So you’ve decided to start a new site? Awesome! When I started Site School, it was always my goal to help both first-time and repeat website owners create sites that bring them joy and earn them money. This means that, from time to time, people in the community will be in the “launch” phase of their first/latest site and need help with that process as much as any other part of the business like monetization through ads and affiliates or product brainstorming.
Throughout my case studies, I’ve frequently mentioned my preferred website launch plan for new sites, and I decided it was time to sit down and write it out in what is (hopefully) a coherent plan that anyone could understand and follow. I call it the 10/10/10 launch plan, and you’ll see why shortly.
The reality is that I haven’t started all of my sites this way – but the ones I’ve started with this launch plan have generally been far more successful than those I launched with any other plan (or no plan at all!). So if you want to give your new site the best chance of success, this website launch plan is a great one to follow. You can of course modify it for your own strategy and goals, but this should help you get started on getting your new website started.
Goals for the 10/10/10 Website Launch Plan
While you can launch a site with almost any cadence of publishing, I’ve found that the model I lay out in this post is effective at accomplishing several goals that serve the site well in the long run:
- Create a small volume of content quickly to get Google’s attention. (Phase 1)
- Provide consistent new content to demonstrate the site’s health. (Phase 2)
- Create a meaningful volume of content over the course of several months to hopefully get a good assessment, keywords, and ranking by Google. (Phase 1-3)
Best of all, this can be done in just 30 posts! I know – just 30 posts is a lot of content… but it’s the right amount to give Google enough to assess your site and your readers enough to get their questions answered.
I’ve used this strategy on many of my sites over the years and feel confident it’s a good system to help establish healthy habits for you as the publisher – and communicate your commitment and quality to Google and your first readers.
Phase 1: Brainstorm the 30 Best Post Ideas
Before you even start writing, it’s important to understand what you’re going to build with this site – and that means coming up with the first topics you’re going to cover, and understanding the site structure you want to build (and categories that correlates to).
For this initial launch, I recommend coming up with 30 posts you plan to publish – hence the 10/10/10 plan. Ideally, this list of topics is both informed by keyword research and creates a good foundation for a comprehensive site in the future (if not comprehensive on its own, like my capsule site Visit Ni’ihau was originally designed).
You should be able to look at the 30 post topics you’ve chosen, feel confident that you can rank well for at least a few of them, and see how they fit together to help your first readers get some of their questions answered within your site. (You probably can’t answer all of their questions with just 30 posts, which will inform your future strategy after launch.)
If you’re spinning this site off of an existing site (as I’ve done for several of my sites like Follow the Butterflies, London On My Mind, and Jordan Traveler), the good news is that your existing posts can count toward your first 30 posts on your new site. However many posts you’re migrating (and redirecting) to the new site reduce the number of new ideas you need to come up with.
Once you have your post ideas nailed down, it’s time to start writing them; I recommend getting at least 10-12 posts written before you launch, because of the cadence of the actual launch schedule – which I’ll cover below.
Phase 2: 10 Posts for 10 Days
Now that you have 10-12 posts ready to publish, it’s time to choose a launch date and start publishing. I always like starting at the beginning of a new month or year, because it makes it easier to keep track of due dates – but you can start on any date you choose.
First, you’ll publish 10 posts in 10 days – one per day. This is why it’s important to have 10-12 ready to publish so that you’re not immediately on the hampster wheel of content creation. You’ll need to start/keep creating more content from your 30 topics lists, but you won’t have to do that daily. (Frankly, posting daily is both exhausting and a surefire way to lose your passion quickly!)
The goal of this phase is to do a short sprint and establish your presence in Google with a meaningfully-sized sitemap (aka URLs on your domain). This helps Google start to see and understand your site far better and more quickly than just posting one post on your launch day and waiting a week before the next post. Give the Google algorithm enough information to understand what your new site will be about and that you’re committed to creating fresh content for it.
As your first 10 posts are rolling out, you’ll be working on the posts that will come next, in phase 3.
Phase 3: 10 Posts for 10 Weeks
After your 10 daily posts have been published, you’ll switch to weekly posts – a much more manageable cadence, especially if you’ve already started another site in the past.
The goal in this phase is to establish a regular schedule of publishing (I always choose the same day of the week) to show Google that you’re not just publishing a little bit of content and walking away – your domain has a cadence of fresh, new content being added regularly. Having consistent publication of high-quality content is an important part of the Google algorithm, and this phase is all about proving that to Google.
The nice thing is that since you’re only publishing weekly, you won’t have to work as hard as you did at content creation in the pre-launch phase when you were getting a backlog of content ready to publish. Actually, I typically get 12 posts ready before launching, so that I can then take two weeks off from writing as I launch to focus on promotion and getting the site to operate smoothly – then I start writing new posts again after those first 10 posts are published and only have to write one per week.
Phase 4: 10 More Posts
Finally, after publishing your 20th post, I recommend publishing 10 more posts at any cadence you choose. I typically either stick with weekly posts or increase back up to twice weekly (two posts per week).
If you choose to publish these final ten posts at a weekly cadence, that means you’ll be ~21 weeks (about 5 months) after launch when you publish your 30th post. If you choose to publish twice weekly, you’ll be ~16 weeks (about 4 months) after launch.
The good thing is that publishing for 4-5 months is a good length of time to allow Google to assess your site and its quality, and hopefully start ranking you for at least a few keywords and posts. Additionally, 30 posts is a nice volume of content to show Google you’re committed to the project. After 30 posts, you could choose to continue publishing – or decide to transition to another project (temporarily or permanently) if it’s not getting any traction.
Assessing Your Launch Success
Once you’ve published 30 posts, you might want to sit back and look at your site to determine if it’s heading in the direction you want – that it is, of course, getting organic traffic from Google. Here’s what I look at when I’m assessing my launch and whether to continue working on a site:
- How much organic traffic I’m getting from Google at that point, by checking Google Analytics
- How many posts are indexed vs crawled or discovered and not yet indexed, by checking Google Search Console
- How many keywords the site is ranking for, also by checking Google Search Console
- How much I’m enjoying the creative process of the site
Over the past few years, we’ve launched many sites using the 10/10/10/ website launch plan – and not all of them are still a priority in the business. Some didn’t get indexed quickly and had to be set aside to let the domain and posts mature in Google’s eyes; others got indexed but just don’t rank well; still others did quite well and I was able to prioritize creating additional content for them. Each site is unique in how well this plan works and how Google responds – but having a launch plan is still the best way to get as close to your own metrics of success as possible.
As I said – it takes “just” 30 posts to launch your new site with the 10/10/10 launch plan… while that’s not a small amount by any means, it’s the right amount to assess the possible success of the project and far easier to plan for than launching a site without any strategy and creating content forevermore. I hope this helps you launch your next site with confidence.
Have any questions about my 10/10/10 launch plan for starting your next site? Let me know in the comments, or join the conversation in the Site School Facebook community.