Unless you’ve done it yourself, it’s hard to picture the amount of work that goes into launching a new website behind the scenes. It can take weeks or months of development and communication to get everything just right, often before the first file is ever uploaded. To many business owners, the feeling of the site finally going live is one of relief and relaxation. The hard part is over. Or is it?
As it turns out, launching a site is only the beginning. You are now a website owner, and there’s a lot of work still to be done.
Your website needs content, and that means a blog. Part of running a successful blog is having a consistent update schedule. This comes down to a content calendar. This can be as simple or as detailed as you like. You could simply say “I want to publish a post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” You could determine that you want three posts each week about your primary industry, two posts each week about tertiary industries, and two more posts each week about more “fun” subjects. If you’re curating content, you can add roundup posts to your rotation.
Once you have a calendar, you need to make the content. It’s a good idea to dive in headfirst and write up a bunch of evergreen content. Once you have a couple dozen posts that don’t require time-sensitive information, schedule them to drop throughout the next several weeks or months. This frees you up to spend more time on the time sensitive content.
Make sure your content follows good SEO habits from the start. Some bloggers advocate ignoring SEO in the early days, while you focus on more important short-term means of growth. The thing is, it’s much easier to establish good SEO habits than it is to audit a year’s worth of content and fix it all later. It doesn’t require that much of an investment to pay attention as you write.
There are all manner of analytics suites available to use, but the best is typically going to be Google Analytics. You can register for free and get the code to install on your site easily enough. Once you have the users to support more detailed analytics, you can use other suites, like Crazy Egg for heatmapping and user experience optimization.
The goal for your basic Google Analytics install right now is to establish baselines. How many people are visiting your new site? What content brings in the most traffic? How is your growth curve looking? You’re establishing a precedent for what follows.
You might also consider Bing Webmaster Tools, to get a non-Google perspective on your site. The data will involve smaller numbers, particularly because Bing is a smaller search engine, but it can be interesting to see nonetheless.
Assuming you don’t already have a social presence, the key to starting out successfully is to start slow and steady. Too many people try to dive in and make six or seven different social networks their home, and spread themselves too thin. Instead, focus on the big few; Facebook, Twitter, maybe Google+ if you prefer. If your audience and your industry are such that you can gain a lot more benefit from, say, Pinterest and Instagram instead of Twitter and Google+, go ahead and use them instead.
The path to success is constant posting. You need to post value for your users on a consistent basis, even if it’s only once a day. You should avoid mindlessly posting your own content; instead, curate content and keep yours to a sidenote. This is because most social networks and their users tend to rebel against brainless self-promotion.
Whether you’re a blogger selling eBooks or a storefront opening a website for the first time, you can run a contest or a sale to attract new users. This is a great way to get a lot of people coming by quickly, many of whom can be enticed to stick around as regular readers or as customers.
When you’re running a contest, you need to keep a few guidelines in mind. For one thing, the effort required to enter should be commensurate with the prize. Don’t give away a $1,000 if all it takes to enter is clicking a button. Conversely, don’t require jumping through a dozen sign-up and opt-in hoops for a chance at a $10 discount.
Secondly, your prize needs to be something applicable to your website, specifically. If you’re a storefront, something you sell – or a gift card – can be an appropriate prize. On the other hand, if you’re a blogger, you don’t really want to get a nice camera to give away; you’ll attract plenty of people who want cameras, and not so many people who care about your blog.
Now that you’re up and running, you need to spread the word. You can do this in a number of ways.
You might also consider purchasing traffic for the first few months, as a quick injection to get your cash flow moving. Make sure you’re purchasing quality traffic, however, and not just bot refreshes. You can do this through third party services, or running your own PPC campaigns.
Once you have a site, you want people to find it, and people find new sites through Google. So how do you catch Google’s eye?
First, you can generate backlinks. Getting people who are already in Google’s index to link to you will get you crawled sooner or later. You also gain benefit from the links themselves, assuming they’re links related to your site.
Second, you can create an XML sitemap and upload it to Google directly. This gives Google a direct reference to see your site architecture, which makes crawling easier. It also serves as a file Google can check to see any changes that have been made since the last time it came by.
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