How to launch and start promoting a new website (checklist)

We have already covered the subject of checking and accepting a website developed by an interactive agency. This time we will focus on the elements that are worth keeping in mind when launching the finished website and how to start promoting it.

Website’s launch

First of all, it is good to think about the date of launching the website in terms of favourable and unfavourable circumstances when it comes to our goals. Such situations can include, for example, holidays as well as events that can potentially distract or grab the attention of the desired user group. Therefore, sometimes it’s worth accelerating or delaying the launch to achieve a better promotional effect.

Launching a new website should be preceded by tests and carefully checking all elements of the website. Errors and omissions may entail unpleasant consequences. Often shortcomings that seem insignificant at first glance have huge consequences.

Content

Before the launch of the website you need to carefully check its content (texts, images, downloadable files). In this case, a good practice is two have two different people check it at least twice. Preferably one of these people should have nothing to do with the website’s development.

Checking the texts should be directed not only towards finding possible typos but also “dummy” text like “Lorem ipsum dolor”, empty pages or pages where a comment was left out, e.g.: “here we’ll put a text about…”.

It is also appropriate to check whether there aren’t any stock photos with watermarks or “dummies” in the form of inadequate images among the graphics.

A website containing such shortcomings isn’t a good showcase for its owner.

Contact details – including the e-mail addresses – are essential content of the website. To avoid being flooded with spam, you should never place the e-mail address as plain text. Spambots will jump at any chance of scanning an e-mail address published this way.

The European Union requires websites to display information regarding the use of cookies. To avoid legal problems you need to make sure that such a message appears on the website – and that it doesn’t reappear after being closed. Industry insiders say that the EU will soon abolish this requirement but since it hasn’t happened yet, it’s good to make sure that the appropriate information is being displayed on the website.

Functionalities

Besides content, a well-working website must have all of its functionalities working properly. To ensure that it does, you need to carefully test all contact forms, newsletter sign-ups, logging in, etc. because any problems with them may prevent the website from being used, or at least they may discourage your users. This, in turn, can impact the results expected by the website owner. The proper functioning of the website should be tested on a regular basis and you can read more about it further on in the part of this entry that speaks about monitoring.

Analytics

Data regarding traffic on the website is very important from the business and technical point of view. Knowledge of the structure of traffic – who visits the website, which subpages, how much time does a person spend on them, etc. – is important for marketing reasons. The same applies to the scale of traffic and, e.g. the amount of data being downloaded by users. This issue may also have technical importance because it indicates the need to increase hosting resources or introduce other measures to improve the functioning of the website.

The basis of analytics is the proper implementation of the tracking code for the selected traffic monitoring suite – e.g. Google Analytics – so that it is placed on all subpages of the website.

Moreover, you should remember to configure goals in the service’s administration panel. This will allow you to keep track of not only users’ visits, but also monitor the website’s effectiveness – when an action we desire (e.g. filling in a form, downloading a file) is performed by a visitor.

We should also add a filter that will exclude traffic generated by us. This is done by entering the IP address (or addresses) of our office or other sources of traffic irrelevant from the point of view of the analysis of traffic on the website.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization increases the chances of the website being found by people who use search engines (mainly Google). Properly implemented SEO allows your website to appear at a higher position among the organic results.

Websites’ content is created for people. However, we have to accept the fact that this content must suit search engine bots that operate in accordance with algorithms that are constantly being changed and developed, and which are supposed to reflect the needs of Internet users. Some basic actions have to be taken to make sure that everything is fine in the context of SEO, which is the primary tool of Internet marketing.

A key element is, of course, the content of the website. Besides checking for the presence of key words and phrases, using solutions “popular” with the search engines such as subheadings in the texts, their proper length, etc., make sure that all pages have unique titles (up to 60 characters) and descriptions (introductions up to 150 characters). This are some of the elements that determine how search engines “perceive” your website.

Before launching the website you need to make sure that it is visible to search engine robots, especially Google. The draft version of your website usually blocks search engines because no one wants an address like tmp.mywebsite.com to get indexed. Unfortunately, sometimes someone may forget to remove the block before the launch and Google won’t index the new site. Moreover, in case of replacing an older version of the website with a new one, the whole indexed structure can be removed from the index. And this means a reduction of the volume of organic traffic from Google down to zero.
You need to go through the file www.mywebsite.com/robots.txt and check if it contains a Disallow: / command. Also be sure to check the code of the website for the presence of the following line: <meta name="robots" content="noindex" />.

