It’s common knowledge that the coronavirus pandemic has given everyone a massive push towards going digital. After all, each of us has done the hard yards on Zoom, bought a little more than before from Amazon and the like and accumulated more WhatsApp groups than we know what to do with.
As a practice owner, it is essential to understand what this means for business development.
Your website was important long before we’d ever heard of COVID-19 or imagined lockdowns. But now, for almost every growing accountancy practice, it will take centre stage.
A report by McKinsey and Co on executives found that the ability of companies to increase customer demand for online purchases sped up by a multiple of 27 after the pandemic struck – from an expected 585 days to implement changes to just 22. The market is changing fast. Is your foot on the accelerator?
As a platform to communicate, showcase your brand and drive sales, your website should be at the forefront of that change.
A previous blog we wrote on this topic looked at how your website could be harming your brand if your website is stuck in the past as your potential new prospects may think your firm is too.
Let’s take a look at four specific reasons why having a current, updated website is essential.
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
When the purpose of your website evolves to be more than just an online placeholder for your business, SEO becomes an important consideration for generating traffic, leads and ultimately sales.
Having a current updated website will help you to rank well in your chosen markets. But how much improvement you see will depend on your current starting point.
If it has been years since you updated your site, it may be completely unaligned with your strategy today and the technological developments we have seen. No blog, no consideration for different screen sizes, slow loading times, broken links. These are all things which search engine bots will pick up as they crawl the web.
They will not be impressed and it will be unsurprising that you do not appear anywhere near the top of Google. Updating your website with this much to improve will be transformative.
Of course, you may have a site that is more recent but still neglected and is growing out of date – say it is responsive (catering to different screen sizes), but it is difficult to upload new blogs and some links have broken since it launched. This is still unlikely to compete well in search engine rankings against your competitors who have invested in a new site.
In this scenario, or even for a more recent website, you are starting from a stronger point, but you will be consolidating what you have and building on it to improve.
Good user experience
Of course, it is not just search engines that your website needs to impress if it is to do well for you. It also needs to persuade prospective clients that you are the best firm to meet their needs.
This concept of a good user experience will encapsulate many aspects, including overlaps with what the search engines are looking for.
There will be technical matters like how long a page takes to load up. No one has time to wait even several seconds for a page to appear; they will just click on to something else. If your website hasn’t loaded within four seconds this is a major sign that you need an upgrade.
The same goes for a misaligning screen. If your website looks okay on a desktop but requires panning and zooming on a smartphone you will be turning prospective customers off.
A good, modern website will be packed with useful, easily navigable content for its target audience. This may include a blog, case studies, how-to’s, a knowledge centre etc.
Such content makes it an attractive destination for people to visit. It demonstrates your knowledge and expertise, and at the same time builds trust and good will with the readers. It helps them make their purchasing decisions with you.
What your audience sees is the front end. But behind the scenes in the back end, your website should make it easy for you to upload, curate and share such content. If it doesn’t, you have probably already discovered that it has become a slog to keep it updated and fresh. Therefore, a complex or obstructive back end is another compelling reason to get an updated website.
Our results-focused websites for accountants are designed to attract your ideal clients, turn visitors into leads and enable your firm to measure your return on investment.
Just as it is important to keep your computer operating systems and other software patched with the latest updates, so it is vital to ensure the platform your website is developed on is always up to date.
An older website poses a number of security risks if you don’t keep on top of updates. Sometimes whole platforms will become unsupported, making them targets for hackers. At other times, a particular vulnerability will be patched on a platform, but it is up to you to apply the patch.
As you can imagine, the consequences of a hack could be far-reaching: from taking your site offline, to redirecting it to something inappropriate, to stealing client data. Any one of these outcomes could be disastrous with reputational damage, lost opportunity to trade and GDPR-related penalties; not to mention all the distress and diverted resource you suffer internally.
Updating your site to a robust platform can manage this risk, especially if you start working with a partner who will take on the updates as part of their service. This is also part of proper management of your attack surface, as you don’t want your website to be a point of vulnerability which is overlooked as part of your broader IT infrastructure.
Staying on brand
Your service offering, your team, your branding will all change over time. And if you do not prioritise keeping your website updated, it will become increasingly disconnected from your actual business, and therefore increasingly irrelevant to your target audience.
What a shame to invest in a new logo, new hires or corporate photography and not see it reflected in your primary online presence. A website is there 24 hours a day representing you. But is it the you of today, or of five years ago?
Moreover, as with anything in life, websites styles evolve. A website even just a few years old can start to feel tired, thus creating a poor first impression on visitors.
Technologies too, are always changing. Adopting them or not may reflect on the type of business you are – up with the times, or lagging. The latest websites will integrate all kinds of functionality which position them as a forward-thinking, easy-to-work-with businesses: things like chatbots and automated calendar bookings. It all plays a part in winning that next client.
Time to upgrade?
We specialise in building and maintaining high-quality websites for accountancy firms, and advising on digital marketing strategies to ensure they continue to deliver a return on investment.
If you would like help reviewing your current website to assess its strengths and weaknesses, please get in touch with us on: 0117 915 0420 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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