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Launching a new website is exciting, but it can also be stressful. Even seemingly small issues that occur during a launch can have a big impact.

Buttons or forms that don’t work can result in lost leads. Slow loading times can create user frustration. Online consumers aren’t very forgiving — 88% of them won’t return after a bad experience with your site. Plus, with so many moving parts involved with launching a new site, it’s easy for important steps to be overlooked.

Then there is the question of search visibility. There are 4 main criteria that search engines to determine which website is more relevant and should be ranked higher in organic search:

  • Content: Obviously, it should be relevant to what the visitor is looking for.
  • Speed: Websites that load faster are liked by search engines as much as users.
  • Authority: Usually determined by the quality and number of the backlinks.
  • User experience: A website should be simple to navigate, safe to access and have content that’s easy to consume.

All these reasons are why it’s critical to have a website launch checklist to ensure the process runs smoothly.

We decided to take all the most important things you need to check before, during, and after your website launch and put them all in one place. If you’re getting ready to launch a new site, you can put your mind at ease — what follows is the only website launch checklist you’ll ever need.

Quick Takeaways:

  • You can lay the groundwork for a successful new website launch with steps like a current website audit, goal setting session, and comprehensive work plan.
  • Attention to detail with thorough proofreading, testing, and review ensures small mistakes don’t have larger negative impacts.
  • Setting up site security is important for avoiding critical issues like data breaches and site defamation.
  • Technical SEO auditing is the key to ensuring your new website ranks on search engine results pages.
  • Web analytics provide actionable insights that enable you to continually optimize your website performance.

Choose the Best Possible Domain Name

Domain name is the first thing, related to your website that people will see. When choosing a domain focus on the following:

  • Keywords. Don’t bother too much with adding keywords to your domain. EMD (Exact Match Domain) update from Google solved this problem for you. Websites that have keywords in their names no longer have any advantage. So instead of creating a website like cheap-pants-for-sale.com you can be creative and stick with the name you like, all the better if it has a branding potential. Which brings us to the next point.
  • Branding. First of all, websites with simple addresses don’t look suspicious and spammy, unlike keyword-keywrod-name.com websites. Picking a good name helps to build credibility and make backlinks to your website more efficient. Before sticking with a name check if it’s not taken on major social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Also, make sure that your links are human-friendly, website.com/products/toys is a lot better than a random selection of symbols.
  • Spelling. If your company name is hard to spell or pronounce people who hear about you somewhere will have a hard time finding you this is another reason to make your name short and simple.
  • .COM By all means possible try to get the .com domain, if it’s taken you might want to reconsider the name of your website, as you’ll be missing a lot of traffic.

If you’re going to buy a domain that has been owned by somebody, make sure to run a background check, see if this domain was penalized by Google, for what reasons? And don’t forget to check if the previous owner used the name to register social media accounts.

Analyze and Document Your Old Website

There’s a reason you’ve decided to launch a new website, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to learn as much as possible. Before you move into the new launch process, it’s a good idea to analyze your current website and document its strengths and weaknesses.

What are the things you want to keep for your new site? What do you need to change? Which metrics are suffering and which are performing well? These questions and more can put you on the right path to launching a new site that jumpstarts your overall business performance.

Here’s a helpful step-by-step guide through a website analysis to help you get started:

Use Keyword Research to Study Your Intended Audience

Find out which words your audience is using when trying to find the products or services that you provide. The efficiency of the keywords makes a big difference for SEO.

Avoid the following:

  • Too short and generic keywords, like car, shoes or iphone. Such keywords never work for a new business, competition in organic search is huge and running a PPC campaign for something similar will destroy your budget in no time.
  • Keywords with a low number of searches. Too specific keywords, like cheap car parts for 2005 honda civic in Seattle, are pretty much useless and won’t draw any traffic to your website.
  • Irrelevant keywords and keywords with several meanings, if their main meaning is irrelevant for you.

Here are the signs of good keywords:

  • High search volume: This shows how popular the keyword is among your audience.
  • Low competition: Usually attributed to long-tail keywords. Unlike generic keywords they are good for running a PPC campaign and their conversion rate is higher.
  • Relevancy: If your content and your keywords aim at different audiences, you won’t get any results.

Keyword research tools from Ahrefs and Semrush will give you pretty much everything you need to gather and target a huge list of keywords that are relevant to your business.

Set Goals

Now that you have a detailed understanding of your current website, it’s time to shift your focus to your new site.

Go back to the original question: why did you decide to launch a new website? Then consider what you learned from your website analysis. You can use these insights to set goals for your new site.

We recommend using the SMART goals framework for goal setting, which ensures your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Making your goals SMART sets you up for easy analysis later down the road, when you’ll be looking to assess performance.

