Is AI the Future of SEO for Accountants?

Written by
William Ziada

Is AI the Future of SEO for Accountants? Our Honest Take After Testing Gemini

Since ChatGPT's big debut back in November 2022, we've been pretty skeptical about all the AI buzz. Don't get me wrong, it's been fascinating to watch how it's taken over the stock market, Reddit threads, and even small talk in Ubers.

But when we tried using it to boost our productivity, the early, free versions of ChatGPT were only good for the simple stuff. For the more complex questions we face in business, it wasn't much help. A lot of the answers were outdated, and sometimes, it wouldn't even give us an answer at all. When asking it questions like, "What will commercial real estate in Wilmington cost in 2030?" or "What's the exchange rate for currency X to X going to be in December this year?" we got a vague, non-committal response that wouldn't help us make any real business decisions.

So, are we just ignoring AI altogether? Nope. Not after what we saw at Google I/O last week. We believe SEO for accountants is changing, but how much? Let’s dive in.

Local search

First thing we explored was local search.  Even though Gemini's interface is totally different from the old search bar, we stuck with the same kind of query a potential client might use to find an accounting firm. The initial results were similar to a regular Google search – a list of five accounting firm websites.  Our takeaway? The same things that matter for ranking in local search still apply to Gemini.  So, keep that Google My Business page updated, post regularly, and get those glowing reviews! If longer-tail keywords including adjectives like "best" or "affordable" are popular in your area, encourage your clients to use them in their reviews to boost your visibility on Gemini.

Conversational search: Your New Lead-Generating Secret Weapon?

The biggest change from Google’s traditional product is conversational search. Think of it like chatting with a knowledgeable friend who helps you narrow down your options.  Instead of typing in a generic query like "best accountant near me," you can have a back-and-forth dialogue.

Ask a question, get a response, then ask a follow-up question to refine your search. See our test below;

Us: "Who's the best accountant for small businesses near me?"

Gemini: (Provides a list of options)

Us: "Which of these specializes in restaurants?"

Gemini: (Narrows down the list)

Us: "Who offers the most affordable monthly rates?"

Gemini: (Highlights the best option)

In our own experiment, Gemini guided us from a simple question to a pinpointed recommendation and directions to that business in under 2 minutes. No more clicking through countless websites – it's all done within a natural conversation.

seo accountant
Initial search query

seo for accountants
Dwindling the results down in context by service offering prompt

seo for accountants & cpa firms
Attempting to narrow the results further by specialization

seo for accountant
accountants seo
Asking Gemini to direct us to the chosen accounting firm utilizing the Google maps integration

If AI assistants like Gemini become as popular as we predict, accountants who adapt their online presence for conversational search could see a significant increase in new clients. 

Voice Search and Point-and-Shoot.

Gemini's voice-to-text is way better than older versions of the technology, and even if the translation isn't perfect, the AI can usually figure out what you meant. The two-way verbal feels more natural, making us less self-conscious about talking to our phones in public. 

The "point-and-shoot" feature may lead to an interesting new way of getting leads. Gemini lets you upload a picture or video of a business to find their contact info or get directions. 

But Wait, There's More... (And It's Not All Good)

Gemini isn't perfect yet. We found it less accurate than traditional search for complex queries like ‘tell me what this song is’ from entering a few words of a song lyric. And the $20/month price tag for the advanced version might be a barrier for some.

Will SEO become AAO?

Only time will tell if in the next decade AI assistants will merge with traditional search or take them over completely. But even if they do, we don't think it'll change your lead numbers for the worse. The lead source might be different, but the fundamentals of good SEO for accountants will remain important even if the buzzword AI assistant optimization (AAO): write authentic content, showcase your expertise, get those great reviews and mentions, and build your online authority.

And if you’re looking for a partner to boost online leads for your firm, we are always here to help.

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