Building a new website or revamping an existing website is exciting! It’s a presence – and definitely a process. Design, content, optimization, interactions, calls to action… there’s so much to consider. In the end, it’s really about reaching your audience and making sure they can find you.
Here’s some key steps to keep in mind before you launch a new website.
Build your website with content in mind
Content and design are the heart of your website. Content must be relevant to the audience and consistently updated to keep your visitors coming back. As well, content needs to be easy to read and navigate. State your purpose and your value proposition clearly. Most of us click through hundreds of websites and move past thousands of online ads. Ensure your site will draw interest and create engagement from visitors. Key words help put your site at the top of searches, connecting you with those who need your expertise.
Must-haves for all sites: an About page (who are you??), a blog, RSS Feed with opt-in capability, online videos, client testimonials. Know what sparks your client’s interest. In short: make it remarkable.
Another gotta-have: mobile optimization. Society is moving quickly beyond internet browsing on your home computer. In the battle of time vs attention, smart phones, tablets, and 4G allow for quick, instantaneous browsing in between meetings, at the bus stop, in the car ride home. Trends in website design suggest creating responsive, simple design that allows for quick uploading and one-click responses. Your mobile site can become your most valued tool – or your biggest curse. Plan for space (the thumbs!) and ease.
Plan your website launch
Now that your fabulous website is ready to role, your next big step is planning your lauch: dates, feature articles, calls to action, measurable results. How do you want to introduce yourself? Which audiences do you wish to reach? What solutions do you plan to integrate into someone’s day? What image do you want? How will people find you? Your launch requires a strategy to not only reach your members or customers but to also retain them.
Consider a launch page. It’s a discrete, yet in-your-face way to generate interest for the upcoming debut. This will also give you an idea of what traffic you could plan to see on opening day. It may even ward of potential mishaps. Case in point: Recensiekoning, a Dutch news company, used the launch page strategy to create buzz around their new site. The problem they didn’t consider was whether their servers would support their traffic. To combat the challenge, they created a video sharing the experience with their audience. A clever way to personalize their world with an online audience.
What data do you want to gather from your audience? Opt-in features should be easily found. RSS feeds and e-newsletters should correlate to bring relevant information and measurable results. Analytics should be incorporated to provide immediate results for your online traffic and engagement.
Promote your value
As mentioned, key words play a vital role to help your members or clients find you among the sea of internet sites. SEO optimization should start with submitting to search engines such as Google and Yahoo! Your content marketing team and Web developer are experts in these roles. Allow them to guide you through the process.
Social media sites are obvious choices to promote your website. Set up business profiles and pages on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+. Where you devote your most time will depend on your audience. Gen Xers may be easily reached through LinkedIn, Facebook and email marketing strategy. Gen Y may be all over Twitter. Know your audience and where they spend they converse online. Sign up for shared groups on LinkedIn. Common interests draw these groups together. Provide them information in a concise, immediate format.
Seek out online advocates, guest bloggers, professionals or experts both within and outside your industry. You will need an audience that will promote your site beyond your circle of influence and share it with their core followers. Guest bloggers appreciate sharing their passions and opinions in public forum. Experts emulate their knowledge through their words. You may be surprised at how eager others will be to join forces with you to promote your image while spotlighting their own personal brand. Last but not least, don’t forget freelance writers. They are skilled at researching topics and packing information in beautifully written word.
In turn, consider leveraging other people’s audiences. Guest blog on a complimentary websites. Interact within other blogs. Building your online relationships within social media worlds. Conduct guest interviews for online video – or be the guest in an interview. Either way, the support and engagement that can be generated for both parties is reward. Remember any contributions you make online include your bio. Pitch your website to others in your bio. Create recognition.
Update your website consistently
After a successful launch, the job’s not over. In fact, it has only just begun. Search out new topics, solutions, and ideas that will keep your site top of mind. Use analytics from social media and your website to learn about your audience. Listen. Engage in conversation, welcome clients into your world. Create a bond and loyalty that will linger for days, months, years to come. Online personalities emerge every day. Stay focused on your destination – your goal – and enjoy the journey.