What to do after your web site has gone up.
You've just spent a whole lot of time and energy and probably money into getting your web site written, designed, and produced. It's now live on the Internet for all to see. So now you can sit back, relax, and let all that new business come to you, right?
Hmmm... no. Unfortunately that's not quite how it works. Much to the chagrin of many people, just "putting up a shingle" doesn't usually bring in much business (unless, of course, you're the first barber in a one-block town of scraggly-haired individuals...). And it almost never works on the Web.
So, to save you months of waiting, in frustration, for new customers to magically find your web site, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: even though your site may be "done" (and that's really a relative term), there's still work to do in terms of getting the word out about your site. In fact it's an ongoing process. Especially these days when nearly everyone has a web site, you have to keep up with — and hopefully ahead of — the competition or you'll get left behind.
For starters, hopefully you, your web developer, and/or copywriter will have written and built your site with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. We've talked about the basics of SEO before, so I won't go into details on that now, but make sure your site is produced in this manner so that at least it has a fighting chance of getting picked up by Google and other search engines.
Once your site is live there are several things to consider in terms of achieving and maintaining good search engine rankings and generally publicizing your site.
Most of these suggestions revolve around getting links to your site. Many people confuse this with linking to other web sites, which doesn't really do much, if any good (in fact, in some instances, can be harmful to your site's ranking, so be careful not to link to disreputable sites). It's the linking of outside sites to your site — i.e., incoming links — that help your site's Google ranking.
Following is a list of suggestions that you or your web developer can consider right after your site has gone live and as a long-term strategy for your web site:
1. Submit a site map to Google and get listed in Google's Local Listings.
Do this if you have a single geographic location. Both are free and don't involve much time or effort. The site map should speed up the (often long) time it can take to get your site indexed by Google. The local listing will get your site to show up, with location on a map, near the top of the Google listings for relevant geographic searches.
2. Get your site listed on any (preferably free) professional associations' sites that you're a member of.
Many of these organizations are happy to list your business (including your web site URL) in their online directory.
3. See if there might be any complementary businesses out there that would be willing to recommend/list your practice on their site.
For example, if you're a massage therapist, perhaps there's a chiropractor who refers clients to you. If so ask if he/she would be willing to add a link on his/her web site to yours. Often they'll ask for a reciprocal link (i.e., one back to their site) to return the favour, so make sure you trust that person and are willing to do that.
4. Join Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
If you don't already have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, these are great ways of pointing people to your site. Social networking can be time consuming, but like anything, you get out of it what you put in. Sign up for accounts and make a commitment to spend, say, five minutes a day on updates.
5. Submitting to ezine article sites.
The more the better. These can be new articles or ones you've previously written and posted elsewhere. Most article submission sites are free and posting to them can significantly increase exposure to audiences that you might not normally reach. The more that people see your name as author of valuable articles, the more they come to trust and respect you and, hopefully, eventually want to give you their business.
6. Comment on blogs or forums
Post comments on relevant blogs or forums that allow you to put your URL in your signature. Find a few blogs in your industry or area of interest and spend a few minutes each day or a couple times a week and add some thoughtful comments at the end of a post that grabbed your attention.
7. Submit testimonials.
If you've used a service or bought a product that you really like, see if that person's or company's web site publishes customer feedback, again, preferably with your name and your site's URL at the end. This can be another quick and easy way to get links to your site.
The more links (and "quality" links for relevant and/or reputable sites) you can get to your site, the better. But, don't ever sign up with "link farms" — spammers that email you asking for a link exchange.
I don't normally recommend paying for links. But if there are some relevant (to your field), high-traffic sites for which you think the return on investment would be worth it, you might consider trying one or a few. But, personally, I prefer to give the above, free methods a try before paying.
Same thing goes for Google Adwords and other paid campaigns. I don't know of too many people that have had much (if any) success with them. They can work well for certain products (and, maybe, services), but to succeed with them a lot of work and know-how needs to go into the campaign. You can lose a lot of money before you know it.
Finally, remember to keep your site's content fresh. We covered this in our "The Benefits of Articles on Your Site" article, so won't go into details again here, but the more content you can add to your site or blog and the more often you update it, the better your chances of succeeding in the search engines will be.
And don't ever forget about the tried and true methods of putting your site's URL on all printed material — business cards, brochures, letterhead, etc. — and simply telling people your URL. It all helps!
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nrichmedia works with eco businesses and organizations. These include LEED certified architects, green builders, health centres, eco resorts, yoga studios, organic food producers, farmers markets, counsellors, healing professionals, musicians, artists, hand-made bath and beauty products, safety programs, green technology innovators, foundations and non-profit organizations.
nrichmedia is located in Courtenay (in the Comox Valley, on Vancouver Island), British Columbia, Canada, and thinks and works globally! Thanks to the Internet, we're able to create web sites and other multimedia for clients all over the world. You can contact us by email or by telephone, at 250.871.7424.