All your hard work is done, and your new website is ready to launch, however, in all this excitement it is easy to miss out important steps. To help you avoid common mistakes we have put together a list of the 26 must-do checks before launching your WordPress website.
26 must-do checks before launching your WordPress website
Harden the security
Your number one priority when getting ready to launch any WordPress website is security. Luckily there is a wide selection of free tools (with premium options) available for WordPress that will cover all areas of website security. Plugins like Wordfence and MalCare provide an extensive range of tools to protect your new site from vulnerabilities, hackers and malware.
Protect website against spam
Once your site becomes popular you will likely have to deal with an influx of spam. To help stop these annoying comments we suggest taking the time to deal with this pre-launch. We recommend installing an anti-spam plugin like Antispam Bee, which is 100% free and does the job as good as any paid plugin.
Configure an SEO plugin
While one of the major benefits of WordPress is how search engine friendly out of the box, you can still improve the SEO further with plugins like Yoast SEO. An SEO plugin will add a title, meta tags and descriptions to all your pages on your website automatically, while also giving you the ability to optimize them to help increase organic traffic.
Add Google Analytics code
Adding Google Analytics to your site allows you to not only see how many people visit your website but where they are coming from, what browsers they use, how long they stay on your website, what pages they visit and so more. Because after all, what is the point of all that time and effort spent on writing great content, optimizing and perfecting your SEO if you can’t see if anyone is visiting at your website?
Add social share images
One of the most overlooked items when launching a site is adding social share images, These are the images that appear when someone shares the website on social media. Adding these images is easy with the help of an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO.
SSL certificate for the website
Having a valid SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate on your site is more important than ever with Google even giving priority to sites in search results that have one. In addition, if you’re not using one (or it is expired), Google Chrome, along with most other mainstream browsers, will flag your website as insecure, which is obviously off-putting to any potential visitors.
An SSL certificate can easily be installed through your server provider.
A favicon is a little logo or icon displayed in the tab bar of the browser next to your page name. This is typically a simplified version of your logo, but you can use anything you want. It just needs to be able to fit within a 32×32 square icon.
Add a retina logo
Unless you are using a logo in an SVG format, it is advised you upload a retina version (double the number of pixels) of your logo. This will stop your logo from looking fussy and pixilated on high-resolution screens.
Allow search engine indexing
While you are building your website it is advised search engine indexing is turned off, this will stop Google from displaying your site in search results. However, once your site is live it is important you turn this back on as, without it, all your hard work will have been for nothing as no one will be able to search for or find your site
Submit website to Google
Once you are ready to launch, you will want the worlds largest search engine to know you are ready to start accepting visitors. To speed up the process of Google crawling and indexing your new site, you will want to notify them you are ready and where to find you. This is easy to do, simply go to your Google Search Console and hit the “Request indexing”, it can take a few day, however you will start to appear within Google’s search results.
Review cross browser compatibility
You have spent time designing and building the perfect site, and you will want to make sure everyone who visits will see the site you envisioned, this is why cross browser testing is vital before launch. The easiest way to test across all different browsers and versions is with the aid of an online tool like BrowserStack.
Test website on different devices
You will need to remember your website will be viewed on multiple devices, and screen sizes. It is unrealistic to expect you have all physical devices on hand to test all possible combinations, that is why tools like Browsershots are so useful as they generate and show screenshots of how your website looks on all devices and screen sizes.
Check for broken links
During the development process changing links and pages names is a common occurrence so it’s a good idea to ensure that your site is fully checked for broken links before you launch it to the world.
Instead of doing this manually you can use a plugin such as Broken Link Checker or use a free online tool like Xenu. You can also use one of the many Google Chrome extensions available like Broken Link Checker or Link Miner.
Note, you should continue to check for broken links on a regular base to make sure all links on your site remain working correctly and that you have not accidentally removed or updated a page and not changed your link structure.
