After planning is done, development is done, and the launch date for your new website has finally arrived. Your webmaster pushes the button – congratulations! You’re now on the internet! But where are all the visitors?
How do I let everyone know about my new website?
Having a website is only the beginning. To help serve your business or organization, you want people to see your website, or else what good is it?
There are many things you can do to bring in those site visitors, some of them your webmaster should take care of for you, and some of them you can do yourself.
What can I do
First and foremost, make sure your website address is printed on all of your promotional and business materials (business cards, letterheads, envelopes, fliers, etc…) If you advertise in print, on TV, or on the radio, don’t forget to include a mention of your new website.
Also important is word of mouth! Tell everyone you know, your current customers, anyone you can think of about how great your new website is. You will get traffic from people just typing in your URL because you told them about it, and when word of mouth spreads it tends to spread to the right people (otherwise why would they be talking about it?)
Business have been using press releases for years, and they are just as effective for announcing the launch or redesign of a website. Don’t limit yourself to traditional media though, be sure to send a copy of your press release to any related websites that post articles and news. It’s hard work to keep a site alive with up to date news and events and many sites will be more than happy to publish it along with a link to your website.
An ongoing way to bring in visitors is to read and comment regularly on blogs that are related to your website. Many blogs allow for you to leave a comment with a link to your website included. Be careful though, leaving purely self-promotional comments is considered spamming (and very bad web etiquette) and these will be removed as soon as the site owner sees them. As long as you stay on-topic you’ll be fine.
A similar method is to join an online forum (try finding one here) that is related to your website. Many (but not all) forums allow you to use a custom signature, including a link to your own website. Be sure to follow a forums rules on how you promote your site, spamming on forums is an easy way to get banned from them. Again, just remember to participate in the forum and stay on-topic.
What should my webmaster be doing?
A method that can be done by you or your webmaster is building a base of backlinks. How it works is you find another website that is closely related (but not in direct competition) with yours. You simply email the website’s owner and offer to link to his site if he links to yours. Many websites have link pages for this purpose, but links on main (and relevant) pages work much better, and a link page that is overloaded will do little to help you bring in traffic. This method also has the side-effect of helping your rankings in the search engines, but again take care not to deal with low quality websites with a bunch of links and not much else. You will of course need your webmaster to add the links to your site, and they can advise you if you are dealing with the wrong types of websites.
A big part of a website launch is promotion. There are lots of site directories out there, some are free, and some require payment for inclusion. Some are also better than others due to how many people use them and the quality of the other websites they include. When we launch a site at Digital GreenLight, we pick various directories to list your website as part of the launch, which starts the flow of guests coming your way. Paid directories work too, but many of them will not perform well enough to justify the cost. Unless you’re getting serious about paid advertising, you’ll be fine without them.
If you do have an advertising budget, there are plenty of other ways your webmaster can bring you visitors. Paid web advertising often consists of ads placed on search engine results pages, or on individual web sites. Some of these are as simple as a newspaper ad, you pay for placement on a certain page for an agreed on length of time. Some of them are based on the context of the page – for example, if you have a website about mustard, your ads would show up on various pages all over the internet that are about hot-dogs, sandwiches, etc… Search engine advertising is contextual in nature. It works well because you only pay to advertise directly to those who are specifically looking for what you offer.
Another option is email marketing, but be careful not to cross the line and send spam. Spam can get you into trouble and leave a very negative impression with your customers. The trick is building your list of email addresses from visitors to your own site, after getting their permission. This method takes time, but eventually you will have a way to bring your visitors back to your website, and develop a trusting relationship with your customers.
If you follow all of these steps, you’re on your way to a healthy and growing website, and you can look forward to seeing new people arrive at your site daily!