search engine optimisation guide - xero · 3 | xero partner seo guide an introduction to seo why...

Click here to load reader

Post on 03-Apr-2018




4 download

Embed Size (px)



    Search engine optimisation guide

    For Xero partners



    An introduction to SEO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

    SEO tips and suggestions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

    Website SEO elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

    Example of a page using SEO elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

    Optimising for local search . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

    Optimising your Xero co-branded page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

    Optimising your Xero advisor directory listing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

    Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

    Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11


    An introduction to SEO

    Why SEO is important for you

    Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a powerful marketing tool thats often overlooked by businesses. Its designed to help search engines and customers find the information they need and give you an opportunity to make sure your practice appears as close to the top of the search results as possible. For example, if someone searches for Xero accounting partner Sydney or accounting and financial advice Sydney and youre based in Sydney the search engine will include your website in the results. How far up that list you appear depends on many factors including how much competition there is and how well your web pages are optimised.

    Before you jump in, its important to note that SEO can be complex and theres no guarantee of success. However, by following this guide and implementing the suggestions, you can expect to improve your search results.

    If you dont see results immediately, dont worry. SEO is an ongoing process and takes time to take effect its a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to review the further reading at the end of this guide to give your website a greater advantage.

    How SEO works

    Search engines take many factors into account when considering which results to display, in what order. Google has previously revealed that their algorithm assesses roughly 200 variables. Thankfully, you dont need to know all of these to make a significant improvement.

    Maintaining a website that appeals to both users and search engines can be as simple as:

    using relevant, descriptive keywords for your titles, content, URLs and images

    having fresh, relevant information on your site

    creating content that other people want to share and link back to

    Google continuously updates and improves its algorithms that allow it to recognise and penalise websites that employ unethical, black hat SEO practices. By following this guide, you will be aligning with current SEO best practice.



    SEO tips and suggestionsOptimising your website

    Below is a list of general tips we suggest for Xero partners. It will be helpful to consider these points when thinking about SEO for your website.

    Content/text The more descriptive website content is, the easier it is for Google to understand what the purpose of a site is and therefore match the purpose to related search queries. Try and add fresh content regularly to help your site stay on Googles radar. Note that optimised, valuable, relevant onsite content is one of the very best ways to grow your authority with Google and users. If you have a blog, this can be a great channel for providing new, topical articles to existing and potential customers. Alternatively, fill your website with descriptive content that search engines and users will value.

    Readability Search engines assess the readability of the text on a page, so its important to use plain English where possible dont use jargon. Try to keep sentences under 20 words and vary their length. Use subheadings to break up long sections of text. If youre not sure about whether something youve written is easy to understand, make sure its proofed and edited. Get someone in your office or team who has a knowledge of writing to take a look.

    Keywords Keywords terms such as accounting practice or small business accounting are one of the ways search engines know how relevant a web page is to a search query. Its important to use keywords that are descriptive and related to the web page or website in question. Try to use keywords in your page content and in the metadata (well discuss metadata shortly). Make sure you dont resort to keyword stuffing, which is using keywords that arent directly relevant or overusing keywords so they sound unnatural. Using a particular keyword once or twice per hundred words of content is ideal.

    LinksWhen search engines scan your text, they pay close attention to where any links go and what the anchor text (the highlighted text that takes you to a new web page) says. Search engines view inbound links from other sites as a vote of authority. The more quality links to a particular website, the more authoritative that site is to search engines. If youre linking to other sites and vice versa a blog is a great way to attract people to your site with valuable, relevant information (for SEO purposes or otherwise).

    Tip: We dont encourage you to reach out and build links from spammy sites. This was a common SEO practice in the past that is now penalised by Google.

    Some high-search volume keywords that you may consider are:

    accountant {+ your city/region name} (e.g. accountant Sydney)

    bookkeeper {+ your city/region name} (e.g. bookkeeper Sydney)

    chartered accountant

    small business accounting

    business accounting

    accounting services

    bookkeeping services

    tax services

    payroll services

    tax accountant

    financial accounting

    accounting firms

    tax preparation services

    management accounting Tip: Where appropriate, include your city name (e.g. Sydney) or region (e.g. northern beaches) once or twice within the content of your page.


