You’ve sat through the planning meetings, gone through the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and all the reviews with a fine-toothed comb, and your website is finally ready for take-off. Now you can sit back, relax and watch the web traffic pour in and sales skyrocket. Not so fast. Launching a new website is a huge step in building your online presence and , but it’s not the end of the journey — it’s actually the beginning of your digital marketing effort.
The minute you launch your new site, there are critical steps you should take to ensure your hard work doesn’t make a crash landing.
- Crack a bottle of champagne! Seeing a new site through from concept to reality is no small feat and should be celebrated. Do your happy dance, give a “woot woot” or feel free to brag to your coworkers about how good-looking and intelligent you— uuhhm, your new website is. Kidding aside, you need to be your site’s biggest cheerleader. It’s important to show your enthusiasm to spark interest across your company and gain internal buy-in from salespeople especially. Getting them onboard and using the site as a go-to part of selling is important to maximize leads and your site’s impact.
- Make sure www and non-www resolve and redirect one to the other. For example, example.com and www.example.com should lead to the same website (was that a good example?). Many people know duplicate content is a big SEO no-no. But not everyone realizes that if you do not redirect non-www to www or vice-versa, search engines will index both versions of your domain. They will compete against each other in search results and effectively pit your site against itself.BONUS TIP: SSL Certificates. Most SSL certificates cannot be installed until after the domain name is pointing to the new website server, so it is crucial to get one set up as soon as the new website starts to propagate. Once installed, your website will need to have proper redirects so that visitors who type in example.com get redirected to https://example.com. This goes hand-in-hand with www vs. non-www redirects so people and search engines always go to the same version of the page.
- Summon your inner SEO expert. Your SEO efforts can make a huge difference in searchability, visitor traffic and overall utility. Your pages, headlines and meta descriptions should be optimized for search, and now you can check that the proof is in the pudding. Perform Google searches to see how pages are being displayed in search results. You don’t need to be a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert like Ridge Marketing’s Eric Murtha, to test things out. Just start searching as if you were a prospect, and see where your company comes up.
- Test your forms... again. Submission forms are routinely tested before launch. Everyone wants to make sure they receive those hot leads. But it’s just as important to test after launch to make sure that the forms on your website submit properly, your email notifications are hitting the correct inboxes, and any external emails are current and correct. This is especially critical for B2B marketing where longer sales cycles, higher value leads and often lower volume differ from B2C. Also, if you have any integrations with a CRM like Salesforce.com or marketing platform like Pardot or Marketo, check that entries are properly populating.
- Continue to check for quality. It’s important to verify that any link redirects are working and that all public pages are being indexed by search engines. If search engines are not indexing pages they should be, not only can they not see them, but more than likely neither will users. One way to help combat this is to submit an XML site map of the new site to major search engines. And to catch smaller things like dreaded spelling errors, ask someone who is not tied to the project or your company to review with fresh eyes. Their perspective can not only help QA, but clue you in to user experience.
- Make your site your best salesperson. Hopefully, your web design agency built a site that offers unique functionality that your target audience can benefit from. Use a compelling call-to action that leverages these site features and encourage people to visit, visit now and visit often. Start a Google Ads campaign, consider remarketing, post updates on social media, etc. There are many ways you can cast your line and reel visitors in to your site where you can convert them to customers. Tweak your approach and fine-tune your digital marketing strategy based on what works best.
- Update your Google local listing. Google My Business is a service we’ve all used that connects brands with potential customers using Google search or maps, but only if you’re on it. And if you’re thinking, I claimed my business ages ago—think again. Make sure your business information is current, and that all content and visuals match what’s on your new website. Consistency is key here, so the more places that reference your current content, the more they help validate your business online.
- Keep your website up to date. Nothing’s worse than letting your shiny new website go stale. An effective site launch makes a promise that the caliber of content visitors get will be regularly updated and is a big reason for them to return. Don’t disappoint. Make a content calendar that sets an appropriate cadence for your customers. Keep a steady stream of blog articles, news posts and thought leadership pieces coming and ensure that products and services reflect your latest offerings. And, be honest about your content marketing capability. If what you have in-house needs a boost, consider ordering out for creative.
- Get the intel. Check Google Analytics to regularly to see how the new website is affecting traffic and rankings. Start by comparing the new website to the previous site, but don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly. Be sure to use benchmark data to help spot trends and evaluate the performance of your new site. Adjust content as needed and continue to check KPIs on a monthly basis. In marketing, much like anything else, you’re only as good as your last campaign, so let the numbers guide you.
- The evolution continues. So, your new site is done. Now you have the platform to truly showcase your offerings, but how? What can we do to enhance the user experience and better engage site visitors? Just about everybody agrees that adding video is the next step. A well-put-together explainer animation, product demo or testimonial video can tell your brand story like nothing else. There’s a reason virtually every platform has added video functionality and the fastest growing sites are riding this trend all the way to the bank.
Enjoy what’s ahead
Remember, all roads lead back to your website. Today more than ever, a site is not just the foundation of your digital marketing, but the hub of your marketing strategy overall. Think of your customers as the pilot, and position your company and by extension your website as a guide that gets them to the destination. That means it’s your job to keep the ship moving in the right direction.
If you need help getting your site off the ground and into orbit, contact the experts at Ridge Marketing.