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Are Accounting Web Templates Really All That Bad For SEO?

Author : Kenny Marshall

Typically accounting firms have little option but to use website templates to get their firms a site. Custom sites are preposterously expensive. Painfully few smaller practices can actually be expected to construct a website from the foundation up. A high-quality, fully loaded custom CPA or accounting website can cost thousands of dollars to build, while most templates sell for approximately fifty bucks per month.

Website templates have been around for years and they've always been an inexpensive and effective alternatives to expensive custom sites, but they've traditionally had problems getting good rankings in search engines like Google and Bing. In order to make them quick and easy to use the companies that provided even the best accounting website templates tended to sacrifice certain technical niceties that would make it exceedingly difficult to really optimize a site for good rankings.

The problems templates often have are:

* Lots of "Duplicate Content"
* Nerfed Meta Tag Settings
* Use of I-framed Pages

As the web has become more competitive some of these template providers have shifted gears, successfully overcoming these limitations without substantially increasing the complexity of their content management tools. Many others have not. This makes some templates vastly superior to others when it comes to SEO, or "search engine optimization".

So how do you know what to look for if you want to find accounting website templates that are SEO, or "search engine optimization", friendly? Here are a few pointers...

Let's look at the "duplicate content" first as all template driven sites will have this problem. When you first get them even the best accounting website templates will have hundreds of pages of "standard" content. Google can identify this, and they don't have much respect for sites composed entirely of "duplicate content". Customizable pages can overcome duplicate content issues. Make sure your template provider allows you to modify and add pages freely to your site. You don't need to modify the entire site, but you do need to modify the pages you want the search engines to show people. You will certainly want to modify your home page, and if you have time modify your more important service pages.

Another common problem with templates is "universal meta tags". On most accounting website templates there is only one setting for meta tags like page titles, page descriptions, and keywords that affect all the pages on the site simultaneously. If you want to succeed in the search engines make sure the meta tags on your website can be changed separately on every page of your site.

I saved this last issue for the end of the article because, quite frankly, it can be hard to identify. You may even want to retain a website professional to help you get the answers here. Many website templates make extensive use of IFrames, or inline frames; to apply content to web pages. Unfortunately, while I-frames are often obvious to even casual observers, they can easily be obfuscated in such a way that it becomes impossible to tell if a page is exploiting them at all unless you know how to read the source code. The use of iframes have a lot of advantages from a design perspective, but search engines HATE them. Search engines will see pages with inline content as basically blank. They can see the content, but they won't consider your website the source of it. They will follow the inline content in very much the same way they might follow any other link. This means if the content gets indexed it will be credited to the template provider rather than you. Since it can be hard to tell whether or not a website is using these "framed links" you might want to ask but verify. Find out from the provider if they deliver content using inline frames, but before committing to a site have a web professional examine their product and make sure that they aren't using them.

When shopping around for accounting website templates it can be easy to be dazzled by pretty pictures and flashing animations. Before buying anything, though, take the time to look under the hood. A first class website needs to be well designed inside and out. Being good looking, content rich, and easy to navigate is important but it's also important that the site can be properly optimized for the search engines. An SEO friendly site with a lazy owner may not be taking advantage of a template providers search features. Many of my clients have "Universal Meta Tag" issues. The problem isn't that they can't optimize them, the problem is that they often just don't bother.

To be sure about a template's suitability for SEO call each provider separately and ask about these features. There are some very expensive "premium" accounting website templates that are actually pretty lousy in terms of their SEO potential. If your vendor hasn't specifically addressed all three of these issues Google won't be likely to take your site seriously. This might be acceptable for some firms in less than competitive townships, but make certain you look at it when appraising the value versus the cost. An accounting website template that can never be optimized for Google will likely become a monumental liability to your company in the future if your circumstances changes.

Author's Resource Box

Kenneth T. Marshall is a business consultant and one-time Vice President of CPA Site Solutions. His AOE is marketing small firms by utilizing high-quality accounting website templates. While using online social media and Search Engine Optimization forms the basis of his practice he also stresses the importance of traditional network marketing and professional excellence in helping CPA practices build their client bases.

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Tags:   Search Engine Optimization, Accounting Website Templates, Internet Marketing

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Submitted : 2011-11-06    Word Count : 947    Times Viewed: 930