Launching a new website can be a daunting experience for any business, especially when you aren’t aware of the processes involved or don’t have a plan in place.
The key objective when launching a new site is to ensure that user experience isn’t affected when everything goes live and that your website still ranks highly in search engines.
Here, we look at how you can approach launching a new website and discuss what to expect.
Set standards from your current site
Before launching your new site, you’ll want to take time to measure its performance before you make the swap. This will help you assess how well your new site performs after the launch and identify areas of improvement.
It’s imperative to track metrics such as the website conversion rate, average time a visitor spends on your site and how many pages they visit. This will allow you to set early benchmarks and give you a better idea of whether your new launch is a success.
It’s also a good idea to back-up existing meta titles, descriptions and heading tags so you can re-use them on your new site or reference them when writing new versions.
Map out 301 redirects
When switching to a new website URL’s can often change. If this is the case and the URL structure of the website is different from the old, you should redirect the old pages to the equivalent pages on the new site. This prevents users from accidentally stumbling across missing pages (known as ‘404 errors’) if they click on an old link.
Additionally, linking to your new page allows you to transfer SEO value from any old URL’s. When properly implemented, these types of 301 redirects will minimise any loss of organic traffic and improve overall user experience.
However, if you have a large ecommerce site with thousands of pages it isn’t always practical to set up 301s for every page. In most cases, only a small number of pages will drive the majority of your site visits.
This is why it’s important to focus on the highest performing landing pages and main category pages to ensure you’re covering the pages that drive the most visits to your website. As time passes after the launch it’s then possible to create 301 redirects for every page on your site to improve overall user experience.
Website launch checklist
From the offset, it’s helpful to have a central list to work from so that everyone is on the same page. Only then when the final checks have been made the site is ready to go live.
The developer will carry out technical tasks such as setting up Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics and create new goals and events to track performance.
Final checks focus on the user-facing elements of the new site. For example, making sure contact details are correctly inputted and testing how well the site looks across different devices and browsers.
Another essential factor to consider before launching your new site is page speed. Google prioritises faster sites, more importantly, fast mobile sites. Here at IGOO, we use tools such as Lighthouse, GTMetrics and Pingdom which can determine the speed of pages.
What’s more, for ecommerce sites it’s good to test the full customer experience before launching to ensure the checkout process runs as smoothly as possible. This includes testing account creation, so making sure a user can create an account, check their orders and sign-up to newsletters.
It’s best practice to launch your site earlier on in the day and at the beginning of the week. This will ensure that the ‘go-live’ process runs smoothly and any technical snags are picked up as quickly as possible.
When the day finally arrives and your new site has gone live, there are a few things that need to be checked and set-up. Firstly, implement 301 redirects and test that tracking is being processed properly.
Once all technical checks have been completed, meta titles and descriptions need to be uploaded and H1 tags need to be optimised for your target keywords. The end goal is to ensure that your site pages are well-optimised to help maintain keywords rankings and organic traffic.
Additionally, be prepared for a few technical hiccups shortly after launching. Allocating development time in those first few weeks is essential. At IGOO, we use DataDog which helps our team of developers detect any technical errors and monitor our clients’ website effectively. For example, if a product page is broken this is displayed on a dashboard and our developers are alerted immediately.
There are a number of factors that will impact the performance of your new website – in particular how long it takes search engines such as Google to index and crawl the new pages and the structure of your site.
Don’t be disheartened if you experience a short-term decrease in organic traffic post-launch. This is expected with some sites because it takes time for search engines to work out the new structure of your site and decide where to rank the newly updated pages.
If a site is properly optimised after going live, rankings and traffic quickly recover after the initial decrease. It’s worth noting that website optimisation is an ongoing process and you will see results a lot quicker by making regular tweaks and changes to your site.
IGOO are here to help
We recognise that launching a new website is a major project and it’s important that you understand how things will play out in the long run. We recommend the best platforms and marketing strategies to meet your business objectives and ultimately increase brand awareness and drive conversions.
To see how we can transform your ecommerce offering and successfully launch your new site, get in touch with us today.