Great news, you’ve got your new website ready for launch. Even more exciting if it’s built using Growth Driven Design, either way you on the path to improvement and increased success.
By my count we’ve launched around 250+ websites and over the years we’ve developed our own pre-launch checklist to ensure our customer websites go-live smoothly.
We’ve put together a few notes below to help you make sure nothing gets missed.
1. Set form notification email address and test form submission
This is something that can easily be overlooked. Don’t let your website go live without checking the contact form recipient. There is no point in launching your new website, attracting new enquires, if your enquiry form doesn’t work. Make sure you test it.
2. Google Analytics installed and Search Console is linked
Check that Google Analytics code is installed on the new website. Google Analytics is a free tool that enables you to analyse your site’s traffic, so you can understand where your visitors are coming from and how they’re using your website. Google Search Console is helpful if you want to get more of a technical overview of your website.
Google Analytics can be quite daunting at first. If you need help understanding the data then please shout us for help.
We will happily point you in the right direction.
3. Add a favicon
A favicon is a small image that is uploaded to your website and is shown within the web browser address bar. It is usually based on your logo. A favicon helps your users to bookmark your pages and will make it easier for them to find you when revisiting your website. You can create a favicon here.
4. Set robots to index
Make sure search engine crawlers can actually index your site. Check that your web developer has not blocked the site indexing with robots.txt. This sometimes happens when code is copied from test to live websites.
If you have a staging site online remember to make sure this is either password protected or is blocked to search engines.
5. Perform site crawl - check for broken links
A simple test. As part of our website launch checklist we use software that will automatically crawl your website and check for any broken links. If you have a large website with lots of content you won’t be able to do this manually so find an automated service to do it for you. We use either moz.com or Integrity App.
6. Optimise your meta tags for SEO
Check you have unique meta tags written into each of your pages. This is one of the most critical aspects of good onsite SEO practice. Meta descriptions should be written in such a way to encourage a click through from a user who has found your website in SERPs.
7. Include your primary keyword in the home page Meta Title
The single most important ranking factor is to get your primary keyword into your home page meta title, preferably near to the front of the tag. More weight is given by Google to keywords at the start of the tag. This is a huge subject in it’s own right, but for now just keep it simple, don’t repeat or ’stuff’ keywords and make sure that it means something to anyone reading it.
8. Test Canonical domain redirection www > non-www
Google will treat these three URLs as unique pages, spreading any page authority between them, so make sure that you only have one version of your homepage cached in Google.
9. 301 redirect any important URLs at page level from your old website to the new version
Work with your web developer to create a spreadsheet of existing URLs. If there are new versions of existing pages but with different URLs, any old URLs should 301 redirect to the new version. This is particularly relevant if you’ve changed your URL structure to create more optimised URLs.
10. Submit XML site map to Google
Once your new site is launched, we suggest that you create an XML sitemap and submit this to Google using Google Search Console. This will help the Google crawlers find their way through your new page content and get the search indexed updated as quickly as possible.
11. The most important - Don’t launch on a Friday!
Don’t launch your new website on a Friday! We’ve learnt the hard way that launching a website on a Friday afternoon is a definite no-no.
Even though you will have followed our list of helpful tips and have your own checklist, things seem to have a habit of going wrong especially late on a Friday when the development team want to head off to the pub. Wait until Monday morning if you can.
There are probably more items we could add to the list, but ensure you have covered these items first.
Checking that you’ve thought about the above before launching a new site will enable you to focus on getting that blog up and running and ongoing website optimisation - we’re sure you’ll be climbing up those rankings and attracting new customers in no time!
Remember - the launch of your new website is not the end of the project. It’s actually the start. You’ll start collecting data, gathering feedback and having new ideas. This is where a website retainer helps you to maximise your growth.
It’s an exciting time, just keep up the good work and don’t let that website go out-of-date!
- It's easy to forget basic things when you are rushing to get your website launched.
- Check your robots.txt file because this can seriously harm your search rankings.
- Meta tags are the most important part of on-site SEO, make sure you have created unique meta tags for every page on your website
- This is not the end of the project, it's the start. Make sure you keep on top of the website and keep working hard to attract the right visitors to it.