When preparing to launch a website in the future an organization/individual has two likely choices. They might decide to not put anything up on the domain they plan on launching and only announce the site once their is an actual site to show. On the other hand they could put a placeholder page (splash page) up on the domain and whoever visits the site will place it in the back of their mind like the other million sites that people forget to go back and check on.
However, now there is a third option that shouldn’t be ignored. With today’s technology organizations are capable of putting up pre-launch blogs to help maintain the visitors that come to their site.
Most recently I visited the website of my favorite magazine, Play, to find that they had a more sophisticated splash page then one may think. However, I also found that they are missing a great opportunity to improve their image and traffic while also saving a lot of time when their official site launches.
Their target audience consists of people who enjoy video games and technology and the number of people who visit their site is not known, but seeing how this crowd uses the web extensively you could imagine the loss of people their site experiences daily. What they could do is setup a little blog that has frequent updates so that people have a reason to return to the site.
They already have a basic layout on their site and they could fit a blog in there and start writing industry newsbits or keeping everyone updated to the inner workings of the magazine. They may plan on doing this already with their official site, but why not begin that process now?
What this does is help keep people interested in your company. More and more companies are going the route of releasing beta products, software, and websites and a pre-launch blog could be looked at in the same way. You could find out what type of features users want and what they expect to see or you could choose just to write small entries/articles for your readers to enjoy.
More importantly you get your site in search engines immediately. If you type in “play magazine” into Google you won’t even find their website in the first 50 results returned. Obviously, search engine traffic is something that cannot be overlooked, but this is exactly what they are doing. They spent the time to put together a basic website and by the time the real one launches, they will have to invest even more time in getting it established in the search engines.
If you put up a website like they have and then spend 5 months finishing the real one and assuming it takes 2 months to get your site thoroughly established in the search engines, you find that your company has lost 7 months of traffic. However, if you did the basic site with the blog, not only will you get in the search engines, but assuming quality content you will also find your site linked to by other sites. Once the official site launches your website is already moving in full-force with an established customerbase and all it took was a small blog.
If you were to use a hosted service such as Squarespace, you could easily setup a blog that provides interesting content and helps to maintain and grow a customer base before your official site even launches. Even though your site may not be done, it doesn’t mean your ability to win an audience can’t begin now.