Every little (100+) thing to do before your website launch [Checklist]

Launching a website is a pretty exciting. It’s typically quite a hectic time too! Even those who’ve been through this time and time again, will know the feeling. Since we wanted to ease the stress of forgetting something important just when you’re about to launch we created Ultimate Website Launch Checklist.

At Switch, our digital marketing agency, we’ve launched quite a few hundred websites. We’ve done this over and over again.

Yet every website is different. You have different clients, different characters, different goals and different technologies. Since every client (and digital marketer) wants to launch a perfect website, we just want to make sure we don’t miss anything crucial.

Because, the last thing you want when your site is launched, is for you (or even worse, your client) to find something wrong at the very moment it goes live.

We’ve created a bit of our own process. This helps so that we can really be sure we didn’t miss any of those little things you need to do as part of our website launch checklist. At BeeWits we love our checklists, infact this is only one of our several checklists for web designers – one of our most popular lists for web designers is the ultimate web design checklist. It is slightly different from this becuase it focuses on the complete web design process.

Since at BeeWits, we take pleasure with helping others out – we’re releasing our own internal process so that you can apply it to your own website launches.

Download the website launch checklist

You can download the website launch checklist in Word (.docx) or Excel (.xlsx) format below:excel-icon

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Let’s go through the tasks we have in the website launch checklist, and the reasons why we are suggesting this very long list of tasks.

Warning! Do not make last minute changes

last minute changes meme

So this is something which we’ve picked up from launches of software products. When you find a bug or problem, it is essentail that you do not perform last minute changes right before go live. Murphy’s law means that this small change is bound to have larger unseen repurcussions.

Rather than putting a quick-fix in place, your website launch checklist should serve as a way of identifying potential issues.

If problems are identified – take note of them, then perform a “War Room” meeting, to discuss the severity of the bug, whether you can live with it and whether or not you should delay the launch to fix and test the problem.

Anything which is not on the critical path, should go to the list of post-launch enhancements (see more details below).

Step 1: Make your own list of action items

Whilst we have provided a template of tasks to do as the ultimate website launch checklist, some of these won’t apply to your site. There will definitely be a few others that apply to your site but aren’t listed here. So pick up this list and customize it as necessary. If there are different team members doing specific parts of the work, assign the different tasks to different specialists.

website_launch_checklist_action_items

Step 2: Plan a launch date

Your website launch date depends on quite of few things – all of which can impact the launch date. Besides the actual work involved there are going to be many factors which are involved in choosing an appropriate website launch date. Seasonals changes, launches of products, companies or services, marketing campaigns or any other things which might affect (positively or negatively) your website launch should be taken into consideration.

Pick a website launch date

Step 3: Prepare a contingency plan

Just like everything else, things are bound to go horribly wrong sometimes. What happens if a core developer leaves? What if content,copy, imagery or other assets are not provided in sufficient time for launch? How will you handle change requests late in the day? Is the launch date set in stone and what happens if critical issues are found around launch date? When shit hits the fan – a contingency plan makes sure that not everybody is running around like headless chickens.

Step 4: Setup a development, staging and live environment

Most website projects will require 3 environments to work on.

  1. A development area where stuff is likely to break.
  2. A staging site which is used as a testing ground and should be as similar to the live environment as possible.
  3. The live environment should be the one which will eventually be published to the general public.

Development, staging, live environments

Step 5: Setup an environment for work management

There are going to be all types of interactions going on during a project. Interactions between yourself and the client, designers with developers, develepers with testers, photographers, videographers, copywriters, project managers – everybody interacting with each other.

You should have  a single point of contact where everybody can collaborate.

BeeWits comes to mind for your work, TODOs, tasks content and all other management of a website project.

Try BeeWits now

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Step 6:  Set a project owner who will decide what is qualified as bugs or as post-launch enhancements

If you’re like most of us, the time you have to launch a website is going to be limited. Designate a project owner who will decide what is qualified as a must-fix bug and what qualifies as post-launch enhancement. Setup ways to track both of these lists (and any others you may need).

Once you’ve done these, you’re ready to starting ticking off the items from your website launch checklist! Here’s a full list of all of the things you’ll need to do!

