Web Design: After the site goes live…
Understand what happens when your site goes live and how search engines work.
In this post I will be explaining what you can expect when your site goes live and what you need to do.
Its a common mis-conception that once a website is live, it will appear in search engines immediately, some of my clients even expect to be the number 1 result for their top keyword on day 1.
Unfortunately that is not the case, the work isn’t over just yet. In fact, generally if you want your site to succeed, the work never stops.
Let me explain a bit about the process of how websites end up in search results in the first place.
Google and other search engines have a huge number of computers which essentially spend their time scanning or crawling the pages found on the internet. As they go they detect changes to content, new content, new links and even dead links and websites which have been removed from the internet.
Using their own magic and witchcraft (algorithms) they will decide how often a page should be crawled, which pages to crawl and which to index.
Think of the web as a giant spider web with googles bots or spiders constantly moving around the web looking for new strands to traverse and inspect.
This is where your website comes in but there is one catch. Your new web to be crawled isn’t attached to the main web in anyway so the spiders cant get there!
Get in on the crawl
There are a few things you can do to help this. First you can literally tell Google you exist and you can do this in a number of ways.
The second option is more website specific. Google have a site called Webmaster Tools which essentially lets you fine tune some settings of how your website will appear in search rankings and more importantly right now, let them know the site exists!
One of the most important tools on there for a new website is the ability to submit a sitemap.
A sitemap removes the need for the search engines bots (or spiders) to find new pages themselves. You can give them a map of how to find every page on your site making sure nothing is missed!
The third option is similar to the above and also has some massive benefits for you going forward to manage the site and make improvements.
Google Analytics. Googles Anayltics tool is the go to reporting tool to see just about every stat you can imagine (and some you cant) about visitors to your website. How many unique visitors, how long they spent on the site, which pages they went on and in which order, how they found you. Its all there.
For new websites though, its another great way of letting Google know your out there.
As you can imagine, the bots and spiders have quite a bit of work on their hands, the web is a rather large place. Some rough figures estimate there are around 571 new websites online globally every MINUTE! Over 2 million facebook shares, 68,000 new blog posts (like this one), you get the picture.
So how does Google index these pages exactly? Remember each search performed on Google.co.uk and similar websites is like starting a little competition.
If you search for ‘web design’ for example, there are a few billion pages (actually, 1,110,000,000 as of right now) all competing to get that top spot in your search results.
Google has to come up with a way of deciding which page is the best fit for you. Which page is likely to give you the answer or result you want.
Now to explain all these would take a few essays (there is a reason people get paid a lot of money for Seach Engine Optimisation work) but I like to explain it like this.
The site that gets the number 1 spot in your search results is the perfect site with a score of 100/100 on the test paper (or at least the closest one to it).
To get to 100/100 there are about 200 questions on the paper. Some of the bigger questions are worth 10 points and you should go for them first. The real top sites though are the ones that go back through the test and do all the smaller questions that are only worth half a point or even a quarter. It all adds up to that final score.
Each page on your site is actually assigned a PageRank and that PageRank is one of the determining factors Google and other searches use when serving up results.
The final stage then is when search engines choose to display your page in their search rankings.
First of all its probably worth noting that if you are selling designer rucksacks for monkeys, your probably going to do pretty well. With very little (probably zero to be fair) competition, you can probably expect your site to rank pretty well.
If your a hair dresser in London. Its going to take some work…OK a lot of work.
Google uses over 200 factors to decide which pages to show first and its up to you to try and shine in those areas.
Again this could turn into an even longer essay but I think I can sum up. Use your website. Post blog updates, case studies, galleries, testimonials. Use social media and local or relevant groups to your website. Don’t plaster your website link all over peoples pages but find a good time and opportunity to let people know about your services or business.
Unless what your selling really is a crowd puller and there is nothing else out there like it, you need to drive people to your website and make it interesting when they get there.
Imagine turning up for a meal somewhere only to find your only choice is 20 different franchises of Subway. They all sell the exact same menu but the manager and staff is different.
All the shops look filthy, the staff look bored and there is nobody else in there. All except one. The lights are on, they are running promotions with performers outside, the staff are all enthusiastic and the place is cleaner than your home. Which one would you go to?