When starting a new business or brand, the act of building that brand often starts with a website that will ultimately become your cornerstone. For those businesses looking to relaunch their site or migrate existing data from one site to another, this can be an especially stressful task, as failure to implement the proper strategy can have devastating consequences on your website’s organic visibility within Google Search. In this article, we’ll discuss the best practices when it comes to launching your new website, along with some helpful tips on where to make adjustments along the way.
Good domain names are catchy, but great domain names are memorable, and the best practice for your choosing your domain name is to keep it targeted and effective. In other words, keep it short, simple, and sweet. No matter what, your domain name should be fully aligned with your brand, leaving no doubt as to who your target audience is and what products or services your company offers.
This is especially important for ranking, as search engine crawlers look at a domain name to determine what information a website is trying to convey. For this reason, you want your domain name to include a primary keyword you’re trying to rank for, as keywords reflect the searcher intent of people looking for the types of products or services you provide.
Lastly, you want to ensure your domain is unique, and you can check this via domain name tools that will often propose alternatives if the one you’ve picked is already taken. Likewise, more advanced domain name tools will provide insights as to how similar domain names are faring in organic search, allowing you to make a more informed decision and stay one step ahead of the competition.
With a defined brand identity and domain in place, the next step is to build your website using the same approach. This means that all of your copy, graphics, and other site elements should reflect your brand identity, starting with the following:
It’s no secret that colors play a significant role in marketing and advertising, as they not only invoke psychological feelings, but stir emotions as well. For this reason, consider the meanings behind your chosen colors, ensuring they also align with your overall brand message. Bright colors will feel warmer, more energetic, and playful, while darker tones will likely feel more modern and minimalistic.
While font selection might seem like a tiny detail, the truth is that it’s actually pretty important, especially when readability affects the user experience of a given website. Make sure your chosen font is comfortable to read, conveying crucial information neatly and efficiently. Likewise, ensure your font fits your brand’s overall tone, as different fonts (such as serif and sans serif types) can come across as more casual or formal respectively.
With 90% of transmitted information to our brains being visual, your website needs to not only be appealing, but functionally easy to navigate. This can best be accomplished by the use of white space (or blank space), as it gives users some breathing room when it comes to absorbing your website’s content. Keep your paragraphs concise and to the point, and be sure to leave ample space between website objects so as to maintain visual appeal.
Everyone has a message or story they’d like to tell, and with our brains being so acute to visuals, infographics are one of the best methods to convey those messages to just about everyone. For instance, did you know that 20% of information is remembered after reading text, or that over 200% more images are liked on Facebook and other social media compared to text alone? It’s food for thought, and it goes hand in hand with ensuring your brand’s story can be told or shared more readily across social networks and blogs.
Speaking of visuals, good photographs and quality video can be the difference between an average website and one that converts, as they help to retain the attention of your visitors after that first click. Likewise, photos are a great way to break up the copy of your website, as they add more white space, thereby adding to an appealing user experience.
In the same vein, videos on your site, like testimonials, tutorials, or demonstrations help spur your creative content, increasing overall engagement. Best of all, these videos can be added to YouTube or LinkedIn later for a boost in exposure.
Now that you’ve got a solid domain, brand message, and some site elements to complement them, it’s time to optimize your website for organic search. To do this, we’ll focus on the searcher’s query or, in layman’s terms, focus on what potential visitors to your site might be looking for when they type a question or search term in Google, Bing, and other engines. This will make your pages easy to read, easy to skim, easy to understand, and ultimately easy to share.
When it comes to SEO optimization, Google is actually pretty good at understanding the written passages on a given website, though there are still a number of ways you can help Google to find and understand your content a little bit better:
Writers understand the power of a good title, but so do users and Google crawlers. Not only do good titles attract attention, but they improve CTRs (click-through rates) as well, giving people and search engines a better idea of the topics of your website. For this reason, ensure all your title tags are as relevant as possible, with targeted keywords embedded within. Likewise, using words like “How,” “What,” Where,” and “Why” are great expectation setters as users click through your site, with adjectives like “Best,” “Ultimate,” and “Review” being equally great click enticers.
Last but not least, try and keep your title tags between 55-60 characters long, making sure each is unique from the last.
Like your title tags, your URLs should be simple and clean, with no dating indicators. This ensures your content remains as evergreen as possible, keeping it optimized for search year after year. This is especially helpful with URLs to “Best of” content or blogs, as instead of having to edit your URL for “Best Laptops of 2021” to match 2022, 2023, and so on, you only need to change the titles. This saves you time and potential mistakes on redirects later.
That being said, if you do decide to change the URLs of your webpages, be mindful of redirects, as you don’t want to run into any 404 mistakes or issues with your SEO value later.
Because meta descriptions appear alongside your title and URL on the results pages, they have the power to either help your click-through rates or hurt them. Therefore, you want to make sure your meta descriptions include your targeted keywords in the body, as they also act as relevancy signals for search crawlers.
That being said, be sure not to keyword stuff your meta descriptions. At 160 characters, they take up the most amount of real estate on the search (2 lines compared to the 1 of a given title and URL), meaning you want to use them to the greatest advantage to really sell your website to searchers.
As for keywords themselves, the best practice is to always choose relevant keywords to the products or services you offer. If you’re a manufacturer or distributor of muslin baby blankets, some of your chosen keywords might fall along the lines of “muslin blankets for babies,” or “muslin blankets.”
