Amplify!, CPA Growth Trends, Marketing

Amplify | Embracing SEO as a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Like training for a long-distance race, successful search engine optimization (SEO) requires a structured approach. In a recent Amplify! podcast discussion with Brian Swanson, Chief SEO strategist at Flashpoint Digital Marketing, he explained how firms need to look at SEO as a marathon that takes more time to train for to get right. That’s because the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve. What was once an obscure marketing tactic is now a pivotal driver of online success.

Start with Your Website

Marketers should evaluate their websites first to get the most from an SEO initiative. Selecting the right content management system (CMS) is important to ensure it provides the flexibility needed for effective SEO implementation.

“Choosing the right CMS is crucial for laying a solid foundation for SEO success,” said Swanson. “Platforms like WordPress offer unparalleled flexibility and accessibility for optimizing your website without hefty customization costs.”

Understanding your CMS capabilities sets the stage for effective SEO strategies.

Focus on Quality Content Over Quantity

Once the groundwork is laid, it’s time to focus on content development. Swanson highlights the significance of aligning content with targeted service lines or industry niches, emphasizing quality over quantity.

“Content is the cornerstone of SEO success,” he said.

Before diving into keyword research, firms must identify key service lines or industries to focus on. High-quality, niche-specific content not only attracts search engine algorithms but also resonates with target audiences, driving meaningful engagement.

Redefining Keyword Strategy

Keywords are a hot topic for writers and digital marketers, but Swanson challenges conventional wisdom, asserting that their importance has diminished in recent years. Instead, he advocates for a content-driven approach, where keywords naturally emerge from comprehensive, informative content.

“Keywords no longer reign supreme in the realm of SEO. Content should dictate keywords, not the other way around,” he said.

By prioritizing content depth and relevance, firms can establish authority and trust, crucial factors in search engine evaluation.”

From Leads to Engagement

Conversions are the lifeblood of SEO efforts, and there are intricacies to conversion optimization. It requires a dual focus on top-of-the-funnel leads and middle-of-the-funnel engagement. SEO can be leveraged here to enhance visibility and attract qualified leads.

Swanson explains that “beyond traditional contact us forms calls-to-action, firms should employ middle-of-the-funnel strategies like whitepaper downloads and webinar excerpts to nurture leads.”

In addition, local SEO presents a potent opportunity for targeted outreach and enhanced conversion rates.

The Building Blocks of SEO

Pillar pages and landing pages are two critical SEO elements. Pillar pages serve as comprehensive resources, showcasing firm expertise. They establish firm authority and attract valuable backlinks. Landing pages focus on driving conversions through targeted messaging and streamlined user experience. This guides users toward desired actions.

Balancing depth and conversion focus is key to maximizing SEO impact.

The Impact of AI on Search

AI is everywhere these days, so it’s no surprise that there is a buzz around AI’s impact on search results. One thing Swanson feels strongly about is that AI will not make SEO obsolete. He emphasized that AI has long been integrated into search engine algorithms. Plus, Google leverages machine learning to dynamically adjust search rankings based on real-time user interactions, such as clicks on search results.

Google’s Search Generative Experience, a beta feature poised to revolutionize search results, aims to provide users with comprehensive information directly on the search engine results page (SERP). This will minimize the need to navigate to external websites. By harnessing AI, Google generates informational summaries and even offers follow-up prompts, fundamentally reshaping the traditional SERP structure.

What about ChatGPT, Copilot or Gemini? While these platforms present new opportunities for information retrieval, marketers need to pay attention to them as search engines. We need to start thinking about optimizing content for these AI-driven search engines, which will be a paradigm shift in search optimization strategies.

E-E-A-T Your SEO Strategies

It’s important to align SEO strategies with Google’s evolving algorithms. One thing to pay attention to now is experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). These are the four pillars for how Google evaluates content, and this high-quality content resonates with both users and search algorithms.

“In an October 2023 update, which Google calls the helpful content update, they have basically said they are going to give preference, differential treatment, to sites that do a better job of demonstrating experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness,” Swanson said. “It’s a hierarchical process. We have to start at the top and work down.”

Google continues to prioritize value-driven content, and marketers must deliver that. That’s where AI, as it works today, might not be able to deliver. With Google looking for content that delivers value and uniqueness, marketers must uphold standards of quality and authenticity to remain competitive in the digital landscape. If your AI-generated content isn’t creating something of value with a unique value proposition, it’s going to have very little impact on your search results.

The Transformation of the Accounting Marketer

All the changes in SEO will transform the role of marketers within accounting firms. Rather than having a team member responsible for figuring out SEO among many other responsibilities, Swanson foresees the rise of dedicated digital marketers working with content creators tasked with navigating the intricacies of AI-driven search algorithms.

As content remains paramount in digital marketing endeavors, firms must adapt their staffing structures to accommodate this evolving landscape.

Adapting for Success

The intersection of AI and SEO heralds a new era in digital marketing. While the fundamentals of SEO endure, the integration of AI introduces novel challenges and opportunities for marketers seeking to thrive in an ever-evolving digital ecosystem.

“SEO isn’t a static endeavor; it requires continuous refinement and adaptation to evolving algorithms and user behaviors,” Swanson said. “By prioritizing content quality, conversion optimization and strategic page design, firms can unlock the full potential of SEO and drive sustainable growth.”

Embracing innovation and staying abreast of emerging trends will be paramount in achieving sustained growth and success in the digital age.


This blog post was written based on content from the latest season of Amplify, the podcast of AAM – dedicated to firm growth. This article is based on Season 5, Episode 2, featuring a conversation with Brian Swanson, chief SEO strategist at Flashpoint MarketingLearn more about the podcast and listen first-hand at

About Katie Tolin

Katie Tolin is the president and chief growth guide at CPA Growth Guides. She’s a former in-house marketer having spent time at regional, super-regional and national accounting firms. Today she helps CPA firms drive top-line revenue and profitability through data-driven marketing strategies. She’s a past president of AAM, a former marketer of the year and was inducted into the Accounting Marketing Hall of Fame.

Welcome to CPA Growth Trends — your source for information, insights, tools and best practices to drive growth within an accounting firm.

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