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I am currently developing a website that will be officially marketed for and "launched" months from now.

This site has minimal content at the moment but will soon start having more and more content as i complete the development of various components.

My question is this:

In terms of search engine optimization is it best to release a site with TONS of pages, or release a site and demonstrate constant updates/content additions?... And why? :)

In the first scenario i would wait until launch/market day and then turn the site on w/o thousands of pages... In the second scenario, i would just develop/release new features content as they come and on the "official" launch day start marketing the site

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3 Answers

In my opinion, you should launch a website as soon as is viably possible - i.e. it features some useful features and content, with a complete design and semantic coding. The sooner you launch a site, the sooner you can start building a charisma or 'pre-launch' tension for those that may be interested in the fully launched site. This will help spread the word. The sooner you can establish yourself, the better.

Whether or not a site is frequently updated or not should technically have little impact on SEO - after all, just because content may not be 'current' doesn't mean it isn't useful for the searcher. Unless of course it is a news site and you're aiming for news search.

So, my advice; complete the site to the minimal state you're happy for it to be seen at, launch, then continue to develop and market at the same time.

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In terms of search engine optimization is it best to release a site with TONS of pages, or release a site and demonstrate constant updates/content additions?... And why? :)

Second scenario will be a better approach in my point of view. Because unless you do some paid marketing and extensive social media bookmarking it will be quite hard to make a user base from the very first time. Thats why start with few and increase the content gradually you will have repeated visitors as well as new visitors over time. Google robot will also crawl your site according to your post frequency. You can easily ask google to crawl the site on webmaster tools (how often!)

Also you will have time to make changes. If you post all of them at a time you will not know how visitors going to react. It's better to start with few analyze your visitors behaviour and then post according to their choice.

But before you launch you can make a coming soon page and start promoting that one. On that coming soon page you can do an sticky post of your up coming content or feature coming. And place social connects so that your visitors can be notified when available. It will create a buzz before you launch the site.

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I really like what you said about posting then observing the traffic's reaction. I suppose that could save me a lot of work as i dont want to waste time building a feature Nobody seems to be interested in... and there's no way for me to know that until it's too late if i do wait and launch. –  SizzlePants Aug 28 '11 at 21:52
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If you're basing when to launch a site based on SEO you are putting the cart ahead of the horse. Ranking well with search engines is the direct result of how users react and respond to your site. If it's incomplete or users aren't impressed by it they don't tell others about it or, just as importantly, link to it from their website.

Launch your website when you have enough quality content to do whatever it is supposed to do well. You only get one launch and one chance to make a big splash. If you waste that because you're more concerned about search engines then the quality of your website or your users you will almost certainly fail or at the very least hinder your growth. You should have a list with the content and features your site should launch with and then have a listof aditional content and features that improve and enhance your site so users keep coming back for more (and tell their friends and link to you).

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I am not basing it on SEO... The "official release" will not happen for months down the road. This site will have a lot of recipes so as you can imagine i've got tons of content that's ready to go out. I'm just not sure if i should put the site up with a few pages of content and trickle them out as i build new features/add new content OR wait until the release day and throw the site up with 10k pages ready to go. –  SizzlePants Aug 28 '11 at 21:50
    
The day you make it live to search engines it is essentially launched. When you choose to advertise or otherwise promote it is a separate thing. So by releasing the content early specifically for search engines is doing it for SEO (SEARCH ENGINE optimization). Anyway, if your site is built properly search engines can index large sites just fine so there is no need to launch early for their sake. –  John Conde Aug 28 '11 at 23:11
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