Website Launch Checklist Part #1: Look and feel

Have you every heard of “Design you trust?” People typically make a snap judgement about whether they will trust your business or not in the very first few seconds of getting in touch with you. Hence why one of the most important parts of our website launch checklist will focus strictly on making sure you’ve got top-notch design.

Website look and feel

  1. Compare your designs with the completed website – during the process of creating an HTML / CSS site from the approved designs, a few things might have been missed, skipped or neglected. Your designers should review your site from a design perspective. They should make a critique and ensure that the final website template comes as close to the original designs as possible – ideally the designers and developers should work together during this part. This is important because as the site is being populated with content, some essential design inconsistencies might have been introduced.
  2. Check for font style consistency – as part of your design review, you should make sure that your font styles are consistent throughout the site (always remember that there are font combinations that work and other’s that don’t).
  3. Line-height, spacing, leading should also be consistent – For most text, the op­ti­mal line spac­ing is be­tween 120% and 145% of the point size.
  4. Navigation styles should be the same throughout the site, such stuff as the top menu bar, side menu (if any) and bottom menu (if any) should be consistent throughout the site.
  5. Colors and color schemes should be consistent and always reflect your brand colors.
  6. Stock photos and imagery – using stunning imagery is the difference between a a great and an awesome looking website. Great imagery is a fundamental part of your site.
  7. Images have been licensed – you should always make sure you are observing the conditions laid out by the license of the stock photography you use and / or purchase the images necessary. Besides the ethics of it all, getting called out publicly for using images without a license is an embarassment you can do without.
  8. Imagery and images used should be in the same theme, style and reflect the values of your brand.
  9. Appropriate favicons are in place – whilst this might look like a small thing, the Favicon is increasingly being used by various browsers (notable Chrome), so take the opportunity of this website launch checklist to ensure you’ve created one for your site.
  10. Company logo is linked to home page – this is a standard piece of functionality, which most of your visitors will take for granted, so ensure this works as expected.
  11. 404 page is in place – encountering a 404 error is a seriously frustrating situation for a user. Design a 404 page which is able to guide the user to the next steps. It would also be best if you are notified that a 404 error was triggered (so ensure that you are recording and fixing these errors).
  12. Website offers accessible functionality – your website should cater for users with disabilities by implementing accessibility options as necessary.

Once you’ve fully reviewed your look and feel, or design of the site, your next items on the website launch checklist is a review of the website functionality.

Part #2: Page content website checklist

Once you’ve got the design nailed, one of the biggest hurdles is out of the way – your initial visual impact is going to be great. There’s more to making a great impact though – there are quite a few subtleties which won’t go unnoticed. For example, a huge damper on your conversion ratio is carelessness – if your website shows neglect or lack of care, people will get turned off. On our next part of the website launch checklist, we make sure that content on the page is absolutely perfect.

Website Page Content - Great Copywriting improves conversions

  1. Proofread, grammar and spell-check – there is nothing worse than coming across spelling or grammar errors in your website’s copy. Make sure all of the content has been proof read by multiple people, ideally native English speakers. Outsourcing to a professional proofreader is also a good idea.
  2. Contact and company details are a critical path for your clients to get in touch with you, so make sure they are accurate throughout the site.
  3. Headers and sections, should be used where they provide better understanding of the content.
  4. Succinct list items should be used when trying to get a message across quickly such as on landing or sales pages. These work very well for getting messages across instead of longer paragraphs of text.
  5. Privacy Policy is in place – although most times one may feel that a Privacy policy is a distraction and unnecessary piece of content, this projects a sense of responsibility and gives security to users who are not familiar with your brand.
  6. Terms of service – just like the privacy policy, we do put this as part of our website launch checklist just because the ToS gives reassurance to your visitors, most especially if you will be handling customer data. These legal pages also lend legitimacy to the site and give a slight SEO advantage.
  7. Copyright text with the correct year appears in the footer.
  8. Web pages show a subtle message about cookies – EU based countries require your website to show a message if it is using tracking cookies, so make sure this is in place.
  9. Remove generic and / or testing text and images such as Lorem Ipsum or Replace Me images. Besides a visual test, a manual search in the database of the website should be conducted to ensure you have eliminated any such texts.
  10. Videos are formatted correctly and in the right places – videos should be tested for correct responsiveness and presentation on all types of devices.
  11. Audio files are presented correctly and in the right places – audio should also be tested for correct functionality on all types of devices.
  12. Premium content is delivered on cue  – whether this is by direct download, or as part of lead generation, delivery to the end-user should be thoroughly tested. Proof reading of this content is of course a given.
  13. Content upgrades, click triggers, exit popups have been tested – although lead generation is an essential part of your business, misbehaving content can create serious UX issues. Test over and over again.
  14. Lead generation and nurturing campaigns have been tested – automated processes have a habit of going awry. Ensure that these have been fully tested before going live. Also trigger a few automations post-live as part of website launch checklist testing.
  15. Verify Social media links such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and contact email address  – verify that the links to your social media are indeed going to the correct pages of your social media accounts Any social media integration such as showing of Tweets should be working fine.

