PracticeWEB Views: Trends in accountants’ websites over 12 months

In the last 12 months, I have begun to see some firms begin to get adventurous with their top level navigation and moving away from the standard and very safe options such as 'home / about us / services / sectors / etc'.

What are the benefits of this? It is proven that links in the top level navigation items are good for 3 things:

  1. SEO – Search engines put additional value on the words in the top level navigation and the pages they link to.
  2. Positioning – The navigation (assuming it is near the top of the page) is one of the first things visitors see when they visit a website, and digesting the items that are important enough to feature in this space, quickly and unconsciously state the firm’s positioning.
  3. Driving traffic to pages – It is a fact that links in the top level navigation get clicked and show up in the ‘most visited’ site statistics time and time again.

So instead of having:

Home / About us / Services / Sectors / Contact us

An example would be to bring the home button out of the main navigation into a separate utility navigation, or reduce it to a familiar and well-recognised "home" icon, and implement something like:

Accounts / Business Tax / Business Growth / Personal Wealth / Sectors / About us / Contact us

Buttons titles like "Business Tax", "Business Growth" or "Personal Wealth" quickly say much more about the firm and what it aims to deliver than 'Accountants services', and when combined they get 12 times the amount of searches per month within Google. So that's a potential of 12 times the amount of traffic visiting the site. Find out more about our search engine optimisation here.

Quick case study - After consulting with a firm in Leeds, it was identified that there was a business objective to target more medical clients. Simply bringing the medical page into the top level navigation, saw the number of unique visitors to the page increase by 150%.

Some considerations:

  1. Don't try and load all your services onto the top level navigation and have so many items up there that the user will not read them and that they will not fit within the design. We are always happy to help you with the information architecture of your site – get in touch
  2. Ensure the title of the navigation accurately represents the content of the page you are linking to - don't state 'Wealth management' and link to a page focussed around the term ‘Inheritance tax’. This won't help SEO and may confuse website users.
  3. Keep usability in mind and ensure visitors can easily find things they may be looking for.  A nonsensical navigation will confuse users. Don't be too safe, but don’t be too left-field.
  4. Ensure you keep standard links such as 'about us' and 'contact us' etc, don't remove these.
  5. Test your changes by monitoring their performance within your analytics, if something doesn't work out, make a few tweaks to see if you can get it to work, and if all else fails, roll-back and try something different.

If you would like some support on the above about how to maximise your return on investment, or would like to explore and develop some ideas, feel free to get in touch with me on the details below:

Chris Arnold

Telephone: 0117 915 8639
Email: chris.arnold@practiceweb.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/chrisarnoldcouk
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisarnoldpracticeweb