Have you ever visited a website when all of sudden pop up ads take over, the page you want won't load, or you can’t find the information you are looking for? This could be happening when potential clients visit your firm’s website--which is the kiss of death when it comes to attracting new niche clients.

Of course, Google already knows this and that’s one of the reasons that it released a major update to its search algorithm this month. Called the Google Core update by web gurus, this update is a major revision that will impact the search ranking of many websites, including yourcompany's!

If you have invested in building a website that effectively brings niche client leads to your firm, then the last thing you want is to erode your search engine optimization gains or to have your hard work developing a solid online niche strategy undone by the changes Google is making. This is why it’s important to understand the potential impact Google’s Core Update may have on your firm’s website.

Consider these key facts about the changes then take action to minimize any negative impact on your niche marketing SEO or overall online firm marketing strategy:

1. Having a mobile-ready website is more important than ever to rank higher in Google search. The number of website visitors accessing your firm’s site through their phone or mobile device has likely grown exponentially over the last several years. Has your website kept pace with this trend? If not, you may be sacrificing your SEO.

This is because smaller screens such as those for a phone or tablet must adjust the format of your website, through a proper mobile version of the site. Otherwise, your firm’s website can become scrambled, hard to read and difficult to navigate. That’s why Google’s search algorithm strongly favors mobile-friendly sites.

2. Visual stability is also key. Hand-in-hand with the updated mobile version of your website is the need to eliminate dynamic images and other graphic elements as much as possible. When crawling a website, if the the text or images move, Google may penalize the site because it sees these elements as impairing its usability. This is because it can lead to visitors clicking on things not wanted such as links or even the buy button--a frustrating and very negative experience!

3. Intrusive elements like pop-up ads. Another annoying UX (user experience) factor that can come into play when visiting a website is experiencing pop up ads. Google considers elements like these disruptive to the user’s ability to get the information they need, so these will also play a factor in your website’s overall ranking.

4. Page loading speed is another critical issue. Do you know how long it takes for the pages to load on your existing website? As you might guess, Google prefers a speedy page loading timeframe (Who doesn’t?). It’s important to recognize, too, that there are actually two categories of webpage speed: 1) Contentful Paint (FCP) and 2) DOMContent Loaded (DCL).

FCP is the speed at which the first wave of information loads on your site and DCL is how quickly the rest of the page(s) load (in very basic terms). A good FCP score is less than one second, a good DCL score is two seconds or less. Google itself aims for 0.5 seconds per page overall. There are many factors which affect this ranking element such as image size, the platform your website is built on, etc. Unless you have the time and technical desire to research this area, it is usually better to outsource the tasks of optimizing your site load speed to a web developer or website management company for expertise in improving your site’s page speed.

5. First Input Delay (FID). Another improvement from a UX perspective that is included in the Google Core update is a measurement of First Input Delay (FID). According to Google, FID “measures the time from when a user first interacts with your site (i.e. when they click a link, tap on a button, or complete a form) to the time when the browser is actually able to respond to that interaction.” With this new update sites with a FID of mere milliseconds will be ranked higher.

6. Safe browsing is a priority for Google. Another important factor in the search ranking of your site is Google’s assessment of its safety for visitors. With this update Google will be searching websites for malware, phishing and social engineering. Google will also be looking for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which is “Protocol for web browsers and servers that allows for the authentication, encryption and decryption of data sent over the Internet,” as defined by digicert.com.

Having SSL or HTTPS encryption makes your site more secure and will boost your Google ranking. It is key to check this out! If your site gets flagged when you search for it as insecure, or when you land on the page there is a warning or your url does not have https:// at the beginning you have work to do! Make this a priority because if the site is labeled as not being secure, you will be penalized for it by Google’s Core update.

Despite any negative impact Google's new update may have on your firm’s online niche strategy, there’s no denying the fact that it will benefit users exploring the web (including yourself!). Take this opportunity to give your firm’s site a makeover, keeping the objectives of a safer, more organized and faster search experience in mind.