    Each element of your website offers further opportunity to enhance your search ranking. Its worth reviewing these to see how and where you can add value:

    URLs URLs should tell both searchers and search engines what a page is about. You can achieve this by using descriptive keywords separated by hyphens (

    Headings H1H6 The main heading of your page content (H1) is an important ranking factor and should be used to describe the web page as a whole. Each page should have just one descriptive H1 heading. Headings H2 to H6 (largest to smallest) should be used as sub-headings they can be used multiple times per page. You can use H2s for example to break your content into several main sections.

    Anchor text Anchor text is the clickable text in links. It helps search engines understand what the web page being linked to is about. Using appropriate keywords, brand or company names is more meaningful than using a phrase like click here or read more.

    Metadata Metatags contain snippets of text that describe the content of a web page. The text doesnt show on the web page but its used by Google and other search engines in search results.

    Title tag Title tags show in the browser tab and search engine results page. The title tag influences where the page ranks in search results. It needs to tell the user what the page is about as well as containing the keywords that you want search engines to pick up on. Title tags should not be longer than 60 characters. The recommended formula is Title Containing Keywords | Brand Name. If you have a long brand name, it is okay for this part to exceed the character count slightly.

    Meta description tagThis is the description thats displayed in Google search results below the title tag. This description should not exceed 160 characters. And though Google does not factor the description into search engine rankings, a clear description can encourage a searcher to click through to your website.

    ALT tags An ALT tag is used to describe an image on a web page. Search engines cannot see the image itself, so they rely on ALT tags instead (and so do people using screen-readers). Where appropriate, use target keywords in the ALT tag.

    Image file names File names should be brief and descriptive, with words separated by hyphens.

    Tip: If you have a Wordpress website, install the Yoast plug-in, which allows you to quickly and easily update the metadata for each page of your website.

    Website SEO elements


    Example of a page using SEO elements

    Here is an example of an optimised page for our fictional practice Superawesome Accountants. They want to rank for keywords online accounting so have created the following page.

    Title tag (uses keywords in the page title)

    Relevant image with the file name online-accounting and alt-text set to Online accounting on the go

    URL contains keywords, separated by a hyphen

    H2 used for sub-headings

    H1 used for the page heading


    Optimising for local search

    In addition to optimising content, links and metadata, there are things you can do to be more prominent in the results for local searchers those in your suburb, city or region with queries specific to your products or services.

    Google My BusinessGoogle My Business listings show as map listings at the top of the page for local search results, improving your website visibility and making it easy for potential customers to find you. To make the most of this, set up a listing or verify an existing listing and make sure that the brand name, address, contact details and business category are accurate. Encourage customers to leave reviews on this listing and respond to any reviews you receive, whether positive or negative. To get started, follow this Google guide.

    Contact Us pageMake sure you have a Contact Us page that includes up-to-date contact details and an embedded Google Maps listing. Follow this guide to embed the map on your site.

    Directory listingsList your company on local directories, including popular directories such as Yelp, Hot Frog and the Xero advisor directory. Local directories are great for increasing your online visibility, website traffic and provide the same vote of authority that links do. Youll find more tips on optimising your advisor directory listing later in this guide.


    Optimising your Xero co-branded pageHaving a page specifically about Xero can improve both SEO and the user experience of your website. It will help search engines find you when they enter search queries like Xero accountant, Xero bookkeeper Sydney, Xero training and support or small business accounting software. Ideally, it should clearly appear as a link from the homepage navigation and on the main menu throughout your website.

    MetadataTalk about Xero in the Title tag and make sure the meta description describes the Xero services you offer. For example:

    Title tag: Xero accounting software specialists | Awesome Accountants

    Meta description: Awesome Accountants provides setup, training and support in Xero online accounting software as well as preparing annual accounts and tax, from our Sydney office.