Smart Analysis

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Create a Work Plan and Timeline

Remember all of those moving parts we mentioned before? There’s a way to make sure they’re all documented, tracked, and assessed throughout the website launch process.

Creating a content calendar that includes roles, responsibilities, and deadlines keeps your project team accountable and on track.

You don’t have to start your work plan from scratch, either. There are plenty of tried and true work plan templates you can download and customize to fit your specific project needs.

This list from Template Archive has more than 30 downloadable templates you can choose from.

Choose a CMS System

You probably evaluated your content management system (CMS) during your current website analysis and goal setting steps. Before you move heavily into the website launch process, you should make a final decision on the website CMS system you’ll use. The CMS you choose will likely affect other choices you make during your launch, both related to design and functionality.

WordPress is by far the most commonly used CMS, but there are other popular options like Drupal.

Here’s a helpful guide on CMS basics and which one to choose for your website:

Check Third-Party Integrations

Modern websites utilize many third-party tools, plug-ins, and software to support marketing and sales functions. Make a comprehensive list of all third-party integrations you’re using, and be sure to check them before and after launch. Failing to do so could result in website functionality issues and, even worse, data loss.

Work on Your Content

The quality of your content is what customers will notice the most. After all, they have the last word in the ranking of your website. Anything that you publish to your page is content, this includes:

  • Page content
  • Images (pictures, infographics, avatars, etc.)
  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Blocks of text
  • Reports
  • Ebooks and whitepapers
  • FAQs and any information about your business

Make your content useful and interesting, it must catch and hold the attention of your visitors.

Even though you’re writing content for people, don’t forget that it’s also a crucial part of your SEO and requires optimization. Web crawlers will check your website to understand, what’s it about and rank it for the keywords that you used in your content.

Aiming for more visitors with popular keywords is not always a good idea, you should chase after the quality if your visitors to have higher conversion rate.

When trying to make your content appealing to both, users and search engines pay attention to these things:

  • Titles: A catchy title is the best way to get the attention.
  • Keywords: Use relevant keywords that will bring in the audience you’re aiming at.
  • Quality: Users will come to your website for answers and solutions to their problems. Make sure that your content is as helpful as can be to keep your bounce rate low.
  • Originality and freshness: Make sure that your content is unique and is always up to date.  
  • Length: Most specialists recommend keeping the length of your regular post somewhere between 400 and 700 words. There’s no correlation between the text length and the number of backlinks it gets, but a short text that gets to the point fast are more likely to be read to an end.

Proofread Your Copy, Then Do It Again

Don’t underestimate the effect of simple grammar mistakes and other errors in your copy. It might seem like an understandable mistake that may go overlooked, but the research says otherwise.

A survey conducted by a London-based digital marketing agency of over 1,000 web users found that more than 42.5 said they would be more turned off by spelling and grammar mistakes than any other blunder made by a brand online.

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This might seem extreme, but it’s understandable. When consumers make a purchase, they want to do it from a reliable and professional brand. Spelling mistakes are easily avoidable, and having them on your website indicates carelessness. When you’re launching a new site, be sure you proofread thoroughly. Even better, have more than one person do it, and have each person do it twice. It’s a time consuming task, but well worth the confidence in your content.

Be sure to update all placeholder content. This one is so obvious it can be easy to overlook. Throughout the process of building your new website, it’s likely you used placeholder images, captions, headings and more with the intention to replace them after design is complete.

Just as you did with proofreading copy, it’s a good idea to go through your website multiple times (and preferably have multiple people do it) to check that all filler content has been replaced with the real thing.

Test Your UX

Your website is often your first impression with potential customers, and you only get one. Be sure that before and after you launch your website, you do thorough UX testing to be sure your visitors have an optimal experience.

Your UX test should include:

  • Testing your site on PC, tablet, and mobile devices
  • Ensuring page loading times are appropriate
  • Checking all images, videos, and audio files are working properly
  • Testing your website on multiple browsers
  • Checking all download links and testing all forms
  • Testing all internal and external links

Remember: a lot can happen between the final pre-launch test and your official launch. Testing both before and after launch ensures that you can quickly identify and fix any glitches before your web visitors notice them and they have a chance to impact your new site’s performance.

Implement Security Measures

Security isn’t the most glamorous part of launching a new website, but it is one of the most critical. Security breaches can have disastrous effects like breached data, broken pages, or even an entire website crash.

Steps for securing your website should be included in your web launch work plan. Some things to consider:

  • Where will passwords and site credentials be stored?
  • Who will have access to passwords and site credentials?
  • What is our site backup plan? What is the location?
  • How will we protect our data in transit?

