In 2019 ensuring your business is operating at its peak in our highly competitive world is critical and engaging a great accountant is necessary to get your compliance, planning and structure right for your business growth.
With the advent of Cloud Accounting, accountants are using cutting edge cloud software to deliver these services in more timely manner than ever before.
When our business consulting clients ask us what they should do first to create the change they seek, we always enquire about their money structure.
Their accounts, financial plans, visibility on their cash flow and profit and loss; what their most profitable products and services are. Without a great accountant in your corner this visibility can be lacking.
However, after reviewing 50 local Sutherland Shire accountant’s websites, what stood out is that their websites are not communicating effectively to their clients and are ineffective marketing tools, for a wide number of reasons.
To help, we have created a list of 19 website marketing mistakes accountants are making in 2019 and advice on how to resolve them.
If you’re an accountant ask yourself, “How many enquiries did you receive through your website this week, month, quarter, year”.
If you don’t know the answer or can answer none to any of these periods, read on and see how many of these your practice’s website is guilty of and how easily they can be fixed.
What was evident was, that for the majority of accounting practices, they are not using their website as a tool to generate leads, acquire new customers and educate clients.
That is, their website is an afterthought rather than a key component of a marketing strategy to acquire new clients and grow their business.
As a potential customer one could ask “Is this the type of practice I want helping me in my business? They can’t even sort their own business, let-alone mine.”
Exceptions and Transparency
There were 2 outstanding accounting practices that have a superior website from a design, education, lead generation and marketing tool perspective in our evaluation. I have listed these below.
For transparency, there is no affiliation at the time of writing with either of these practices and Shire Media Services.
If their website’s currency and recency are reflective of the services they provide clients then we believe you would be in good hands. This is not a recommendation as we do not use their services and for any accounting advice you should do you own research and make your own decisions.
A Word on “Word of Mouth”
I’m sure that some local business owners, some of whom are accounting practices, will read the information provided here and tell themselves that they don’t really need a website as they “get most of their business from word of mouth advertising” or they use facebook as a marketing tool.
A 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report tells this story a little different.
Whilst customers ranked word of mouth highly (71%) they ranked it 3rd behind Online Search and Online Reviews.
In addition to this, 48% of customers won’t consider your business if you don’t have a website. The percentage of people who won’t consider your business if you don’t have a facebook page is only 12%.
These numbers tell the story very clearly. Customers want you to have a website, so make it as good as it can be.
*2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report
The suggestion here is that it’s time to reassess ‘normal’ and understand how prospects are finding what they need. For example, in just a few seconds searching on Google we found 50 accounting practices we could consider for our business.
50! In Sutherland Shire alone.
How do you stand out online?
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #1: Security
Of the 50 local Sutherland Shire Accountant’s websites we reviewed, only 2 of them were secure, as above.
A secure website has a little padlock and uses https at the beginning of your web address (URL).
This ensures that any information shared by your clients on the website is secure and cannot be intercepted and stolen, and lets your clients know that your concern for their security and privacy is paramount.
Most modern web browser now also warn users that your website is not secure and this may affect your client’s perception of your practices capabilities and relevance in a digital world.
Google set a deadline in 2018 after which they will explicitly warn users if your website is secure. At the time of writing, this deadline has now passed and its time to take action.
If you’re an accountant and you use Xero and MYOB you’ll know that those sites are secure ( Xero even requires a 3rd party Authentication App for login now), so why isn’t yours?
If MYOB and Xero thinks it critical why don’t you?
In most cases, a good webhost in Australia can provide a SSL certificate for free as part of their webhosting.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #2: Duplicate Content
Many of the websites reviewed had a blog and it became very obvious within about 5 minutes of reviewing that the blogs content was the same across all these websites.
Accountants have been sold a service by a company that delivers content that is marketed as appropriate for accountants websites.
Blogging for inbound marketing – writing articles that your clients will find useful, interesting and valuable, remains an important part of a digital marketing strategy, but not when the same content is used across 100’s of websites – accountant websites – that are competing with your practice.
If your practice is using a service like this we believe you are wasting your time and money.
It’s not best practice to publish articles on your website, that are also published on potentially hundreds of other competitors websites, especially if you are publishing these articles as part of client acquisition strategy.
Whilst there are no penalties for duplicating content from Google (that’s a myth that was dispelled some years ago by Google directly), essentially Google will only index one version of that article and ignore all others, as Google tries to determine the original source of the content and display that one.
Google describes Duplicate content as:
“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin”
The solution is simple again. Write and publish original content that demonstrates your experience, expertise and generosity to your clients.
Yes that is time consuming, and valuable to your clients – and valuable to your client acquisition strategy too as according to Hubspot:
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website than those who don’t. That’s a rather staggering statistic. One you can’t ignore.
- You have a 434% higher chance of being ranked highly on search engines if you feature a blog as part of your website (Tech Client)
- Businesses using blogs as part of their content marketing mix get 67% more leads than those who don’t (Hubspot).
Seriously, if you are serious about acquiring new customers you need to get serious about the content you are providing.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #3: Low Quality Images
A large number of the accountant websites reviewed were quite old and clearly had not been updated for years, sometime decades.
Most obvious was the size and quality of images, especially as, in 2019, modern website design trends focus on high quality, large images.
Another easy fix: Find, create and upload new images to your website – perhaps as part of a new website design or website redesign.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #4: NAP Information Not Present
NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone.
Ideally this will be present on every page of your website and consistent in all places.
This is just common sense as consistency of all of your business information helps users and search engines identify you and indicate how and where to get in touch.
Yet another simple fix. Update this NAP information on every page of your website and make sure its consistent.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #5: Not Mobile Optimised
About 90%! of the accounting websites we reviewed in Sutherland Shire were not mobile optimised properly, completely or at all.
That number shocked is shocking when considering the latest statistics on mobile internet access.
This is a major issue for these business that needs to be resolved immediately. According to Statista now, In 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones
When a user lands on a website that is not optimised for mobile and they have to pinch and zoom to read, they leave, its too hard.
You lose a prospect or annoy a customer. Bad move.
Furthermore, Google is now reviewing websites to determine if they are mobile optimised, and if not and other websites that are ( read competitors) then your chance of being found online are impacted poorly.
The solution is not quite as simple as the previous issue and designing or redesigning a website to be mobile first and look great on Desktop too will often require complete website redesign.
The question the accounting practices need to be asking is “Can we afford to ignore more than 50% of the market?”
When considering the size of the issue ( 50% of the market) assigning an appropriate budget to invest to solve the problem – fix your website so it is mobile optimised – needs to be realistic.
This website redesign could be anywhere from $795 to $3,500 based on the 50 websites we reviewed for this article.
Xero is mobile optimised. MYOB is mobile optimised. They’re optimised for a reason, clients are using the tools on their mobile devices.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #6: 404 Page Not Found errors
Content gets moved and updated, but often a 301 permanent redirect is not put in place to that new content.
404 or page not found errors are an annoyance to prospects and clients and an indicator to Google that your website is not maintained, relevant and needing to be offered as a relevant search result to users.
This means your chance of being found will be impacted poorly.
The solution here is a 2 step process:
- Identify your 404 pages
- Have them redirected to the correct page.
- Create a custom 404 landing page, for capturing future issues and present some useful information.
Yes there was a 3rd step thrown in.
This requires some time and a professional web developer to assist, and Shire Media Services provides a website security and maintenance review and update service here for as little as $495
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #7: Old and Out of Date content
A high percentage of the accounting websites we reviewed had blog posts and articles.
Not one of the sites, excluding the 2 mentioned previously, had any article from 2019.
In fact, many had articles and advice on tax matters that dated back to early 2000’s. This indicates to prospects and existing clients that the website is not up to date.
So, is the advice and information being provided professionally also up to date?
It’s a fair question.
This is an easy fix with a few variations on the fix.
- Remove the content and ensure a redirect is put in place to a working page instead.
- Update the article and append the articles publishing date
- Write new content
Information that is that old, or with a publishing date of over a decade ago is not an asset, irrespective of whether or not the information in the article is still accurate or not.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #8: No Goolge MyBusiness Page
Its not surprising that these practices did not have a Google MyBusiness page. Its has been our experience that many local small businesses are not up to speed with what Google has been doing in this Arena.
In short, if you don’t have a Google MyBusiness page in 2019 – which is free – you are not serious about your business online.
And when you consider how people now find products and services – that is, using search engines – then you are not really serious about growing your business. Period.
Fortunately this is super simple and free.
This is a great guide to starting your own Google MyBusiness page
You can get started right here for free:
Or you can engage Shire Media Services to setup your Google MyBusiness Page for you for as little as $495.
If you do nothing else, get your Google MyBusiness page sorted now.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #8: Flash Technology Use
Flash as a web technology is essentially dead. HTML5 and other ‘services’ have replaced it. This is another clear indicator that your website is not maintained or relevant.
Flash used to be very popular for websites design. Not any more.
In fact, chances are most of your prospects and customers can’t even see the flash content on your websites any more due to security reasons.
If users can’t see the content and it demonstrates that you website is not up to date, then its not only useless, it’s showing that your business is not digitally dialled in.
The fix is to have the code removed and update it with some high quality large images.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #9: Home Page Sliders
These homepage sliders used to be popular, and many website still use them.
In our experience, the only people who ever see and engage with any slider on your website, other than the 1st one shown on page load, is so infinitesimally small, that all this achieves is slowing down how fast your website loads.
BTW, a slow loading website this is bad.