    URLInclude keywords in the URL for your co-branded page. Make sure all letters are lowercase and separated by hyphens not by underscores or any other symbol. For example, a good URL for a Xero co-branded page should look something like:

    Keywords in copyInclude keywords in the page content which we suggest includes:

    a brief explanation of what Xero is and the benefits it offers small businesses with links to the Xero website and Xero features pages, for example, Xero is online accounting software with everything you need to run your business beautifully. All your financial data is stored online so you can access it anywhere, anytime, and you can easily share access with your accountant and others. Xero is easy to use and saves you time and effort by automating many routine tasks. Small businesses actually say find using Xero is fun.

    an outline of the services and support your practice offers to business using Xero

    areas in which you have particular expertise or strengths where Xero is concerned

    a call to action to contact you for more information or to get started

    Learn more about writing to promote your practice in this accounting/bookkeeper guide.

    Co-brandingFor details on using the Xero logo and partner badges, see the Xero partner branding guidelines. And dont hesitate to get in touch with your regional marketing team or account manager if you have any questions.


    Optimising your Xero advisor directory listing

    A Xero advisor directory listing can improve your website ranking in Google. It also offers an additional channel for potential customers to find you.

    Use keywords in your advisor directory listing just as you would for your website (see Keywords above). And find out more ways to optimise your listing.

    Xero advisor directory profiles are set up in Xero HQ. To be eligible for a listing and keep it active, youll need to make sure your practice is Xero certified and maintains Xero bronze partner status or above.


    Further readingWant to learn more about SEO, or get a further explanation of some of the techniques discussed in this guide? Heres a list of recommended reading from various sources:

    A basic guide to SEO

    The difference between ethical and unethical SEO

    H1 tags and how they improve your search engine ranking

    How to use ALT and title attributes in image tags

    Some of the factors to consider when writing content for your site

    Why readability is important for SEO

    Helpful advice on keyword research

    Moz is a particularly great resource for pointers and explanations. You can find out more about:

    Anchor text



    Title tags

    Meta descriptions

    On-page factors


    Term Definition

    Anchor text Words on a page containing a link.

    Call to action Text or image on a web page which encourages the viewer to click through to the next stage of conversion or sign-up.

    Co-branding Two or more brands joining together to promote the same message.

    Content The information contained in a website or web page.

    Copy or body copy The text on a web page.


    Term Definition

    H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6 Tags used to define headings in HTML H1 is the most important, H6 the least important.

    HTML (hypertext markup language)

    The language for creating web pages and other information that can be displayed in a web browser. HTML determines the look of the font, color, graphic and hyperlinks.

    Image file name This is what an image is saved as. It should be a brief description, written in lowercase, with words separated by hyphens.

    Image ALT text Provides a brief explanation of an image. The ALT text is what a user will see if an image isnt displaying.

    Image title text Provides additional information to the ALT text. It should read like a short sentence or caption.



    Term Definition

    Keyword A word or phrase that describes the contents of a web page.

    Meta description The description used by search engines to describe a page to a searcher. Appears beneath the title tag in a search engine results page.

    Organic, natural or unpaid search marketing

    Attempting to optimise your site in order to get a high ranking without paying for advertising.

    Ranking A web pages position in search results.

    Search engine Program that searches the internet for results for a search query. Commonly used search engines include Google, Yahoo and Bing.

    Term Definition

    SEO (search engine optimisation)

    The process of making changes to websites and web pages to improve their unpaid rankings in search engine results.

    SERP (search engine results page)

    The page on which search engines list results for a search query.

    Title or page title A page heading, above the body copy. Not to be confused with a title tag.

    Title tag The text that shows up at the top of a browser and, as a result, heading on search engine results pages. Not to be confused with a page title.

    URL A web page address, such as


    An introduction to SEOSEO tips and suggestionsWebsite SEO elementsExample of a page using SEO elementsOptimising for local searchOptimising your Xero co-branded pageOptimising your Xero advisor directory listingFurther readingGlossary