Security breaches have larger impacts than just unfortunate website issues — they can severely impact consumer trust in your brand. You can read more about important website security considerations here.

Set Up Analytics

Monitoring your website analytics has never been easier — there’s just no reason not to do it. Web analytics has more value than simply monitoring performance. You can leverage analytics to obtain actionable insights that help you improve your content and deliver revenue-driving results, like more leads and higher conversion rates.

Using analytics insights, you can optimize your best-performing content even further, update or eliminate content that’s not delivering results, align your website architecture with target keyword search queries, and target your content more effectively. Here’s our deep dive on web analytics and why they’re valuable.

In the meantime, if there’s one thing to add to your website launch checklist right now, it’s setting up Google Analytics as soon as your new site launches. It provides a treasure trove of useful data and it’s free (for most features). Check out this beginner’s guide to Google Analytics from SEMRush to help you get started.

Create a Sitemap

Sitemaps are a great tool for viewing your website’s architecture from a high level.

Creating a sitemap when you’re launching a new site serves two important purposes. First, you can analyze it to be sure your site’s architecture aligns with your strategy and is set up to help meet your goals. Second, it becomes a reference document that can be updated and adjusted as time goes on to reflect new changes.

Sitemaps also have additional benefits, like helping you improve your SEO rankings and making it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Sitemaps might seem daunting, but they actually don’t need to be very complicated. Most of the time, a simple flowchart format like the one below will work just fine.

For a deeper dive on this, see Quicksprout’s guide for how to create sitemaps in five easy steps.

Set Up Technical SEO

  • Set up Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts and to see how your website is performing. Which pages attract the most visitors, how long do they stay on your website? You’ll need this data and more to keep track of your development. Google Analytics is easy to set up and provides loads of useful data about your users and their preferences.
  • Set up Google and Bing Webmaster Tools to get more detailed and deep information. See the number of backlinks, what queries bring people to your website, what issues does your website have and more.
  • Install SEO plugins for your WordPress if you use this platform for your website. It will help you to optimize your content. There are many plugins available, pick the ones you find the most useful. A lot of professionals use Yoast plugin, it’s free, has a lot of functions and is easy to use.
  • Use the robots.txt file; it contains instructions for web crawlers as to which pages they should ignore. This file is basically a list of commands that tells web crawlers which pages they can and cannot retrieve. If you use a “disallow; /” command for a certain page it will not appear in Google search results which are the price you must pay so you don’t get penalized for duplicate content. It’s also a good idea to use this command while your website is under construction, but don’t forget to remove the tag once you’re ready for visitors.

Build Links

Getting quality links is an important ranking factor, being linked from an authoritative website is always better than having hundreds of garbage links.

Here are some tips to help you with your link building strategy:

  • Create shareable content, like infographics, guest posts or posts that mention resources you want to share the content (they usually set up Google alerts to know when they are mentioned).
  • Promote your content. The more people see your content, the more chances it has to become popular and shared. The best way to advertise your content is to target your audience in social networks. It will be cheaper than regular PPC campaign and you’ll reach out to people who are interested in your content.
  • Get people to know you. Build relationships with people who can help you with promoting your content and ask them to give your content a look.

Monitor Closely Post Launch

  • Usability: It’s a very important part of your SEO and helps to keep your visitors happy. When users have a great experience with your website they will return and maybe even recommend it to their friends. Visit your website as a customer, or better ask your friends to do it. Check how many steps it takes to buy something from your website, how easy it is to navigate, etc.
  • Speed: Another crucial ranking factor, so don’t forget to improve your site’s speed and loading times. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is the best tool for the job. You will get a report on your performance with pieces of advice on what to improve to make your website run faster.
  • Mobile version: Make sure that your website works properly on all devices – desktops, smartphones, and tablets. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool helps you test if your website is mobile-friendly. Monitor your analytics to control the percentage of the traffic coming from mobile devices, make working on mobile version a priority if necessary. If you don’t get any mobile traffic, just remember that Google favors mobile-friendly pages in ranking.

Boost Your Website’s Performance

Follow these tips, and your website will have more visitors and a better reputation. Don’t expect instant results, it takes a time to index and rank your website, so don’t change things every other day in a panic.

There are no shortcuts in SEO unless you want to try shady stuff and get penalized, it’s never worth the hassle. Keep working on your website and improving it for better results.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our weekly blog content marketing service. Our team of writers and SEO experts can deliver you optimized, ready-to-publish content every week for a year (or more).

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today – and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

By: Michael Brenner
Title: The “Just Do This” Website Launch Checklist for SEO
Sourced From: marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/the-only-website-launch-checklist-youll-ever-need/
Published Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2024 15:00:47 +0000

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