There’s a Revolution Occurring in Accountant Website Design
Over the past year or so I’ve noticed increasing focus being placed by accounting marketing experts upon modernizing and updating their (or their client’s) websites.
Recently I’ve been involved in the effort by two client firms to redesign and upgrade their sites, and this has caused me to look more closely into what’s going on. In short, the evidence is that as it applies to online accounting marketing services there is nothing less than a quiet revolution taking place.
To explain … numerous studies and articles underscore the reality that more and more prospective purchasers of professional services incorporate an online search as an element of their search process. Further, when viewed from the service provider’s viewpoint, more than three quarters of them – 77% according to Hinge Marketing’s latest survey – are reporting they do in fact obtain leads from online sources. Accounting marketing is changing … and changing quickly
Not surprisingly, both these factors have caused approximately half (46%) of professional service firms – including accountants – to redesign their websites in the past 12 months as a means of exploiting this trend.
Here are the must takeaways from the foregoing:
1. To remain competitive, you must not let your website become a dinosaur;
2. To reach as many prospects as possible your website must be easily accessible and legible on any size screen, i.e. desk top monitor, iPad and smart phone;
3. To obtain a good search ranking and not be buried on page six of the results, you must take advantage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, and
4. To stay in the game you must update your website reasonably frequently.
Taking each in order …
1. Increased (and accelerating) competition, constant changes in Google, Bing, Yahoo et al search engine algorithms, evolving technology, and a greater number of prospects viewing online materials to help them find a suitable accounting services provider all add up to the reality that your website simply must not be lost in the clutter. You must maintain your competitiveness by joining the fray, not by standing by while other firms seize the high ground.
2. The latest websites incorporate responsive technology, which means the contents of a website will automatically reconfigure so that it is easily read on any size screen. With more and more people searching and accessing information online – especially with handheld devices – this feature is a necessity when you next upgrade your site.
3. SEO is a process whereby you anticipate what prospects will input into their search terms when seeking accounting services in your area. You then incorporate these same terms into the verbiage you create for your website. Assuming you’ve done a good job, when a prospect subsequently inputs these terms and the search engine algorithms see a commonality between the search and the contents of your site, your website will appear in a favorable location on the prospect’s search results screen.
SEO has a hugely important role in the universe that is online purchasing, e.g. Amazon, Dell, eBay, et al. Not surprisingly, with billions of dollars at stake, the SEO arena is a highly nuanced and sophisticated playing field.
Just like Accounting for Dummies won’t prepare anyone to take the CPA exam, it is best to leave SEO to an expert. Find someone with credibility to work with you or your website designer to, a) first determine what the best search keywords are for your particular circumstances, and b) then incorporate them – typically by using a copy writer who understands the process – effectively into the site’s verbiage.
4. Search algorithms, technology and consumer behaviors are constantly changing. Accordingly, your site should be updated at least once a year (every quarter would be preferable). If you are going to get involved in blogging or some other means of creating unique online content, updates to your site should occur at least monthly.
Many firms are aggressively seeking to obtain a competitive advantage by maximizing their online marketing effectiveness. I’m not suggesting this is a course you and/or your firm must take, but I am advocating that you embrace these new realities and ensure your competitors don’t acquire an advantage over you that, if left unaddressed for too long, will prove difficult to overcome.
Speaking personally, I guess the proof of the pudding is that for the past six months I personally have been on a crash course to learn these skills because more and more of my clients are expressing a need for advice about these services. As I acquire evidence of what works and what doesn’t on a typical accounting website, I’ll post the info in the future.
Bottom line: It is clear that the starting gun has been fired in the race to effectively acquire clients by attracting prospects via online marketing. Don’t be left behind.
Please let me know about your experiences attempting to catch up with (or stay at the forefront of) this online accounting marketing revolution.