When you get a new website, you should have some tasks ready to implement. Whether you initially built the site yourself or paid someone to build the site, you might think waiting a while before you dive into the use of it is a good idea, but these tasks really should get taken care of before you sit back and bask in the glory of your new home on the internet. Besides, when people wait too long, they tend to forget how it all works. This list assumes you have a working CMS or (at minimum) Blogger-type page under your own domain name.
1. Edit The Content And Fill in The Blanks
You might have sent documents to the web designer to add to the site, or maybe you wrote some lines as placeholders. Navigate to every single page and edit every single page. If you have a page that you want to add more to later, then just write a sentence now, but don't say more is coming soon or that it's under construction. Most pages that have blank pages or a coming soon message just sit there with no real content for years, so say something. Also, what you wrote in a document for a web designer to add to the site might not look or sound perfect when on the site itself. Adjust as necessary.
2. Photos With Tags
You want your website photos to represent your business, and the best way to get these photos indexed is to be on your website along with tags that let search engines know more about the photos. This might be called Image Description and/or Image Title. It's even important to use descriptive file names, like "jacksonvillelocation" rather than "image03." You can also add a caption to images in articles. Sure, these photos will eventually all be associated with your website and therefore your business, but it can be very useful to have a description that is more specific (office interior or employee names) or more broad (products you carry or services you do).
There's no reason to limit your images to cubicles and building facades, even if those are very interesting to you. The image in this article is from St. Augustine's Christmas lights, and it will get more hits than images of your management team. There's really nothing wrong with using images that relate to your general location or interests in your posts. In fact, people searching for a writer or web designer in St. Augustine might rather see a photo of something other than someone's profile photo.
3. Google, Bing, Etc.
Get the website registered with Webmaster Tools from Google and Bing. (Search Console, Index, whatever it's called now.) Some website builders will do this for you as a courtesy, but most will not, and that makes it more complicated, since you have to prove it's your website. The reason to add your site is simple: you can add all the current content on your site, add a sitemap, and add content as it's written (if you want to skip waiting for crawling). If your new website is linked to by a dozen highly-rated sites and all kinds of social media posts, search engines will find it. Since most of us can't create the buzz we need that quickly on our own, it's best to show the search engines your website exists.
If you have an older website that's being reworked, it may pay to see what the search engines already see. Trying to match pages can be a good idea, even if content has changed. Some well-established websites take a nosedive after a redesign, so it's just as important to check the indexing then as when building something brand new. You don't have to re-index all the lost pages, since those will eventually drop off, but getting the new pages and structure indexed is very important at this time.
4. See Your Site as a Customer
Now that you have the website mostly done, it's time to make sure the potential customers and clients will see it how you want it to be seen. A web designer will normally test these sites in Chrome, Firefox, and maybe a few other browsers. He or she will also make sure it works on personal mobile devices. There are some tools to make this easier for you, like Screenfly, but also using every device you have in the house is a good idea. Just asking every employee or family member to take a look isn't a bad idea, either, and it's a lot better than someone telling you a year later that your menu doesn't load on Safari or that your mobile menu disappears on all Samsungs. Test every page on every device you can, and be sure to test the contact form (if you use one) to ensure you're getting emails from it.
While it may take some time to get the website indexed, you also need to see your website from the perspective of someone searching for you. That means Google Maps and other online listing services need to link to the correct website, as opposed to the old site or a Facebook page. Direct searches for your business should show up almost immediately after being indexed. Indirect searches, like "consultant in St. Augustine" will take a lot more time, effort, advertising, and content to get you the hits you want, so don't think the website is broken just because it's not showing up with certain searches.
5. Write, Write, and Write (That's Right)
Let's say you want to be the top virtual COO in Northeast Florida. Your website can use the term here and there, but that's not enough to show that you are the one and only best virtual COO. Articles about your work CAN accomplish this. For example, when my St. Augustine grass dies (happens a lot), I search for reasons why it's happening. When I find a yard service in Houston that posts an excellent description of what's happening and how to fix it, I can try that, but if that same yard service had been located in Duval, I probably would have just made a phone call and hired someone to get it done right. If you are the best real estate agent in Northeast Florida, you don't prove it just by sales numbers listed on your website (although that is somewhat compelling). I want to know that my realtor will know where to look for homes, fight for me when negotiating, and be able to tell me how to get the most for my home. That can all be done on a website, and you don't have to give away ALL of your secrets. You just have to tell people, over and over, that you know what you're doing. Some of them will try to fix the lawn or sell the house themselves, while others will see that you can handle it and hire you.
Your goal should be one blog post a week. It doesn't have to be completely work-related. You went on a trip. Maybe you saw something that reminded you of why businesses could use a branding expert. Maybe you didn't. Blog posts on business sites show that the people who work there are real human beings, too. Sure, it's best to talk about training if you are a trainer and have a website about training, but an article about going to an amusement park with the kids that has some element of training in it can also be effective. Just think of the problems that people have that you know how to solve. Offer some free advice and a phone number for when readers get stuck. You can also hire someone to write some articles for you. The point is that your new website needs content, and if it's new and compelling content often enough, you will show up in more and more searches, especially if you're the only landscaper in St. Johns County talking about how to grow hibiscus near a pond. Or the only mechanic in Duval who writes about changing out a Vapor Canister Vent Solenoid in a Cadillac SRX.
Be excited when you get a new website. New stuff is cool to look at. If you follow the steps in this post, then you can use that new website to help your business. If you need help, call in the experts. Maybe someone who is a consultant, writer, trainer, branding expert, or virtual COO (Jeff). If you're looking for someone who can build the new website for you, then try Brian Jaeger with Passive Ninja, Luthernet, and Brave New Church Web Design, or call him at 414-587-6740.