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Helpful Checklist For Launching Your Website

November 16th, 2012

You’ve spent months working on your website, you’ve tested it on your staging server, you’ve spent days gathering content for all the pages. It’s now finally time to launch your site! Here is a useful checklist for when you are about to launch your site. Following these guidelines will help get your website ranked quicker by the search engines.

Google Analytics

Setting up Google Analytics is the most important item on this checklist. It’s free to set up, takes minutes to add it to your website code and will give you valuable information about your website. How did your visitors find you? Google? If so, what keywords did they use? How long did they spend on the site, and what on what page did they exit the site?

All of this information will help you make informed decisions about your website – do you need to spend more time on getting your site to rank higher on Google? Do you need to improve the content of certain pages to entice your users to stay on your site longer?

Google Analytics will provide you with all of this information.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is almost like an add-on to Google Analytics. It is also free to set-up. It provides you with complementary information to Google Analytics. In fact, you can link both accounts to make them even more powerful.

Google Webmaster Tools will provide you with the following information:

SEO – Titles & Descriptions

Each of your pages should be optimized for targeted keywords prior to launch. A quick way to do this is to ensure that the page title and page meta description are present, unique and optimized on each page.

If you have a WordPress website, I would recommend a plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast, which will give you excellent feedback on how well each page is optimised. It recommends the correct character length for the title and description tags. It also rates each of your pages for a certain keyword.

Submit your sitemap to search engines

The quickest way to get your website indexed by the major search engines is to let them know about your new site. The best way to do this is to submit your website sitemap to the search engines. The sitemap should be in XML or XML GZ format. The latter is a compressed version of an XML sitemap.

As the previous sentence suggests, sitemap creation can be a technical process. However, if you have a WordPress website, I would recommend downloading a plugin called Google XML Sitemaps. This excellent plugin automatically creates both an XML and XML GZ sitemap, and automatically submits them to the major search engines. Additionally, each time you add a page to your site, the plugin re-submits your updated sitemaps.

You can also submit your sitemap manually via Google Webmaster Tools.

Set up social media buttons

Search engines reward websites that allow users to easily share the website content. The best way to add this functionality to your website is by having social media “Share” buttons on each page of your website. You can add buttons easily by going to a site such as AddThis.com, and copying the Buttons code onto your website.

Don’t forget your favicon

A favicon is a small image that appears next to the website address in the browser address bar. Favicon is short for “Favourites Icon”. You can create a favicon easily online. Upload your image to a site like this, and it will create a favicon, which you can add to your website root folder.

A favicon will help promote your brand, it adds a professional touch to your website, and will differentiate your site from your competitors.

Change your test email addresses

If you have contact forms on your website, you may have changed the email addresses during testing. Make sure you change them to the correct email address prior to launching. Same thing goes for your WordPress CMS email address.

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