Setting up and launching a new website can be a daunting task. With so many factors to consider, such as what blogging platform or website builder to use, the overall look and feel of your website, and how to ensure your site is optimized for SEO, there are many important facets that you could potentially overlook.
From beginning with a comprehensive project plan before you begin to think about how you’ll incorporate SEO and social media, as well as other considerations and steps that can help get your website noticed, following tried and true best practices is the best way to hit the ground running with a functional, aesthetically pleasing website.
To learn more about the best practices and top tips that can help you avoid common pitfalls and launch an effective website that helps you achieve your business goals, we reached out to a panel of web developers, web designers, and marketers, and asked them to answer this question:
“What are your top tips for setting up and launching a new website?”
Meet Our Panel of Web Developers & Marketers:
By trade, Sam is a website and internet geek and came into the CBD industry back in 2017 by chance. He very quickly generated a passion for CBD which has ultimately lead to the creation of CBDiablo.
“One of the first things to consider when setting up your website is how people will actually find it online. If the website or areas of the website don’t appear within search engines like Google, people will have a hard time actually finding the website. One of the first things to do when launching a new website is to create a sitemap, a map which outlines all of the pages on your website. Having a sitemap helps search engines like Google find all of the pages you want them to find.”
Ben Taylor is an IT and web consultant since 2004 and founder of www.homeworkingclub.com, an advice portal for aspiring freelancers.
“1. Consider all of your options: Web design isn’t a dark and mysterious art any more. It’s possible for even non-technical people to establish an attractive, mobile-friendly site today. As such, you can pay a lot or very little for a site that could turn out rather similar regardless. Often, you’re paying as much for the quality of support and aftercare you can expect, as much as the site itself.
2. Remember your site speed: Google is becoming increasingly focused on website performance. A website weighed down by high-res images and lots of plug-ins can struggle to do well in Google’s rankings.
3. Test properly on mobile: Around 50% of people browse the web on their smartphones these days. How your site looks and performs on mobile is at least as important as how it works on a computer screen.“
Aled Nelmes is a Digital Marketer born and raised in Wales, UK. Beginning his career as a Radio Plugger, Aled then went on to be a Marketing Consultant for Google in his second year of University. Now, Aled manages the online sales and SEO for Diploma MSc, an online University.
“There are multiple ways in which you can successfully launch a new website. My first tip would be to ensure you have set up your tracking. Very few small businesses will set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console from day one, which results in weeks of good data loss. Google also likes websites which have their tracking and analytics tools connected, so expect to see a little boost from them after your launch.
My second tip would be to start with strong links. Google will strongly consider inbound and outbound links in 2020 to rank a website’s importance. So start with the basics:
- Is your website properly linked to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc?
- Do you have a Google My Business profile set up?
Secondly, it’s never too early to start acquiring some strong links from external sources – tell Google you’re serious from day one. Find some bloggers in your industry, offer to write for them and include your website link, or even better, do some early PR and offer to comment on other blogs and include your website link.
My third tip would be to check your website’s speed. If your website launches, and in that first crawl Google logs your website as being slow, you’re already starting at a disadvantage. So, make sure your images are JPEG not PNG, make sure there are no unnecessary moving graphics, and if text doesn’t need to be there, get rid of it.”
Ashlee Campbell is the Founder of Summit Collaborations Marketing Agency. After spending a number of years working with national brands in digital marketing and brand management, she decided to follow her passion and support business owners in the pursuit of excellence along the lines of marketing, business support, and operations.
“My number one tip for setting up and launching a new website is to make sure your content effectively communicates your services/products in the most clear and concise way possible. While it’s important for all businesses to have an online presence, if your content doesn’t explain your products or services in a way that your potential customers can understand, the entire website is essentially useless.”
Roger Perkin is a Network & Security Consultant & Website Designer based in the UK. He has designed and built his business website, as well as many other websites on various platforms, but he favors self-hosted designs using open source code.
“Before setting up and building your own website, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
What is the purpose of the website? A website can be as simple as a one-page design to a 1,000-page e-commerce shop, so before you start thinking about building the site, you need to establish its purpose. The answer to this question will help you determine where and how to build it.
