You’ve launched a brand-new website, congratulations! But creating a website is only the first step in getting found online. Now you need to follow the crucial website marketing action items to drive traffic and customers.
If you’ve ever watched Field of Dreams, you will have heard the saying “If you build it, they will come!” That the was the theme of a fantasy film about famous baseball players coming back from the dead to play a game in a makeshift baseball field.
But that’s not how things work in the digital world.
To take that analogy a step further, imagine – if you will – that there are several hundred (or several thousand) Kevin Costners out there, and they are all building baseball diamonds in their back yard. How do you convince those famous players to suit up and play in yours?
That’s where some basic website marketing techniques come into play. Once your website is live, there are some critical next steps to help you get that site in front of your potential customers.
Here are eight website marketing to-do items you should complete in order to promote your new website. Ideally, you should start these immediately after the website has launched. But if you haven’t, as that other famous saying goes, better late than never.
What are the first 8 website marketing action items after launching a new website?
Step 1 – Do a thorough website QA review
Grab yourself a cup of coffee (or two) and go through your new website the way that your customers might. Browse, explore, click on links, fill out contact forms, and complete the checkout for one of your products.
As thorough as in house web design teams or external agencies can be, there are often a few key things that are missed when launching a new website.
I can’t tell you how many times I have audited a new website and noticed that the designers forgot to upload a favicon for the site.
What is a favicon?
A favicon (pronounced Fave Icon) is a small, square graphic that is used to represent your company. You can see favicons in the website tabs when you are browsing the Often, it is a version of your logo that will display nicely in a small size.
If you don’t upload your own, a default is used. This can range from a black and white image of the globe to the favicon for the platform you are hosting your website on. For example, these three sites are all hosted on SquareSpace, but the site owners have not uploaded their own Favicons.
A favicon should always be square. I usually recommend 51 x 51 pixels, although they often display at only 16 x 16 pixels. It should be in either a Jpeg or PNG format.
What are the other common errors with new websites?
A favicon is just one of a bunch of issues that should be checked as soon as your website is launched. Here are a few others:
- Review your URL structure to make sure that the page URL is relevant to the content. If you find URLs that were put in place because your web designer didn’t know what to use (e.g. “product-category-2) or URLs that show design versions (e.g. about-us-new-version), now is the time to fix them before they get indexed.
- Look for broken links. Browse through every single page of your website and click on all of the links to make sure they open the intended page. Broken or incorrect links can be a frustrating experience for your customers. If your site is very large, with lots of pages, you can use tools such as SEMrush to check the pages for you.
- Check for placeholder text or images. Sometimes, when a designer is waiting for a particular image or a block of copy, they will put a placeholder in so that the design is complete. Far too often, the website is launched with that placeholder copy or that temporary image still in place. You want to find those and update them as quickly as possible.
- Review your website on mobile devices. Development teams are getting better and better at designing responsive experiences that work well on desktops and mobile devices. And most e-commerce platforms now offer responsive themes. But it’s always a good idea – especially given that over half of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices – to take a look at your own site to make sure it translated well to the mobile world.
- Watch for 404 errors. This is especially important if you are launching a new website to replace an old one. To avoid 404 errors in the first place, you should make sure that the new website uses the same URL structure as the old one OR implement 301 redirects from the old URL to the new page on your new website. But, just in case you missed something, check your analytics for 404 pages. 404 pages mean that the user tried to access content on your site, but the content wasn’t there, and that is not a good user experience.
Step 2 – Complete an SEO audit
While you are reviewing the user experience of your website, it is also a crucial time to make sure that the SEO elements were completed properly. Common SEO mistakes can significantly reduce your website’s ability to rank for important keywords. Basic Search Engine Optimization elements include:
Here are the top 5 most common mistakes that can be found on new websites:
- Bad meta data. This includes the page title and description that is used by search engines to understand your page’s content and display to potential visitors. Meta data that is too short, too long, poorly written, or irrelevant to the page will not help you generate visitors who can turn into customers.
- Irrelevant image file names. Google can not “see” your images, so it relies on certain clues – including image file names – to figure out what an image is about and how relevant it is to your content. If your page about barbeques uses image file names such as “image-1” or “product-image”, those image names are irrelevant.
- Missing image title and alt tags. Another clue that Google uses to determine the relevance of your images are the image title and alt tags. Alt text (or alternative text) is also used to describe what the image is representing in case the image cannot be displayed or for those who are visually impaired.
- Your content is too thin. Sometimes, in a hurry to get a website live, we quickly write up a few words to fill the space on a page. However, if that thin content stays there for too long, it can hurt your website’s organic ranking. Although there really is no such thing as a “minimum word count” when it comes to SEO, you should aim for around 450 – 600 words on each page, and about double that for information pages such as case studies and blog posts.
- Content is duplicated in many places. Similar to the thin content issue, this is often a time saver to fill up the “look” of a page by simply copying and pasting content that was used elsewhere on the page. The absolute most common place I see this happening is inside the meta description (see bad meta data above). Developers are all too happy to copy and paste the same meta description on every single page of your website. That’s not a good thing. The second most common duplicates are between the “About Us” sections and “Our Products / Our Services” sections, as they are both used to describe who you are and what you do.