No matter which keywords you choose, most of the information regarding how they currently rank will be easy to find, while the question as to how your website will rank for them will be up to how well you embed and optimize your website and content with those keywords.
Speaking of content, one of the best ways to break it up into easier to read (and better optimized) passages is to add Header Tags as a hierarchy system, with your H1 tags being the most general and your H6 tags being the most specific.
Think of them like the table of contents in a book. Your H1 tag introduces the topic your page is all about, just as a title of a book tells a reader what that book is about. The H2 tags then act as book chapters, describing the main topics you’ll cover in sections of the blog or article you’ve posted. Subsequent headers, from the H3 tags to the H6 tags, serve as sub-headings within each section, just as a book chapter might be split into multiple sub-topics.
Optimizing your new website also includes taking a look at your website’s page speeds and core web vitals, as each plays a key role in how Google ultimately ranks your site within organic search results.
As you fill your site with SEO content and elements to draw in new visitors, you want those users to find your products and services quickly, granting more opportunities for overall success and fewer chances of missed conversions. After all, consumers are far less likely to stick around on a website or make purchases from an eCommerce retailer if the pages load slowly. This falls in line with what makes a webpage great from a user’s perspective, helping to not only boost your brand’s search results, but also your popularity over time as you establish your website’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness – aka its E-A-T score.
Thankfully, checking both your website’s page speeds and core web vitals can be done easily via the following tools:
Let’s face it, your website has an effect on your business’s perceived quality and credibility, and in today’s mobile-first environment, that effect is compounded by the design and responsiveness of your website on smartphones and tablets. Desktop URLs might provide more information per page, but that doesn’t change the fact that optimal user experience is invariably linked to mobile.
Thankfully, optimizing your website for desktop and mobile is a relatively easy task with some additional tools to ensure you do so effectively. For starters, you can test your website’s mobile friendliness with Google’s own tool, giving you a good indicator of where you might need to make changes. Should you need to make those changes, you can start with examining whether your mobile URL needs a responsive, dynamic, or separate design. Each has its own pros and cons, so be sure to weigh them appropriately before committing. Likewise, you can combine your desktop keyword research with mobile keyword research, as keyword tools will often let you check the analytics for both. Thirdly, you can go the extra mile by optimizing your content for mobile, considering text size, use of pop-ups, and check out experience if you’re an eCommerce retailer. At the end of the day, your website should render perfectly on all platforms, whether it’s desktop, mobile, or tablet.
Another all-too-important aspect of site development is ensuring that your website is easy to navigate. In other words, you want every visitor to your site to be able to access the information they need in 2-3 clicks.
Not only does this give your website a firm SEO foundation, but it makes Google’s page crawler happy as well, as Google pays special attention to new websites or changes to existing websites, determining which sites to crawl, how often to crawl them, and how many pages the search engine should fetch from each site. In other words, the easier your website is to navigate, the better Google can crawl it, and the more likely (all other factors considered) that it will rank higher versus that of your competitors.
With your website’s home page, landing pages, and overall structure optimized for SEO and Google’s page crawler, it’s time to develop your content strategy moving forward. Brainstorm ideas on future expansion, putting those ideas into content or development calendars.
Looking to start a company blog? Research and decide on topics in advance, keeping to a 1-week to 1-month out schedule wherever possible. This will allow you to post steadily, beefing up your website’s E-A-T score as users absorb and come back to the content you post regarding topics they enjoy. Needing to add some extra content centered on conversions? Simply apply all of the SEO steps outlined above, keeping user intent at the forefront of your strategy. In the end, analytics on those pages will show where improvements need to be made, if any.
Speaking of analytics, the final step towards website launch is simply getting familiar with how those analytics tools work. After all, doing so allows you to assess where your website stands once it goes live. It will give valuable insights on customer acquisitions, behaviors, and conversions, letting you know where your customers live geographically, how much time they spend on certain pages, and other valuable information.
For instance, if your analytics show that customers prefer more video blog content versus written articles, you can leverage that information to brainstorm new video content for your calendar. Likewise, if your analytics show an increase in bounce rates on certain pages within your site, you can check those pages to see if improvements to content or user experience might be needed to lower them.
Now that you’ve got the analytics down, it’s time to get to work on setting up Google Search Console and an XML sitemap for your new website. Not only does this help improve your performance in Google Search, but it lets you see what search queries brought users to your site to the first place, giving you a bird’s eye view of your site’s overall clicks and impressions. Best of all, Google Search Console alerts you if Google sees any potential issues with your site, giving insights on what needs to be fixed to maintain your position in Google SERPs.
Likewise, adding an XML sitemap works as a URL roadmap for search crawlers to more easily and accurately index your website and all of its pages. This ensures your most significant pages, regardless of their internal linking structure, are indexed properly. Not only are sitemaps crucial for SEO purposes, but they benefit the people searching your website as well, guiding them to whatever information they need quickly and efficiently.
In the end, the best practices for launching your website boil down to simple concepts that, when put together, form the basis for a positive user experience. This user experience is picked up by Google as it crawls your website for information, and the popularity of your website (with a solid structure in place) works with SEO best practices to ensure your website ranks higher in organic search.
As such, the final step towards launching your website can often mean working with a digital marketing agency, as these are concepts that all SEO agencies are familiar with. Curious to learn more about how to launch your website and improve its rankings? We’d love to help. Contact VELOX today for assistance on your next website launch or migration.