When building a new website to replace an older one, you might wonder whether you should build your website first and then drive traffic to it, or start building traffic in anticipation of your new site going live.
It’s a tricky one, and we can see both sides of this debate!
One of the most important lessons when building a website of any kind (and in stark contrast to the ‘Wayne’s World’ philosophy) is that if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
So, search first?
On the one hand, Search Engine Optimisation is a journey and a long-term process. It can take time to spin up and for you to start seeing the benefits of your investment. It’s also complex – relying on the interpretation of search engine requirements and algorithms, some of which are secret by design. Google haven’t stayed on top of the search ecosystem for so long by giving away the magic formula that makes Google Search the most popular in the world.
Therefore, you might be tempted to start building traffic to your site, so that when you’re ready to put your all-singing, all-dancing site live, you can hit the ground running. The thing is, during this process, you’re going to start slowly gathering visitors to your current site. You’re essentially spending money to drive traffic to it – not in the same way as paying for advertising space, but you are investing to raise your visitor numbers. When they arrive, they get an experience that you’re currently trying to phase out, and we know there must be a good reason you’ve decided to replace it.
Worse still, on top of potentially not being able to use the site, you’re potentially leaving people with a poor memory of their interaction with your site. If they see the address months later, when your new site is live, they might decide not to click through on that basis alone.
So… website first?
Usually, you’re redesigning or redeveloping your site because it isn’t doing what it should be doing for your organisation. You don’t get the results you want.
This could be because it’s difficult to navigate, tricky to make contact with you or even (in the case of ecommerce websites) hard to buy directly.
This is where User Experience comes in. By taking the time to understand your users, we can minimise any barriers they might encounter, and maximise the chances that they’ll convert. Whatever that means for your business.
We feel that by getting your site right first and then driving traffic, you also maximise the odds. By converting a higher percentage of visitors earlier in their journey of interaction with your company, you get a better return on SEO investment and build better memories of these interactions in the minds of your users. After all, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Having said that, if you created the most amazingly useful and beautiful site in the world, but nobody ever visited, it would be a waste.
Which is it then?
On balance, we think it makes more sense to build a site, and then help people find it. This way, you can be sure they always get the best experience, and their chances of conversion are optimised – ultimately giving you the best Return On Investment (ROI) for your combined website design and SEO spend.
Honestly, it can be a little bit paradoxical.
For example – we can build you a beautiful, usable site, but if no one ever visits it the site is pointless.
Similarly, if you build a massive audience, but no one can use your website or convert, it’s equally pointless.
Want help planning a new website?
We can help you navigate difficult questions like these and come up with a digital strategy to help your business to get ahead.