You finally decided it was time for a new (or your first) website. So, you probably carefully chose a professional to handle the project, wrote up your content for the pages, gathered all of the perfect images, looked through design examples for reference, and successfully worked through revision rounds with your designer to get your new site just the way you pictured it. Congratulations!
Now, the final product is ready to go live on the web and get to work for you! Right? Well, you might not be quite done just yet.
Before your website is live for all to see, there are some crucial steps that you (or a professional) should take to ensure that your website is as discoverable as possible and is showing properly when it is found. After all, what’s the point of putting in all that work if people can’t find your new baby?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Take care of the points listed below and you’ll be on the right track.
1. Make Sure Google Knows Your Site is There
Obviously, Google is a major focus when it comes to generating website traffic. If your site isn’t being listed on Google, you’re missing out on a huge piece of the pie. You can’t rely on Google to automatically recognize your site on the net and start showing it in search results, you need to tell it that your site is there and where to find it by indexing the site with a Google Webmaster Tools account.
If you did forget to submit your site to Google, don’t feel too bad. A recent study showed that over 50% of local retailers haven’t even claimed their business listing on Google.
(P.S. Technically, this one you can’t do until the site is live, but we included it because of how important it is.)
2. Check Your Page Titles and Meta-descriptions
A meta description is the short page summary that shows in a Google search result under the title of a page. The page title is, well, the title that shows in that result. Again, you don’t want to rely on Google to decide what to display here. In order to utilize that ‘prime real estate’ of information to its full potential, you really should put together an optimized page title and meta-description that relays any important information, and aligns with best practice for Google’s search algorithms.
If each of your pages has their title and meta-description optimized, they will not only be more readable by Google but will also increase the readability to the user. The more effective your listing content on Google, the more likely people are going to understand what you are offering and click through to your site.
3. Check Your Shareability
Social media is just everywhere now. You can’t go anywhere without the majority of people’s faces being buried in their phones. A big part of the social media experience is sharing things with friends. If someone loves your product, article, knowledge, service, or whatever it is you have to offer, wouldn’t you love it if they shared it with their friends? Well, nowadays people do that on social media, so you need to make sure it’s easy for them to do so.
Make sure each page, product, blog post, or any other important elements are easily shareable from a users point of view. There are many stylish and creative ways to ensure your content is shareable, just be careful not to overly encourage people to share. You don’t want to come across too pushy and turn them away.
4. Test Your Forms and Payment Processing
If you have any contact forms or take payments on your site, it’s always a good idea to double and triple-check those processes to be sure they are functioning properly. Even after checking them at the final review before the site is launched, check them again after the site is live. Anything can happen when the site is migrated so play it safe. The last thing you want is to be twiddling your thumbs for two weeks wondering where all of your leads or sales are just to find out they haven’t been going through. It’s also a good idea to have these processes checked on a monthly basis.
5. Set Up a Regular Backup Method
You put a lot of time, and probably money into your website. Doesn’t it make sense to have insurance on something so important? Much like a home, car, etc., unexpected things can happen to your site. Really bad things. While there isn’t actually insurance offered for websites, there is a service that does the same thing.
Having regular backups made of your website files will ensure that if something does happen to your site, you don’t have to sweat it. Just have the last unaffected copy of your site files uploaded to your server and voila, business as usual. Our website management service provides regular backups to be sure we always have a fresh copy of your site ready to roll should anything happen.
6. Make Sure Your Site is Secure
In 2018, online security is more important than ever. When people visit your site, they want to be confident that their information is safe. Even if you don’t accept payments on your website it’s expected that it be secure. Everyone wants to see that little lock icon in the address bar. This has become so important that Google is now labeling sites as ‘unsecured’ when people visiting. Would you proceed forward into a new website after Google just showed you a big red X and warned you your information might not be safe? Probably not. Get your site secured.
If you aren’t quite sure exactly what this means, you can read more about HTTPS and Site Security here.
7. Recruit Your Social Army
Chances are, you have at least one social media profile. Probably Facebook, if not a few others. You may even have a hearty email contact list you’ve gathered over the years. Most of these people are friends, family, or colleagues. Assuming you aren’t the kind of person who is bugging everyone about your new multi-level marketing business every 6 months, it’s totally acceptable to reach out to these contacts and ask them to help you spread the word about your new site. Ask them to share a few words about what it is you offer, or better yet, write a little blurb for them that they can use if they choose. The easier you make it for people to share, the more likely they will.
Fun fact, people are 4 times more likely to buy something if they are referred by someone they know.
There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? While these steps aren’t going to necessarily generate web traffic by themselves, they are foundationally pivotal to the success of nearly all other digital marketing efforts. These steps will only improve your other digital efforts and will help to ensure whoever comes to your site is going to have the best experience possible. Now, you are either feeling confident that your site is ready to go, or you found out that you have a little more work to do.