How technical are you? Are you technical in any way, are you comfortable with code and building websites, and do you have any graphic design experience? While anyone can make a website these days with the many easy-to-use website building platforms available, to make it really work for you and look great, you need to have a bit of an understanding of graphic design and code.
How many updates will the website require? Once your website is built, will it require daily or weekly updates, or will it only require updating every so often? This will help you determine your choice of platform and also whether you want to do it yourself or if you should pay someone to build your website.
How much budget do you have? While you can build a website for free, if you want a well-performing website, you need to consider spending a bit of money on the hosting platform. This gives you reliability and typically includes support services from your hosting provider.
Do you want your website to show up in search engines? If you want your website to show up in the search engine results, it needs to be well-built on a fast platform and be fully optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you really want your website to succeed, you need to consider using a platform that enables you to be in complete control and install your own plugins or software to optimize the website for search engine visibility.
Once you have considered what your website is for, who is going to build it, and how much budget you have, you then have to decide where to put your website. Your choices include everything from free options with built-in drag-and-drop designers to building the site yourself from scratch and using fully self-hosted servers. Also, you’ll need to decide whether to hire a website designer to do the work for you or if you are going to do it yourself. You know your current skills and how much time you have available, and it’s up to you to decide how much time and money you have to put into this task. Building a website is not easy and can be a very time-consuming task. This is why large companies have a team of people to run their websites! Whatever you do, it’s a great learning experience to be able to get your message out to the world on your own website.”
Linda Murray Bullard
Linda Murray Bullard is the Chief Business Strategist at LSMB Business Solutions.
“To go from nothing to something, consider creating a landing page that has one job, either to make a sale for a single product or service or to raise awareness. On your website, begin with the basics: an about page, a contact page, services or product description pages, and sales pages. Add additional information based on customer feedback, such as FAQs, behind the scenes glimpses into your company, stories, etc.”
Alistair Dodds is the Marketing Director and Co-Founder of the London-based Digital Marketing Agency, EIC Marketing. He has over 20 years of experience as a digital marketer and business owner with clients throughout the USA and Europe.
“My top tip for setting up and planning a new website is to fully develop your marketing plan before a single line of code is written. The reason being you need to know which marketing channels you are looking to focus on.
For example, you have to do thorough keyword research before planning out your run of site (ROS) category structure. This is absolutely essential if you want to hit the ground running with an SEO campaign. If you leave this as an afterthought and then decide six months in that you need to prioritize SEO, you’ll end up spending a lot of unnecessary time and budget on making changes. It’s far better to plan it out right from the start.
Once your marketing strategy is in place and you know which marketing channels you want to prioritize, you can then decide on which platform and framework to build your site. So, for example, if you’re developing a fashion e-commerce website where your main traffic is going to come from Instagram and Facebook, then you might consider Shopify as a quick and efficient platform on which to develop. If, however, SEO is a key requirement, you may decide to opt for the flexibility and personal control offered by WordPress and WooCommerce. That’s why it’s essential to have your marketing strategy well thought through and researched before deciding on a specific development platform.”
Jack Bradley is a Freelance web developer working with Twenty-Two Creations, a local web design and marketing agency in Spain. They develop websites that help small and local businesses compete and grow in an online market. They help small businesses think bigger!
“One of the areas we have worked hard to optimize in the past year is the launch process for our new websites. Whether you are launching one or ten websites, we have found that giving ourselves more time to test and check the work has, in the long run, reduced the need to revisit a website.
The first step is to create a checklist. Have you uploaded all content and images? Are the images optimized for loading times? Do all links point to the correct pages? Do SEO and social media links need to be added before launch? Do forms submit and deliver to the correct email address? (This is a BIG mistake if missed!)
Our checklist has now grown to over 50 points and not only makes us aware of what needs to be checked, but it also creates accountability and provides a reference to look back on. This has also prevented clients from demanding further work, as the checklist must be approved pre-launch.
Once we have checked the website ourselves, we have developed a testing period that is built into our timescales. We ask friends, employees, and trusted associates to check websites to ensure that the features we designed work in the way we planned them. This flags any failures in user experience before the website is even open to the public. All in all, it comes down to not rushing the launch process. This is probably the number one place mistakes will happen if you do not give yourself enough time.”
