Questioning SEO, and other tech stories you may have missed

(This article originally appeared in Accounting Today)

Google suggests that small organizations don’t need to focus as much on search engine optimization, a major ransomware strain is setting its sights more on businesses, AP platform Tipaliti raises $270 million, and seven other technology developments you may have missed in the past month, and how they’ll impact your clients and firm.

1. You don’t need to be an authority to rank on Google

According to information recently released by Google, not every website is required to be considered an authority in order to have a positive rank in searches. Google’s search advocate, John Mueller, detailed that a single-page website can still be effective, that most websites do not need to worry about positioning themselves as an authority, and that it’s still possible to create material that will be ranked. (Source: Search Engine Journal)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: I feel that small businesses spend too much time on search engine optimization. Yes, we all need to make sure our websites meet the basic requirements that Google lays out, like loading fast, using keywords and linking to others. But once you’ve got that done, just focus on making sure your website is truly serving your customers and community with great content and information. If you’re doing that, then your SEO will take care of itself.

2. Automated AP platform Tipalti raised $270M

Tipalti announced that it has raised $270 million. The automated accounts payable platform provides tools that help companies such as Twitch, GoDaddy and Twitter automate the majority of their AP tasks, such as managing invoices and suppliers, matching purchase orders, reconciling payments, helping comply with taxes, and detecting fraud, among other things. With the market for AP software coming in at a staggering $8.77 billion in 2020, Tipalti is seeking to play a dominating role. (Source: Venture Beat)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Platforms like Tipalti are generally for enterprise and mid-market companies, but AP automation is a fast-growing market for small businesses too, with players like Bill.com, Dext and AvidXchange battling it out for market share. If your clients take the time to implement these services, they’ll automate their back office and reduce headcount.

3. Major ransomware strain targeting more businesses

According to information released by cyber security company NCC Group, Pysa ransomware dominated in November with its file-encrypting attacks seeing a 400% rise on organizations within the government, and it is beginning to focus more on businesses. Pysa’s main targets are finance, health care, and government organizations. Attacks went up by 50% last month, leaking information from more than 50 organizations that were compromised previously. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Make sure your people are getting trained on how to spot suspicious messages. Make sure your operating systems are completely upgraded all the time. Revisit passwords and multifactor authentication. Get antivirus and backup software installed everywhere. There will always be new strains of ransomware. It’s up to you as a business owner to ensure that you have the right controls in place to limit your exposure to data loss.

4. Visa launches a crypto consulting service

Visa announced last month that it is going to launch new services focusing on advising and consulting to help clients better understand and navigate crypto. The new service will provide advice to retailers, financial firms, and other institutions regarding non-fungible tokens and other cryptocurrency features. The announcement comes as the company’s latest effort to dive further into cryptocurrency. (Source: CNBC).

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: Crypto and digital currencies are quickly becoming mainstream. Yes, they come with many risks and significant volatility, but a growing number of bigger brands are opening up to this form of payment and (more importantly) the fintech industry is embracing these forms of payment. For Visa to offer this kind of service it’s clear that this is serious. I’d take Visa up on their offer and consider getting more knowledge about how this type of payment can help increase your and your clients’ revenues.

5. ‘Buy now, pay later’ soars on PayPal

According to PayPal’s CEO, the company’s “buy now, pay later” feature saw a surge during Black Friday this year, with the volume increasing by nearly 400% year over year). Approximately 750,000 transactions were done on Black Friday with just PayPal. The surge on Black Friday continued what PayPal saw happening all throughout November, where the company hit over $1 billion in transactions with its BNPL option in just that month. (Source: CNBC)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: BNPL has had a significant impact on retail and e-commerce sales this holiday season. There are many great services in addition to PayPal that offer these programs, and your small merchant clients should provide this option to their customers. It doesn’t cost much different than a typical credit card transaction and it provides alternatives that customers may be seeking to finalize that purchase.

6. Microsoft makes it easier to repair Surfaces

Microsoft recently announced that it has formed a partnership with iFixit in order to sell items that are made to simplify the process of fixing Surface hardware. With Surface hardware having a reputation for being hard to fix, the new partnership will let Microsoft Commercial customers, Microsoft Experience Centers, Microsoft Authorized Service Providers, and iFixit Pro independent repair professionals buy the tools from iFixit.com needed to fix the devices. (Source: The Next Web)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: As I reported here, Apple did the same recently, and thank goodness. Finally, the big manufacturers of devices are letting users make repairs to their devices and avoid the disruption (and cost) of sending them away. This is a good trend for small-business owners.

7. TikTok overtakes Google

TikTok was recently announced as overtaking Google for the most visited website this past year — as shared by Cloudflare, a cloud services company. In 2020 TikTok took the seventh place spot, behind power houses like Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google. It is believed that the rapid surge to the top spot could be thanks to the popularity the site has gained due to COVID. (Souce: QZ)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: You can’t ignore the power of TikTok, particularly if you’re looking to find customers (or employees) in the Gen Z or Millennial generations. If your products, services or company culture matches this demographic, then TikTok should be part of your marketing and recruitment plans for 2022.

8. TSA checkpoints to support Apple Wallet ID

According to information released last month, the Transportation Security Administration will begin supporting Apple Wallet IDs in two different airports beginning in February 2022. If the integration is seen as a success, airports in two additional states will allow the same in March. Up until now, the TSA has not accepted any digital IDs, making Apple Wallet the first of its kind. It is anticipated that TSA will include more platforms moving forward. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: This is a big move for business travelers as going forward new technologies will allow us to increase our reliance on our devices to show our drivers licenses, passports and maybe even vaccination information, instead of carrying around paper.

9. Law firm claims to be the first to set up in the Metaverse

Grungo Colarulo — a law firm based in New Jersey — recently claimed that it is the first law firm of its kind to have its office set up in the metaverse. The law firm shared that it created a spot in Decentraland,a virtual reality platform. According to the announcement, the virtual office will serve as a place for individuals in the metaverse who are seeking out information regarding their claims as well as give possible clients a chance to hire the firm in person. (Source: Law Sites Blog) (Not long after, Top 100 Firm Prager Metis announced that it has set up in the Metaverse.)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: It’s a good PR move, but not necessarily one that’s going to pay any dividends for Grungo Colarulo anytime soon. Yes, the metaverse is coming and it’s going to have an enormous impact on your business. But that’s still a few years away. For now, I’d advise sticking to your business.

10. Zoom will let you know when people miss a meeting

Zoom recently announced some new features, one of which includes letting people know when somebody misses a meeting. (Source: Tech.Co)

Why this is important for your firm and your clients: According to the company’s announcement, the feature will make it easier for those organizing meetings to see who is in attendance. Using Outlook and Google calendar integrations, meeting hosts will have the chance to see who has declined or accepted a meeting and whether or not they are in attendance.

Note: Some of these stories also appeared on Forbes.com.

Originally published at https://www.accountingtoday.com on January 19, 2022.

Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA

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Gene Marks

Gene Marks

Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA

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