The Dos and Don’ts of a Successful Site Launch
You’ve selected your template, your palette of colors and written your site text so it’s irresistible to any visitor who happens on your site. Good for you. Unfortunately, if you don’t prepare for a successful site launch, not too many visitors will happen upon your site. They won’t even know it’s there.
So how are visitors, potential buyers or clients, going to find you among the millions of other web sites covering the cyber terrain? Well, the answer, at least in part, is SEO – search engine optimization – making your site more easily recognizable to search engine spiders.
It can take weeks, months and even years to have a site indexed by Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines – unless you go proactive and make your site spider friendly. It also helps if you invite these crawlers to stop by for a look. So, here are some dos and don’ts to ensure your site launch doesn’t go unnoticed.
Avoid These Common SEO Black Holes
Search engine spiders aren’t smart. They don’t think and they have to be led from place to place within a site. They’re unable to “read” certain kinds of information and they don’t make connections between that body of text and the image associated with it.
Black Hole #1
Spiders can not read text in graphics – any kind of graphics. So, if you’ve loaded up your site with Flash animations or graphics frames to appeal to human eyeballs, these images won’t appeal to spiders. They won’t even be noticed.
Black Hole #2
Spiders don’t bounce around a site randomly (thank goodness), they track links from page to page. Links can be embedded in site text to direct spiders to each page of your site to ensure that it’s completely and accurately indexed. No links, or too few links, and you won’t get the recognition you need for long-term site success.
Black Hole #3
Keywords still count, though not as much as they once did. Spiders crawl text strings looking for repeating words and phrases. They count up the number of keywords per block of text to determine keyword density. You’ll need keyword dense text that also appeals to human readers.
Don’t select keywords willy-nilly. Search engines employ a taxonomy – a system of classification – to place your newly-launched site into one category or another. Select keywords that spiders don’t understand, within the context of the entire site, and you’re sure to have search engine problems.
So, remember, no critical text in graphics, add some embedded links and select keywords with care to avoid being sucked into an SEO black hole.
Take These Positive SEO Steps
There are lots of low- and no-cost steps you can take to gain the attention of search engine spiders – even if your marketing budget is the change you find in the sofa.
One thing search engines like to see is links from other sites – especially from sites with page ranks (PR) higher than your site. Page rank is measured on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the highest. So, Yahoo – the most visited site on the W3 – has a page rank of 10. The Open Source Directory has a PR of 9.
By submitting your site to various directories and portals like these, you gain prestige in the “eyes” of SE spiders. Now, some directories, like the Open Source Directory at www.dmoz.org are free – a good thing. Google’s directory is free as well, but it costs you $300 to get listed in Yahoo’s directory of “selected” sites. It’s a great way to get some respect right from the start. Link up with directories. To find a listing of free and paid directories visit www.stronglinks.com/directories.php.
Spread the Word
The world wide web requires a ton of new content everyday. Think about it – there are a lot of site pages to fill each day, so many sites are looking for free content. And you can give it to them.
Press releases, keyword optimized without sounding like gibberish, will get you noticed as more sites post your release with links to your site – a wonderful thing in the eyes of a spider. There are on-line companies that distribute press releases. Some do it for free, others charge for the service. Some companies to look at are: www.pr.com, www.prleap.com and www.clickpress.com. There are lots of others.
Another way to spread the word is through article syndication. Are you an authority on the products or services you market on-line? If so, you can write 10 or 20 articles on various aspects of your expertise and put them out for syndication. These articles will be picked up by sites and displayed with a link back to your site. You get to establish your creds as an authority first, then provide a link back to your site. It works.
Good, but time-consuming and a bit humiliating. Links exchanges are simply asking sites related to yours to exchange links. “I link to you; you link to me.” This creates various pathways for web users to find what they’re looking for. However, do note that if you’re linked up to any old site, sites unrelated to your own, SEs will lower your marks because these aren’t links helpful to visitors. So, stay within your field with links exchanges and always try to link with a site that has a higher PR than yours.
Blogs and Forums
A lot of sites have blogs today – places where visitors can post articles and other useful information, or respond to articles that have been posted by the site owners.
Contribute to these info outlets if you can string words together into sentences. It doesn’t have to be great art (though well-written and without mistakes is nice), it just has to be relevant, useful to readers and written with authority. The one problem with blogs is that they’re updated regularly on big sites so your insightful analysis of long-chain polymer molecules might disappear quickly into the blog’s archives. On the other hand, because blogs and forums are updated frequently, they always need new content, some of which could be yours.
You know those sponsored links you see on search engine results pages – Ads by Goooooooogle? Well, somebody paid money to have that ad and link placed there. Google’s Adwords program allows advertisers to bid on different keywords. The highest bidder for a given keyword receives the most prominent placement on the SERPs. You can bid as low as five cents for some keywords (not the best of them) and many bucks for really good keywords in hot market segments.
Of course, this requires some marketing capital. If you can afford programs like Adwords or Yahoo’s Search Marketing, you can give your site a running start with PPC marketing. The good thing is you only get charged when a web user clicks on your paid link. The bad thing is you pay every time a user clicks on the link whether s/he buys something or not.
Log on to Google, click on Business Solutions and follow the path to the Google Sitemap service. Here, you can upload your own sitemap, basically “telling” Google to come take a look at you.
Spiders love site maps because that’s where the links are and they can find a lot of information quickly all in one spot. By uploading your site map to the largest, most popular search engine within the known solar system, you’ll get noticed faster. And just as importantly, your site will be completely and accurately indexed from the start.
It takes much more than a good looking website to find success on the web. It’s a lot of hard work and it won’t happen overnight. But, by following some of these steps your site will start showing up in SERPs, generating “organic” visitors – the best kind to have.
So, even if you’re working with a non-existent promotion budget, there are plenty of free steps you can take to move your recently launched site closer to profitability.