Website Launch Checklist Part #3: Website Functional Testing Checklist

The next part of our website launch checklist makes sure that nothing is actually broken on the site.

This is something which should be performed both on the staging site and most importantly on the live site. This is because some things may have actually broken when the website was being migrated or setup on the live site.

Website functionality testing checklist

  1. Verify that forms are submitting correctly – first and foremost the form should be working correctly, with no errors shown.
  2. Customize the form submission messages – Make sure you’ve customized the form submission message to be consistent with the function. Do change the generic message “Your message has been sent”.
  3. Redirect to thank you pages – where necessary, such as if the user has applied for a trial, or actually bought a product, you should redirect to a thank you page, which details the next steps or links to relevant content.
  4. Auto-reply is enabled on each form – when a user gets in touch, this is a significant commitment, they have actually decided to interact with your site. You should set expectations as to when they should expect a reply, by sending an auto-reply which indicates the typical response times to queries.
  5. Form submission details should be submitted to a database – for reference purposes, you should always store details of forms being submitted to a database. Whilst emails might get lost, details stored on a database can be kept for further reference.
  6. Record a conversion – since a form submission is a key indicator of interest, you should record a form submission as a specific goal in Google Analytics, or your analytics software.
  7. Upload a new a post and some media – the last thing you want is to launch a new webiste and suddenly realise you’re not able to actual post anything due to permissions or some other error. Before you actually launch, you might want to create a temporary post, upload some media and go through the whole process of publishing a post – just to make sure everything is working ok.
  8. Test any 3rd party software integrations – Integrations with 3rd party software are prone to failure for all sorts of reasons. These should be tested over and over again to ensure that nothing has broken during the migration to the live servers.
  9. Test your webpages for errors – HTML and CSS errors cause your website to load slower since the browser has to figure out how to handle the “broken” script. You should test your website and pages and remove any errors.
  10. Ensure there are no 404 errors – a very specific error which is also a significant performance hit is if any resources are missing from your site (throwing invisible 404 errors). Error handling is a quite a performance hit, so make sure all references to resources are correct.
  11. Test on different devices – whilst this is not formal testing, you should perform a few tests on various devices to make sure all the website is functioning as it should on devices of different sizes.
  12. Test on different browsers – just like the above point, this is not formal quality assurance testing, this is some casual browsing on various browsers (Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, FireFox) just to make sure nothing has broken during the implementation on the live server.
  13. Optimize your HTML / CSS / Javascript for performance – whilst this is recommendation will have several sub-tasks to be implemented correctly (all of which are somewhat beyond the scope of this website launch checklist), it is essential that your website is fast. One of the main ways to do this is to minify, combine and compress the scripts on your site.
  14. Enable GZip compression on the site – this is another performance focused task, which will be highlighted when you perform performance tests, so better get it out of the way.
  15. Images should be saved for the web – whilst looking awesome is essential, there is something which is also essential to the success of your website – the performance. It’s critical that your images should be compressed for web, in such a way as not to lose visible quality.
  16. Test your site for performance – performance optimization is not a one-off task which you can check and be gone. It’s a while process. Yet, you need to make sure that all of your optimizations are still in place when you’re about to go live, that’s why we’ve added this to our website launch checklist. Sites such as Google PageSpeed, GTMetrix and Pingdom tools can measure the site’s performance and also make recommendations.
  17. Test all your links – you should make sure none of your website’s links are broken. Tools such as Screaming Frog will help you crawl the website automatically to ensure everything is setup correctly.