Optimize images on the website
Images are what makes your website look beautiful and inviting, however, it can also be the biggest cause of slowing down your site. Optimizing your images is not only best practice but will significantly reduce your page loads and overall site speed, as well as increasing your ranking within search results (Google penalize slow loading sites while favouring faster loading sites).
Optimizing your images doesn’t need to be a painful manual process it once was, there are now plugins like ShortPixel and EWWW Image Optimizer that can take care of this for you. Both these options offer free plans as well as commercial options for larger or multiple sites.
Check your grammar and spelling
There are many tools out there that will help with your spelling and grammar (Grammarly and Web-page Spell Check), however, nothing beats a human pair of eyes. Before going live you should take the time to read through your site in full and if possible, ask a friend or colleague to review your hard work to ensure you’re not suffering from ‘word blindness’ from too much copy reviewing. After all, nothing looks worse than a poorly worded page on your site, especially if you are trying to sell your product or service.
Update the admin email address
Before going live, double check the admin email address for your account is correct and is the address you want to be notified a since this is the email will be used for pretty much everything that happens on the website (security breaches, required updates etc). You will find this email address within the WordPress Dashboard under “Settings > General”.
Check timezone settings
Be sure to check that WordPress displays the correct date and time. This can be done by visiting “Settings > General” within the WordPress Dashboard. If incorrect, you are able to change date and time settings and the format within there.
Remove unwanted plugins, images, etc.
During the development phase, you likely ended up testing lots of ideas, had multiple plugins and images that you added to test ideas or altered by the client pre-final approval. Once you are ready to go live, review the installed plugins and media library to check and delete these redundant items, this will provide a streamlined launch experience; especially if you are handing the site off to your client.
Remove all unwanted pages/posts
By default, WordPress had sample content in Pages and Posts, and you have also likely added sample content when testing out pages while building your site. Prior to going live, it is a great idea to review all this content and delete any unnecessary pages because you don’t want Google including any of these pages in your search results.
Remove WordPress post revisions
WordPress has an autosave feature which is great so you don’t accidentally lose your work, but the revisions (earlier versions of your page) can build up and can slow down your database and website as these revisions increase. It’s good practice to delete these revisions when you are happy with the page.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to keep on top of revisions is to use a plugin like WP Sweep to remove them.
Check all forms on the website
Prior to launching your website, manually test all forms on your website to ensure they are configured correctly and being sent to the intended email addresses. There is nothing more frustrating for a user than taking the time to fill out a form on your website and never receiving a reply.
You have created a beautifully designed website, taken the time to optimize all your images and proofread everything twice. Now is the time to get that final stamp of approval from the company on the internet, Google by using there PageSpeed Insights. This tool identifies any areas that are causing your website to underperform (for mobile and desktop), and even better, in most cases, how to address them.
Note: In recent years, site performance significantly affects how Google ranks your site within its search results, with faster sites being over slower sites.
Check SEO and overall grades with free online tools
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key to getting your website found by search engines. It is important to check all your pages using tools like Woorank prior to launch. This will flag any potential issues and how to address them, once you have, run the tool again and keep optimizing based on the tools feedback until you have the best score you can. Taking the time here will give your website the best chances of ranking high in search results and in turn, drive more to traffic to your site.
Check product, media and image licensing
Remember to check all license agreements (especially parts around usage on the internet) of all third-party resources you have included on your site, such as stock images. Failing to do so can leaded to copyright or licensing issues once the website is live.
Take backup of website
Technical issues can happen, even the most prepared of people. So it is import to make a full backup of your new website prior to going live, as well as backing up your site once a week, just in case something unimaginable happens.
We recommend the use of plugins like UpdraftPlus or BlogVault to set up automated, remote backups of your websites.
Upon launching your new site, it is a good idea to sign up for an uptime motoring service. This service will keep watch on your website and will send you a notification if your website goes down. One such service is Uptime Robot which offers a free version, as well and a paid option if you are monitoring multiple sites.