What you should look for with your initial site launch
The single most exciting day in any project is the day your site launches for the first time. With that being said this can also be the most stressful! No matter how well you wrote your RFP and how amazing your developer is you are undoubtedly going run into a few problems. Below are some ideas of what to look for when your site first launches with a list of common problems and ideas on how to fix them.
Home Page Design: This is the first thing people see so show they what they want. The first thing I do when I launch a new site is I send the link to a few people I know or I post it on www.youngentrepreneurs.com in order to get a little feedback. The thing I'm looking for from my homepage is if people can instantly tell what the site is about. If it takes them more then three seconds to realize it a page that is selling widgets to teenagers then we have a problem. So even if you think the site is the greatest thing you've ever seen - get second opinion and take heed of what they say.
Product Categories: This project is for a drop shipping business so it is a given we have products. In order to keep your site organized you are going to need product categories. You can't expect your site to stay organized if you have 250 products and no categories. Categories are great for your main tab bar as well as for a section on your homepage. A key element to user experience (ie - sales) is the organization of your site. Make sure you have well defined easy to understand structure that includes categories.
Sales Page (Squeeze Page): The key element to any product oriented site is the sales page. This is the page that people land on via your advertising. It is not a product page! People who do PPC adverting to a product or homepage are wasting their money. They have put no effort into understanding their target market. A sales page is a page designed to give a visitor the exact information they are looking for while directing them towards a product you sell to fit their needs.
A decent example is when someone searches for 'LCD 42" TV' - If you were creating a sales page for your site based on this keyword phrase would you want to direct them to:
- Your Homepage where they can get lost in PC's and Cameras?
- Your product page for the Sony LCD 720p 42" TV - What if they wanted 1080p or if they wanted a Visio?
- You would direct them instead to a sales page with information about their search and options for their purchasing choice. Knowing what your potential visitors are searching for and then delivering them to high quality content is the key to sales.
Content Page: A content page is similar to a sales page in that it is used for a specific keyword. A content page is keyword rich and 500-1000 words long. It is used in your offsite SEO as a sub page that you anchor text to in order to move your entire site up in the rankings. Most article sites allow you 2-3 links per article. Most people anchor text their keyword to their homepage 2-3 times. Now I want you to think about that for a second - Each article can only create one registered link to each linked page so why would you use the same page more then once?
- Example keyword (big widget) Homepage: www.mywidgetstore.com / Subpage: www.mywidgetstore.com/big_widget
Using this method you are not only building link value to your homepage but also to a subpage that can better direct visitors to your sales process.
Shopping Cart: Before you spend a single penny on SEO or PPC you need to make sure your shopping cart works properly. Designers tend to think appearance and not function so it is your job as the site owner to put your shopping cart through through tests. Most importantly when working with an automated drop shipping system you need to make sure that orders and payments are making it to your drop shipping supplier. You also need to check that customers are getting emails about their order. This means you have to pretend to be a customer and process at least 10 orders with different items and shipping standard. Test Test Test! If your shopping cart doesn't work then your site has no value.
Over all Site: Now that you have the form, function and appearance taken care of its time to introduce your site to the world. I typically recommend a small PPC campaign before you begin your SEO. The reason for this is that you want to test your current structure. You want to spot test a few sales pages and a few homepage designs to try and find the most optimized version. If you start your SEO before you do this you may be optimizing pages that you later find to have no sales value. Do a small 10-30 day PPC Campaign to work out the rest of the bugs on your site.
So my site launched yesterday and these were a few of the things I did when reviewing the site. In the next chapter I'm going to introduce my site to everyone that subscribes to my blog. If you haven't done so yet you can subscribe below.
Also - be on the look out for a redraft of my www.rcbryan.com homepage in the next week! By applying the rules from this project I'm on my way to a #1 ranking for 'business consultant'!