Launching a website soon? As you probably already know at this stage in the process, there is a lot of ground to cover before you can press the button and launch your site. The preparation can take weeks, if not months, to get your site ready for visitors, so it’s best to have a checklist prepared so that you know you have focused on the right things before opening up your website to the world.
Here are the top seven things you should focus on before launching your new site!
Content Focus and Target Audience
The absolute first thing that you should concentrate on before even beginning the process of launching a website is figuring out who your audience is, and what types of content you’re going to create in order to attract that audience, and keep them coming back to your site. Without a clear focus on who your audience is, you won’t be able to determine the design of your site, what types of content you’re going to produce, a marketing plan, or anything else!
Once you’ve nailed down your target audience, then you can start focusing on what your content will be. You’ll want to determine what your audience wants to see – do they want to see blog posts? Do they want to see FAQs on anything? What will they want to read on your site? You’ll need to make sure you have nailed down what sections you’ll have on your site – what’s in your main navigation, your header, your footer, your sidebar navigations? All of this will need to be mapped out as one of your original first steps of creating your website.
If you have the bandwidth to do so, hosting a focus group of people made up of the demographics of your target audience to test out how they respond to your content is a great idea. This is a way to gauge their likes, dislikes, understanding of how your site will work, and interest in your content. This is a feasible option for a larger company or organization, but probably not for a small business. If you’re a small business, you may just consider scoping out similar websites to see what types of content they’re putting on their site, and checking their social media to see what kind of engagement they get. It might give you a good indicator of what your audience responds best to.
Check out these tips on choosing the right target audience for your website.
Picking a great domain name for your site
When choosing your domain name, there are several factors that you should take into consideration. How easy is your domain name to remember? Does it match what your site or company offers? Is it relevant to your company? Is it long? Is it complicated?
These questions may seem silly and self-explanatory, but many companies overlook the fact that consumers and visitors to the site need to be able to:
Remember your domain name off the top of their head
Understand the connection between the domain name and the company
Be able to quickly type it in
To give some perspective, imagine there’s a company that sells running shoes called Run America. Their domain name is shop4runningshoes.com.
Their domain name doesn’t automatically connect to the name of the company, includes numerals and letters, and is a fairly complicated one to type in. It’s catchy, but it might be best if the company was able to get the domain name www.runamerica.com.
It’s important to take these factors into consideration before launching your site. Just try to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes, and imagine how their experience might be, then let that drive your decision making.
Here’s a few more tips on choosing a good domain name for your website.
Choosing a reliable web hosting solution
This is another one of those focus points that you’ll need to determine far in advance of launching your site. Choosing a reliable web hosting solution is a choice that you’ll need to make based on a variety of factors, including how much traffic you’re expecting, how much of the backend work you or your team can do yourself, whether it has a content management system included with it, and one that offers site support throughout the length of your contract.
Don’t fool yourself on how much of the backend work you think you or your team could handle – if you don’t have the time, funding, or the bandwidth to perform IT work on the site to make sure the hosting solution works perfectly, then that’s something you’ll need to budget for when choosing your hosting solution.
A hosting solution with a content management system will make your life much easier when creating content for your new website – if you want to be able to customize your homepage, navigation pages, article pages, and sub-menus, then a web hosting solution that features all of that (and more!) is what you need to choose. That’s a lot easier than connecting the host site to a different content management system and then trying to sync the two up.
And, a solution that offers 24/7 support is probably necessary, especially if you have members of your team working around the clock or in different parts of the world. Having the ability to chat or call with someone on their technical support team makes it a lot easier to solve and troubleshoot issues, than it is to just submit a ticket and wait 48 hours before getting a response back. Choosing a web hosting solution with around the clock support hours is a lifesaver, especially when first implementing the site.
Check out these tips on choosing a web hosting provider.
How to create the best content for your site
Creating the content for your site is the fun part – but it’s also the part where you have to decide whether or not you have the bandwidth to create your own content internally, or if you will need to hire freelancers or professional writers to do the job for you.
