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Does content syndication work for accountancy websites?

Kaz Driver

Co-Founder & Account Director

Published on
Does content syndication work for accountancy websites?
On the surface, it does seem a good idea. Am I right? Regular content syndication for accounting websites, relevant for your audience, dropping directly onto your site daily? Anyone who knows anything about websites will tell you that the key to ranking on search engines is useful, relevant, and regularly updated content. It makes your site look good and be great for your clients and prospects.

Syndicated content like this is immensely popular with busy accountants who know they need to keep their website up to date but do not have the time, and often the expertise, to take this on themselves. There are many specialist content marketing services for accounting firms that will happily set up your website for you, and then turn on the tap of content while you sit back and wait for those leads to come flooding in.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. The search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo in their infinite wisdom, make it rather harder than that for your website to rank in a search. By 'rank,' I mean appearing on the first page of the search because we all know, very few people get past the first page when they are searching for something.

So why won't this regular content work as the content syndication company tells you?

There are several SEO issues I have seen on websites taking this syndicated content that are not addressed by the companies providing this service:
1. The content is missing those vital SEO tags.
For example, when search engines scan a page, they look for important things like:

a. Meta title tag - a few words that tell it and your website audience, what the page is about

b. Meta description tag - a summary of the content

c. Heading tag - a heading that highlights the important text

Imagine going to a bookshop to choose a book and finding all of the book covers are blank. The content which is missing this critical SEO information is like that for the search engines.

They cannot see the information because there is nothing telling it what your content is about. So they move on to a site where they can find that information.

2. The content provided to you is duplicated on other sites.

How will the search engine know which website should be listed at the top of the search if it does find it? How will it know that you haven't just taken the content from another website - plagiarised or have just rewritten it?

While there are no direct penalties for carrying identical content, your site could suffer rankings and traffic losses. Therefore, it does need to be made clear that this is syndicated content.

There are ways of coding a syndicated blog to make its source clear to the search engines. There are also ways of indicating which of the syndicated content is the original, but this won't help if you want the 'value' of the content to be seen on your website.

And trying to rectify this isn't simple either. Some algorithms identify the source of the content by using Machine Learning (ML). So even if you try rewriting them or just changing the synonyms and sentence structure, your content won't deliver any value to your readers. You should always bear in mind - write for human beings, not machines.

3. There are no links from the content to other parts of your website.

The syndicated content comes into your site devoid of any links to the rest of your website. It sits there in splendid isolation in the hope that someone will stumble across it. Of course, it would be impossible for the supplier to add links because each website they supply to has a different format and structure.

Google and other search engines do not have the magical insight to find pages - they need signposts and information. Internal linking is critical here.

Links from one page to another within your website help search engines and your readers find a new page they haven't visited previously. For example, an article about tax rises should ideally be directly linked to a page about your new tax advice service you have just launched.

The links also help search engines to identify what the page is about tax advice and therefore could be identified when they are responding to a search about tax advice.

Plus, the number of internal links within the site is an indicator of how important that page is. All of this is essential data for the search engines and impacts a website's ranking and the likelihood of being shown in search results.

4. They frequently add a code or number to your website URL rather than a title.

When you have a URL such as www.joeaccounting.co.uk/blog/new-VAT-increase, it is evident to you, the person looking at the page and also the search engines, what the likely content of the page will be.

It has also enabled keywords included in the URL. The syndicated blogs tend to have a URL which provides a suffix of code - so in this example, the 'new-VAT-increase' would get replaced with random letters or numbers or symbols, like www.joeaccounting.co.uk/index.php/news?command=viewsitem:id=00000.

Going back to my bookshop analogy above, in this bookshop, instead of title, all of the books will have random codes on their covers. That means, again, the signpost for the search engines and your prospective clients is missing.

The search engines will move on to a website where they can read the URLs properly, and your prospective clients will never find the page. So, you miss out on the search traffic.

5. The content is general and doesn't advocate your brand.

While the syndicated content is no doubt accurate and reflective of issues that will affect individuals and businesses, it is just that - a factual blog. It cannot possibly include any keywords that you would like your business to focus on.

Perhaps, the specialist tax service you provide, the training you give to local firms using any of the cloud accounting software such as Xero, QuickBooks or FreeAgent, or the planning advice you provide for businesses.

Unfortunately, that is the kind of information that your target audience will search for. They are far more likely to look for a local specialist tax advisor than wanting to know the government launched a temporary updated annual leave calculator.

Your website content should represent the tone of your brand, the value you're providing to your customers, and how you can solve their pain with ease. So, blogs that exclude that content will not assist you in communicating about your company and what you stand for.

So, what is the solution?

As indicated above, the actual content provided by these companies is not bad; it is the way it is implemented within the accountants' websites that is the problem.

Some accountancy practices have adopted a mix and match approach, which, if managed correctly, can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of their SEO.

By adding their blogs regularly which contain keywords, they would like to focus on and internal links, and with adequately coded pages, they can begin to move their website up the rankings.

The syndicated content then provides additional resources for people once they have found the site.

Adding their blogs and articles has the bonus of enabling the businesses to communicate more about themselves and to demonstrate their expertise.

It all goes back to the adage of 'you get what you pay for'. If you are serious about using your website to build your business, then it is probably worth investing in content that is relevant to your services.

The content should be of interest to your current and prospective clients. Oh yes, and by using a company who will also give it all of the signposts to help the search engines to find it.

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Think Little Big Marketing can help you unleash the potential of your brand?

TLBM has the expertise, experience and resources to turn your website and social media into a powerful business growth tool.

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