If you’ve recently launched a new website for your business, I am here to give you a virtual high-five and congratulations! But now that it’s live, do you find yourself asking, “what now?” Websites are the hub of the customer experience online and while having a new or refreshed website is crucial to connecting with customers, it is the first of many steps that you can take to create the best online experience for your visitors.
We no longer live in the time of set and forget websites and there are a vast number of opportunities to improve your online experience after your website is launched. Here are a few post-launch strategies that you can use to make sure your new website continues to be successful.
1. Set analytics benchmarks and optimize based on performance.
Your site should have goals that are directly tied to your business. It could be things like page views and bounce rate but we recommend focusing on conversion metrics, such as purchases, forms filled or click-to-calls. You can monitor your KPIs with reporting tools like Google Analytics to set up goals that will trigger every time a visitor completes these actions. This opens a wealth of reporting and optimization opportunities that can be built around the goals you’ve set.
It is important to determine the path or set of steps that users take before converting on your website. You can use these steps to build a website conversion funnel, here are some examples of conversion funnel stages and the desired actions that could be associated with each stage.
- The steps at the top of funnel are focused on attracting users and providing the information they need to move forward in the conversion path. Desired actions at this stage may consist of visiting the home page, reading a blog or browsing your service pages. There are typically more steps users can take to enter the funnel at this stage.
- The consideration stage typically consists of less options for users to move forward with their interest in your company by completing actions such as downloading an eBook or utilizing a chat functionality to ask a question.
- The closing stage of the funnel consists of usually just one or two desired actions that the user takes to initiate further conversation or complete a purchase. User goals at this stage may be filling out a contact us form, completing an online purchase or requesting a product demonstration.
Once you’ve determined your website’s conversion path you can set up events and goals in Google Analytics or the website analytics platform that you use. You will use these goals to track how users interact with your website, and the data provided can be used to set standard benchmarks for how your website typically performs. These benchmarks should be used as guides for improvement.
If you establish that the benchmark for visits to the homepage that complete a top of the funnel action is 30% on desktop but find it drops to 5% on mobile, and the benchmark for mobile bounce rate is very high at 70%; you can and determine that updating your site’s mobile layout will improve conversions.
The conversion funnel can also benefit from using benchmarks and analytics by using them to determine what changes can be made to improve your conversion rate at each stage of the buyer funnel.
2. Monitor and optimize for organic keyword performance.
Launching a website that is search engine accessible and optimized for priority keywords is only half the battle. After your website is live the real SEO work begins with reporting on search engine optimization performance indicators such as:
- Organic traffic: the volume traffic is coming to your website from search engines
- Organic traffic keywords: the keywords are visitors using to land on your site
- Organic traffic performance: use metrics like bounce rate, pages per session and time one site to analyze the performance of visitors who land on your site from organic traffic
- Individual keyword rankings: the keywords that your site currently ranking for
- Organic traffic conversion rates: measure if the visitors that come to your site through organic traffic are converting or taking action once they land on your site
It is key to tie your organic search visitors back to website performance and consider how users who land on your site through organic search are using the website. You can apply these learning’s to your SEO strategy moving forward and make adjustments to your keyword and content strategy.
If the users who click through to the site from a particular keyword are dropping off after viewing one page or failing to convert then it is important to optimize that page for maybe a different or more specific, long-tail, version of that keyword to attract more qualified visitors.
This approach can be also be applied to optimizing the site for other traffic sources such as direct, referral, social, and even your digital marketing efforts such as email and PPC. In the same vein, you can use data from your website performance reports to optimize your PPC campaigns by updating ad copy, AdGroups and Keyword groups based on how visits from your current campaigns are behaving once they land on the site. You can create tracking codes for all of your online campaigns with Google’s Campaign URL Builder.
3. Align website optimization plan with business goals.
Based on my previous recommendations, you can see that there are many ways you can use website performance data to determine how to best update and optimize your site for conversions. However, it is equally important to continue to use the website to support your big picture business goals after the site is live. This recommendation requires you to widen your lense to include the overall goals and potential growth of your business in your optimization plans. Your website should grow and change with your business, and your optimization plan should include website expansion and updates that reflect changes in your overall business and marketing plans.
If your company is opening a new location or entering a new market you will make both general and strategic updates to your website to support the new initiative. These changes could include updating the locations page, adding new informational service pages or landing pages and possibly adding additional market identifiers to your forms. A shift like this will extend through your digital marketing strategy to include a push for local SEO keywords, new social media properties and potentially a targeted email or PPC campaign once the groundwork of updating the website is complete.
The same concept can be applied to smaller business strategies such as a goal to increase the sales of certain product over a length of time. To support this goal you may set up a new product focused conversion path and create supporting website content and landing pages to drive traffic towards that goal. It is important to incorporate learning’s from previous campaigns and optimizations whenever you are setting up a new landing page or building out a new piece of content for your website. Doing so will ensure that the updates will continue to resonate with your audience and help users along the path to conversion.
4.) Create a content editorial calendar.
Websites are not stand-alone properties once they are finished. They should be continuously updated and supported with fresh content that is relevant and helpful to visitors. This is most easily done through the use of a blog but really, the sky is the limit when it comes to website content. You could build a video library that includes video podcasts that you update regularly, or periodically upload premium content pieces such as eBooks, webinar recordings, tip sheets and white papers that users can access through individual landing pages. However you want to approach your content strategy it is important to consider the following:
- What content formats do my users prefer (blog, video, eBook etc.)
- How will my users find my content?
- What content topics are helpful and interesting to my users?
- What content topics will help my users in their purchasing decision?
- What content topics can support my business goals?
- How can I apply what I’ve learned from website performance to determine the best content topics?
Answering these questions will help you generate ideas on what type of content to create, how to promote it and what topics to cover. Once you’ve created a list of content ideas use performance data and your knowledge of the customer and the market you serve to develop a content editorial calendar. This editorial calendar should include the content format, topic, promotion details, SEO keywords and publish dates to help keep your team on track. Updating your site regularly with new and interesting content will keep visitors coming back and can also have an impact on your website’s SEO performance.
5. Check site health regularly.
My final recommendation for post-launch website optimizations is easily implemented and crucial to the on-going success of your website. If you’ve done the pre-work of creating a website that is technically sound and secure it is worth the time investment to maintain your site’s health through monthly web checks. We recommend setting aside time each month to go through a list of website properties to check for site health and optimization. A few items to include on that list could be:
- Number of indexed pages via Google Webmaster Tools
- Organic search queries via Google Webmaster Tools
- WordPress plug in updates
- WordPress theme/core updates
- WordPress comments
- Website back links and domain authority (disavow unnatural links using Google’s disavow tool)
- Site speed via Google Page Speed Tools
- Mobile friendly status via Google’s Mobile Friendly Test
Checking site health is a great step to add to your monthly reporting. Doing so will prevent the quickly changing online landscape from having a negative impact on your site’s health and performance.
Having a technical sound, user friendly website that is optimized for SEO and frequently updated with fresh content is key to the success of your business online. It is where the most crucial online interactions with your customers will happen and for some businesses, websites are an important source of online sales and income. Applying post-launch optimization strategies will help you continue to leverage your new website for business success in the future.