Google Ads for accountants: a straightforward guide

Google Ads for accountants isn’t a nice to have anymore, it’s a must if you want not only to find more business, but perhaps equally as important, protect your own Google real estate from competitors. 

But Google Ads are also hard to manage. Full of surprises. Time consuming. Most likely not the most pressing thing on your to-do list, considering you either: are an accountant; manage accountants; or own a practice altogether. 

So here’s all you need to know about Google Adwords for accounting firms so you can make the most informed decision on what to do next.

What are Google Ads, and how do they work for accountants 

Just in case you’ve never had a nosey or read a blog about this, Google Ads are paid-for adverts that occupy the first 3 or 4 positions (almost) every time somebody searches for something on Google. 

In the background, Google’s algorithm is super busy matching each search people make with the most relevant ad for it, and then shows them in relevance order. Usually there are more than 3 or 4 businesses competing for these spots, so Google could also decide you’re not relevant enough to show on that particular search. 

How does Google decide how relevant your ads are? The simple answer is, a combination of factors such as how much you’re willing to pay for a click, the quality of your ad, the context of the search, and more. Here’s the official explanation from Google.

Google Ads for accountants: what’s different?

Google Ads for accountants follow the exact same rules, but of course, the way you run your campaigns and the strategy you use will be slightly different because of the industry you’re in.

You might focus on a certain type or service, such as tax returns, or a certain industry, such as the trades. You might be only working with businesses that use Xero. Maybe you don’t accept clients that make less than £500,000 in revenue every year. Or you just want clients within a 20 mile radius. 

One bit of good news, though, is that at least you don’t have to worry about applying for any certification, like you would if you offered financial products and services (one less problem to have!).

Unless you intentionally use misleading information, make wild promises, or use a trademarked word in your ad copy, your ads shouldn’t run into any issues.

Most common mistakes if you’re running your own Google Ads 

If you’re running Google Ads for your own accounting firm by yourself, or have someone who takes care of it internally yet is not a specialist, these are the things to be really careful about: 

Mistake 1: using keywords with vague intent and high competition

Say you’re targeting the keyword chartered accountant. Sounds great, right? WRONG. 

Targeting chartered accountant will make your ads appear on all sorts of searches, because Google can’t figure out the intent. What does the user want? Unsure!

Don’t believe it? Look for yourself:

google-ads-for-accountants-example-search-bad

The organic search results are a mixture of job offers, definition of what a chartered accountant is, how to become one, and of course the ICAEW website. 

Do you see any content here that suggests you’re going to reach people looking to hire an accountant to do their end of year tax return? Nope. Why? Because there is not enough intent for Google to say “ah, they’re definitely looking for someone to do their tax returns.” 

Too much competition + not enough intent = the fastest way to waste your money. 

But look at the type of results that show up for end of year accounts for contractors. Not only the top result is an ad that specifically mentions accounting for contractors, the organic searches all talk about how to do your year end accounts if you are a contractor. 

google-ads-for-accountants-example-search-good

What do you think these people are going to do once they read through the content and realise it’s too complicated and they don’t have the time? Look for the companies that put a specific ad right in front of them, of course! 

(Bonus points if you have a content team who can create that type of content for your website as well, it will help massively in the long run).

These high intent keywords, which usually contain 3+ words in them, are called long tail keywords, and they have to literally become your best friends. No kidding.

Mistake 2: sending all your ads to your homepage

Spoiler alert: the right landing page is almost never the homepage. Why would you send someone looking for year end accounts to a page where you talk about bookkeeping, payroll, forecasting and compliance as well? 

If you’re thinking “I don’t have a page specifically for end of year accounts”, the answer is, you need it right now. It’s fundamental so you can:

  • Talk more in depth about your service 
  • Make sure you visitors can find immediately what they’re looking for
  • Use more specific keywords
  • Are more likely to rank higher in the search results

Rank your services in priority order, and create those pages based on the order. 