- Simple yet deadly technical errors. Some small – but very important – things can all-too-easily be overlooked during the launch of a website. You don’t want to know how often my website audits have caught he most basic technical errors – such as forgetting to update the robots.txt file – which dramatically impacted a website’s ability to rank.
Step 3 – Set up Google Analytics and Search Console
If this was not done as part of your website design and development project, now is the time to add these key Google connections. Google Analytics will give you heaps of data about the traffic being generated on your site, including where they came from, what they did while on your site, and how effective your website marketing plan has been so far.
You can use this information to fine-tune your website. If, for example, you see that you have a lot of people visiting a particular page, but the bounce rate (meaning they hit the page and the left your site) is higher than 70%, you might need to revise that page to make it more engaging.
Step 4 – Add the website to all of your marketing and promotion
Once your new website is live, you will want to add it to EVERYTHING about your company. This includes business cards, social profiles such as Google My Business, email signatures, postcards and other direct mail pieces, etc.
You should be proud of your new website, so here is the opportunity to show it off.
It may not be practical to throw out everything you already have printed, but make sure you – at least – update the design files so that the next time you print off a bunch of brochures, they will have your new website address listed.
Step 5 – Create a content marketing plan
Google LOVES fresh content. Really. A lot. If you launch a website but never change it or add to it, the Google algorithm will think – as much as algorithms can think – that you don’t really care that much about your website. And it will decide – as much as algorithms can decide – that if you don’t care about it, it probably shouldn’t either.
A content marketing strategy should be at the core of your website marketing strategy as it lets you add new and fresh information to your site on a regular basis. Ideally, this should be at LEAST once per week, but you should aim for 2 – 3 times per week if that is possible.
One of the easiest ways to add fresh content is by creating and updating a blog. But it is not the only way. Fresh content can include new products. Fresh content can include updating existing pages with new information. Fresh content can include seasonal promotions. There are plenty of ways that you can execute a content marketing strategy that fits with your brand.
Step 6 – Socialize your website
Ideally, you should pick at least two social media platforms that are right for your company. You want to make sure you pick the right ones for your company and your target audience, but you don’t need to go overboard and cover every single social media platform that is available.
What are the most important social media platforms as part of your website marketing strategy?
But be careful about getting caught in the “we must be EVERYWHERE!!!” trap. If you try to create a presence on every single social media channel, you will likely end up with a sub-standard presence on all of them. Instead, by focusing on your top two (or three) you can create a really powerful presence that is right for your brand and for your customers.
Remember that social media is also about being social. Posting and forgetting will not help you build an engaged audience. You need to make sure you are checking for comments, questions, or customer service issues and responding as quickly as possible.
And also keep in mind that building a social following takes time. It could take you 6 months, or more, to see significant results from an organic social media marketing program if you are starting from scratch.
For example, with Art & Home, it took over a year to build a substantial following on Pinterest. But now it generates over 3 million monthly viewers and is the #1 traffic driver for the website.
Step 7 – Gather inbound links
Inbound links are an important signal in the Google search algorithm. These links, from other sites to yours, help signify that your website’s content is information, relevant, and valuable to readers.
Creating linkable content, such as reference guides or infographics, is a great way to generate inbound links over the long haul.
For quicker hits, look for local opportunities – such as your city’s Chamber of Commerce – to see if they offer a business directory that would include a link to your site.
But, whatever you do, do NOT purchase links in bulk. They may sound tempting (5,000 inbound links for $100), but those links will end up doing more harm than good.
Inbound links should be natural, relevant, and real.
Step 8 – Launch a Google Ads campaign
You don’t have to invest a lot to get started with Google ads, but you should get started. It is fairly easy to setup a Google ads campaign, and it is a great way to test keywords, messaging, and other important website marketing elements.
In most cases, I highly recommend starting out small. Set a budget that is small enough that it won’t break the bank, but large enough to get an early sense on how a campaign will perform. How big that budget needs to be will depend on your business, how competitive the market it, and your demographic profile.
If possible, start local. Targeting a smaller subset of your bigger audience is a good way to sample the response on a smaller budget.
You should aim to create at least 2 campaigns.
- Branded Keywords – Those are, as the name implies, all around your company name and ONLY your company name. However, it can include variations, misspellings, and other ways that people might look for your company. This is particularly handy until your website begins to rank organically for those branded terms. If customers are looking for you, do NOT let them find your competition instead!
- Non-Branded Keywords – These are, as the name implies, the keywords that focus on what you have to offer and not who you are. They can include your core products and services, or they can include the competitors in your space.
By creating a Google campaign, you can quickly figure out what keywords work and don’t work for driving business. These insights will also help you figure out your next steps on your content marketing and SEO optimization to do lists.
Your Website Marketing Post Launch To-Do List
And there you have it, the eight most important things to do right after you launch your new website.
But website marketing is something you will want to add to your ongoing to-do list so that you can continue to grow your business online.
Keep building relevant content. Keep optimizing pages for an improved customer experience. Keep testing new ways to drive customers to your website.
You don’t have to get it right the first time, as long as you’re willing to pay attention, learn, and revise your website marketing strategy.
Need help with a post-launch website review? Contact us to see how we can help!