Fiona is the Digital Marketing Manager at Nigel Wright Group, Europe’s number one consumer & FMCG sector recruitment agency.
“Keyword research is imperative when setting up and launching a new website. The most success we’ve experienced in positioning our brand online has been through optimizing our website content. We have focused our efforts on identifying the keywords and phrases that our customers search for that tie in with our service offering. We are a recruitment agency specializing in consumer and FMCG recruitment, and therefore we’ve included terms such as ‘FMCG recruitment,’ ‘food recruitment,’ ‘drinks industry recruitment,’ and many more across targeted web pages. It’s important to put the time and effort into keyword research before launching your website; otherwise, you will fail to maximize the opportunities for gaining high-value organic traffic that can be converted into leads and paying customers, right from the outset.”
Jacob Quirke is a web developer at JC Social Media. His work focuses on everything from full website builds and online audits to the creation of tools to support the work of social media and marketing specialists.
“Consider the purpose of your website. Before setting up a website, it’s important to consider why you need it. The answer to this question may affect the future strategies in its construction. Do you want to focus on churning out top-quality blogs on a daily basis? Then WordPress would be the best recommendation. It’s specifically designed for bloggers, freelancers, and businesses to create content themselves. Do you want to sell your products online? Then using sites like Shopify and WooCommerce may be right up your street. You may eventually need the support of a web developer, but with today’s innovative technologies and tools, you may be surprised as to how much of your website you can set up yourself.”
Sally is a freelance copywriter who writes beautiful brand stories, powerful web copy, and compelling content for startups and small businesses, especially retailers. She loves covering topics as diverse as fashion, sustainability, the arts, and travel. And as a location-independent writer, she’s always planning her next adventure.
“The biggest mistake I see people make with their new websites is with poorly written copy. You’re spending all this time, effort, and money creating the perfect website, why spoil it with less than perfect copy? Writing that is full of mistakes can do serious damage to your reputation and credibility.
The other common misstep I see a lot is copy that focuses too hard on the business itself and not enough on the customer. I understand, as a business owner, you’re rightfully passionate about what you do and what you can offer. But the kind of copy that is going to appeal to your customers is the kind that focuses on them, their needs, their problems, and how you can solve those problems. To make instant improvements to your website, refocus the attention on the customer. As a guide, you should be using the word you around six times more than the words us, we, and me. Finally, get a trusted colleague to check your writing before it goes live.”
Chris Love has over 25 years of professional web development experience. He currently specializes in progressive web application development and SEO. Chris has authored 4 web development books and spoken around the world at a variety of developer events.
“If you want to launch a new or upgrade an existing website, you should focus on delivering a good user experience. There are key factors I ensure with all sites and applications I develop that many designers and developers overlook:
- Be secure by default
- Deliver a good mobile-first experience
- Load fast
- Have a good offline experience
There are many technical aspects to delivering those goals, most of which are encompassed by the core principles of progressive web applications. Basic security means using HTTPS, today a free and easy to implement feature today. Not only does it ensure your customers feel safe, but it is also a SEO ranking factor.
Mobile-first means providing a good user experience on all screen sizes and input modalities. Default layout design has relied on mobile-first responsive design for a long time now, but you also need to consider how easy your site is to navigate, enter data, and whether it works with voice commands.
You should also utilize a content delivery network and HTTP/2 to distribute your content closer to users and utilize modern HTTP to load site assets more efficiently.
The web has had offline capabilities for a decade. In the past 5 or 6 years, this has expanded in capabilities thanks to service workers. You can now code your site to possibly work 100% offline. This means your customers can engage with you anytime, anywhere, even when their connection fails.
As a bonus, you should use PWA technology to encourage users to add or install your site to their home screen, just like a native application. This is a clear sign of engagement and an opportunity to nurture your customer relationships. Most sites are not using the majority of these concepts correctly or at all. This creates an opportunity for sites willing to deliver a good, modern user experience to excel.”
Daniela Andreevska is Marketing Director at Mashvisor, a real estate data analytics company. She has previous experience in economic policy research and fundraising.
“Start a blog. A blog page is an indispensable part of any website to be launched in 2020. Publishing high-quality content of value to your target customers is the best and most efficient way to compete with older, better-established websites and to get yours to rank well on Google and other search engines. Having a blog page where you publish daily posts – at least at the beginning – will help you drive organic traffic to your website and get your first customers.”
