Picture yourself, just for a moment, as a young mom who is sending her child off to school for the first time in his life. If you are lucky, the school district knows how scary riding the bus can be for little kids, and they have a test run so you and your child can experience getting on and off the bus.
Maybe you've spent the whole month before this momentous event in a series of preparations -- picking out lunch box and backpack, getting a haircut and some new clothes, talking about what to expect so your kid will be looking forward to the adventure.
Now imagine that sending a new business website out into the world wide web is a similar process. There are certain things you want to think about in advance and get set up, so the relaunch of a new website on a new platform (such as moving from WordPress to Wix) goes smoothly.
An Expected Launch Wrinkle
Whether you are completing your first website or doing a major redesign that includes changing platforms, you should expect there to be a time lag before the search engines are routinely indexing your site. This means -- don't expect to show up on the first few pages of Google that afternoon or even in the same month.
If you are changing domain names, using a new one, or switching web hosting platforms, you should expect a lag of about 3 months. While this is disappointing after all the hard work of the redesign, there are a few things you can and should be doing during this period.
And in my opinion, these tasks are even more important for a site redesign / move than for a brand new, first time website.
The Lag Launch Plan
If you are a serious business owner needing your website to help attract clients so you can make a living, there is just no getting around the fact that it is essential to have a marketing plan with tasks you attend to every day, week, and month.
A lag launch plan would fit into a larger marketing plan, likely replacing tasks like writing content for your new web pages. It will incorporate tasks that you might and should already be doing, such as blogging and having an active social media presence.
Let's list the most essential launch or relaunch tasks now:
1. Blog weekly at minimum -- and more often is better.
2. Include posting about your newest blog on at least one social media account.
3. If you have an email list of past, present, and potential clients, send an email a month with a helpful tip and a link back to your blog for more details.
4. Be an active social media user on behalf of your business, or hire a social media manager to get inbound link "juice" from high volume traffic sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and maybe Twitter.
5. Ask friends and family to help Bing and Google to take notice of your new website by doing daily searches for your keywords and site name.
The reason to blog this frequently is that it gets Google's attention. Even if you have transferred over blogs written for your previous website as part of the redesign, it's still important to show Google that your site is active with frequently fresh content.
If you haven't blogged before, I have likely recommended that you write 6 or so blog posts before the website project is completed. And it will benefit you greatly to continue blogging as often as possible.
Potential clients will appreciate your generous displays of knowledge. Search engines algorithms will see that you are a serious website with information of relevance to a specific audience -- and that will help shorten the time lag.
If you need some help thinking of topics to blog about, get my info product on 46 blogging topics, available on request from the main blog page on this website.
Social Share Blog Posts
Can you see, at the bottom of this post page, the social media buttons? Those are share buttons. That means if you click on one, it will open your own social media account so that you can share my blog on your timeline.
Note -- these only work when you are viewing the page from the public access url, and not from the preview mode of your Wix editor.
How to Use Your Social Share Buttons -- When you are done posting your blog entry, save and publish the website, then close the editor and log out of Wix. Then in your browser, go to your blog just like a person looking for your services would do.
Open the post you just finished by clicking on its Read More button on the main blog page, and scroll to the bottom. Click on, say, the Facebook button. A pop up screen will open either prompting you to open your Facebook account, or taking you directly to a screen already set to share your post.
Write a little blurb about the problem the post addresses or the tips you've provided, and click the big blue Post to Facebook button. Repeat for other social media, if you'd like -- why not?
And voilà! NOW you are done with your blogging for the day.
Using Your Business Email List
Ideally, you have been collecting email addresses for past and present clients as well as professional colleagues, and potential new clients. If not, you can skip this task for now, but start compiling that list! It is a standard business practice.
Even if you don't intend to send out a regularly published newsletter for your private practice, and don't have a subscription call to action and opt-in form on your website, you can use a business email list for some short term, targeted marketing. Include on this list all of the following, and more:
past clients who may like a "tune up"
current clients who will like extra tips on coping and overcoming
colleagues whose niches are different from yours
allied professionals you are cultivating as referral sources
influence leaders in the community
non-clinical business owners you routinely deal with
others who will be inclined to refer to you
personal friends, family, acquaintances
A relaunch campaign can make use of this list to let people know you now have a new website, or new blog, or other helpful resources on your website. Don't make a direct sale pitch for your services, but instead give something of value without any strings. This furthers your reputation as a trustworthy, knowledgeable, go-to person on topics of interest to your email recipients.
Be sure to include links in the email to the specific page you want recipients to visit. Send one of these emails per month for 3 months if you don't plan to send regular newsletters. Or incorporate these launch links into your normal newsletters if you are already send them.
Cultivate a Social Media Following
If, like me, you'd do anything to avoid going to chamber of commerce breakfasts and other in-person networking events, the alternative option is to be active on at least one social media platform.
LinkedIn is a better place to collect connections with other professional and possibly get a rare referral. Facebook tends to be a better place for therapists, coaches, healers and psychics than Twitter to expand your online presence as a helpful resource.
I'll write more about how to craft an effective social media following at a later time, but it always starts with creating a business profile page, getting colleagues and friends to like that page, and posting several times a week.
It's fine to share relevant posts that come to your personal news feed. Make a brief comment on it as to why you are sharing. Or post a provocative question and try to stimulate some discussion. And comment on others' posts when you have something useful to contribute that enhances your professional reputation.
Get Friends to Google You
There is divided opinion about whether this tactic works. Some say it does nothing for your page ranking and that's probably true. Mostly it's consistently substantive, significant and relevant, and frequently fresh content that does that.
But while you are in this initial time lag period, the search engines do take notice when certain keywords and business names are suddenly being searched at a higher rate than before.
So ask your friends to help you out this way:
Step 1. In Google or Bing, type in your one main keyword or phrase -- such as psychotherapy, counseling, depression, marriage counseling, etc -- AND the name of your business, even if that's your personal name.
Step 2. Then when the search results come up, ask your friends to click on the links that are for your website so that the search engine notes that there is interest in your keywords and your website.
Step 3. Ask them to repeat #1 with a different keyword, and then repeat step #2.
Step 4. Ask them to do steps 1-3 every day for a week or longer. The more people doing this, the better.
And there you have the outline of a launch or relaunch plan. Adapt to fit your time, energy, personality and already existing marketing efforts. The key is to simply make a focused effort to attract people to your new website by providing information of value fairly often so that they can't resist checking it out.