Website launch tips for small businesses

Target Audience: Small Business Owners/Webmasters and anyone new to the world of web design and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), especially those working with small businesses, organizations and sole traders.

When you launch a new website, there are a number of important points you need to address in order for your new website to get off to a good start and get indexed by the search engines, especially Google.

Create a sitemap

A sitemap file is used to inform the search engines about the content of your website in terms of the number of web pages, their names and the priority of each page and the frequency of changes. There are a number of online sitemap generators that you can use to create a sitemap. However, before submitting your sitemap to Google, always verify that it is complete and includes all of the webpages you wish to index.

Create a robots.txt file

A robots.txt informs search engines which content should not be indexed by the search engines. For example, most websites do not want their image or document directories to be indexed by Google, and a robots.txt file can be used to prevent them from being indexed.

Install a Google map on your website

Most small businesses require an interactive location map on their website for one or more of their locations. Websites that use the Google Maps Application Programming Interface (API) tend to be indexed faster than websites that don’t use this feature.

Note: All of the above should be completed before your website goes online.

Add your website URL to Google

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Once your website is online, you should submit your website URL to Google to tell Google that the website is ready to be crawled and indexed. You should also add your website URL to Bing and Yahoo at this time. Instructions on how to add your website URL to the above search engines are easy to find on any search engine.

Use website monitoring tools

Once your website goes live, it is very important to closely monitor its progress for the first few weeks to ensure it is being indexed and there are no content issues. Tools like Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer are useful in this regard, allowing you to see which web pages have been indexed, view backlinks, uncover content errors, etc.

Get relevant links

Good quality relevant links are also important.