If you’ve followed us along your journey this far, congratulations! You have not only created a marketable brand, but you’ve also turned it into a website that can get you customers and clients.
There are a few key steps you need to take before you publish your site and start inevitably driving traffic to it.
With our final checklist, you can ensure that you have done all of the necessary work to give your website the best chance for success.
To review the items we highlighted in previous chapters that you need to build a great website, we have:
- Create captivating content
- Generate a clean, effective design
- Develop an appropriate web development platform, hosting and virus scan
None of the above matters if you don’t take the necessary steps to make sure of a successful launch. By “launch”, we mean that you have transferred your website to its final home, and you can now start letting people know that your website is up. This can be done in several places:
- Sending your email contacts your new web address
- Adding your homepage to your business and social pages
- Running ads pointing to your web pages
Missing the final steps is like spiking the ball on the 5-yard line. You can lose valuable traction and even hurt your business if you don’t take the necessary steps to get your website off the ground the right way!
Without further delay, here are our top 10 essentials you need to think about before you publish your website:
Missing out on collecting analytics data prevents you from seeing whether your website is working or not. Particularly early on, every business owner wants to improve their conversion rate. But you can’t do that if you don’t know how visitors are interacting with your site, and where they’re coming from.
Some crucial things you can do with Analytics are:
- Implementing Google Analytics 4 for improved insights and engagement metrics. Learn more about Google Analytics 4 here.
- Add a few goals (in Universal Analytics) and conversions (Google Analytics 4) based on actions you want your customers to take
- Connect your Analytics with your Ads account
- Implement Campaign URLs
- Generate a dashboard and reports that allows you to see the information that’s important to you.
2. Google Search Console
Like Analytics, Search Console gives you valuable insights into what’s happening with your pages. Unlike Analytics, Search Console gives you information on traffic before they arrive on your pages.
A few things Google Search Console can help you with include:
- Submitting your sitemap
- Error monitoring and alerts
- Removing links that you don’t want indexed (in the case where you’re replacing an old website with a new one)
3. Canonical Tags
Use canonical tags to let Google know which version of your website to index. If you don’t do this, you may find after some time that Google is showing both HTTP and HTTPS versions of your site in search results. This can lead to a poor user experience as browsers warn users of unsafe links.
4. Set up Structured Data
The purpose of structured data is to provide contextual information about the content that you create online. By setting up structured data, or “schema”, using schemas provided by schema.org, you can qualify for a variety of features for your listings that will improve your click-through rate.
In short, by identifying the types of content of your website to search engines, you will have a better chance to score special displays when you appear in search results.
The basic types of schemas are as follows:
- Creative works: CreativeWork, Book, Movie, MusicRecording, Recipe, TVSeries …
- Embedded non-text objects: AudioObject, ImageObject, VideoObject
- Health and medical types: notes on the health and medical types under MedicalEntity.
- Place, LocalBusiness, Restaurant …
- Product, Offer, AggregateOffer
- Review, AggregateRating
As this is not a tutorial for developers, we won’t get too deep into the “how”. Read more at schema.org and WP Structured Data.
5. Turn on Indexing
Usually, when websites are in development, indexing is blocked with a robots meta-tag:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
You want to make sure that this is changed when the website is ready to go live. This will ensure that you will start to get noticed and found for searches.
6. Integrate an Email Provider
With email marketing being such a major factor in the success of any business serious about reducing ad spend and improving customer retention, it’s important that you put serious thought into how you will use emails to your best advantage.
Are you going to write a monthly newsletter? Do you have a planned message for people who abandon their carts?
If you followed the advice of our previous post on writing content, you’ll know that your offer needs to have a follow-up. With that, you need to make sure that any email form on your site is integrated with your email service provider so that you can immediately begin to use this powerful platform to bring customers back.
7. Clean Up Old Links
After a website is migrated, there are sometimes vestiges of the old website. Make sure that any references to a temporary domain are history.
8. Set up Captcha
The unfortunate truth is, the better your SEO, the more spam you will see. You are going to want to set up Captcha on your website forms to make sure that you don’t miss any real customers in the glut of spam messages that you will see.
Captcha is a Google technology that enhances forms with tests that verify that the submissions are made by humans.
Fortunately, most form plugins on web builders support Captcha, so it’s fairly simple to set up as long as you generate the keys.
9. Install an SSL Certificate
This may not be necessary for some hosts, including self-hosting platforms. But if you are operating a WordPress or custom website, you will need to make sure you have a valid SSL Certificate, and write it down when it expires, particularly if you have a high-volume business.
You will also want to force HTTPS so that anyone attempting to click a link will automatically be taken to the secure address.
10. Privacy Disclosures
Make sure you have all of the appropriate privacy disclosures in place. GDPR is real, and you expose yourself to considerable liability collecting customer information without disclosing it.
If you’ve followed us along a wonderful journey and build a website that will stand the test of time, congratulations! If you follow this top 10 list you will be ready to properly launch and start reaping those rewards!
Check us out in our next series as we provide our tips on how to drive traffic to your new site by using SEO best practices!