By Myk Baxter
In my last article, I talked about how to develop a website the right way, and what steps businesses owners can do to ensure that their investment in a website is cost-effective and brings the right results.
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Now your website is complete and ready to launch, I will guide you through the challenges and opportunities of bringing a new website to market – from bringing in new (and old) traffic and improving your search engine positioning to various marketing strategies that really get the ball rolling.
Before The Launch
Blasting off into the world wide web can be a daunting prospect for any business website, new or renewed. If your web development process was a success, you’re already halfway there in regards to positioning your site for immediate interaction. Your domain is set up, hosting is secured, and your website is fully functional.
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If your new website is a redesign of an old site, you’ll want to take time and prepare a methodology that can measure its performance after the swap, giving you a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not. Metrics such as domain authority indexed page count and crawl errors all help to set early benchmarks for your new site.
Again, if your new website is redirecting from an old website, one of the most important pre-launch preparations is redirects. When switching and launching a new site, you’ll need to have a map of old URLs that can be redirected to your new site, page-for-page. Once you go live, activate your redirects and test immediately – this prevents drops in Google search rankings and most importantly, stops your users getting frustrated.
When all things are in place, it’s time to decide a day to launch and a marketing strategy to go with it. This, in my experience, works best when you combine excellent marking with robust SEO. A website launch is something to be celebrated, and doing it silently is a missed opportunity and can affect your website’s effectiveness for months to come.
To do this, you need two things; 3rd party advertising and enough on-site content to make a lasting impression. After all, there’s nothing worse than an empty website. Reach out to publications, brand partners and advertisers – share PR through email blasts and get a name for yourself on social media. Get people talking with free offers on launch or launch-day discounts. Adding content like blogs with keyword-optimised content, meta descriptions and title tags can also boost SEO and give new visitors (and search engine crawlers) something to explore. Ensure new websites are built for mobile-first indexing – a necessary part of any website functionality. Simply put, if you’re not mobile-friendly, your SEO doesn’t stand a chance.
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Launch Day One
It’s D-Day, and your launch is a success. Remember that URL map I mentioned? Now is the time to use it. By implementing 301 redirects immediately, you can capture visitors that may be clicking an old link that leads to your old defunct website. Without redirects, visitors will hit an error page, and your SEO will tank.
Another trick I use is manually changing website addresses in Google Search Console and Google Analytics. By doing this on day one, you save yourself the hassle in the future and the loss of crucial information you can use in marketing. Also, by doing it manually, you ensure Google indexes your entire site in the way you want it to, so you don’t miss an ounce of traffic. Google Search Console also helps you identify any potential errors that you may have missed during pre-launch testing.
Another key feature of your site that can only be tested post-launch is the true speed. After launch, there are always a few things that need repairing or optimising – it’s just how it goes. Site speed is integral to keeping good SEO.
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Once D-Day is over, and your site is working well, it is time to think about long-term marketing strategies. A new website only holds up on Google if it’s well maintained. Like a prized convertible, keeping it shiny and fueled is a must.
As you collect email addresses and contacts, begin an email marketing campaign that keeps people engaged, while also not annoying them with too many emails or relevant content. Keep up the momentum on social media, and if you have the budget, run a Google Ads campaign to keep you at the top while your SEO works it’s magic (there’s always a dip to begin with).
Add more blogs, product pages and promotions that are correctly indexed and have the correct keywords and meta-descriptions. Just remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and hard work, but it pays off.
For those with a brick-and-mortar business, once the website is up and running, it is also time to claim your local listing. Not only does this help your local SEO ranking, but it makes it considerably easier for customers to find your physical location. I recommend registering on a range of platforms for the best coverage, including Google My Business and Yell.
At Myk Baxter Marketing, we manage pre- and post-launch website strategies for our clients every day, ensuring they’re making the most of their potential. In this series, I will continue to discuss the most significant strategies businesses can adopt to keep their website at the top of the page and in the front of the minds of their customers. Next instalment: online reputation management – it’s more important than you think.