Just before you launch your website to the public, there is a list of things you need to check in order to launch a website successfully. Let us go through a website launch checklist with you one by one.
1. Review Every Page
First of all, you need to proofread each page of your website to make sure your website content is correct. Don’t forget to check all the links, images and forms to ensure they are working properly.
2. Custom 404 Page
Your 404 page is displayed when a user requests a page that does not exist. Creating a custom 404 page can get your users back on track by directing them to the home page or other pages they may be interested in. It will enhance user experience and reduce site abandonment.
3. On-site SEO Optimization
To increase your website traffic from search engine, some basic on-site SEO optimization is essential. Make sure you have done your keyword research and determined a keyword you want to target on each page. Include the keyword in the URL, title tag, page headings, meta description, image names and alt text in natural way. Avoid keyword stuffing as it brings negative impact on SEO.
Title tags for all pages should begin with the target keyword followed by the company name (i.e. keyword | Company Name). It should be unique to each page and contains no more than 55 characters including spaces.
Search engine often displays meta description as the search result description. It is a good idea to write meta description that is related to the page’s content and include the keyword on each page. Meta description tags over 155 characters will be truncated in results, so better keep it under 155 characters.
If the site content is relevant to your target keyword of another page, adding internal links can help you pass SEO authority between pages on your site, increase the page authority of specific pages.
4. Check How Your Website Looks on Mobile
The majority of users coming to your site are likely to be using a mobile device. Designing your websites to be mobile friendly ensures that your pages perform well on all devices and minimize site abandonment. You can either hire a developer to modify your site to be mobile friendly, or build your website using a responsive template or theme. The latter option should be more efficient and cost effective in most cases.
Google provides a tool to test if your web page is mobile friendly. It will give you reasons why your website does not pass the mobile test, so that you can work on it.
5. Check Site Speed
Website visitors are impatient. They expect websites to load in less than a second. You can test your site speed using Google PageSpeed and Pingdom tools. They will tell you how your website performs and give you relevant technical recommendations to improve site performance.
6. Check Across Browsers
Having your website looks perfect in one browser does not mean that it works on other browsers as well. It is important to test your websites across browsers. Remember to do some browsing, fill out a form and make a test purchase through different browsers.
The most popular browsers you should check are:
- Internet Explorer
7. Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a useful tool to track website performance. You should install it before you launch the website. Simply sign up an account, then paste the provided tracking code onto every pages of your website.
For more accurate data, we suggest setting up filters to exclude traffic from the IP(s) of your office on Google Analytics. If you do not know your IP address, you can find it by typing “what is my IP” into Google.
To give you better ideas how your visitors react to your website, you can set up goals for each type of conversion (i.e, contact us, thank you page or payment success) on Google Analytics. You may go further to configure a Conversion Funnel if needed.
Once your website has launched, you will start seeing data about demographic characteristics of your visitors, how they react to your site and your traffic sources in Google Analytics.
8. Sign up for Google Search Console
A Google Search Console account gives you the means to communicate certain things directly to Google. If you want to submit new content for crawling by Google or remove pages you do not want to be indexed, this is an easy place for you to do that. It is also a great tool to help you discover problems such as broken pages, a detected hack attack or other manual penalty which might hurt your search result rankings, or even your websites’ user experience. You can link your Google Search console data with your Google Analytics account by going to Admin > Property Settings in Google Analytics.
9. Check third-party items
Make sure all third-party items such as newsletter sign up, social media, etc. are connected to the proper accounts.
10. Plan Phrase II
Usually there are items not completed at the time of launch. Create a list of items that are not completed, prioritize which ones to be implemented in phrase II.
Once you have done the above, you are set for a website launch!
But your work is not done here. There are a few things to check after launch, so be sure not to launch before holiday.
- Verify that Google Analytics is collecting data.
- Add and verify your website domain name in Google Search Console. Then submit a new sitemap.xml in Crawl > Sitemaps. Ensure that the new sitemap passes with no errors.
- After the sitemap passes, select Crawl > “Fetch as Google”, then enter the domain and click “Fetch and Render.” Fetching might take a few minutes, depending on the number/size of pages being fetched. After the indexing has finished, there will be a “Submit to Index” button that appears in the results listing at the bottom. Choose “Crawl This URL and its Direct Links,” to index the entire site.
- In addition to submitting your sitemap in Search Console, you should add it to your site’s robots.txt file to make sure search engine crawlers can find it.
- In Search Console, select Search Appearance > Sitelinks, then “demote” the URLs for any pages that you do not wish to appear in search results pages in searches for your website.
- Check the site’s pages to make sure they are NOT set to noindex, nofollow.
- Check robots.txt file to make sure it is NOT set to noindex, nofollow.
- Check that any login areas ARE set to noindex, nofollow and set to “disallow” in the sitemap.xml.