If you need help optimizing your firm’s website to minimize the negative impact of the Google Core update, consider scheduling a complimentary website review session with The Bona Fide Business Suite team. We’ll help you evaluate and update your website, SEO, and content strategy to leverage the Google Core update to your firm’s niche marketing advantage.

 

Long days. Long nights. And long weekends. These are all sure signs that tax season is here. While this is one of the busiest times of the year for many firms, it also represents one of the best times to identify new areas of profitability, right within your existing client base. This is because there are few opportunities during other times of the year to take the kind of close look at a broad range of your clients like the one that presents itself during tax season (unless you make a concerted effort to do so). It’s important to leverage the insights you gain as you and your team are preparing returns to inform future marketing efforts—particularly when it comes to identifying the potential for profitable new services or market niches.

Just as you review your clients from a tax and compliance perspective, consider looking at them from a market segmentation perspective, too. Three key ways you can start segmenting your client base is by individual or corporate tax clients, from there you can use the following segmentation strategies to identify new opportunities for your firm.

Market segmentation strategies for individual clients include using demographic information such as:

Age – Consider grouping clients by age to offer services that fit different stages of the lifecycle through tax planning and retirement planning.

Gender and education – With more women having financial independence and responsibility for household finances, your firm may wish to target this group with services that appeal to single and/or professional women. Younger college graduates may also be a group to target as they begin their professional careers or launch new businesses.

Income – High net worth clients can be another area of opportunity beyond tax season, especially if these individuals also have businesses attached to their profiles.

Location – If you find the majority of your clients are local to your firm, this may represent an opportunity to ask for referrals to their friends and family. It may also signal that your firm could have the potential to tap into markets outside of your immediate geographic area.

Ethnicity – If your firm has in-house expertise and fluency in different languages or a specialty in international taxation that fit with the ethnic profile of your client base, this may be an area that you can leverage for new service opportunities and referrals as well.

Market segmentation strategies for corporate clients include looking at factors such as:

Company size – If you tend to serve a lot of sole proprietorships or companies with 50 or fewer employees, this type of information is a natural segmentation point. However, if you take this data and combine it with one or more of the following segmentation criteria, this strategy will allow you to develop a more effective approach to target marketing.

Revenue – During tax season, you’ll have the ability to get the most current data from your client base about their income. Use it to develop a profile of your typical business client  along with the other segmentation criteria here.

Industry vertical – This information is of course, the foundation for a powerful niche marketing strategy. Grouping your clients by the industries they operate in allows you to see if you have a critical mass in a particular vertical that warrants a targeted and dedicated strategy.

Job function – Along with business owners, you may serve a significant number of clients with the same job function or have the opportunity to do so such as firms with chief operating officers, financial managers or legal professionals who need your advanced accounting and advisory expertise.

Psychographic segmentation is a third way to uncover new areas of opportunity for your firm in both your individual and business client bases.  Using this approach might require you to do some additional research once tax season is over, but it can be extremely valuable when you are trying to segment your clients based on their motivations for purchasing your services and the pain points that are most salient to them.

Examples of personality and behavioral characteristics to consider include overall values, risk profiles, interests as they relate to financial goals, motivations for considering services and priorities for their business or personal life such as saving time or increasing efficiency.

When it comes to behavioral segmentation you could apply this strategy to individual clients by using their interactions with your firm in terms of reading specific email messages or visiting your website. Business clients can be segmented based on their interaction with lead generation activities such as attending a webinar or even an association or chamber of commerce meeting.

Use tax season to take the next step in your market segmentation strategy. This tax season, keep the opportunity to segment your existing client base top of mind. This strategy can help your firm identify new market niches and client service opportunities that you can leverage after tax season. By using this proactive approach, you’ll be ready to maximize additional marketing efforts throughout the year to increase your firm’s client base, profit potential and revenue streams.

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