Eleven Website Updates to Make Before Tax Season Starts

To say that things have changed in the last year in the web space is an understatement. If you’re one of those who hasn’t updated their site in a while, it’s the perfect time of year to catch up. Here are my suggestions and tips for a high-performing accounting firm website.

  1. SSL, now a must

Although SSL stands for Sandi Smith Leyva, that’s not what I mean here.  SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the technology behind securing your website. It’s what allows your site to go from http:// to https://.

Most browsers have changed their URL bar displays to display a lock or the word “Secure” when a secure certificate has been installed. When the site is not secure, an “I” with a circle appears and when you click on it, a message appears stating the site is not secure.

Since we deal with trust and privacy and security, it’s essential that you secure your site. We do this for our web clients with a combination of secure certificates on our servers and a WordPress secure plugin that updates the software. To get started, check with your current web hosting provider.

  1. Bio, photo, and credentials

Re-read the contents of your “About” or “Company” page, which is the second most important page on your website, and update your bio for any new credentials earned or changes in 2017. Is your current staff properly reflected and represented? Do all team members have a current photo posted?

If your “About” page hasn’t changed for a long time, it might be time for a complete uplift. It should reflect the culture and personality of your firm. Some firms make this fun by posting lifestyle photos, habits, hobbies, or fun facts about employees, an event photo such as a picnic or volunteer day, or even cartoon photos in lieu of boring business headshots.

If your About page is all text, jazz it up with credential logos, membership logos, action photos, and/or a famous quote you’re known for saying.

  1. Customer service center

If you don’t have a Support section on your website, it’s a good idea to add one. How many hours do your employees (or you) waste showing clients how to log into their portal? Cut a quick video or write up an instructions document and post it to your site so clients can help themselves without feeling dumb for asking.

Your website should also include a Client Login button for their tax, accounting, payroll, and portal systems. If you’ve automated your calendar, we also recommend you include a “Schedule an Appointment” button with a link to your calendar app to let clients self-serve their appointment times.

  1. Blog 

Take a look at your blog page. What is the date of the last blog entry? If it’s over two months, hide your blog or update it. If your blog is out of date, visitors might think you’re out of business.

I write three blogs and I write two of them in batch. I write the Accelerator Websites blog a year in advance and schedule the posts to drop every three weeks. I write our client newsletter product one quarter at a time, six to seven articles at one sitting, and those are delivered quarterly to our subscribing clients. So now is the time to write and schedule your blog posts for busy season.

  1. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Installing AMP code on your site allows your blog pages to load faster on a mobile phone. It is believed that Google search favors sites that have AMP installed. Ask your webmaster to do this for your site.

  1. Industry expertise

If your firm specializes in a specific industry, write a page on that. Many clients look for industry expertise when choosing their accountants, so be sure your website displays your expertise.

  1. Referrals, online style

Referrals are the backbone of any accounting firm. The online version of referrals is a page of testimonials on your website. Keep them fresh by periodically requesting them from current clients and then posting them to your site. If you get reviews via Google, LinkedIn, Yelp, your QuickBooks ProAdvisor profile page, or other directories, link to them so clients can easily see what you’ve done and how you are to work with.

  1. Markup  

Structured or schema markup is a way to label data on your web site so that search engines can return richer results. Markup does not affect the way a site displays; it’s in the code, instead. Google search favors sites using schema markup. Ask your webmaster if markup has been included on your site.

  1. Press

If you’ve written an article, made a speech, or been mentioned in the news, post these items on a webpage labeled “Press” or “In The News.” This will build your credibility, and it’s fairly easy to keep a list of these items throughout the year.

  1. Push Notifications

Fairly new and cutting edge for accountants, push notifications are those messages that appear at the bottom right area of your computer screen. You might have gotten one from Facebook, Skype, your anti-virus software, or your hardware vendor. This technology is free and available for any website. Have your webmaster install it and you can remind past web visitors of important deadlines, blog updates, business announcements, and anything else important.

  1. SEO Keywords

Last but not least, make sure your site’s title tags are updated so that you’ll rank for the right terms during tax season. The content of your title tags displays when you mouse over the tab of your website page on your browser software. If your title tags contain “Home,” your business name, or nothing, then you’re missing out on one of the most important parts of your site. Worse, no one will find your site until you correct them.

When you hired your webmaster, you may not have had search engine optimization included in what you paid for. So checking with your webmaster may not solve this for you, but it’s a good starting point.