Websites for CPAs: Grow Your Practice and Profits
by RJ Thompson Publishing; 2006; ISBN: 0-9779907-5-3; 177 pages
by Susan B. Anders
- The purpose of this book is to help CPAs understand the Internet
and the lead-generating benefits of creating a website and explain
how CPAs can develop websites that properly represent their firms.
The book is written for CPAs by a CPA, at a quick pace, and at
a level that will be useful to readers of varying backgrounds.
The author assumes (and recommends) that CPAs will work with website
designers, and she provides information for the manager perspective,
rather than how-to instructions.
firms already have websites can benefit from the author’s
perspective. Similarly, CPAs who are already well acquainted with
the Internet will find plenty of new information. In addition
to commonsense advice on many issues, the author’s own website
(www.klswebsolutions.com/worksheets) offers extra worksheets for
exercises that appear throughout the book.
explains the “Internet Effect.” CPAs are missing a
major opportunity to reach potential clients if they don’t
have professional websites. The same people who use the Internet
to find telephone numbers, book airline reservations, and shop
for consumer goods also use the Internet to find professional
service providers such as CPAs. The
Internet provides a 24-hour “cocktail party” opportunity,
where clients can double-check professional advice and learn about
the latest, greatest tax deduction. Effective use of a website
can increase communication with existing clients to maintain their
loyalty, and reduce the time and effort required to generate new
begins the way any good business plan should: by identifying the
goals that a CPA firm has for its website. The chapter explains
ways to make full use of the Internet, including search engine
positioning and keyword targeting, techniques which CPAs have
been slow to use. Electronic magazines (e-zines) are another valuable
tool for attracting clients that CPAs often overlook. Chapter
3 addresses the importance of search engines and optimizing website
design to be search engine–friendly.
4 through 6 take a step back from technology and focus on identifying
a firm’s ideal clients, designing a website to attract those
individuals and companies, and the importance of planning. The
author makes an excellent point that the website should be designed
to meet the client’s preferences, not the CPA’s. The
type of information that a website should provide includes pages
for existing clients, contact information, and services offered.
Because two of the four potential client behavioral styles described
in the book require interpersonal relationships, the book errs
in not suggesting that firm personnel’s professional resumes
be provided on a website. When viewing the website from the client’s
perspective, CPAs should remember that many potential clients
want to hire people, not a firm.
on firm personnel also ties into the book’s discussion of
how to establish trust with prospective clients. An interesting
exercise involves looking at several websites and determining
how they give the user a sense of credibility and trust. Additionally,
by identifying a firm’s ideal clients before creating a
website, the website can be designed to include information of
particular interest to those clients. Other topics addressed include
working backward from the desired result; determining who is in
charge of the website and who will maintain it; and creating a
budget for the website.
covers positive and negative elements of website design. It recommends
hiring a professional designer, creating an environment that fully
reflects the firm, presenting a unified appearance on home and
interior pages, and repeating navigation bars and page links.
On the other hand, the book discourages the use of premade website
templates because they are not search engine–friendly or
customizable. “Flash” intros discourage repeat visitors
and are also not search engine–friendly.
discusses two important aspects of website “copy”
copy should be about the clients, not about the firm; explain
how the firm can solve clients’ problems; and be written
in a format that respects how people actually read website text.
Additionally, website copy should be “search engine optimized,”
using appropriate key phrases while still flowing naturally.
a website is covered by chapters 9 through 11. The book explains
organic search engines, spiders, and linking, as well as design
aspects that reduce a website’s chances of being searched.
“Pay-per-click” advertising is one option to ensure
that a website is found by search engines. Other alternatives
include local listings, directory listings, and specialty directories.
provides more information on e-zines, introduced in chapter 2,
including how to write them, create distribution lists, and track
who is reading them. Chapter 13 addresses making the website a
part of the firm’s overall marketing strategy, rather than
treating it as a special project. The book explains specific aspects
of website maintenance and a variety of web statistics that measure
how well a website is performing.
book uses a substantial amount of “plain English”
explanation of terms and concepts, the author emphasizes the CPA’s
role in planning and overseeing a firm’s website. Many useful
worksheets are provided to assist in this process. From the beginning
of the book, however, the author has assumed and encouraged hiring
website designers to carry out the work, something which is specifically
addressed in the final chapter.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is a professor of accounting at St.
Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, N.Y. A member of The CPA
Journal Editorial Board, she has been contributing the “Website
of the Month” column since January 2002.