Simon Hansen is the Founder and Blogger at Best Sports Lounge.
“Launching and maintaining a website is a difficult and challenging process, but having the right SEO know-how makes everything easier. Here are underrated and overlooked SEO techniques that people looking to launch a website should follow:
1. Optimizing images. Google has decided to flag slow sites and improve most of its algorithm, which means that website owners have to up their game. Having overly large images on your site affects your site’s loading time, and not naming them only makes it harder for Google to crawl. Neglecting to follow these practices affects your domain authority and the overall value of your site.
2. Building relationships with journalists. Building relationships with journalists and responding to their queries via HARO is often overlooked by website owners and entrepreneurs since they believe that it takes up too much time and money, but what they don’t realize is that HARO is a slow burn that’s definitely worth the wait. HARO is a free email service that allows you to respond to journalists’ queries and gives you the opportunities to be featured on their site. Though it might take some time, getting quality backlinks and building friendly relationships with journalists will only benefit you in the long term.”
Zazar is the CEO of Canz Marketing.
“Whether you are doing a DIY web project or setting up one for your client, going it blind wastes all your efforts. Before you start, you should have all the information about the niche, business plans, and goals. This will help you understand the audience well and find the most suitable options in terms of design and the message.
Do not expect your audience to start where you want them to. Prepare the design and content in such a way that they have everything they need, no matter where they land first. Also, keep all the elements consistent across the website.
Before you launch, your audience might be looking for the services you provide. Start pre-launch hype so they know about your service way before you start. Create a pre-launch page that gets visitors’ information, so they are notified when the site is ready.
Keep all the SEO elements in check, but put a special emphasis on the load speed; having slow speed can cost you a considerable loss of customers. They don’t have time to keep waiting for what you have to show them, especially when other options won’t keep them waiting.”
Hima Pujara is a Digital Marketing Executive at Signity Solutions. She is also a Hubspot Certified Content Marketer and loves to write on topics related to food, life, technology, and business. She’s a marketer by passion and writer by heart!
“I have several tips for anyone who is setting up or launching a new website:
1. Follow the Basics of SEO: Other than choosing the right website platform and domain name, the other major tip is to learn the basics of SEO. A few of the essential SEO points to have in place when you launch your site are:
- Use target keywords in strategic areas of your page, such as in the navigation bar, title tags, post titles, header tags, alt image tags, etc.
- Add meta title and meta description.
- Create a schedule for adding original content.
- Build links to your site (aim for pages with PR 1).
- Build for mobile-first indexing
2. Build for Mobile-First Indexing: Recently, Google officially announced the rollout of mobile-first indexing. Build a website compatible with Google AMP, and make sure to have a responsive site that gives your mobile audience a good user experience.
3. Use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer): SSL creates a secure connection between your users and your website (http vs. https). Google now ranks SSL websites higher than the non-secure equivalents.
4. Link Google Search Console: Connect your website to Google Search Console on day one of launching the site. Also, upload the XML sitemap. GSC provides you with information such as a list of links to the website, manual actions against your website, and whether your website mobile-friendly.
5. Create Social Media Accounts: Today, social media networking is integral to a website. Set up your social network accounts on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and any other social media website with your target audience. Social media is the best way to let visitors communicate and raise awareness about your website.”
Joseph is a digital marketing professional who focuses on local SEO and content marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help local businesses gain visibility and reach new customers online.
“Before you launch a new website, plan out the first three months of content. Any promotional strategies you have in mind with your website will rely on custom content. Content marketing helps you build an audience, and it engages your new visitors. The easiest way to add content to your website is through blog posts. As part of your initial three-month planning process, create an editorial calendar that includes upcoming topics to your blog posts. Consider topics that are relevant to your target audience. Also, write your first five blog posts in advance so you can update your website consistently after launch. The last thing you want to do with a new website is fall behind with content updates.”
Raj Dosanjh is the Founder of RentRound.com, a real estate agent comparison site that saves landlords money.
