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So, you’re launching a new website and making your mark on the world wide web. Congratulations! It’s only a matter of time before your site is flooded with visitors, your profit is off the charts and you’re the head of a global business empire.
Before any of that happens, though, take a step back and make sure you’ve laid the right foundations for your website launch. After all, with a massive 75 percent of people determining a business’s credibility based on the quality of their website, this isn’t something you can wing on the fly.
If your website isn’t up to scratch, there’s a significant risk of lower traffic, less conversions and – worst of all – fading into obscurity.
Thankfully, many business owners make similar sorts of mistakes when launching a new website. That means they’re easy to spot and easy to remedy. Here are ten of the most common to look out for. Don’t forget us little guys when you’ve reached the top.
1. Leaving your site un-audited
A website audit is like a health checkup for your digital self. If you don’t perform one before (and soon after) your launch, you’ll have no idea about the problems your site might be facing.
It’s a good way to give yourself a clear picture of everything from spelling errors to broken links, so that they can be amended before they damage your traffic.
2. Poor site architecture
Before you reveal it to the world, you’ve got to make sure your site is easily navigable.
Far too many sites send their visitors on wild goose chases to find the information they need. With the average user spending no more than 15 seconds on a site, that’s wasted potential for conversions.
Signpost information clearly and follow the ‘three-click rule’ – users should be able to find important pages in no more than three clicks.
3. Forgetting a call-to-action
Users may have found their way to your website, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do what you want them to without some guidance. Make sure you’ve got an obvious call-to-action or next step for them to take, or you’ll never have to worry about conversions. This can be anything from a contact page to a pop-up form – just make sure there’s something to move them along your lead funnel.
4. Ignoring SEO
Succeeding with SEO for your new website doesn’t mean keyword-stuffing anymore. At a bare minimum, you should be submitting your website’s ‘sitemap.xml’ file to Google’s Search Console to ensure it knows how to crawl your site. Without doing so, it’s possible that Google may never crawl your website, never mind show it in search results.
To remedy this, check for broken links, 404 errors and redirect loops, too – these will hurt your search ranking and set you back from the outset.
5. Neglecting security measures
As of 2018, Google flags all unsecure websites to Chrome users. With their browser representing 56.1 percent of the market, it’s become a requirement for new websites to have an SSL certificate. Without this encryption, you’ll be penalised and lose out on traffic.
6. Not optimising for mobile visitors
Mobile now accounts for seven in every ten digital media minutes according to AdWeek. Couple that with the fact that fast-loading mobile sites result in visits that are 70 percent longer, and the importance of optimising for mobile becomes clear. While your website may look fantastic on a desktop, it’s also got to cut the mustard on a smartphone.
7. Not accounting for page speed
You can’t rely on patience when it comes to internet browsing. In fact, over a quarter of website users will abandon a site or page if it takes more than three seconds to load. But it’s not just humans you need to worry about.
Slow load times will also squander the ‘crawl budget’ that Google allocates to your website, meaning their bots won’t be able to index and rank as much as you might like. Make sure you compress images, trim unwieldy code and eliminate redirects if you can, because this one is important.
8. Picking the wrong website launch date and time
Your intuition might tell you to launch your site when the internet is at its busiest, but ignore it. Your intuition is wrong.
Attract too many visitors too quickly, and there’s a good chance that cracks will start to show. No matter how much testing you’ve done, it’s much better to go with a soft launch to fix these problems before they alienate thousands of visitors.
It feels a little early to be talking about analytics, right? After all, your site isn’t even live, and there’s no data to work with.
However, neglecting to start collecting data from launch day means you’ll be missing out on information that could prove incredibly useful further down the line. Set yourself up to gather information about how people are using your site so that you can make informed and targeted optimisations that’ll drive future traffic.
10. Not preparing for scale
Humility is a virtue, but don’t let it get in the way of your website’s success. You might not expect your website to attract thousands of visitors right away, but if you don’t establish yourself on a platform with servers that can withstand spikes in traffic, you’re putting your website at risk of crashing under pressure.
Beyond the website launch
Preparation is the order of the day. Whether it’s planning for traffic spikes, carefully crafting your site’s architecture or taking a thorough approach to SEO, a successful website launch is all about the work you do before it goes live.
Avoid these nine pitfalls, and you’ll be sidestepping the most significant problems that have plagued website launches for time immemorial (a few years). Of course, the work doesn’t stop once you’ve ‘gone live’. Support your new website with audits, analysis and growth-driven design, and you’ll be far more likely to keep up momentum, climb the rankings and boost your traffic.