Security and Reliability Checklist

Your website is a critical asset – but like most digital resources, it is prone to failure. Hacks, data corruption, accidental deletions or malicious tampering could lead to catastrophic failure. Make sure that your site is secured such that you can get back up and running in little to no time when something goes wrong. The next part of our website launch checklist deals with making sure your site is fully secured.

Website secuiryt and reliability

  1. Website security plugin is in place – if your website will not be deployed on managed WordPress hosting such as Kinsta, you should seriously consider putting a security plugin in place to prevent the site from getting attacked by automated hacking scripts.
  2. Passwords are secured – all website usernames and passwords should be acccesible only via secure mechanisms such as using LastPass.
  3. Uptime scripts are in place – if your site is a main source of generating business, you should put uptime monitoring scripts in place, such that any downtime is immediately addressed and fixed.
  4. Automated backups with offline uploads are in place – when all else fails, revert to backups. A backup strategy will make sure that if something goes tragically wrong, you can be up and running quickly. For full safety, make sure that the backup files are uploaded to a location which is different from the hosting server.
  5. Website is fully PCI compliant – if your website is storing and processing credit cards, you’ll need to make sure you implement all the procedures necessary for PCI compliance. A better (and easier) option is for your site to integrate with a payment gateway such that payment processing is offloaded from your site.
  6. Perform a stress test – if you expect your site to be hit by a significant number of users, you want to make sure your site doesn’t falter under the load of all those users. A stress test will help you simulate visitors on your site to ensure your site can handle the load.

Website Relaunch checklist

If this website is not a new website, but is rather a website relaunch, our website launch checklist needs to have a few modifications. In this case, the modified and additional steps will be called the website relaunch checklist.

Website relaunch checklist

Content and SEO checklist

A critical part of your business’s strategy, where your website is a core part, is your content marketing and search engine optimization strategy. That’s why an essential part of our website launch checklist is centered around content marketing and search engine optimization.

So on with the website launch checklist concentrating on SEO and content.

SEO Website launch Checklist

If you already have a website in place, it’s really really important that you maintain any pages which are currently bringing traffic to your website. This requires a bit of a migration process, where you either keep the exact same URLs, or else your perform a 301 redirect, such that all traffic is forwarded to the new page.

We *strongly* recommend that you keep the exact same URL – this is the safest way to maintain traffic and rankings.

  1. Setup your site as HTTPS – Google has recently formally announced that any sites which are not HTTPS-enabled will be negatively marked as Unsafe from January 2017. Your website should be enabled for HTTPS from the get-go, even if you don’t plan to have an ecommerce in place. It’s simply best practice.
  2. Choose whether you want your site to appear on www. or no-www – it is good practice to show your site either on www or without a www, but not both. It is our suggestion that your primary website is displayed on www, such that you can eventually deploy any subdomains such as, app.yourcompany.com or any other subdomain you might need later.
  3. Mark your preferred choice (www vs non-www) on Google Search Console – the Search Console can also allow you to choose your preferred domain, you just set this up to your preference.
  4. Perform full redirection to your url of choice – Perform full redirection using your .htaccess file to your preferred URL. This means that any of the these URLs

www.yourwebsite.com

http://www.yourwebsite.com

yourwebsite.com

http://yourwebsite.com

should all redirect to

https://www.yourwebsite.com

Perform manual 301 redirects for all old URLs you want to keep as part of your website launch checklist

If there is one thing that is very scary when doing a website launch checklist, it’s the prospect of losing all of your hard-earned traffic on the old site. You need to have a process in place to make sure you actually lose none of that traffic.

There are two primary ways of maintaining the traffic

  1. Keep the exact same URLs
  2. Change the URLs but implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL

The former is intrinsically safer from the latter – anytime you perform a 301 redirect, there is an implicit loss of SEO link juice, because any old links pointing to the old URL will still be pointing to the old URL. Although a 301 redirect helps Google understand that you have decided to move that content, 301 redirects have been used to perform dodgy SEO tactics in the past.

For this reason, Google applies a roughly 10% loss of “link juice” when performing a 301 redirect from an old URL to a new URL.

