Title: Make sure to read this checklist before launching your new website
By: Jonny Buroker
is your website really ready to launch?
Your company has spent months redesigning your old website. Everyone is excited about the prospects a new website will bring to your company and you’re eager to launch. One key question to answer before you do is, “have we taken the steps necessary to ensure our site will be found online, especially by the search engines”?
The mistake many companies make is launching too soon, and the results can be disastrous:
- People who saved your site in their favorites can no longer find your site.
- Inbound links from other sites no longer work.
- Search engines cannot index (“see”) all of your important pages.
- Data about your new site visitors are not being captured.
Companies are often surprised after launching a new site to find out that keywords they used to rank highly for are no longer on the search engine radar and that traffic to the site significantly drops off due to a number of contributing factors. So, what can your company do to ensure a successful launch without missing a beat?
SEO Checklist for new website launch
This article focuses on the Search Engine Optimization steps you should take when launching a new site to ensure that your site is found and that there is no drop off in traffic from your old site.
1. Install Google Analytics (GA) to monitor site traffic. This is especially important during the first few days and weeks after launch. If you note a drop in traffic, determine why the drop is occurring and address the problem.
2. Put 301 redirects in place. 301 redirects allow your hosting company to display the appropriate page on your new site when someone uses an old link or URL. Map your old page URLs to your new URLs and provide that list to your hosting company.
3. Use search-friendly page names. To the extent that your new site allows search-friendly page names be sure to take advantage of that feature and include your keywords in the page name.
4. Ensure that Title and Description Meta tags are optimized. The Title and Description Meta tags sit behind every page on your website and are used by the search engines to help index your pages. Done well, these tags should drive more organic traffic to your site.
5. Ensure on-page optimization:
a. Headers (H1, H2…H6): similar to section/subsection titles in a white paper or an article, the headers on a web page provide information to the search engines as to the contents on the page. Be sure to include keyword-rich headers on your pages.
b. Keyword rich content: it goes without saying that content is king, so make sure your most important pages are keyword rich and contain 300-600 words.
c. Alt tags: these are the descriptions that are attached to your images and pictures. Not only are they needed by visually impaired visitors, but they also provide search engines with more content to “read”, so use keywords in the alt tag.
d. Links to other pages within your site: rather than the usual “Click Here” or “More Info” links to other pages on your site, provide descriptive link text (including keywords for that linked page) so the search engines understand what they will find on that page.
6. Install Sitemap page. A sitemap page with links to your pages will allow search engines to find your important pages and index them. Even better is a Robots.txt file that allows the site owner to specify which pages the search engines should index and which to ignore.
7. Submit to search engines. Similar to a sitemap, you can submit XML sitemaps to Google, Yahoo and Bing to make them aware of your site and the pages they should index.
8. Announce new site. Whether you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or a free online press release, get the word out that you’ve launched a new site.
9. Implement inbound linking strategy. You need quality inbound links to raise the importance of your site in the eyes of the search engines. If you don’t have an inbound linking strategy, start one now.
If you do a good job of caring for the items in this checklist, not only will you continue to get your current traffic, in all likelihood you’ll gain even more as the search engines elevate your site for additional keywords associated with your business.