An accounting firm’s website is important, but many practices allow theirs to go untouched for years. This is like leaving the entryway to a business labeled with old phone and contact information, outdated services, or other non-useful information. If your website still lists the importance of tax changes made in 2015 or earlier, are visitors going to think the firm is abreast of more recent information? And blog posts from 2012? Come on, people.
From a cost perspective, some firm managers may dismiss their website, since they think it’s hard to accurately measure its value. But it really isn’t, if you know how to do so. More likely, firms just get behind on this low-hanging firm marketing method, or the person who had been in charge of maintaining it transitioned out of the firm or was promoted.
Some firms have even discontinued (or never started) their website, instead using Facebook pages or other social media for their online presence. While this is the absolute least a firm can do, it just doesn’t replace the depth and marketing potential that a proper website can provide. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.
But as I stated above, you can’t just put a website out there and then ignore it. We’ve all seen those horribly outdated business websites, and that can definitely influence how we think about that business.
Here are a few tips to guide you in creating and maintaining a website that is useful to potential and current clients, and is also cost-effective for your firm.
It’s About Your Firm
Aside from contact information and bios on your firm partners, if you choose to include them, are not entirely unique. Many firms provide the same services, even if you are confident that your firm is the best at some of them. And when it comes to tax law and guidance, there are thousands of websites that people can get the same information from. So what it comes down to is providing that information in a way that reflects your firm’s brand and guides website visitors to engage with you.
Your brand needs to be front and center and on every page and it should be easy to find how to contact you: Phone, email and, if you have an office, the location and hours. Even if you have “the best” website and content, if visitors can’t find your contact info in one or two clicks, they will probably contact some other firm.
Your branding starts with the very name of your website: Although it seems like all the good domain names are taken, using a little creativity can result in one that reflects your firm or city. And try to keep it as a dot.com address or, if you are a CPA, you can get one of the new dot.CPA websites (Example: www.yourfirm.cpa) now offered by the AICPA. Learn more about those websites at https://cpapracticeadvisor.com/21140672.
Keep Website Info Current
Your firm probably doesn’t have the staff to try to keep up with all the daily tax and accounting new, but you should try to provide information on major new tax laws or programs that will affect your clients. Even just providing a paragraph or two, and then linking to a news source form more information, can provide useful to your visitors. Once the “newness” of the information is over (maybe a year at most), then have a method of deleting the content or archiving it on a “past information” page.
There are also website providers for accounting firms that can automatically update the news and information on your site with pertinent news and business guides that are developed by business writers. The same website systems also offer a variety of calculators and other tools (like mortgage, amortization, loan vs. lease, retirement savings, and more). Keeping your website’s content updated can also have the added benefit of raising the ranking of your website on search engines.
Your best bet is to use a template-based system designed for accounting firms. It makes it easy to set up an easy-to-navigate firm site that works on computers and mobile devices, with pages for about us, contact, services, bios, and more. If you add links to other sites (such as government agencies, etc), make sure those links work. The site should also promote the specialties of the firm.
Advanced Contact Tools
In addition to having standard contact emails and phone numbers (and your social media links), some website programs for accounting firms include advanced tools that integrate with email marketing systems. This can be especially useful if combined with a monthly newsletter that gets sent out to your lists of clients and prospects, with tracking of who opened the email and the articles that were read.
Portals Make Clients Happy
Your website isn’t only for attracting new clients, but can also be a tool for your current clients. Including links to the portals for your tax or accounting systems can make it easy for clients to upload or download documents securely when it is convenient for them. This could be 3am, 1pm or midnight, but with online access to the information they need, they can do it when they want.
Help Potential Clients Find You
There are millions of “dead” websites out there that are unattended and are of little value to users or firms. Following the prior tips, especially updating the website at least quarterly (but preferably monthly or more frequently) can help a website stay pertinent and worthwhile to the firm. Additionally, there are tips for Search Engine Optimization that can increase the likelihood that people will find your firm in searches. The website tools following this article include help for SEO, making it easy to add keywords and tags that improve your website visibility. You can also check out this article on SEO tips for accounting firm websites: https://cpapracticeadvisor.com/21145253
Website Hosts and Tools
The following companies specialize in creating websites for accounting firms. They range from full-service (hands-off for the firm staff), to guided DIY, and range in price from $20 per month to much higher than that- but with tons of accounting firm-specific features, content, newsletters and calculators that can make your firm’s website really stand out.
There are also generic website builder tools that have a variety of templates.