Copywriting is no joke – even if you run a retail shop and think that there’s no need for bloggers or writers to do anything, think about the product descriptions, search results, FAQs, “About Us” section, etc that will appear on your site – all of it needs to be written by someone! And, all of that material needs to be written cohesively and eloquently in order to make sure your customers get what they’re looking for on the site, and have a good user experience. Users are less likely to trust a website that has spelling errors, poor grammar or just bad writing in general – it makes them feel like they’re visiting an untrustworthy source.
So, once you decide how you’re going to create the content for your site, whether you hire a writer or you have a team dedicated to writing it internally, then you need to circle back to what it is your audience wants and needs. Do they want to read a blog? Do they need an FAQ page? Do they get frustrated when the site is not always up to date and current? All of that needs to be determined ahead of time so that you can make sure you have a good team that’s able to provide all of that content for you.
This article dives into methods on developing engaging content for your website visitors.
Building a following and brand on social media
You’ll need to develop a social media marketing plan to scope out what platforms your audience is using, which of those platforms you’re going to use, what types of content you’re going to post, and what the goal is of using those platforms to develop your social media presence.
You shouldn’t just get an Instagram for your business, just because it’s Instagram. Consider – is your audience using Instagram? If not, why waste the time and money? Consider what type of content you’re going to post there – people like visuals, but if your business doesn’t present an opportunity to post visuals, you might be better off choosing a different platform that’s more text heavy.
Then, you’ll want to think about hiring someone to create, manage and maintain the social media platforms for you. Building a social media presence and maintaining followers is something that requires constant monitoring and efforts on your part, so it’s a worthy investment to make sure that you have a member of your team dedicated to identifying and attracting new followers, as well as posting quality content on a daily basis. And, you’ll want someone who’s experienced in generating reports so you can analyze your metrics and determine what’s working or not working.
Check out these reasons why social media marketing is hugely beneficial for your business.
Selecting the best form of site monetization
Although site monetization is something you’ll want to hold off on until after your site is launched and is starting to attract visitors, you’ll want to decide what your site monetization options are before you launch.
Pay-per-click ads are a common choice for many sites, and it’s a great choice to tap into the Google AdWords campaigns as a way to be sure you appear in potential customer’s relevant search results. With pay-per-click adds, it’s exactly like it sounds – you pay a small fee every time a customer clicks the add through to your website. Your ads will show up toward the top of search results on Google, and it could be the first thing a customer sees when searching relevant keywords. Learn more about Google Adwords.
You could also sell advertising space on your website. This is another option that, while you could determine if it’s something you’re interested in before you launch, it’s not something you’ll be able to figure out until after the website is live and published. You could also use a site like Google AdSense, which crawls your site and then places sponsored ads that are relevant to your site’s content. When a website visitor clicks on one of the ads on your site, you get paid a small amount – which gets bigger, the more reputable and popular your site becomes. It’s a good way to make use of ad space on your site, and in a really simple way – AdSense does all the hard work for you! Learn more about Google AdSense.
Site promotion and paid marketing
If you want to capture customers who may not know about your site or services, paid marketing is the way to do it. This decision connects with your first one – you need to choose your marketing based on who your audience is and what channels they respond best to.
Paying to be promoted on social media is worth the time and effort, and cost. It’s one of the most effective ways to reach potential customers, and as social media continues to grow, it’s one of the smartest decisions you could make. 57% of millennials reported that they thought the ads they’d seen on social media were relevant to them – so if you choose your audience carefully, you can reach exactly who you want with a simple promotion on social media.
It’s important to think about who you’re trying to reach and how – is your website or company only known and accessible to a select few people in one location? If so, is it worth it, then, to advertise on an international site? Perhaps not.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is also an excellent use of resources when choosing your site promotion or paid advertising options. It helps generate traffic to your site, and makes sure that your site is seen by the most relevant customers. Of course, it takes a little work on your end to make sure that your site is seen by search engines as a high-quality site for it to promote, but overall it’s a good investment of your time. Learn more about search engine optimization.