies had gotten frustrated with trying to please Google. I called a few companies and asked about their blog. One gentleman told me he had been spending far too much on SEO, so he had abandoned any sort of SEO for his website.
I could understand this. I’m well aware of SEO companies that rip people off. That’s the big problem with SEO — spend, spend, spend, spend, spend, SPEND on all the latest gimmicks with little ROI.
The simplest way for a company on a budget to improve SEO is to produce great content which visitors find useful.
My second thought for the abandoned blogs was that the company simply didn’t have time to blog. When I called a few of these companies I noticed a trend — those that blogged regularly either had someone in-house that was doing their blogging. Or they were paying someone external to do it.
All the websites I visited were well designed and only two were not mobile-friendly. So UK accounting firms definitely seem to have their ducks in a row as far as the website itself goes.
Here are the broad categories I found each of the accountancy firms’ blogging strategies to fall under:
Accountancy firms blogging to “reach the masses”
The most up-to-date blogs were clearly ghostwritten, and when I called to check, this was confirmed. I only found a few accountancy firms doing this — either hiring someone external to blog for them, or having someone in-house to do it.
The blogs were regularly updated. The articles were lengthy, easy-to-read, had eye-catching images, and they had all the tiny little touches which showed me the blog was written by a pro.
These articles tended to take a “shotgun” approach to the blog, hitting all the right keywords, buzzwords and terms people are currently interested in and might be searching for with regards to accounting. Looking at these companies’ blogs, I was left with the impression that the company itself is “up-to-date,” “on the ball,” and “knows what’s happening.”
Of course, none of this might be true, but it says a lot about what a website visitor thinks when visiting a website. Either the company behind it is “alive and communicating,” thereby encouraging a prospective client to reach out to it. Or the company comes across as stale, uninformed and out of touch.
The only “flaw” I saw on some of these blogs was that some of the content looked a little trite. Some of it came across — at least to me — like something written “for search engines” instead of for the user. There’s a fine line between content for users and search engines, but the line is always favoured toward the user.
Some accountancy firms blog to a niche
I came across a very few number of accountancy websites with an entirely different idea for their blogs / news sections: These sites focused on highly advanced technical knowledge about accounting and tax information.
I called some of these companies and discovered that, at least for one of them, the content was outsourced to financial experts — people who really knew their ins and outs with regards to tax laws. The articles showed this. Whoever had written them really knew their stuff.
My only complaint was that the articles could’ve been spiced up with a few graphics, or laid out in such a way that made them easier to read.
Still, a person searching for advanced knowledge of tax information would certainly notice immediately that this blog, despite its lack of “eye candy” had far more useful knowledge than some of the “blogging for the masses” versions.
Overall I found this type of content far superior in terms of its usefulness to the user.
Blogging for the sake of search engines is not a great long-term strategy because “being found” is only Step One of the equation — and Google’s AI gets smarter and smarter every day, picking up more and more on “keyword-stuffed” articles.
Exquisitely researched content would result in people finding the site, learning from it and, more importantly, seeing that you are a pro in your field — which leads to a call or an email. What’s the point of being found if the person finding you doesn’t convert into a lead?
Accountants blogging on “hot press” items
One blog decided to write a blog article about the coronavirus and how it related to business (or tax — I don’t recall exactly).
Blogging on a “hot press” item is tricky business. Either you have something of extreme value to add to the conversation — like unique, highly advanced research — or it’s best left alone. The subject of the virus and how it affects business is already being covered by mega-huge media outlets whose SEO score will outrank yours by about a million and a half. Your chances of being found for a current news item are decidedly worse than being found for less competitive words and search phrases which relate to your business.
Let the reporters cover the coronavirus or Brexit. The best blogging strategy for a business is to stick entirely and completely to that business’s niche and market; to offer useful advice which demonstrates the company’s superior knowledge in their field, which in turn makes people want to buy services from that company.
I write about writing because that’s what I offer. I write about SEO because it relates to what I do. I’m not now suddenly going to go and write about, say, the latest football scores or whether or not Portugal is looking good for the next World Cup. I would do that on another site, like Medium.
Another thing I noticed was that a lot of UK accountancy websites tend to put their blog under a menu item titled “News” or “Latest Updates.” This looked a little weird to me, maybe because I know what a blog is and that it can contain any number of things including news, thought pieces, technical knowledge, or just general articles. Perhaps in the early days of the internet, the thought of a “blog” carried a certain stigma to it — someone’s kid in a basement logging in via a 56K modem and writing about his school day.
Still, I saw this trend: “News” or “Latest Updates” in the accountancy firms’ websites. Maybe I’m in the minority in thinking that “Blog” would make me more likely to click the link.
Big corporate accounting websites forewent the blog or “News section” entirely and had no blog whatsoever.
One thing was certain, however, the best blogs were written by people who knew about writing, or who were professional writers.
And this showed.