Mistake 3: having a website that doesn’t track enquiries 

How are you going to know if your advertising works unless you know what people did when they went from the ad to your website? 

Of course the buyer journey isn’t straightforward, so you can’t expect every visitor to turn into an enquiry straight away (remember the average exposure is 7 times before a person enquires), but you have to at least understand where your enquiries are coming from and what to do to improve. 

If you don’t have Google Analytics and you haven’t installed Google Tag Manager, do it right now before you throw any more money at the wall. 

Hiring an Google Ads agency: best practices 

We have a very thorough blog called 7 things you need to know, do and ask before hiring a paid advertising agency, so that’s your next port of call for all the deets. 

For now, here’s a summary of the things to know, do and ask: 

  1. How paid advertising agencies get paid 
  2. There is no such thing as guaranteed results 
  3. The agency doesn’t own your accounts 
  4. Get on a discovery call, fast 
  5. Ask to speak to current customers 
  6. Read the contract thoroughly  
  7. Ask what optimisation work will be done in the accounts

It goes without saying that an agency will employ multiple specialists to do the job. The more clients they have, the more the higher-spending clients (£10,000+) are likely to be prioritised.

This means they will get the most experienced people to work on them, and give the smallest accounts to the juniors. Which is not a problem in itself, of course, as the juniors are still awesome, but in the grand scheme of things you’re less likely to get all the attention you deserve.

Hiring a Google Ads freelancer

See point 1 to 7 above.

The main difference is working with a freelancer tends to give you a much closer relationship with whoever manages your account.

Freelancers are usually hired by recommendation or thanks to the work and expertise they share on social media, so they are way more keen to deliver a stellar service and become long term partners. They do not want the stress to continuously have to find new clients.

A downside to this is, unless freelancers are well versed in Analytics, Tag Manager, Landing page optimisation, and know their way around CRM platforms, you might have to hire more people to bridge the skill gap.

The third option: training or upskilling a member of your marketing team 

If you don’t want to hire external people or get a dedicated specialist on the payroll, the third way is to train or upskill someone in your marketing department. 

The options are either training someone from scratch to a basic level, which will require a more intensive, structured program; or create a bespoke program to work only on the areas the person is the weaker at. 

And yes, but we can provide both! 

What about Facebook Ads for accountants?

It’s a valid question, and usually the internal debate is: should I use Google Ads or Facebook Ads to promote my accountancy firm? 

Usually the answer would be it depends on the goals, but for the accounting industry, there’s quite a strong case to start with Google if you are forced to make a choice. 

As you saw just a little earlier, you can go quite granular to find the searches that have the most intent, which means you can show in front of people that are either looking for your services now, or will need them in the near future. 

Facebook, on the other hand, works on demographics and behaviours, which means it groups and splits people into buckets based on their activity on the platform as well as on the websites Facebook can advertise on (called the Audience Network). 

So, if you talk about accounting in your DMs, read accounting blogs, go to accounting news portals and so on, Facebook will put you in the accounting bucket. But the bucket can contain:

  • people working in the industry; 
  • people who are just curious to learn something new; 
  • sole traders who want to do their own accounting; 
  • your target audience, but they have already an accountant and they don’t want to leave; 
  • your target audience, evaluating their options
  • your target audience, ready to enquire

So you see, your target audience is there for sure, but lumped together with lots of other people that are definitely not the people you’re looking for. 

Our suggestion is to turn on Facebook Ads at a later date if interested, and run mainly brand awareness campaigns promoting useful content, reviews, client testimonials and so on. 

Summarising 

Google Ads is a must for accounting firms, but it has to be done properly by niching down and using long tail keywords in order to avoid wasting money. 

The choice of how to approach Google Ads, whether with an agency, a freelancer, or by training someone in house depends on the goals of the business and the budget you have available. 

And last but not least… hold fire on those Facebook Ads just yet!

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