A legititmate reason to change the URL is if you are currently using long slugs and would like to change them to use shorter, keywords rich slugs. You should focus your slug on exactly those keywords you want to target (e.g. beewits.com/website-launch-checklist is a valid slug for this specific blog post because these are the keywords we are targetting primarily).

  1. Extract your highest traffic content from Google Analytics – all of your high traffic pages should all be kept, so you need to extract this information from Google Analytics. Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages and click on Export to export all of the pages as a CSV file.
  2. Export a list of your most linked content from Google Search Console – linked content is another important asset of your website. You should make sure these links still exist when you launch your website – because all of these links play an important role in your website’s domain authority and are an essential SEO building block.
  3. Export a list of your best ranked pages – Use ahrefs, SEMRush or another SEO analysis tool to export a list of your best and most highly ranked pages – this is for the same reason in the previous step. Pages which rank well should be maintained.
  4. Identify which pages you want to maintain – from the list of exported pages which are relevant, choose the ones you want to maintain and which are important to the success of your site.
  5. Ensure that the new site contains these pages – Check whether you’ve already migrated these pages to the new site, or if a replacement page exists (which is very close in content to the original page). If these pages do not exist, you should perform and Export / Import procedure of these pages, posts and content from the old site to the new site.
  6. Verify that the URLs you want to keep are on the new site – for those URLs which you want to keep, ensure that these pages exist with the exact same structure and slug. You should probably test these out manually and confirm that the right page and content is returned.
  7. Redirect any old URLs to their new URLs – you may opt to use the Redirection plugin to do a successful and easy 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one
  8. Remove any internal links to pages which you will be discarding or redirecting – broken links are a user experience problem besides sending negative SEO signals. Make sure you find all references to pages you plan to discard and update them accordingly.

Further SEO Optimization

Once you’ve performed all of the above, you might want to use this website launch checklist to perform a full review of your SEO onpage optimizations. The following are a few recommendations which we typically use as part of our website launch checklist.

  1. Review the Title tags for all pages – the title of a page is one of the few SEO criteria which can be influenced. As a general recommendation, title tags should meet the following criteria:
    • Begin with the target keyphrase followed by the company name (i.e. Keyphrase | Company Name)
    • Be unique to each page
    • Include no more than 55 characters including spaces
    • Be optimized to have a high click-through rate – the higher the CTR rate, the higher your pages are bound to rank in search engines
  2. Review the meta descriptions for all pages – although meta descriptions do not influence SEO in general, they influence user behaviour and CTR (which is a SEO signal). Meta descriptions should be focused in such a way to induce your user to click-through to the page. Besides this, they  should meet the following general criteria:
    • Include the target keyphrase for the page but be written in such a way to entice the user to read the content
    • Be unique to each page
    • Include around 120 characters including spaces to make sure all of the description is visible in the search engine result pages
  3. Make sure the H1 header and a few of the sub-headers include the target keyphrase: Ensure that each page includes headers and subheaders which include the target keyphrase for the page.
  4. Relevant outgoing and internal links: Each page should have internal links towards other pages throughout the site – make sure you are linking to pages you are keeping. When relevant, these links should include the target keyphrase of the page it’s linking to. You should also include at least 3 outgoing links to authoritive sites.
  5. Body text should include the target keyphrase where relevant at about a density of 1%, which means, it should be used once every 100 words approximately. You can also use lexically equivalent keywords which make sense in the context of the page. Content should always be written for your users not for search engines.
  6. First / last paragraph should contain your target keyphrase – search engines need to identify your target keyphrase as quickly as possible, so make sure that besides the title tag and the headers, your first paragraph should contain the target keywords / keyphrase. Same logic applies for the ending paragraph, where search engines should be guided that YES, this content is in fact about this specific keyphrase by making an emphasis on it later in the article( last 100 words or so).
  7. Include relevant Calls-to-Action: All your posts and pages should have calls-to-action that guide the visitor toward the desired actions. Whether this is to call your company, get in touch, follow your Social media, share your posts, or a call-to-action to download a resource against an email – you should ALWAYS guide the user to the next action they should perform.
  8. Use plenty of (optimized) images: All your posts and pages (especially the ones with lots of text) should contain plenty of images to make for better reading and easier understanding.
  9. All images should include relevant alt tags – particularly the first image on the screen should contain your target keyphrase. Alt tags should contain simple descriptions of the image and include a target keyphrase when relevant.
  10. Proper social sharing metadata is in place – social media marketing should be an essential part of your full marketing strategy. This means that you should have control of what appears when your pages are shared and that the right information is getting displayed – particularly correct imagery.
  11. RSS feeds with correct metadata are in place – feeds are still a popular way of following sites which genenates good amounts of great content. If you plan to have frequent blog posts or updated content, you should make sure an RSS feed is setup with the correct metadata in place.
  12. Links to affiliates sites or paid links should be “nofollow”ed – any links which are not natural should be tagged with a “nofollow” attribute. Google frons upon linking to sites from which you have something to gain and may penalize your site for it.

