Why a blog is critical to your firm’s web site

While numerous books, courses, and seminars exist that cover the wonderful world of Search Engine Optimization, there are really only a few things you need to know in order to get free visitors to your site via the search engines.

Keep in mind that search engines go about their business by reading through a web site and taking notes about what’s there. In particular, search engines love web sites that have a LOT of content, particularly content that is updated frequently. The more frequently you update the content on your web site, the more frequently the search engines will come visit you again to see what new stuff is there, and the higher you will ultimately rank in search results.

By far the easiest way, in my opinion, to have a lively, dynamic web site is to simply have a blog. Personally, every web site that I operate (including this one) is built entirely on the WordPress blogging platform. In other words, the blog itself is actually the entire web site.

By having a blog, either attached to your web site or as your entire web site, you are taking advantage of a technology that Google, Bing, and other search engines love to see. The caveat to this, of course, is that you then have to actually USE that blog, and post to it regularly.

How often should you write on your blog? Ideally, I would suggest every day. Since very few people are actually going to do that, it’s helpful to know that case studies from numerous industries show that a weekly blogging frequency is adequate to achieve most of the results that you will gain from blogging at all.

With a blog attached to your web site, and with frequently written articles appearing on that blog, you are giving the search engines stuff to chew on — which is good. But on top of that, you are also creating material that other people can link to from their web sites. This linking is a very important part of the formula for how most search engines, and Google in particular, determine your web site rank. The more articles you write and post, the more linking opportunities you create for yourself.

Next time, we’ll take a look at one of the other key components of making your web site rank well: Keywords.… Continue reading

Getting actual leads from your web site

Last Friday, you received a look at the biggest mistake made by most web sites.

Once you have changed the tone of your web site from “I” to “you”, the next thing is to actually make sure that web site can generate leads.

Let’s go back to the Portland CPA firm web site example from Friday. The next thing that is horribly wrong with this web site is that there is no OFFER. There is a tremendous amount of valuable screen real estate taken up by family photos which should be utilized to present an OFFER to visitors of the web site. In order to find an offer of any sort, I had to dig down three pages into their web site, and then it was just an offer for a free consultation (which is better than nothing, but I’m the “anti free consultation guy”).

The typical visitor to a web page is looking for a specific solution to a problem — some sort of offer relating to that problem should be visible from the very first page. This may sound like a ridiculous proposition for a general CPA firm web page, but it’s not. At a very minimum, a full service CPA firm that offers a variety of services should offer a special report on their home page that tells the story of a particular client, and how their accounting services helped that client in multiple ways.

For example, a white paper detailing how XYZ Inc. saved tens of thousands by controlling escalating costs, saved on taxes, and started making better, financially-directed management decisions based on accounting work provided by your firm. This can be offered in exchange for nothing more than somebody’s email address. Then, not only do you have a way to follow up with a visitor to your web site, but they also now have a powerful marketing piece in their hands from you.

Changing the tone of your web site from “us” to “you”, and offering a marketing widget of some sort in order to encourage response, will change your web site from just a boring brochure that gets thrown in the round file to a lead-generating component of your marketing strategy. If you do nothing else with your web site, make these two changes — it can be done in an afternoon.

Next time, we’ll delve into making your web site dynamic, which is the key to getting free … Continue reading

Fixing the biggest mistakes on most tax firm web sites

If you look at the typical web site for a tax or CPA firm, you’re going to notice that they all look the same, and say the same things. In fact, they usually say the WRONG things.

I just did a Google search for CPA firms in the city in which I’m currently visiting, Portland, Oregon. The very first result was actually a Google Adwords ad for a local firm, and even their ad was bad, so I’m going to pick on them. The headline of the ad was simply the name of the firm and the words “Family Owned CPA Firm Since 1972”.

It was bad enough to make me gad at first, but was precisely the kind of ad for me to click on for demonstration purposes in this article.

Sadly, their web site goes on to say the same sort of things. “40 year family owned”. “We are located in…” Massive picture on the front page of them. Photo changes to various family photos.

What’s wrong with all that, you’re asking? Does your web site sound and look the same?

Here’s the problem with it: The web site, so far, is all about THEM. It’s the single biggest mistake on web sites, yellow pages ads, newspaper display ads, and elsewhere: Making the advertising about YOU.

If you’re a long time reader of these articles, you’ve already seen my rants on this topic: Your prospective clients really don’t care about YOU, they care about THEMSELVES.

Next to “free”, the word “you” is one of the most powerful words in marketing. The words “I”, “we”, and “us” are the enemy. If your web copy or ad copy talks about “I”, “we”, and “us” — you’re doing it wrong (see the Effective Copywriting For Accounting Professionals e-book for a comprehensive discussion on this topic).

Changing the tone of your web site from “I” to “you” will go a long ways toward making your web site more effective in actually making sales. On Monday, I’ll share the next big mistake web site owners make, and how to fix it.… Continue reading