It is also important to check whether all alternative addresses of the website redirect to one main address (e.g. www.mycompany.net -> www.mycompany.com). The website cannot be displayed under several different URLs because Google will consider it Duplicate Content for which it can punish your website with a strong decrease in ranking. Note that redirects should work for both addresses with “www.” at the beginning and those without it.

To increase the likelihood of Google indexing all subpages of your website, you must add the XML sitemap generated by your website to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Security

Instances of hackers attacking websites are becoming more and more common. The truth is that if someone really wants to mess with your website disregarding the cost, they will. However for most sites, the likelihood that someone will want to attack them using the services of top specialists is small. It is worth using security measures adequate to the danger.

It is important to make sure that the CMS passwords are set to something that’s hard to guess (during testing it is a common practice to use the word “admin” as the login and password).

Additionally, you need to check whether a regular backup of the website, provided by the hosting service or an external company, has been set up. This is important in view of the risk that the effects of both a hack and technical problems may bring.

The launch of a completely new website

When launching a website that didn’t exist before, it is good to make sure that it has its own profile in Google My Business. This will allow for a kind of business card to appear in Google on the right side of the screen when the name of an organization, company or institution is entered into the search box. Such a profile can contain, among others, name, images, contact information, website address, opening hours and you can also allow Internet users to write comments. A valuable option is to use the ability to show your location on Google’s map along with the information about the distance from the location of the user.

The launch of a new version of the website

A new website replacing the old one usually has a different structure. In order not to lose the “value” of pages indexed by Google, all the URLs that do not exist on the new website should redirect to existing ones.
For example, if the contact information was previously found at http://www.mywebsite.com/about-us/contact and is now available at http://www.mywebsite.com/contact, you redirect from the first address to the second . This can be done using a .htaccess file. You can read on how to do this here.

Promoting the website

There are several ways to quickly and at virtually no cost attract some traffic to the website using the fact that a new website or its new version is being launched. The simplest solution is to post the appropriate information in the social media. To do this, the company must at least have a profile on Facebook and LinkedIn. To increase the “impact”, you can ask your employees or business partners to share the post with the information about the new site or its next incarnation.

In the past it was also common to prepare and send out a press release but nowadays it only makes sense in exceptional circumstances reserved for websites owned by very well-known and influential brands or people.

After the launch of the website you should also start link building, i.e. acquire as many external links pointing to your website as possible. You can begin with your partners and suppliers, and by adding the address of your website to the industry directories. You can also put a link to a new website in the footer of an email containing a phrase like, e.g. “Check out our new website” or containing appropriate images prepared for the occasion.

If you need to instantly attract traffic to your website, the easiest way will be to launch a PPC (pay per click) campaign, .e.g Google AdWords.

A solution that is strategic in nature (and long term) is to create valuable and compelling content – e.g. in the form of a blog (sometimes also guest entries on the blogs of other companies or people) and in social media. Such actions have to be well planned and pursued consistently. Their effect won’t be immediate but in the end they will attract more and more Internet users actually interested in the subject matter of your website. The better the content, the more website visitors will share them, thus increasing the range of our activities.

Monitoring

Along with the new website you should launch value-added services, providing monitoring of key features of the website:

  • Monitoring availability and proper functioning of the website (e.g. Super Monitoring), which will provide alerts in the event of failures and errors, as well as website availability reports,
  • Monitoring of the position in Google (e.g. Positionly), which will allow you to observe SEO results and react in case of sudden drops in the search results,
  • Monitoring of the brand and mentions (e.g. Brand24), which gives you the ability to track who, where and when uses, e.g. the name of the product or the company on Internet. It also allows you to track other keywords that may be relevant from the marketing point of view.

Using monitoring services primarily allows you to quickly react in technical and promotional matters and serves as a tool to control service providers (e.g. hosting providers and even PR agencies).

Addressing the issues mentioned above will significantly reduce the likelihood of a problem after the launch of the website. This doesn’t mean that problems which weren’t foreseen at the time of testing won’t occur. A good idea is to entrust the development of the website to a specialized and experienced agency that has repeatedly participated in the creation and implementation of a number of similar projects.

Checklist

We have prepared a checklist that will help you with activities related to launching and promoting your new website. Simply share this post in social media to be able to download it for free.

 
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