Every business has a website now. It is pretty much the first thing that someone does when they decide to start trading; well, after they have spoken to an accountant, obviously.
Our recent research with UK business owners further backs this up; as well as preferring a tech-savvy service offering, the clarity of an accountant’s website was ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important to SMEs when deciding on an accountant, with 79% among those who said they’d visit their prospective accountant’s website first.
So if you are getting the majority of your leads via referrals you’ll need to make sure your digital presence is compelling as sometimes that will be all referred leads have to go on when choosing an accountant.
This really highlights the importance of showing evidence of expertise on your practice’s website, such as through regular content.
But who decides what goes on a website and what pages it should have?
That depends on the nature of the business, of course. The website for an online sock shop is not going to look the same as an accountancy practice website.
But there are five pages that just about any business website should have as a minimum, and they are:
- A Home page
- An About page
- A Service page (or pages)
- A Blog page
- A Contact page
We’re sure you will recognise those page types and agree there is nothing too contentious about the assertion that they are essential. So the next questions are: “What are these pages really for?” and “What should go on them?”
Here is an exploration of these pages to find out the answers.
When someone searches for your company online, the Home page is likely to be the first page they arrive at. It needs to make an instant good impression. In fact, researchers found that it takes just 2.6 seconds for a user’s eye to identify the area of a website which most informs their initial impression.
Well designed, a striking image, great copy – you need something to spark interest. You also need to demonstrate that the page is relevant to them, that they are in the right place to get what they want.
The “bounce rate” is a metric which can inform you as to how well you are doing here. The higher the percentage, the greater the proportion of those who are visiting your site but immediately leaving because they feel it is not right for them.
After that first impression, the next most important job of the Home page is to steer visitors to the correct part of the site for them. This means well thought-out, intuitive navigation to the other pages. Good Home pages are rarely loaded with copy, just focused snippets to get people where they want to go, be that a Contact page, a Service page or something else.
Having kept your Home page minimalist, the About page is your chance to tell readers the story of your business. This does not mean a drawn-out history which will quite possibly bore them. A narrative is good, but the trick is to relate your story to the reader.
How do the features of your business translate into benefits for your clients? For example, if the business has a long and distinguished history, this may mean you are reliable, have admirable values or have unrivalled experience. Or if you are new and innovative, your disruptive approach may be shaking up the market to bring higher quality, cost savings or a brand-new service to clients.
It’s about you, but only include information that is relevant to clients. It is powerful to build emotional connection into your About page. In networking, it is said that people buy from, or refer to, people they “know, like and trust”. Keeping this principle in mind and working towards it will set you on the right path to preparing a good About page.
The Service page is where you talk about the detail of what you do. You will want to take a strong steer from your Home and About pages on the messaging, but on the Service page(s) it becomes much more focused on conversion.
So again, focusing on the benefits to the reader of what you do. You may be providing a tax return service or giving strategic advice, but really you are: saving them time, saving them tax, saving them stress, helping them grow and so on.
This builds rapport and shows you understand their needs. You might navigate off to other pages which we do not discuss here, such as Case study pages, to further sell the service. And search engine optimisation (SEO) may play an important part in how the pages are developed to help you get found online for specific services.
FREE search engine audit
Find out how visible you are in search engines, what's driving traffic to your site and how your marketing performs against the competition.
The Blog page is simply a gateway to your actual blog posts which are pages in themselves. As such, having a Blog page is a statement of intent within your marketing strategy: that you will use content marketing as a long-term way of generating clients, and keeping them.
Your blog is a platform to communicate with the outside world. A good blog does not sell services directly (at least not very often). Instead, it will educate readers around the context behind the need for the services.
Above all, it will be helpful to the people you seek to serve so that they choose to read it. But it will also be topical, in-tune with your overall messaging, well-written and readable. While it may not be selling your services directly, think of it as selling the Service pages, Contact page or registration for a free guide or webinar for people to move on to after they have digested the blog.
We describe a Blog page as being essential in that it is a statement of intent. It is just the start, because you have the Blog page in order to blog. You blog in order to share the content which may be done through channels like social media, email newsletters or SEO relating to keywords in the blog. And this leads to traffic, enquiries and sales.
The Contact page is fairly self-explanatory. It is a call to action (CTA) in itself, encouraging people to get in touch or provide you with contact details, although other pages will have CTAs too. But it relates the whole website in cyberspace back to the physical world. It may have your address with a map, contact forms, email addresses and telephone numbers.
As with all other pages, think how and why your visitors will want to use this page and facilitate this where possible. Of course, you may have your own parameters for how you wish to be contacted and use the Contact page to communicate this. For instance, if you are an online only practice, you would not choose to feature a Google Maps plug-in showing your location.
Think back to the concept of “Know, like and trust”. A good Contact page will help deliver that element of trust by signalling your accessibility.
Performance driven accountancy websites
As specialists in accounting websites and digital marketing, we would be delighted to discuss your next website. While we have discussed the basics in this post, there are many more page types which will help your firm to grow.
To find out more, please do get in touch.