An SEO Checklist For Launching A Website
Good day, my web owner warriors! Here’s an SEO checklist for making sure your new website launch or re-launch goes smooth. There are so many moving parts and pieces, it’s easy to lose track of small but critical elements that doom your launch. Ready? Here we go…
- Compatibility – is the site compatible across different browsers? Eyeball them to make sure.
- Fonts – what fonts are being used? You want a screen-readable font such as arial or verdana.
- Images – is each alt text tag populated with a keyword phrase, or a variation on it? You do want to show up for image searches also, don’t you?
- Live URLs – which URLs are going to be “live,” vs. the ones that are coming down or not being re-launched?
- W3C Validation – go ahead and validate your code. Clean any egregious messes you might find.
- 404 pages – create custom 404 pages explaining the relaunch. We all make “oopsies” every once in awhile.
- 301 Redirects – this is probably the most critical item; I can’t believe I didn’t put this first. Everything else you do will be for nothing if you don’t have every single bleepin’ 301 redirect in place, umkay?
- Title Tags/Meta Data – hey, this is a great time to re-vamp existing ones, plus you absolutely have to make new meta data for additional pages that didn’t exist before the website makeover!
- XML Sitemaps/HTML Sitemap – if you didn’t have these sitemaps before with the old site, be sure your web developer has these ready to go for the relaunch.
- Google Analytics – re-install the account code for the new site, or if you’re starting a new site, make sure you have the account set up and the code installed.
- Google Webmaster Tools – be sure you update the dashboard with any new domains that your re-launch may have spawned, or if this is a new site, make the new account and dashboard for the new site.
More SEO Checklist Items For A Website Launch
- Protected Pages – are any of your pages going behind the firewall? If so, make sure they have the “https,” not “http.”
- Secure Certificate (if Required) – be sure your web developer has installed and tested secure certificates to protect your web visitors when they come to your site.
- Benchmark current site stats – if you’re re-launching, be darn sure you capture the final baseline of the existing site before you set the new one up!
- Canonical – it’s a best practice as a webmaster to tell Google and the other search engines which version of your home page you want indexed. You can go either with the “www” or the non-www version of your home page; it’s up to you.
- IBLs – You will want to make sure the good links from other sites coming to yours are part of your 301 re-direct efforts. It’s not a bad idea to simply test them out, or use a crawling program to make sure they don’t get sent to 404 pages.
- Map old URLs to new URLs – just to keep track of what you’re doing, make a simple spreadsheet of old URLs vs. the new ones. It helps you track each page.
- Internal links – be sure all of your internal links from the old site make it over to the new site without breaks.
- Mobile website – if this launch, or re-launch includes a mobile version of the site, make sure it renders well across all mobile platforms, and most important of all, that the mobile version is in your domain, not the mobile developer’s domain.
- Robots.txt files – be sure you verify that all pages that need to be indexed and crawled are noted as such in the robots.txt file. This is an easy thing to overlook, but it can cook your goose if Google can’t crawl your pages. Honestly, I should have put this and the 301 redirect checks at the top of the list.
So there you have it. Keep this handy in times of mild stress, and if something about your site launch or re-launch isn’t quite copasetic, come back to this and make sure everything’s been done.