How We Think
What to do After Launching Your Website
Creating a new website for your business is a big accomplishment. There are countless hours that go into designing, coding, reviewing, testing and publishing a website. You may think it’s the end of the work after months of effort, but the launch is when the work really begins. If you want your site to succeed and grow, then you’ll need to keep up the effort. Here are some things you shouldn’t forget to do once you have launched your website:
Let people know
Plan your external communication early and time it to go out after launching the new site. A quick email announcement after you’ve launched (or re-launched) is a good way to drive a little extra traffic to your website during a pivotal time. Prior to then, you should build an email list. This list can include current customers, potential customers, vendors, and partners. Keep it short, and talk about the new features – especially anything that makes it easier for current or potential customers to do business with you.
Ideally, you have also created some local buzz by informing your employees, friends, and family prior to launch, but if not, be sure to include them as well. Your employees are especially important; a team needs to coordinate their efforts to be most effective, and communication is a primary part of that.
It’s also not unheard of for small-to-medium businesses to issue an actual press release for a website launch. This often is included with other business announcements, like new services or special promotions.
Most users will find your site via Google, so ranking high in Google search results is a very common goal for every website. Studies have shown that the first four results in a search receive 70% or more of the clickthroughs.
As a site owner, it’s important to determine what words and phrases you should prioritize for better search results. If your content isn’t unique and optimized, it won’t rank highly, and if users don’t find your content useful and engaging, they won’t do anything with it. Too often, content is written to tell a reader what you do or how you do it, rather than convince a reader that they should choose you and what the next step is. Focus on the “why” with your content, not the “how.”
With the right tools, your visitors can help you determine what your search and content strategy should be. Setting up analytics will give you lots of useful data to look at, like where the traffic is coming from, how long visitors are staying, what pages people are leaving on and what phrases they are searching for. Once you have that information, you can better build your strategy.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a continuous, never-ending process. Not only are there many elements to optimize and re-optimize as your audience and business evolve, but Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms, which means SEO rules and goals can (and do) change regularly.
An essential part of SEO is local search. When a person is looking for a service or product, Google does its best to detect a user’s physical location and serve local, targeted results when possible. The rise of mobile searches in the past five years also means more searches are presumably in the moment, looking for actionable information like business hours, a phone number, or directions. If you are trying to promote your business or drive customers to your storefront, local search is crucial.
One important step in establishing yourself locally online is claiming your business listings. Google will look at these listings to help verify the legitimacy of your business. You want to get as many mentions of your business name, address, number and website on as many reputable listings as you can. These include Yelp, Facebook, YP.com (The Yellow Pages), Citysearch, and most importantly, Google’s own local business listings. Be sure to keep your information consistent throughout each source.
Once your listings are set up, getting reviews is the next step. Ask your best customers if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. They won’t be the main factor in rankings, but they will help immensely – especially positive Google reviews.
Going hand-in-hand with thinking locally, you will want to create and set up social media pages so that people can more easily find your business. If you don’t have social media accounts in place, your customers may look elsewhere for a business that is more engaged and accessible. Also, in some cases, networks like Facebook may create pages for you that you don’t control and may provide inaccurate information.
Be sure not to overwhelm yourself trying to establish a presence across all social networks. Choose one or two, at least to start, and focus on them. If you see your audience developing on another network, follow them there, but make sure you don’t abandon your already established pages.
Depending on your business’ industry, there may be social networks that you will want to focus on more than others. For example, a local restaurant will likely be best served by posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while a B2B website in a niche industry may see better results by staying most active on LinkedIn.
Security is an extensive topic with many different things that need to be considered. It’s best if you have an expert or team to help you with the technical side of things and keep you secure, but there are some basic steps that all business owners should take regardless.
- Be sure that all passwords are secure ones. That goes for your website logins, FTP accounts, social media accounts, email accounts, hosting accounts, and domain registrar accounts.
- If you have multiple people logging into the website or social media pages, keep their accounts separate, limit permissions if possible, and make sure you know the steps needed for password/account recovery.
- Consider using a service like LastPass to securely store and share your passwords.
- If you use a content management system like WordPress or Drupal, keep it updated to make sure known security holes are patched.
Keep at it
Once you’ve tackled these steps, there are even more things to consider, including accessibility, setting up webmaster tool accounts and creating a sitemap for search engines. For now, though, remember to be patient while you’re making your website work. You probably won’t find online success overnight, but if you stick with it, you should see results.
Written by Brian Pederson, Web Specialist