“My top 3 tips for setting up and launching a new website are:
1. Get expert help. Sites like GoDaddy and templates from services like WordPress make it very easy for you to build a site. However, when it comes to bespoke features and high levels of customization, that’s where a lot of time can be burnt. I recommend hiring a good designer and website developer from the get-go. You’ll end up actually paying less in the long run because of the time you’ll be saving and can focus on growing the business instead of learning how to use new tools.
2. Learn the basics of AdWords. Google marketing is by far the number one source to advertise your business. You can hire someone to run your Google Adword account for you. But to make sure you’re attracting the right people who will convert for your business, you need to make sure keywords, audience settings, and locations are correctly set up. Only you, as the business owner, will know of you’re setting it up correctly. There’s no point directing traffic to your site if it’s the wrong traffic.
3. Don’t penny pinch. As a new website/business owner, it’s easy to try and save on costs. But of you go the route of doing things yourself and selecting cheaper service providers, it’ll impact you in the long term. Poorly developed sites will mean more maintenance in the future.”
Keno Hellmann is the CEO at SelbstsaendigKite.de. He teaches how to create a digital lifestyle and earn money through internet based systems.
“My ultimate tips for setting up and launching a new website are:
1. Use WordPress. When launching new websites, I recommend using WordPress. It’s free, and most hosting providers offer a so-called one-click install for apps like WordPress. WordPress is open source, and most plugins to extend the functionality of WordPress are free, too.
2. Get a reliable hosting provider with SSD servers and great support. Don’t save too much money in terms of hosting; you will regret it sooner or later. A good hosting provider offers SSD servers and 24/7 support at a decent price. Don’t go with the cheapest you can find!
3. Use a page builder like Elementor for extra convenience. For inexperienced WordPress users, I recommend using the page builder Elementor. It’s free and easy to install and use. To create complete websites in a rush, I would recommend buying the Pro version, which contains hundreds of ready to go landing pages, website sections, etc., which can be modified with ease.”
Robin Young is the CEO and founder of Fitness Savvy, a price comparison and fitness education website. He has worked in digital marketing, SEO, and the fitness industry for the past few years. He also works as a freelance writer, contributing articles to popular websites such as Muscle & Strength and Sparkpeople.
“When setting up a new website, people should consider the technical side of things in detail. Website speed is crucial in 2020, so use tools such as GTMetrix, Pingdom, and Google Lighthouse to check how well your website is performing on these metrics. Even those who are not technical can use the results to advise their developers and technical team and set realistic targets.
A mistake we made when setting up our website was not creating 301 redirects. We were adding categories and products, changing the URLs, re-organizing, etc., but none of the old pages were re-directing.
By using SEO tools such as Ahrefs, you can run site audits to ensure your website is able to rank in search engines. The audit provides useful tips on many technical areas including duplicate content and broken pages. These audits should be performed regularly to ensure the site is always at full health.”
Scott Perry is a Project Manager and writer living in North Carolina. A passionate Baseball fan and former player, he writes about catching over at catchershome.com.
“My top tips for setting up a new website are:
Do your research. It’s of paramount importance that you do thorough keyword and competitive research before launching your website. For example, once you have a handful of concepts in mind for your new site, use research tools such as those at SEMrush or Ahrefs to understand whether those concepts are valid or not, and whether you will have a chance at ranking for those topics you would like to rank for. Jumping into developing a site based on an non-validated concept is not a recipe for success.
Analysis paralysis is a real thing. Avoid it. Yes, research is incredibly important. However, you have to draw the line at a certain point and make a decision. It is very easy to have a handful of good ideas, all of which you determine you may have some ability to develop a successful site around. Yet it can be incredibly difficult to pull the trigger on any one concept, so instead you keep researching each concept ad nauseam, avoiding making a decision. This happened to me with my website. So my recommendation is to avoid the analysis paralysis and once you’ve found a good, validated idea – just go for it!”
Sanjay Patoliya is a full-stack software engineer with more than 10 years of experience in software, web and mobile application development, deployment, and maintenance. Sanjay is the Founder and Director of Teclogiq, a company with more than 6 years of experience in offering splendid IT services to clients worldwide.
“Always be sure to check the following points before launching your new website:
Install Google Analytics: Using Google Analytics tracking you can find all insights about your website visitors. Further, you can use those insights in your online marketing efforts.
