Launching your new website

So you’ve planned, designed and built your site – and now you’re ready for the big launch!

Sometimes you’re in a hurry to launch a site – you want it live by a certain date or you’ve set yourself a deadline. But you’ve got to be sure that it’s finished to a good enough standard and not rushed as an unsatisfactory visit for your customers could do more harm than good in the long run. Make sure it’s been tested, make sure the text has been proof read, make sure that nothing’s missing that’s fundamental to a user’s experience.

On the other end of the scale, sometimes after months working on the project, it can be a pretty scary thing to let the public see your creation! It can be tempting to keep putting it off, thinking that it just needs a few more tweaks here and a bit more work there. It’s been your baby for 6 months and you’re scared of anyone seeing it as anything less than perfect. But you’ve got to cut the apron strings eventually! You’ve spent money on the site, now you need to find a good time to let it work for you. Are those tweaks really going to make a difference to people using it? Or are they a nice add-on for phase 2?

The “Launch” can be anything you want it to be. A party, a blog post, a press release – or just your web developer letting the public in. Depending on how your site has been built the actual act of “setting it live” can be very quick or a little more time consuming – eg. if it’s been built on the server (hosting) it will live on, then it will be quicker to set live than if the site has got to be set up on a different server.

Once it’s live, a new phase of work begins! Promoting the site! It’s unrealistic to expect that you “lift the lid” and the crowds come flocking. If you opened a shop on a high street, people would know you were there as they walked past…. without a bit of promotion no one knows your site exists.

Google and your new website

A common misunderstanding for new website owners, is quite how Google and other search engines work. I’ve written quite a detailed blog post about this in the past over at 18a, so I won’t repeat it all here (there’s enough duplicate stuff on the web as it is!), but check it out if you’re launching your site and hoping to come up in search engines.

Basically, many people think Google is the Internet. But it’s not – it’s just a look up service to help you find someone you’re looking for. A directory of businesses if you like. Therefore, you can’t expect to be listed as soon as your site goes live. When your web developer says your site is live, it means that anyone who knows the web address can type it into the address bar on their browser and see it – it doesn’t mean you will already come up in Google. The analagy I use is the phone book – BT don’t instantly update the phone book the day you move house.

The confusing middle ground with search engines though, is that unlike BT and the phone book, or a directory you ask to get listed in – search engines will find you of their own accord. It used to be that you told Google about your new website, but now if you try to “submit” yourself you generally get a message to just leave it to them, they’ll find you in their own time. Even if you submit a sitemap via Google Webmaster Tools it doesn’t give a guaranteed time to get indexed.

How long does it take to get indexed in Search Engines?

Well there’s no fixed answer – I’ve known websites take a day but I’ve heard of them taking months. You issue yourself a life line by getting other sites to link to you, so the search engines have a branch to find you through.

How well your site is built will then vary how many pages of your site the search engines “index” – how many pages of you they’ll bother to file. Your site needs to be easy for them to read, and good developers charged with the task of building a search engine friendly site should have covered this already.

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