website-launch

What to Do Right Before You Launch Your WordPress Website

After months of work and preparation, you’re now ready to launch your shiny new website. But no website launch is perfect. Whether it’s a brand new website or a redesign, there are bound to be things that you or your web design company have overlooked. We’ve put together a website launch checklist you can use before the big reveal.

Fortify Your Security

Security should be your top priority when preparing for your website launch. No protection for your site means that all your hard work (and money) might be in vain. To harden your site security, use one of the various plugins such as Wordfence or iThemes Security.

Another important security feature your site must have – before it goes live – is SSL certification. This encryption feature basically assures that sensitive data entered through your site is secure from those who may want to attack your site. You can purchase the SSL certificate for your website through a certification authority online. However, most hosts offer free SSL certificates these days.

In addition, don’t forget about spam protection. There are countless bots and individuals who want to spam sites with often malicious links or content. To keep those at bay, remember to install a spam protection plugin such as Akismet.

Polish Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the key to attracting organic visitors via Google. On WordPress, we strongly recommend using the Yoast plugin for all your on-site SEO needs. It helps you use keywords more effectively, add metadata, optimize your headlines, improve your writing, and more. Give your site a quick SEO check before launching it.

Check for Broken Links

Developers change links frequently while building the different components of a website. So before your website launch, ensure there are no broken links throughout your website. Use a WordPress plugin like Broken Link Checker or a Chrome extension such as Link Miner. Also, check that your link structure hasn’t been altered.

Check the Favicon

The favicon is the little icon that appears in the browser tab when one of your webpages is opened. It usually represents your logo or a simplified version of your logo. The favicon makes it easier for users to distinguish between their opened tabs.

So open your homepage and check if your favicon is displayed in high resolution. If you don’t see one, go to Administration Screen > Appearance > Customize, click Site Identify, then select your image from the Site Icon section. Upload a retina version of the logo if you have one.

Allow Search Engine Indexing

While a website is in development, developers usually turn off search engine indexing. This is good practice as it’s not necessary for search engines to index an “under construction” site.

However, once you’re ready to roll out your website, it should allow search engine indexing. This feature makes your website visible on Google and other search engines. Check the Search Engine Visibility option in your WordPress settings before launching the website.

The next step is to submit your website to Google. Just search ‘submit URL to Google’ and you’ll get a simple input box where you can add the URL of your website. You should be listed on Google in a few days.

Check Browser Compatibility

Your website must be compatible with most popular browsers and devices that people use. While there are many technical aspects in this equation, what makes your site accessible on all devices is responsive web design.

Of course, you don’t have access to all those devices, but you can use a tool such as Browsershots to get a glimpse of how your website will be seen by the world. However, you should at least test your website on a desktop, smartphone, and a tablet.

Double Check Your Copy

Read your copy one more time (or better yet, ask someone else) to ensure you haven’t overlooked any mistakes. Look for grammar and spelling mistakes, as well as incoherent ideas. Not only do these blunders slow down your reader, but they also tarnish your brand image.

To make proofreading faster, use tools such as Grammarly and the Hemingway app. These resources can save you a lot of time and you might even learn a thing or two about writing more impactful copy.

Also, check for dummy text to avoid embarrassment in case someone finds a post called “Hello World” or a paragraph saying “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.” Search for this filler copy and delete it.

Remove Unwanted Content and Plugins

When your site was under construction, developers may have used plugins, images or other content for testing purposes. But, you don’t want these to burden your site once it’s ready to go live. Take some time to look for and remove these redundant elements to streamline the big launch.

Additionally, check for demo pages and page revisions, and eliminate them prior to launch. They may bog down your website with unwanted content. A plugin like WP Sweep can help you tidy up and, consequently, speed up, your website.

Test Website Performance

Now that you’re almost ready for your big website launch, it’s time to test its performance. Submit your site to Google’s PageSpeed Insights and you’ll see your speed score and recommendations to improve your site speed.

You can also use other online services like GT Metrix or WordPress plugins such as WP Rocket and Swift Performance. Improving your website speed, even for 0.1 seconds, can elevate your Google ranking as well as user experience.

Phone a Friend

This website launch checklist is a starting point for rolling out your website as smoothly as possible. But there’s one more important thing you can do: ask friends or colleagues to scan through and actually use your website. Having a fresh perspective, they might find some things that you missed.

Website Launch Complete! But Do You Have a Marketing Plan?

A marketing plan is your blueprint for how to promote your brand, attract clients, and grow your investment. You may have an excellent website, but without a marketing plan, you may be wasting your time and money. Take a look at our small business marketing plan post for inspiration.