Final Pre-launch Website Checklist

Webiste prelaunch checklist

Once all issues have been ironed out – there are a few final tweaks you should be doing as your final website launch checklist.

  1. Take a full backup of the current site – make sure you make a copy of all files and perform a full export of the database associated with the website. Download both and archive them in a safe place just in case you’ll need to retrieve anything from it.
  2. Confirm that you have access to all of the domains – you should verify that you are able to access the nameserver settings of the domains where the website will be launched, since you will need to change them for launch.
  3. If you currently don’t own the domain, initiate a domain transfer – if the domain is not owned by you right now, (e.g. it is owned by another agency or designer) initiate a domain transfer such that you are in full control of the settings and won’t be at their mercy.
  4. Migrate the secure certificate and make sure it is setup correctly on the new hosting server – if you will be launching your site on HTTPS (and you should), make sure that the purchased HTTPS certificate has been installed on the hosting server.
  5. Setup the domain to post to the appropriate directory of your hosting server – your hosting server will need to “know” where to send requests to the specific domain name, so set up the domain to point to the directory where the website will be served from (typically this would be the installation of your WordPress directory, or the appropriate CMS).
  6. Simulate a launch – once the domain has been setup on the hosting server, you can simulate a launch by editing the local DNS settings to the name of the hosting server. This will mimic what the site will look like once the DNS settings have been updated correctly and fully propagated world-wide.

Launch!

Once all of the above items in the website launch checklist have been completed, it’s now time to take the website live.

  1. Update nameserver settings on the domain – change the nameserver settings on the domain registrar to the server name of the hosting company.
  2. Celebrate! – your website is now ready to accept real visitors!

Launch Website

Post-Launch Checklist

Once you’ve done all of the nitty gritty stuff of the prelaunch website launch checklist, it’s time to actually do some post-launch actions.

  1. Wait for DNS to propagate – If the website is being launched for the first time, the DNS changes needs to propagate. Once the DNS changes or A record setup is complete, the new site should become live within a few hours, however it actually may take up to 48 hours.
  2. Verify that all your analytics code are working ok – besides Google Analytics, you might want to add other codes such as CRO scripts such as Hotjar, AdWords, Google Tag Manager, add a Facebook pixel, scripts for your email service or other essential scripts.
  3. Create various goals in your Analytics for each type of conversion you want to record – your website should have a number of goals (selling a product / service, users downloading assets or filling contact forms). You should configure Analytics goals for each of these so that you can track the effectiveness of your new website.
  4. Enable Site Search on Google Analytics – the searches that your users perform can give you a huge insight into what they are trying to achieve (and whether you can make it easier for them to achieve what they need), so make sure you enable this on Google Analytics.
  5. Enable ecommerce if you have an online shop – Google Analytics has specific ecommerce related functions which you should enable if your site also includes an online shop.
  6. Create a funnel – Google Analytics also supports the creation of funnels so that you can understand where you clients is in the buying process.
  7. Add relevant users to each account – if this website is for a client, you’ll want to make sure that both you and the client have access to each account. Login to each 3rd party integration script and make sure that both your own users and the client have all been added as users.
  8. Setup any IPs to be excluded – if the website has a large internal user base which are likely to influence the analytics or create flukes, do add a list of IPs which should be exluded from Analytics. For Google Analytics this is done by adding a filter which excludes specific IPs.
  9. Verify that Google Analytics is collecting data – rather than waiting for a full-day, the Real-time section of Analytics will actually show you what’s users are hitting the site right now – including yourself. So visit your site and make sure your hit shows up in Real-time.
  10. Setup your Google Search Console – Google Search console is one of the most underused SEO tools of all. It contains a wealth of information for you to understand how your site is performing in Google. Add your new website, verify it and start reviewing any notices or warnings which show up. If your site is deployed on HTTPS, you should add the full HTTPS URL.
  11. Link your Google Analytics account with your Google Search Console – this allows you to analyze the search queries which are generating traffic to your site without having to access the Google Search console directly.
  12. Link your Google Analytics account with your Google AdWords account – just like the integration between analytics and search console, the AdWords and Analytics link allows you to analyse AdWords campaigns without leaving Analytics.
  13. Create a dynamic sitemap – sitemaps are a great way to notify search engines about all of the content withing your website. These are especially useful for websites which post plenty of content.
  14. Submit the sitemap to search engines – Verify your site on Google Search Console and Bing WebMasters tool. Once you’ve vertified your site, make sure you submit a new sitemap.xml (generated by a relevant plugin such as Yoast SEO) to Google, . Verify that that the new sitemap passes and contains no errors.
  15. Verify that Google (and other search engines) can crawl your site – Google is the most important non-human visitor your website will ever get. That’s why there’s so many steps in our website launch checklist which ensure that Google and your website are best buddies. Search engine traffic can make a huge difference to your site, and really and truly, the success of your website and your business.