No-one is looking at these sliders or clicking them. Remove them and redesign the pages to communicate that information, if it is still important, more effectively.
You will likely need a professional web developer to assist with this.
Website Marketing Mistakes Accountants Make #10: No Business Directory Listings
Other than the old obligatory Yellow pages or White pages listings which have transferred across from the paper versions, very few had an additional link building with Australian Business Directory listings.
Remember that NAP detail discussed earlier? Well this information also needs to be listed on these external business directories to increase the number of citations your business has and create a credibility matrix online ( like the IYP – Internet Yellow Pages) that signals to search engines and users that you are credible.
Most of the directories allow business owners to register a basic profile, including NAP, on these directory listing sites for free.
So yes, this is another free service, you can do yourself to impact your business’ website visibility.
And yes, again, Shire Media Services offer a $495 Top 20 Business Directory Listing Service to do this for you if time is of the essence for you practice.
Some Technical Stuff: #11 to #16
Image Alt Tags
Image ALT tags are essentially what the page loads for blind or disabled people to read and indicates what the image represents.
Its an accessibility tool. It’s also a significantly under-rated and underused marketing tool to improve the search rankings of your web pages.
Very few website developers spend any time in completing these and in the 50 websites we reviewed, this rule held true.
Even the 2 recommended sites above, on their home pages had 100% of the ALT tags NOT completed.
Google Maps Not Loading
Recently Google has decided to start charging users to serve their maps and have made some changes to their API requirements as a result.
In most cases for small local business, the free plan they provide will mean you will never have to pay t show maps on your site – once your fix the underlying code.
What happens on websites that have not been updated is that the maps to your business on your website do not appear properly.
This is both bad for your user’s experience but also communicates your level of care for them and your business.
A website developer can fix this so your customers can get directions straight to your door.
Site Structure and Topology
There is no exact science for ensuring your website has the best structure for users and search engines.
However having all webpages on a single hierarchy or flat layer, depending the industry, business and website, is less than ideal.
A quick topology check using tools like Screaming Frog can help to map your website’s topology and provide a roadmap for improvements.
No On Site SEO
On page and on site SEO seems to have completely evaded most accounting practices.
Basics of on page SEO like meaningful H1 and H2 tags, meta descriptions and keyword strategies at a page level are for the majority absent.
Naming your page ‘Our Services’ is useless. “Our Accounting Services” or ‘ SUtherland Shire Small Business Accounting Services’ – is a more effective approach depending on what your practice’s focus is.
Given that so few competitors have any kind of on page SEO strategy, it would be very, very simple to increase your rankings locally.
Shire Media services provides a Website SEO Audit for $495 that provides you clarity on what you have and recommendations on how to improve, quickly.
Internal Linking Strategies
Not surprisingly this is wholesale absent from the accounting websites we reviewed.
Internal linking and keyword strategies are yet another important block to stack to create a website that generates new business leads.
The fix here is complex but not complicated and can take some time depending on the number of webpages and blog posts.
At least 50% of the website reviewed had Google Analytics installed, meaning that 50% of the did not.
Those that did are expressing clearly that the presence of the website is ‘ticking-the-box’, “I guess we need to have one of them”, rather than actually utilising the website as an effective marketing tools to grow the business through lead generation and value adding to the client base.
Of the 50% that did Google Analytics installed we have no data on how or if it is being used to asses traffic, search terms, popular pages etc.
One of the simplest actions a website user can take is to have Google Analytics installed and review the search terms for how the website is being found.
Then, based on the most popular search terms, create content that is aligned with those search terms. Give the people what they want.
The Little Things #17 to #19
Non Clickable Phone numbers – With more than 50% of customers now using mobile devices to search, simply making your phone numbers clickable enables them to dial you immediately.
No barriers, no hurdles or forms to complete.
Do this now.
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to do this.
Favicon – The Favicon is the little icon you see in your web browser tab when you website loads. Its a little micro marketing opportunity and so simple to do.
You can use an online favicon creation service like Favicon & App Icon Generator to do create the favicon from your logo, and then upload it your website.
You may need some help from a website developer, but they should be able to do this for free it takes so little time but has a big branding effect.
Email address – If you have a website, you have a domain name, and therefore your email address can be email@example.com
STOP using gmail, hotmail, optusnet, bigpond, iinet etc. email addresses for business purposes.
If your web hosting company wants to charge you extra for an email address get a new webhost.
You should be able to get unlimited email addresses with most web hosts in Australia today for no extra charge.
There it is, 19 website marketing mistakes accountants make in 2019 and how to solve them.
If you need some help with your website design, website redesign or your digital social media marketing contact us to see how we can help.
I created Shire Media Services to help local Shire business owners take the worry out of the web. To make their website and eCommerce stores produce the outcomes they need cost-effectively. And to do this over time, not just one time.
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