Publishing your website is one of the most exciting milestones for your business. It will form the foundation of your marketing and serve as a hub to represent your brand to your audience, and as such, your website should provide the best user experience.
It's also fundamental that you choose a content management system that facilitates your site design, continuous management and optimization, without having to rely on web developers to do every change.
To work its hardest, your site should help each and every visitor easily find a path to what they’re interested in. A successful website experience can range from someone reading a blog post to learn more about your expertise to completing the sign-up process to become a customer—and everything in between.
For a site that’s in development, check this 10 step launch checklist to ensure the site is ready to launch and that it will effectively support visitors and your business when it goes live. If your site is live now, use this checklist to build on your efforts so far.
1. Implement search engine optimization (SEO)
Besides working with web designers (or with a website builder) to make sure that your site has a great look and feel when it's launched, you should also work with an SEO specialist to ensure your new site's search friendliness.
SEO is the process of increasing the visibility of—and traffic to—your site through search engines.
Even if you don't want to start with an SEO process right away, having an SEO friendly web structure when you launch your site will save you from having to do many more changes in the future.
There are several important elements of good SEO to check before launching.
- Keywords are words or phrases that a person types into a search engine like Google when they’re looking for information about a particular topic. If you think about how people use search engines, you’ll realize that good keywords are specific and descriptive. They typically include industry and plain language terms your audience uses to speak about their needs. When you include these words or phrases into your site content, search engines find your content and recommend it to users. To identify your most relevant keywords to optimize for, you should do keyword research.
- Title tags spell out the purpose of each page on your site to search engines and are used to determine the headline that appears in search results, on social networks, and in the browser tab when someone visits your site. The title tag should be written to clearly explain what the page is and encourage people to click. Mailchimp websites make it easy to set your SEO title for each page and preview what will appear in search engines.
- Meta descriptions are brief summaries (preferably 160 characters or less) of your site that appear beneath the title tag on the search results page and help you convince potential visitors to click. These should include keywords in a natural, plain-spoken way and describe what the user will see on the page. When you build your website in Mailchimp, these can also easily be added by filling in the SEO description form in each page’s settings.
- Internal links point to other pages on your website. These links help search engines determine the structure of your site and make navigation easier for users by showing them more content relevant to their search, and because of this it's critical that you check that they work well before launching your website. Backlinks to your website from other websites are also important.
2. Enable global styles
Every page on your website should look and feel like it belongs to the same brand. When you create your site, enable global styles so that the same colors, fonts, and logos are consistent across every page.
3. Leverage Track with Mailchimp
Once you publish your new website, you’ll want to monitor the number of new signups and unique visits, so you know who your audience is, when they’re visiting the site, and what they’re looking at. Track with Mailchimp can gather this data and add it to your website report.
Depending on what laws apply to your business, you may need to notify page visitors that tracking is happening and give them the opportunity to opt out.
4. Connect to Google Analytics
Every brand should know the details of their website analytics, how visitors engage with their content, and how the site is performing overall. Google Analytics is a free analytics tool you can use to learn more about the demographics of your audience, how much time they spend on your site, and which pages they visit the most. With this information, you can see what’s working best and where there’s room for improvement. You can also use a Google Analytics dashboard to easily view your most important data.
To start measuring your website activity you need to make sure to install Google's analytics code. Many content management systems facilitate this with an analytics tracking option that you can use to avoid editing your site code directly.
Besides an overall web analytics solution it's also recommended that you install Google Search Console for your site. This Google tool will inform you for free about the performance of your site in Google's index and organic search results, if there's a broken link, XML sitemap, or a schema markup issue, as well as the status of other technical SEO metrics.
5. Include an email signup form
Once you’ve engaged someone on your website, email marketing is a great way to continue that conversation and build an ongoing relationship. Be sure your website features a signup form to collect email addresses from visitors—if your site is built in Mailchimp, this key feature will be added automatically. Regular email communications help you share news and updates that are relevant to your audience and showcase your expertise.
When they first sign up, you might simply ask someone for their name and email address. But, to create more personalized content, consider collecting more information such as birthday, city of residence, or what specific part of your business interests them the most. This extra information can inform future communications.
6. Have a clear call to action (CTA)
Your visitor can’t read your mind, so make sure you have a prominent CTA as the main banner image (or “hero”) on your website. A good CTA is persuasive and clearly explains the task you want readers to perform.
- Content on the rest of the page should be directly related to the CTA. For example, explain the benefit of taking the action.
- The CTA should use words that are direct, but not pushy. Creating a sense of urgency is great, but strive for an encouraging tone that doesn’t go too far.
- Use command verbs to explain where a CTA button leads—don’t ask visitors to “click here.” Instead, try something like “Read more on our blog,” “Buy now,” or “Download the app.”
7. Optimize for mobile
Mobile devices account for more than half of all web traffic, so you need to make sure your site is viewable—and easy to find—for people on the go.
In mobile SEO, good content and links are important, but other elements also need to be considered, like:
- URL rendering: the way a URL looks in the address bar
- Page rendering: how HTML code is interpreted visually
- Mobile-focused markups: the code that helps a page get discovered by a search engine
8. Add a notification bar to be CCPA compliant
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires for-profit businesses that collect data from California residents to disclose any collection of data and honor requests to delete that data. While your organization may not be based in the Golden State, visitors from California may visit your website, and you need to be prepared.
Even if you don’t sell personal data, you need to place a clear, visible notification link on your homepage that says, “Do not sell my personal data.” This should lead visitors to a landing page where they can request to have their data deleted. All websites built in Mailchimp will automatically feature a cookie notification bar that lets your visitors opt-in or out of cookie tracking.
9. Test everything
Before you introduce your site to the world, test everything, starting with usability testing.
- Check links. Take the time to check that all your hyperlinks—both internal and external—work.
- Test how your site looks across different browsers. On both desktop and mobile, make sure everything—from fonts to forms—renders correctly with browser tests. If you don’t have the time to do this manually, consider a service like BrowserStack.
- Do a site speed test. Page speed is a ranking factor in Google searches, and consumers are less likely to buy if a page loads slowly. Loading speed of a website can be negatively impacted by numerous things, such as plugins or large images.
- Make sure your forms work. If you have an email signup form on your site—and you should—try subscribing with your own address to see if all the automated messages connected with that process, like welcome emails, arrive properly. Also, make sure any contact or feedback forms accept submissions correctly.
- Proofread the site. Let friends and coworkers visit the site before it debuts, and review everything. Have them read copy to make sure it’s easy to understand and free of typos.
10. Promote your website
Now that your site is ready for prime time, use Mailchimp’s all-in-one Marketing Platform to promote it to the world. Marketing is key to driving awareness, and there are many ways you can encourage new people to visit your site.
- Social media. Share links across all your social channels, and consider investing in targeted paid social advertising to find new people for your audience with specific criteria, like those in the local area or with shared interests.
- Incentives. Create a promo code for people who visit your site offering a perk like free shipping, a special download, or a discount if they sign up for your email list. Contests are also a great way to create excitement and drive traffic.
- Automation. Once someone signs up for your email list, automated emails can help keep your brand top of mind and encourage future site visits. These messages can be triggered by events, such as their first visit to your website, their birthday, holidays, sales, reminders to come back and buy something they left in their shopping cart, and more.
Publish a destination for your audience
Follow these best practices, and you’ll have a website that shows off your brand personality and gives each of your audience members a place to engage with you. A website creates the potential for a long-term relationship with your audience, one that works for them and your business.
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