After all the planning, designing, coding, testing and re-testing, your new business Web site is ready to launch – almost.
It’s a big day, the culmination of a lot of careful work. But to go live properly, and see the face of your business looking back at you from the infinite possibilities of the World Wide Web, there’s a little more housekeeping to finish. Then celebrate!
Here’s how to do it right in 5 easy pieces:
- Register with Search Engines
- Buy Ads for Better Placement
- Launch a PR Campaign
- Try Pay-Per-Click
- Start a Blog
Register with Search Engines
As we’ve mentioned earlier, if your Web site is built according to the guidelines we’ve laid out, search engines will find you on their own.
But you can give the process a goose by registering your new site with them.
Start by submitting your URL to the top search engines, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live. Basic registration is free. A great clearinghouse for many other search engine links and advice on how to get higher rankings can be found at SearchEngineWatch.com.
You can also use such registration sites as QuickRegister.com (free for a basic submission) or SubmitExpress.com (starts at $29.95). Note, they’ll want to sell you additional Web marketing and SEO services.
Registering is simple, usually little more than entering your complete URL in a form. Sometimes you’re asked for a brief description of your new Web site.
Don’t just dash it off. Include two or three keywords that will act as search magnets – one more way to improve SEO.
Buy Ads for Better Placement
Paid advertising on major search engines is one method used by many businesses to help them gain real estate on the search results pages. Lately, opinion has been sharply divided on whether the return on investment is high enough to justify the costs or if there are enough safeguards against fraud by competitors.
Before you spend the money, research the pros and cons of specific cost-per-click (CPC) programs and other advertising-related ranking services. Forums such as those hosted by DigitalPoint.com, SEOChat.com, HighRankings.com and many others will supply plenty of guidance for making a smart choice.
These are the two major online advertising models being used now:
- Paid Placement. Advertisers buy an ad listing in a section reserved for them on search results pages. Also called “pay for placement” and “cost-per-click.”
- Paid Inclusion. You can buy your way into a search engine’s listings quickly, but they’re usually quick to tell you there are no guarantees for improved rankings. Still, it’s a way to get fast visibility while waiting for crawlers to find and list your pages.
Launch a PR Campaign
There are others on the Web who stand ready to help you get the word out about your new Web presence: online news sites, e-zines, and press-release services like PRNewswire, PRWeb and PR Leap. The e-sales site Avangate has a “Top 50” list of more sites where you can submit press releases, most of them for free.
Some more effective publicity tools and tips:
- Postcards. Send postcards to everyone in your business database and announce your new site. Include your company logo, URL and maybe a screenshot of your home page.
- Discounts. Offer a discount on your products or services just for visiting your new Web home, and a bigger one if visitors bring you new business through a “Tell a Friend” promotional page on your site.
- Voicemail. Re-record your company’s voicemail greeting to include your Web address.
- Stationery. Include your Web address in all printed marketing materials – business cards, letterhead, advertising, invoices – everyplace it fits.
- Links. External links to your site can drive more traffic. Ask professional organizations, your local Chamber of Commerce, local business publications and relevant industry journals if they’ll include a link to your site - be sure to explain to them why your site's content would be relevant and valuable to their audience. The more sites that are linked to yours, the higher your search engine rankings.
If you’ve included an advertising budget in your planning, consider pay-per-click or PPC marketing – at least in the early days – for instant Web traffic to your site.
Pay-per-click advertising providers charge a small fee, adjusted according to the competition for your chosen search keywords, for each potential customer who clicks on your ad to visit your site.
Some advantages and benefits:
- Affordability. Whatever your budget, simple online tools tailor (and limit) your spending to what you can afford.
- Performance. You only pay for people who click on your ad.
- Targeted Campaigns. You can aim your ads at very specific market segments, and geographic areas as small as 10 square miles.
- Adaptability. You can change your ad daily or weekly to compare response rates and effectiveness.
- Performance Testing. You can run two ads for the same keyword to see which performs better, and then discontinue the lower performing ad. You can do this continually throughout your campaign.
- Simplicity. Because these keyword ads are text based, you don’t need a high-priced creative director to design your ads. Can you type? With a little bit of imagination you can effectively run a campaign.
Start with PPC programs from the major search engines: Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter.
Start a Blog
Company blogs can be used both to enhance your business Web site and drive more traffic to it.
If you house it on your site, use it to report company and industry events, comment on relevant major news stories and let people know when you’ll roll out new products or services.
Blogs offer an air of expertise – although sometimes undeserved – and readers may well come to rely on you, and revisit regularly, for trustworthy and useful information. Customers want to trust the products and services they buy – where better than from an expert?
Blogs can also bolster your “street credibility.” After you start blogging you may see more “hits” from professionals inside your industry. After that, possibly invitations to sit on business panels or speak to industry groups. Best of all, even calls from the press.
Housing your blog off-site with its own URL let’s you fly the company flag in a second Web address and invite more visitors to your flagship site.
Now, double check the instructions from your Web host for taking your site live – and hit the launch button!
Congratulations, you did it – but you’re not done yet. You never will be if your new business Web site is to succeed to full potential. Move on to Step 11, the end of our series, and we’ll tell you all about it.
Web Site Registration:
Search Discussion Forums
Publicity and Advertising