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This article outlines a search engine marketing strategy for consultants, tax advisors, lawyers, audit firms, engineers and similar service enterprises. It tells the reader how to drive highly targeted organic search engine traffic to a consultant's Web site. Asking why most consulting firms lack search engine visibility leads to a simple conclusion: they hide themselves on the Web, and actively prevent search engines from ranking their Web sites in top spots on the search result pages. Once this mentality gets recognized, its unwanted consequences can be eliminated with ease.

Consultancy is hard to sell to Internet search engines, because search engines rank by popularity and unique, original and focused text content. Clients and competitors most likely will not link to a consulting firm's Web site, so where to gain topical link popularity? Links from the local chamber of commerce plus a few Web directories aren't enough.

Creation of unique and original content is the second major issue. The consultant usually cannot reveal details about consulting projects, also every project has a different focus, so without interesting stories there is nothing to write about?

Wait! The consultant's broad competence as well as extensive knowledge and experience should lead to a few pages of text content. Not really, most consultants are afraid to publish knowledge which may be sellable some day.

As a matter of fact, mission statements, visions, and similar sales pitches based on a finite number of catchwords will not attract organic search engine traffic. There are only so many ways to praise a consulting firm, none of them is unique any more. The search engines' indexes are flooded with variations of the same yada yada yada, they consider it (near) duplicated text content, and refuse to deliver the consultant's Web pages on their first search result pages (SERPs).

How to escape the dilemma? You really want to reach the potential clients querying their preferred search engine with questions like [how can I achieve "insert goal" in a "insert industry" shop?] or [what exactly is "your special subject here" and how can I implement it?]. You cannot attract this highly targeted search engine traffic by focusing phrases like "our Business Management Consultants are skilled management consultants with extensive combined experience gained at first addresses" on your Web site.

Search engine users don't search for a consultant's philosophy or academic background. They do search for solutions to particular problems, and they do use natural search queries as well as industry specific terms, including brands and abbreviations.

If you don't change your attitude, those potential clients will never join your clientele. You must provide tons of freebies to attract converting search engine traffic. You must plaster your Web site with valuable information, for example knowledge bases, state of the art tutorials and guides, (anonymized) case studies, up to date articles and white papers, free tools like branded checklists or spread sheets, online services like KPMG's Alumni or weekly tax briefings ... be creative in revealing all your business secrets.

Actually, besides your payroll and such stuff you can't reveal crucial business secrets, because the toolset of a consultant consists of knowledge which is available to the public (even if buried in university libraries or obscure periodicals), common sense, and experience. Publishing knowledge in the context of consulting experience --applying all the phrases search engine users may search for-- will not make the reader a good consultant, but it pleases the readers mind. Pleased visitors more likely subscribe to your RSS feeds or newsletters and they bookmark your Web pages. Chances are good that a recurring visitor will get used to your site, making use of your service request form --or at least the contact page-- one day.

Above all, frequent online publishing is a great way to become noticed as an expert on a topic, which leads to increased popularity, and popularity on the Internet gets expressed as link love. Outstanding content combined with the power of link love --that is naturally earned inbound links-- leads to nicely targeted search engine traffic. It doesn't hurt to consult a smart search engine optimizer for some fine tuning of your SEO strategy, and to take care of the technical aspects like crawlability and Web site structuring, but basically a good Web developer/designer will be able to get your thoughts on the World Wide Web.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

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Author: Sebastian
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