Talk to the average SEO and he or she will give you advice on what to do with your website once it’s launched. Talk to an above average SEO and he or she will tell you what you should do before your website is launched.
This advice will cover things like keyword research, competitive analysis, content creation, site architecture and back link strategy.
What often gets missed, however, is the advantage you can gain by getting your site indexed by search engines before it’s even launched.
This is just like the Steve Jobs approach to pre-selling his products…and you are just “pre-selling” your blog.
What’s the advantage to getting indexed before your site launches?
When it comes to ranking factors, the age of your site could play a role in giving you position in the search engine rankings.
But that’s not really something you should worry about. In fact, there is a better reason to get your domain online…and that is building an email marketing list, buzz and traffic.
Let me show you what you need to do.
1. Register an SEO-friendly domain name immediately
As soon as you or management knows that you are going to launch a new website, register the domain name immediately.
Make sure, however, that it is a SEO-friendly domain name that will match the niche that you are looking to create content in.
For example, if you are a non-profit who does humanitarian aid for the poor in Africa and you want to create a campaign that will help villages get clean water, then you need to do some keyword research, and choose a name.
Keep in mind that search engines tend to rank websites higher that have relevant first-level keywords in their domain name.
That means in this case it may be a better idea to pick regions in Africa, like a country, and use that as a domain. So you might have examples like this:
Search engines are trained to recognize the keywords, so the order doesn’t matter too much. What they’ll see is that this site is probably about “clean,” “water” and “Uganda.”
And from what we know from our semantic keyword research is that these engines will probably figure out that this site is about “clean water in Uganda.”
Don’t skimp on your domain. As soon as you have the domain name, register it. Do not wait. The sooner you get it registered the sooner you can get links pointing to it.
2. Create a compelling landing page
Your next step is to create a home/landing page for your new domain. So what do you put on that landing page?
Let’s say for example you are providing a service. In that case you can put an invitation to subscribe so your visitor gets early access. Think Supyo (now Airtime).
This is a web-based video chat service created by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. While production happens behind the scenes…their email marketing list grows.
In fact, this is what we did with KISSmetrics:
By the way, there is no need to put a “Coming Soon.” Instead, give some sort of option so you can capture any and every bit of traffic to your new site, which includes an exit pop up.
Here is what I recommend when it comes to exit pop ups:
- Know your audience – Be selective with who you show the pop up to. For example, if your analytics is telling you that Google traffic isn’t converting, then make the pop up show for them.
- Give a gift – It doesn’t have to be much…a free e-book or video interview with an influential thought leader in your space. They’ll get these once they give you their name and email address.
Probably one of the best exit pop up tools to use is Popup Domination,
3. Start a blog and sign up for Feedburner
Your next step is to put up a blog that sits off your domain. It doesn’t matter which blogging platform you use, just make sure that the blog is sitting off of your root domain: yourwebsite.com/blog.
Add a few posts to the blog that goes a little deeper into what you are trying to do. Maybe this is iterations of the service you are building. Perhaps you share short videos about the progress of product development by some of the engineers involved.
Whatever it is, make it unique. Then sign up for a Feedburner account.
Once inside your Feedburner account go to “Publicize”…
Click on “Ping Shot”…
What will Ping Shot do for you?
This service will tell blogging directories of the content that you are sharing, which could result in early links to your site.
4. Create content for your site
Like I mentioned above, before it’s officially launched you can start posting content to your new website blog. This will give visitors to your site something to engage when they arrive after you launch.
This was the strategy the writers behind The Verge used. Before The Verge was launched they were running a blog called “This is my next….”
It was a Time magazine best of 2011 and created a lot of energy and buzz about The Verge. Everyone knew “This is my next…” was a temporary site…and so if this temporary site was so exciting…what would the new one be like?
This does mean you have to have a decent content marketing strategy where you’ve determined such things as what kind of content you are going to share and how often. But there is no reason you have to wait to launch.
Start putting the content on right now.
And the more content the better. This will create a wider net for the search engines and give more opportunities for visitors to find content that satisfies what they are looking for.
5. Guest blog on strategic sites.
Next, start blogging on other sites that allow guest posts…and in your byline make sure you create a link back to your soon-to-be launched website.
Normally I wouldn’t recommend you send a link directly to the home page if you are linking back to an established blog with loads of pages you can optimize, but since this is a brand-new site with no authority in search engines…then it’s okay to link to the home page.
This will drive traffic to the site, help you start to build that email marketing list but also validate your new site with a link…a link that search engines look at as a kind of credibility builder.
Follow this guide on how to build links through guest blogging to get you up to speed quickly.
6. Use your existing sites
More than likely you have existing sites that you can create links to the new site from. For example, if I was to start a new website I know that I could get links immediately from KISSmetrics, KISSinsights, QuickSprout, Crazy Egg and dozens of friends I have.
It’s easy to get links from friends.
All you have to do is email them and ask them if they’ll do a short write up on the new site. Maybe even offer to do an interview with them about your new website. Bloggers are always looking for ways to create content that they don’t have to really create…and interviews are perfect for this!
And this can be a copy, audio or video interview…as long as somewhere on the website a link points to the new website.
That’s from an interview I did with Michael Alexis at Writer Reviews.
Just like most of SEO strategies, getting links to your site is essential in getting high search rankings…and fortunately you don’t have to wait until your new site is launched to start optimizing it…
You can do it the moment you have the domain registered. Within a month you should see results to the new website. In the end, the lesson is this: you don’t have to wait until your website is “launched” to start driving traffic to it and getting it ranked. You can do it now!
What other strategies can you share that will help a site get indexed, traffic and buzz even before it launches?