Last updated: 1.20.2018
Yay! You’ve launched your website! *Throws confetti in the air* After the euphoria settles down, you’ll likely have a lot of questions, like: “What do I do now?”😐
Let’s talk about how you can empower your new website to be your hardest-working employee.
Launching a website is a blast, it’s exciting and hopeful – after all, a whole new world has opened up for you! Unfortunately, a lot of people eventually end up disappointed, and wonder why their website isn’t doing a whole lot to benefit their business. Lets first take a look at what went wrong:
Set it and forget it doesn’t work anymore
It used to be that a ton of effort and months of preparation would go into preparing a website for the world — fonts would be fussed over, copy would be carefully-crafted, and the design would go through multiple rounds of conceptualization and refinement. Et voilà — it’s done, on to the next thing. Just having a website was enough.
But things are different now. Competition for your customers’ attention is greater than it’s ever been, and savvy online business owners no longer view a website as a thing they have, but rather, a thing they do. It becomes an integral part of their marketing workflow and something they pay close attention to. If you’re setting and forgetting your website, they’re going to eat your lunch.Savvy website owners no longer view a website as a thing they 'have,' but rather, a thing they 'do.' Click To Tweet
Stab-in-the-dark marketing will only drive you nuts
Without a plan to follow for how the website will help you generate leads and grow your business, you’ll be tempted to try on every marketing tactic and trick you come across. You won’t know which things are working and what’s not — and you won’t know the reasons why. You’ll just know your business hasn’t grown the way you’d hoped it would when you launched.
The mindshift you need: become an empowered site owner instead
Successful site owners — the ones who use their website as part of a larger marketing strategy and sales funnel — pay attention to their website. They have a traffic and conversion strategy, constantly review their sites to see where they can make improvements, know exactly where they rank in search, and are aware of how people are interacting with their site. They know exactly which marketing tactics are working and which things are not a good use of their resources (data — the way people interact with their website — informs their actions).
They apply consistent effort over time — drip, drip, drip — rather than in bursts or 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 investing 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.
An empowered website owner 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 site owner empowers their website.
First: make sure you’re using the right tools
There are lots of ways to create a website these days — templates and website builders make it easy. Lots (and lots) of people will tell you that it doesn’t matter which way you go so long as it looks good and oh my god you guys…
I’ve built websites using just about every method there is and trust me, the tools you choose matter. If it’s pretty, fast, and easy… chances are you’ll soon run into limitations and frustrations (lots of website tools frustrate the hell out of me and I do this for a living).
What you want is a scalable and flexible solution — one that’ll allow you to add landing pages and integrate third-party services easily (even if you don’t know what any of that means right now), and one that’s supported by a large user community so you can easily find resources, tutorials and people to ask for help if you need it. Click here to get a list of the tools I use with my web design clients and others I recommend.
Now, let’s look at what you can do post-launch to turn your website into your hardest-working employee:
6 Ways To Empower Your Website Post Launch
1. Become aware of how visitors are interacting with your website
When people start interacting with your website is when you can really begin to understand whether your assumptions were on target or whether you need to re-think. Use Google Analytics and look at the data regularly — 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.
2.Understand how your site is performing in search and continuously 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. Optimization is a process of improving your chances of being found in search and it’s not a one-time thing, it’s on-going. Plan to devote some regular attention to monitoring your search traffic and results and making efforts to improve your performance. If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn and do SEO, and getting found in search is critical for your business, consider hiring somebody to help.
I take time every few months to run a full audit on my own site so I’m aware of what’s happening, and I set aside a day to tweak and make adjustments, and do my best to optimize my site content as a daily practice.
3.Have a traffic strategy
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, but you’ve gotta get visible OUTSIDE of the website and invite people to it. And I’m not just talking about once, it needs to happen regularly, routinely, and with some frequency. Nobody’s just going to magically “show up.”
4.Optimize for conversions
Once you have some data from Google Analytics to look at, you’ll see where people land on your site, where they go, and where they “drop off”… if they leave your site before they take the action you want them to, your website has failed to convert. This is where having the right tools come into play… you’ll want the flexibility to make changes and test out new hypotheses. In practice, that might sound a little like this in your mind:
“Huh, users are landing on my home page and then head to my about page, but they exit the site before contacting me or getting on my mailing list… let me take a look at my about page and see how I might tweak it…”
5.Optimize site performance
At some point, you’ll likely need to optimize the performance of your site (i.e. how long it takes to load). Seeing a very high bounce rate and very low time on site in Google Analytics may indicate there are some technical problems that need to be resolved. (People are getting to your website but they’re leaving before reading a word, and that’s no good.) Google Page Insights and GTMetrix are two free tools you can bookmark to test your site performance. If you have problems, don’t panic! There’ll be suggestions for how you can make improvements and it’s super common to find trouble areas. Pay particular attention to how long it takes your site to load, if it’s much more than 3 seconds it’ll start to hurt your conversions so you want to try to get that down. Many issues can be easily resolved with WordPress plugins.
6.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.