Competing for attention online — whether getting ranked on the first page of Google or generating leads from social media — takes more than just a pretty website. Now that your website is live, after the euphoria of a job well done settles down, you’re likely left with lots of questions.
- How do I get traffic to my website?
- What’s the best way to reach my customers?
- What are the next steps I need to take?
The 3 paths business owners typically take after they launch their websites:
#1: Set it and forget it:
Despite the best of intentions, these site owners soon forget all about their websites and go on about their busy lives.
They look at their website rarely (if at all), and have no idea whether they’re getting any business from it. Maybe one day one of their customers informs them that their website isn’t working (oops! They forgot to renew their domain name!)…but other than that, they don’t really know what’s going on.
Result: They’re likely to believe that websites are a waste of time and money. Some might think about redesigning — hoping they’ll have better luck next time. The process starts all over again.
#2: Stab-in-the-dark marketing
These site owners occasionally update or refresh their websites because from time to time, they have a new idea: “Let’s try moving this here and putting that there!”
They say things like, “I read a blog post that said I need to be on Twitter / use this widget / make an infographic so I can go viral….” and they come to me for help.
Most of the time they’re just guessing, but they’re willing to experiment because it’s better than doing nothing at all.
They may buy expensive courses, or hire specialists, but just about everything they do makes them feel discouraged and even more confused about what to do. And worst of all, they may eventually question their relevance: “Maybe people just don’t like what I have to offer.”
Result: Continual frustration, confusion, overwhelm.
#3: The empowered executive
These site owners pay attention to their website. They have a traffic and conversion strategy, constantly review their sites to see where they can make improvements, they know exactly where they rank in search, they’re aware of how many site visitors they’re getting (and where they come from, and what they’re doing on the site). They know which social media tactics are working and which things are not a good use of their resources — and they cull accordingly.
They’re not super human. They don’t have special powers you don’t possess. They don’t have more time in their day, and they’re probably not spending more money than you are.They just start with a plan, remain aware, and apply consistent effort over time — drip, drip, drip — rather than in bursts or a few years later when thing aren’t going well.
They take an iterative approach. Rather than throwing money at a redesign every few years, they’re constantly using their website and invest in improving it. When they do make the decision to redesign years later, they’re armed with the insight to make really smart decisions — it’s an investment in taking their business to a new level, not just trying something that looks different hoping it’ll work differently.
Result: It’ll come as no surprise it’s the empowered executive who enjoys high search rankings and traffic, has lots of authority and an online following, and knows their website is helping their business grow. An empowered executive empowers their website.
8 Ways To Empower Your Website Post Launch
- Make sure your website is secure. This is the first thing you need to address because if your site gets hacked, or if your site breaks because of upgrade conflicts, you’ll have a mess to clean up. That means performing regular backups and upgrades to your core software and any plugins you’re using. You can monitor security issues like malware and malicious attacks by using plugins (e.g. WordFence) that will alert you if there are any issues to attend to. The sooner you address issues, the less likely you’ll ever have a mess to contend with. Always make sure your domain is secure too — make sure your registrar has your best email address and a current credit card on file. When your domain is up for renewal, if you miss the message or if your credit card has expired, you may lose it.
- Know how visitors are interacting with your website. When people start interacting with your website is when you can really begin to understand whether your hypotheses are on target or whether you need to re-think. Use Google Analytics and look at the data regularly — it’s free and easy to get insights from real data rather than relying on guesswork. Setting up Google Analytics properly takes some digging in to, but it’ll be your most powerful ally in understanding what’s working, what’s not — what needs changing and what needs amplifying.
- Understand how your site is performing in search and optimize. After your site has been live for awhile, you’ll be able to check whether Google has indexed your content and how well it’s performing for your target keywords and phrases. Search engine optimization is the process of improving your chances of being found in search and is an on-going process, most of that effort happens after you launch: evaluate your search traffic, identify content gaps and fill them in, learn what Google is looking for and adapt as needed. If you don’t want to take on this beast yourself, there are lots of search specialists out there you can hire to help.
- Test your theories. When you launch a website, it’s never going to be perfect, it’s just a hypothesis. Be open to testing your theories, because taking a more iterative and scientific approach will give you better results than launching, forgetting about it, and then checking back in a few years from now when it’s time to redesign. Test your copy, the user experience, your traffic-generating efforts. What’s working? What’s not? (See #2).
- Drive Traffic. This may seem obvious but I’ve seen enough analytics accounts with virtually no web traffic to know that busy business owners are not focused on getting people to their sites. It’s up to you to drive targeted traffic to your website if you want to be discovered by new customers. It’s accomplished through search optimization, social media, and/or advertising. Again, this may be something you outsource or assign to a staff member.
- Optimize for conversions. Once you have some data (see #2), you can begin to see where people are entering and exiting (“dropping off”) your site, how long they stay on your site, how many pages they visit, and much more. From that information you will be able to identify where you’re missing opportunities to convert traffic into buyers and test new theories (see #4).
- Optimize site performance. You may also need to optimize the performance of your site — for example, a very high bounce rate (see #2) may indicate some technical problems that need to be resolved. Testing is normally done pre-launch but it doesn’t account for changes that happen post-launch, and if you’re going the “DIY website” route or you’re on a small budget, performance issues may have been overlooked. If you’re continually adding things to and changing things on your site — and you should — you have to regularly check in to see if there are any performance problems that might be affecting the user experience. Google Page Insights and GTMetrix are two free tools you can bookmark.
- Add fresh content. One thing “set it and forget it” websites have in common is they have a fixed number of pages and the content never changes. But if you’re using a tool like WordPress, it’s very easy to add fresh content — such as targeted landing pages or blog posts. This “beyond the standard 5 company pages” content can serve a powerful purpose, such as optimizing for search for very targeted keyword phrases or running traffic campaigns to niche audiences.