What To Expect From A New Website
31st October 2011
What To Expect From A New Website
We build dozens of websites every year and try to make every one of them a real success for our clients.
This means we need to understand what our client wants the site to do for them, and our clients need to understand what's achievable with a website on the internet.
There's a number of questions about new websites that we find ourselves answering a lot. Here's our top 5.
1. How many visitors will come to our new site? How many visitors do other websites get?
We obviously don't disclose information about one client to another, but in broad terms we would expect initial visitor numbers to be low. Maybe a couple of dozen in the first week or two and then climbing upwards from there.
The number of visitors depends on how interesting your site is, how well written it is, how relevant it is, how big it is, how long it's been around, how many people link into your site, and a number of other factors.
Obviously some of these factors are missing from a new site; it's not been around long, and it's probably not got many pages, so the initial numbers will be low.
It also takes Google a while to visit and index your site, so you can wait as long as 4-6 weeks before your site appears in Google search results. (We've had a couple of occasions when a site has appeared in 24 hours, but that's extremely rare.)
So be modest in your expectations to start with. If you need to launch with a bang, then consider using Pay Per Click advertising like Google Adwords to drive traffic when you launch, or support your web launch with an email newsletter or print marketing campaign to bring people to your new site.
2. How quickly will our site appear on Google?
Usually within 4-6 weeks all your pages will be listed on Google (if Google thinks that they're worth listing!).
We can sometimes accelerate this process by giving Google a sitemap of all the pages on your website and inviting their indexing "robots" to visit the site immediately. Sometimes this can mean you're listed in under a week.
3. Do we need to so anything to our site once it's launched?
Yes. Yes. Yes!
If your site content stands still then you can guarantee that your competitors will go past you.
So you'll need to make sure you give some time to posting new information on your site, refreshing your core pages' content from time to time and generally making sure your site is seen to be active and interesting over time.
In practice this means adding at least one new story to your site every week to keep Google interested. This also gives your existing clients a reason to keep visiting too.
Sometimes these updates can be handled automatically by republishing your Twitter content for instance, or another person's blog content (especially handy if they're an industry expert in your field). However republishing other peoples' content is not as effective as publishing your own unique stories. (That's why we publish between 1 and 3 stories a week about all aspects of our business, rather than relying on third party content.)
4. How can I measure whether my website is effective?
Well of course the acid test of most sites is the amount of business it brings in, and this can be simply measured by counting the value of the leads from people who found you on the web. (Sometimes you may not know that they've found you on the web unless you ask them when they phone you.)
Ecommerce measurements are straightforward. Count the sales. Job done.
Some sites are not designed to convert to cash however, and different measurements may need to be applied.
Informational sites, public service sites, news and community sites may have no commercial component at all. In these cases then the measures will be a mix of quantitative and qualitative calculations.
The quantitative measures would include things like: number of visits per day, duration of visits, repeat visitor numbers, number of pages viewed, etc.
The qualitative measures would include things like: number of referrals to your site from other people (e.g. Following you on Twitter, "Liking" you on Facebook), personal anecdotes and feedback from satisfaction surveys, etc.
And of course, you'll get feedback from your customers about your site too. We frequently get lovely comments from people about this site for instance.
5. Is there anything else I can do to may my website work better?
Yes. Loads of things.
Firstly your site needs to be properly built to work quickly, be easy to use and be search engine optimised. I'll assume you've ticked these boxes. (With our web design, this is a given.)
Secondly is a long list of things that may be useful or interesting to you, and which can bring additional value to your online marketing. These can include;
Integration with Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. This increases the visibility of your business and can get you into closer relationships with your target audience if you plan it well.
Pay-Per-Click campaigns - you can spend a fortune on these if you want and some businesses are entirely driven by these types of campaign. Basically you pay Google to send you visitors. These can be a good way to promote new products or services, or reach out to customers in a competitive market. (These can be expensive to run, but also bring real benefits if used judiciously.)
Contributing to Other Websites - if it's permitted, and your content is appropriate you can also write on other people's website and link your content back to your own site. You might post to a user-group website, or to a LinkedIn group, or post on a help forum somewhere and link to your site. Some sites won't allow this, but if they do it can be a good way to create inbound links to your site.
Publishing Press Releases Online - there are lots of free press release publishers on the web and you can publish your press releases on their sites for nothing. You will need to have something genuinely "newsy" to say, but otherwise there's no catch. Just write about something that is relevant to your business, include a link to your site, and Bob's your uncle.
Regularly Review Your Content - check that you're still talking about the things that you really do as a business. Make sure all your services are listed. Make sure that they're described in a contemporary way, and that any jargon you may have used hasn't dated. Search engines are matching your content to peoples' searches. If your site doesn't have those search keywords on it then you'll not get the traffic.
Get Regular Expert Advice - I'm going to say that aren't I! But it's true. The web is a fickle beast and very fast moving. Having expert knowledge about new opportunities and optimisation methods is vital, so talk to us (or your current web developers) to get the latest information on best practice for websites and use this to check that your site is up to scratch.
If you'd like more information about anything here, or would like to talk about how to improve your existing website then please call Jon on 01300 320076 or email email@example.com
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