Install Google & Bing Webmaster Tools: Google wants to help you succeed. They offer lots of free services. Webmaster Tools is one of those. It provides information about the health of your website and will let you know of any issues that might be hindering your search engine rankings.
Create a sitemap and submit to search engines: A sitemap is a listing of all the webpages/URLs on your website. Once your new website is live, you’ll want to create a new sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing using their respective webmaster tools to crawl your website in respective search engines.
Use Robot.txt: To block admin-level web pages from indexing by search engine crawlers, use a robot.txt file.
Double-check to be sure all links are working: This should happen before the website is live and being tested on an old server. But you want to make sure all your links to point to pages. Use a broken link tool to scan your website’s links to see if any are broken.
Test website speed: If your new website takes too long to load, Google will not want to promote your website to searchers. They want to provide searchers with the results they need fast. So, having a fast-loading website helps a great deal.
Test your website on mobile: The chances are good that 35%+ of people visiting your website are doing so on a smartphone. The question remains: is your website frustrating mobile visitors? You will also want to test the website load speed on your mobile.
Test contact forms: Make sure you test every web form and make sure the proper person is getting the email requests.
Update website in business directories and social networks: This applies only if you have a new domain for your website. Make sure your website is listed properly in all business directories and social profiles.
Claim all business listings: Backlinking is huge for your search rankings. You can get backlinks from business directories like Manta, Yellow Pages, and Yelp. But you’ll need lots of links to make an impact, especially with a new business and website.
Optimize the website for search: The chances are good that your web designer hasn’t properly optimized your website for search. From the content to the page titles, your website needs to be properly optimized so search engines can better understand what your website is about and what search terms you’re are trying to target. So, make sure your website is properly optimized for the search terms people use to search for your product or service.
Outreach: Now it’s time to reach out. Contact friends via email and social media. Ask them to share your website. You can also contact other businesses involved in your industry, or even those businesses that deal with your target market, as well.”
As a seasoned fintech innovator, Victor has multiple years of experience in the payment sector. He is currently CEO of Shufti Pro, an AI-based verification service provider that focuses on providing reliable and smooth customer onboarding services to businesses worldwide.
“Setting up a website may or may not require technical skills. If you know how to code, building a website from scratch shouldn’t be an issue at all. But, that’s not always needed, and there are user-friendly platforms for visual editing, hosting and setting up domains. What really matters is to know how to structure the website and build content that aligns with your business. The right site builder and search optimization tools then bring the entire website together. Domain names are especially important and must be chosen with business objectives, audiences, and outreach strategies in mind.
When it comes to launching a website, a pre-launch webpage must be created to serve as a guiding light for the rest of the marketing campaign. High-quality content and influencer marketing techniques must be developed to establish your brand name and credibility. Email marketing is a good way to connect with customers and must be integrated into your website in a truly user-friendly manner.”
Adam Thompson is the Director of Digital Marketing at ReliaSite, a hands-on digital leader with 17 years of experience in website development and digital marketing. He currently lives in Florida, where you can find him fishing, snorkeling, or gaming in his free time.
“Here are a few important tips for setting up and launching a new website:
1. Build your website architecture to match what users are looking for. You want to be sure that you have pages targeted to the main keywords your target customers are searching for. Also, be sure that your navigation menus use the terminology your customers use, rather than insider/company specific terminology you might use.
2. Create a plan for managing updates. If your website uses a popular CMS (such as WordPress, Drupal, etc.) it’s especially critical that you have a plan to keep your website software updated. Many updates are created to fix security flaws, and if you’re running outdated software, you’ll be more vulnerable to hackers taking down your website.
3. Backup your website regularly. When you’re running a website, there are many things that can go wrong – automatic backups make it easy for you to “undo” problems by restoring your site to a known good version.
4. Use real photos, not stock photos. Show your customers the real people and company behind your website by using actual photos of your office, equipment, employees, and projects. Stock photos may be easy, but they’re obviously generic.”
Now that you’ve set up an appealing website, take advantage of tools that help you leverage your website traffic to grow your audience on social media. Installing our social media share buttons is simple and takes just minutes, and they make it easy for your visitors to share your carefully crafted content with their social media connections with a single click!