New businesses are created every day or companies expand by creating new brands and products so there is always a need for web expertise, whether this is for a completely new website or refresh / redevelopment of an existing website.
From my perspective there are some essentials which should be adhered to when launching a new website and some added tactics which are often forgotten.
Brand New / Or Redesign?
If your building a brand new website with no history then you don’t need to worry about any history or existing power, however if you have an existing website which you are changing you should take into account:
- Where your traffic comes from
- What are the key pages for traffic and rankings
- Which pages have external links pointing to them.
Migrating a website is a big task so you need to spend some time planning the redirects and where your content will be moved to, remember that many website design companies do not think about your historical strength, the results of this can be seen in the traffic graph below.
The website above went from 10,000 unique visitors per month to 300! – This is something which should be high on your priority list.
The five P’s
You should be familiar with this phrase “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance“ so before launching into a new site you should really thinks about:
- How people do/will search for your products and services – This should help you to understand what pages you need on your website (This is a lot easier to do before its built.)
- Where are you going to get traffic from? – Organic, Search, PPC, Email, Social – You can them make decisions
- Look at who does it well? – Look at what pages they have been created, the structure, their conversion tactics.
Never Redesign your site because you think it needs an update!
I need to stress the fact that there should always be a solid reason why you change your website, “needs improving” is a statement flung around, when actually there should be some form of data or strategy for why this is done i.e. Increase Traffic, gain better engagement with articles, convert better.
I’m a big advocate of tracking, when putting up a new site I’m still amazed by how many websites don’t contain any tracking! – Google Analytics if Free, I’d personally recommend using Google Tag Manager to implement it as once a web developer has finished you can have full control of adding additional Google tags as required such as Re marketing and AdWords Conversion code with no need for coding knowledge or developers time.
Set Up Goals
Again just putting Analytics onto a website is one part but making sure you have goals set up to track, leads and sales is essential, this is how you will work out your conversion rate which is fundamental if you wish to improve this at a later point
Structure and URLs
I talked about Proper Planning because many new site have news sections, they then pay content writers to produce weekly or even daily news articles, however they miss a key point of submitting their site to Google News. There is certain criteria that your site (news section) should adhere to such as:
- Only submit “news” – if you publish company news, offer and products from the same URL, you should think about how you categorize your content (So have a specific news category)
- URLs – Need a Unique identifier for your site (Article URLs. To make sure that we only crawl new articles, please make sure your URLs are unique with at least 3 digits, and are permanent.)
If your using WordPress you can add the following permalink structure to achieve this:
Embrace Social or Remove it!
Everyone seems to launch a new site with link to their social profiles, however the two biggest mistakes are:
- They don’t have social profiles – so the links do not go anywhere
- They haven’t linked the icons to their social profiles so they are partially useless and make the site look ‘spammy’.
Capture Your Audience:
All though brief the above outlines some aspects of what you should look at when creating or changing your website. There are a few other things you can add, which may not help initially but in the long term you will not have not missed out on the data.
You should really think about adding an Email Subscription to your website. Ned Poulter wrote a great article about it. Simply adding this functionality to your site will allow you to grow an email database which you can the use to:
- Promote your content
- Use to promote deals, new products.
- Engage with your audience.
If you add it early, then in a years time you may have a few thousand subscribers which wouldn’t be there if you never added it (or thought too.)
Samantha Noble wrote an excellent post on how to set up Re-Marketing in 2012 which is still relevant. The key here is that you may not have planned to use Adwords in your marketing strategy, that’s fine, however people will be visiting your website every day and your missing out capturing this audience!
You can set up an Adwords account for FREE, you don’t even have to serve any ads, but you can take the re-marketing code and add it to your website, this means every time someone comes to your site you capture their cookie profile, this will build up over time until you have thousands of people who have visited your site. (Note this can be done using Google Analytics, you just need to make sure the right code is used.)
- Its a good idea to segment your list so you know who bought / generated a lead – In one list
- Even segment specific products or services in another list.
Tip: Set a list up with the Membership duration to 540 days (Depending on your sector) – this will allow you to capture the next years and half’s worth of visitors.
That’s it! Some fairly simple things to carry out on your site before, whilst and after its being developed. I’d love to hear any other things that people do as per standard when creating a new site so please drop a comment.