Okay, so you have your domain name registered, hosting company selected, and Web site designed, and now you’re ready to flip the switch.
Setting Your Site Live
Once you have built your Web site, you need to link it to the Web and make sure that it’s linked to your unique domain name. You’ll need to do this regardless of whether you host it yourself or use a third-party host.
First, link your name. Most companies that sell domains will point your name to what’s called a “parked” page — usually an advertisement for them, or it may say something like “coming soon” for your benefit. If your domain registration and hosting are from the same company your name may already be linked. Otherwise, you’ll want to copy the IP address (the unique address pointing to a server) of your host company and paste it in the IP address box for the DNS (Domain Name System) Server of your registration company. The DNS basically allows you to assign names to the otherwise complicated, multinumber IP addresses. There should be a link on your hosting company dashboard to do this. When the change has been made, your name is linked.
The next step is to load your files (so your visitors will something when they type in your domain name). Your host provides multiple folders where you can store files. One of these folders is a “public” folder and should be labeled as such. This means whatever you dump in there, the rest of the world will be able to see on the Internet. By default, the file with the name “index” is recognized as the homepage — if you’re using a template, there should be an “index” file you can load. You might want to wait and load this file last, that way you can browse the rest of your Web site and troubleshoot any final bugs or layout issues without the rest of the world having access (even though it’s live, visitors won’t be able to link to these pages). Lastly, load your “index” file and watch your site come alive!
Get Found by Search Engines
Now that you’re up, it’s time to announce your presence to the world. The most cost-efficient way is for users to find you via the major search engines. Google, Yahoo! and MSN have “robots” crawling the Internet, indexing content. Rather than waiting for these robots to find your Web site, speed up the process by letting them know you exist.
To announce yourself to search engines, you can go directly to them and submit your URL for indexing. Here are some sites you’ll want to submit to:
Of course, there are many more search engines out there and luckily there are also Web sites that will submit your URL to multiple search engines simultaneously, including the ones mentioned above. Here are some mass submission Web sites to consider:
While the sites listed above are free, some offer additional marketing services for a fee. Remember, to submit your site to the major search engines you do not have to pay! When in doubt, go straight to the search engine you’re trying to get listed in. Be patient, however, because getting listed could take several months and even then you may not show up as high in the rankings as you’d like. Once you’re listed, employing key strategies for search engine optimization will help you improve your ranking.
To increase traffic to your site, you can also engage in search engine marketing (SEM). Essentially, you purchase keyword ads that appear on the major search engines.
When your site is live and the search engines have been notified, it’s time to get the rest of the world on board. The easiest thing you can do is to send out e-mails. Within your e-mail, you should add your new URL to your signature. Furthermore, you should add your new Web address to all of your stationery, especially business cards. You can even print specific cards with just your address on them and pass those out.
Be sure to inform all your friends, family, and colleagues of your new Web site and find public forums to promote your new URL. Here are a few more ideas:
- Submit an article to a trade publication and add your URL to your author bio.
- Speak at a conference. (You can mention you site and it will probably be printed in their marketing materials.)
- Invest in traditional advertising (local newspapers, radio, phonebook, etc.).
- Purchase advertising on other Web sites serving your desired demographic.
- Make announcements using social media tools (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, message boards, etc.).
Getting the word out doesn’t have to cost money, but it will take effort.