How to create a tax firm web site in 20 minutes or less

Nearly 80% of all independent tax practitioners do not have a web site. It’s 2012. Definitely time for a few folks to get with the program.

Why do so many licensed tax professionals not have a web presence? The vast majority believe that they don’t need one, since they are a solo practitioner and work solely in their local community.

The practical benefits of having a web site are manyfold. I often consider these benefits to be self-evident, as having at least a basic web presence is as fundamental to business today as a yellow pages ad was 30 years ago. Far more people will turn to Google today to find a local neighborhood business than they will their yellow pages directory, even in rural areas. This reason alone makes it worth having a basic web site.

If you have any interest at all in growing your tax practice, rather than just maintaining or reducing your client volume, then not having a web simply isn’t an option.

“Oh, I have a web page,” some people say, as they point to their listing on an association web site, or their 1040.com or Facebook page.

Wrong. You do not have a web site. Somebody else has a web site, and your name is listed on it. Huge difference.

Think of a web site as a piece of real estate. If you rent that real estate, it’s obviously not yours. You don’t really have control over making improvements, and any increase in value isn’t actually yours. It’s the same thing with a web site. By owning your own, you have complete control over any improvements that need to be made to it. You have complete control over it’s content. And the value of that site, as measured by search engine rankings, belongs entirely to you.

All those other things, like an association listing or Merchant Circle listing or Facebook page, really just serve to provide links back to your main site, which helps with search engine ranking and with delivering visitors to your site.

If you don’t have a web site of your own, I’d actually encourage you to drop whatever you’re doing today and create one. Since yesterday was the 1040 extended filing deadline, I’m going to take liberty and assume you have some extra time on your hands today.

Even if you do already have a web site, you might consider following these steps if you don’t have an easy way to frequently update content on your site, or if you want to create “feeder sites” that can help boost your search engine rankings.

Here is my recommended procedure for putting together a web site, for the lowest possible cost:

  1. Register your business name, personal name, or a relevant keyword phrase as a .com domain name. I use GoDaddy. Enter coupon code “cjc799fat” to get your .com domain for $7.99.
  2. Order a web hosting account. I use HostGator. I suggest their “Baby” plan, since you can host unlimited domain names on it (this comes in handy later). Use coupon code “taxmarketing” to get $9.94 off your order (this effectively gives you one month free).
  3. Once your account is activated, go back to GoDaddy and set your DNS Nameservers to the ones that HostGator gave you.
  4. Follow HostGator’s login instructions to login to CPanel. Scroll down to Fantastico, and install the WordPress blogging software (it’s free) into your root directory.
  5. Login to WordPress. Select Appearance, Themes, Install Themes, and search for one that you like.
  6. Start writing.

You now have a web site that you have complete and utter control over, and it cost you $8 to create. It’s not rented real estate — it’s yours to build on and add value to as you wish. You have also built that web site on the most customizable and easy to use administration platform on the planet, and WordPress is free, even for commercial use. Consider purchasing a better, paid business theme, but you don’t have to.

Be sure to put your contact information on this web site, and make at least one blog entry every couple weeks. It doesn’t need to be long, a brief tax tip that is relevant to your target market is perfectly fine. At the end of each blog post, be sure to make a call to action: Invite them to call for an appointment, email you tax questions, come to a free seminar, attend the fire station pancake breakfast…anything. Use the opportunity of them reading to obtain phone time and face time with them.

There are many other things you can do with this new web tool, and I’ve covered quite of bit of that in past Internet marketing articles.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a web site as a core part of your marketing communication toolset, especially if you are in “client growth” mode. It’s necessary for doing so many other things, such as SEO, social media, even direct mail. Get your web site going today, because you’re literally losing business without one.

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