Select Crawl > Fetch as Google, then enter the domain and click “Fetch and Render.” When the requests have completed, verify that everything is looking ok. google-fetch

  1. Make sure branded searches are showing the results you want – there are very few ways in which you can determine what appears on your  searches for your brand name. However, you do have a choice to not allow things you’re not happy with to NOT appear. 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 brand.

google-sitelinks

  1. Ensure in your CMS that your pages can be indexed: If you’ve set your testing environment to NOT be indexed, make sure that the setting has not been enabled on your live site too. Check the site’s pages to make sure they are NOT set to noindex, nofollow. Besides on the actual page itself in your CMS, you should proably also check this in the source of the live site itself. Search engine robots are one of the most essential but invisible visitors, so as part of the website launch checklist, ensure they are completeed catered for.
  2. Ensure that your robots. txt allows your pages to be indexed – there’s another potential way for your site not to get indexed. It is common practice that robots.txt on testing and staging sites are set to noindex, nofollow. Check robots.txt file to make sure it is NOT set to noindex, nofollow.

robots1

  1. Set any pages you don’t want to appear on search engines as noindex – Check that any login areas ARE set to noindex, nofollow and set to “disallow” in the sitemap.xml.

Website launch announcement: Promotion of your new website launch

Once you’ve done all of the work involved in completing this website launch checklist, you need to shout it out to the world. Let the world know about your new website.

Website Promotion

  1. Send out an email blast announcing your newly launched website – the subscribers of your email list are going to be your most loyal, important and probably most vocal users. Let them know about the new website and ask them for feedback. A subject line which works rather nicely is the most obvious one: “Check out our new website” and is something which you should definetely do as part of your website launch checklist.
  2. Write a blog about your website redesign and launch – there’s a lot which goes on behind the scenes of a new website launch. Your thinking behind this is something which is definetely something you should share with your users – afterall, one of the main reasons your website should have been redesigned is to make sure you are serving your users better. A website launch checklist is great, however documenting your own lessons learned for yourself and others, is better.
  3. Post and schedule announcements on social media – your fans on social media are also people who are interested in your content. Schedule a few announcements over the space of the next week, 3 posts per network are typical.
  4. Update your cover images with an image which gives information about the new website. Also, add a call to action to visit your site. This will also send out a notification to most of your fans.
  5. Add a website launch announcement to your email signature – you’ll be getting in touch with plenty of other customers and users, suppliers and all other types of contacts via email. So do also create a call to action to “Check out our new website” for the first month after the launch.

Conclusion: Feeling overwhelmed with this website launch checklist?

After going through this mother of all website launch checklists, you might be feeling slightly overwhelmed, and that of course if completely understandable. This is the very reason we created BeeWits – the ultimate in checklists of TODO items for web design freelancers and creative agencies. Why don’t you have a look at BeeWits and make sure your website launch checklist is kept fully updated in real-time as you work!?

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