Most marketers would consider the launch of a new website the end of a successful project and off they move onto the next project or job on the list. For us at Pauley Creative and our clients it’s only the start. This is where the action begins.
After launching a new site it’s perfectly normal to allow for a few weeks to monitor the change over from old site to new site from a visitor level and from Google perspective. Visitors who were regular visitors to the old site are now having to adjust to the new site. New visitors will have never seen the old site so it will be the first time they navigate through your website. Where will they start and where will they end? This is the period where lots of information can be collected on how users behave on the new website.
1. Allow time for visitors and Google to adjust to your new website
Google will react to the change over also. For example, Google will often see pages off the old website disappear as they are redirected to the new ones. Have you just deleted a page that was ranking number 1 in Google for a search term? Customers who had bookmarked certain pages are now being redirected to new pages. Or are they? This all takes time to happen, identify and fix but it needs monitoring. So, the first few weeks are all about monitoring the switch over and how visitors are beginning to navigate through the site. You don’t want to launch a new site for your audience to only go and discover that the website contains broken links, missing pages or things that just simply don’t work. Bad news.
Example below shows how we cleaned up the search engines for a client who had built up years of old, expired, print version pages or duplicated content within search engines.
Over time, as products developed and new markets formed, some information on web pages just simply became out of date but were still indexed within Google and was still visible to searchers, in some cases on the first page of Google thus resulting in traffic to to old web pages. It took a couple of weeks for this to clean up and stabilise before we could be sure that all is ok from a search engine perspective. This graph is taken from Google Webmaster Tools which can be very handy at telling you how Google views your website.
2. Once you have a new website you need to give it some fuel
“Oh! Fuel? We haven’t got any more budget left for that”.
Launching a new website with no optimisation or plan to attract new traffic is just about the worst thing you can do in my opinion. But I’m bound to say that. You’ve just spent a chunk of budget on a new website which now nobody can find using the most used search tool in the world. Mistake number 1 is to budget for just a new website, not for the plan for growth. Having audited quite a few Analytics accounts for various building product manufacturers it is fair to say that most of your traffic, new and returning, will come via Google even if there is no optimisation. Are you ready to make the most of search engines yet? Your competition are not.
How are people who have never heard of you expected to find you in Google? Put yourself into the shoes of an Architect who has never come across your company or product before. What would they search for in Google? Do it Search for your company without using your company name or product name. Do you show up on the first page? Who does? The ones that do are also your competitors now.
Have a plan for traffic growth over 12 months, not 2 weeks.
Most websites start off with basic SEO (or sometimes no SEO) to at least get the ball rolling and laying a solid foundation to which you can start and build upon. Having a plan for ongoing search engine optimisation helps focus your efforts on growing your website traffic and presence within Google, Bing and Yahoo via targeted search terms and phrases to do with your brand or products. Using SEO to attract and pull ‘non-branded searchers’ to your website is where SEO is most useful and rewarding. A non-branded searcher is someone who searches Google with no brand in particular. More on non-brand searchers in this episode of MDiTV with me.
As part of our digital marketing audit, we put an SEO plan together containing the necessary steps which need to be carried out to get started, we also identify where the opportunities are within search engines which we can look to exploit and also identify areas where the competition have just not switched onto. Yet.
Below is an example of how we implemented an SEO strategy for a building products manufacturer and enhanced their visibility within Google and increased their organic traffic by over 500% over 12 months by just simply looking for the opportunities and creating and targeting good quality, well written content at specific audience online.
As a result of organic traffic growth you will also see a growth in the number of different search terms people use within search engines. With this comes the need to create more content as you discover those new search terms which people are using in Google to find you. Sometimes, and only sometimes, some keywords attract the wrong type of traffic and they are not quite the type of traffic you want. Example might be homeowners purely because you provide a product for commercial applications only and not for domestic applications. So its important to monitor this also so that you can take the necessary action to reduce or eliminate unqualified traffic to your site.
Using Search Engine Opimisation to target ‘alternatives to’ for product specification
Is the plan to increase awareness within the specification market? Another way SEO can be used is if you are focusing on specifications where ‘alternatives to’ maybe used.
You could look to use SEO as a tactic to attract Architects, Specifiers and Engineers to your website who may be looking for your product but with no brand in mind (e.g. aluminium facade systems for commercial buildings). Open specifications allow for products to be sourced individually and the Specifier may choose to go with a product they’ve used before or they may choose to search online. Will you be found for when the Specifier is looking for alternatives to a competitors product or material? Once they have come to your website it is then the job of your website to convert visitors into leads through various goals on your website such as CPD appointments, sample requests or CAD drawing sign ups.
But is this actually happening? Which brings me nicely onto…….
Have a plan for analysis and measurement
“Our new website has generated 75 CPD appointments in the last 4 weeks compared to 55 the month before”
Doesn’t that sound great? It does. Add to this piece of information “55 of the 75 were as a result of the SEO we looked at earlier and the other 20 came from three email campaigns targeted to customers who had not been contacted for over 24 months”. Much more powerful knowing that the SEO and email activity is resulting in outcomes from your website.
Below is a collection of goals (taken from Google Analytics of course) from a range of our client websites.
Each month we can see which goals have increased significantly as a result of conducting a piece of marketing be it online or offline. If some goals are showing continuous signs of decreasing month on month then we can go back investigate and ask why and which channels or campaigns are not working.
Example: Why did CPD appointments fall this month compared to last month? Why was there no sample requests this month? Was it because a competitor now ranks above is in Google for a very popular, high volume traffic search term?
Have you considered how you are going to evaluate the performance of a new website and ensure that its helping you achieve your set business and marketing objectives. How do you know that visitors are doing what you want them to do? Converting into leads or able to access technical information quickly and easily. If they are not doing what you want them to do (download, register, call, contact, sign up) then you need to know why not? Ongoing analysis, measurement, testing and refinement is important in order to continuously improve the website.
So you’ve launched a new website. Now what?
Well the project has only just begun. It’s now time for you to budget, plan, if you have not already, how you intend to grow traffic over time and how you intend to measure the performance of the website. Other points to bear in mind are how do you intend to keep visitors coming back for more? How do you intend to exploit new opportunities within search engines in order to get ahead of your competitors? Don’t forget that websites are constantly changing beasts so testing new page layouts, images, copy and designs will also need to be taken into consideration. Hopefully you will see what I mean by ‘project has only just begun’.
If you have just launched a new website and would like us to provide you with some recommendations on developing an SEO plan and put into place a measurement framework then please do get in touch or contact me here.