Your checklist to success when launching your new site

As a new business, regardless of your industry, there is always room to grow and promote yourself.  Launching a website can be stressful and overwhelming, but eventually, just about everyone trying to be successful online has to take the leap with a website.  This article will give you a guide to help you get your website going on the right foot.

To help ensure that your launch goes well, we have put a checklist together that will help you on your road to what comes next, assign it to someone on your team, and track its status.


 1.    What To Do Pre-Launch

Depending on whether you are building your website for the first time, or rebuilding, every website will ascent and descent based on the platform it is built on.

If you start a search online you will find some common platform such as WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, and many more.  The question is, which to choose, and what is best for you?

The answer depends on who you are and what your goals are.

Considering WordPress.org owns about 60 percent of the content management market share it is easy to gravitate towards them.  WordPress allows for freedom in building your own site but also requires knowledge of web-design and experience.

What if you don’t have that knowledge or experience?

There is Wix, Wix allows for easy posting and is also a free service.  You are able to use templates to help build your site to your preferences, and you can organize it in a way that is simple for anyone to manage.

The Final takeaway, no matter what platform you choose, you will have to research what is best for you and your product before choosing.  Use others opinions of the product to make a solid and confident choice.

2.    Choose Your Domain Name

Choosing a Domain Name is very important to getting your name out there and a seemingly simple name can turn in to a nightmare of a domain name.

For example, the company IT Scrap. Then name stands for Information Technology Scrap. It was designed to convey the idea that IT professionals could get content that is good and gritty to help them do their job.

When choosing their domain name, they did not put much thought in to what it would look like in an address bar.  Using a branded domain name they decided on “itscrap.com”, or “It’s crap dot com”, which is not the most appealing name.

While this seems like a relatively harmless example, the truth is that bad domain names are hard to recover from, especially when it’s a brand new site.

3. Don’t Skimp on Hosting

Where does hosting play in with your website launch?

This may be one of the most under-considered aspects of building a website.  Choosing the right hosting affects aspects like site speed, and will determine your plans for long-term expansion, flexibility and future redesigns. 

Just like choosing a domain name, any old hosting service don’t do.  Make sure the option your shoes can handle the traffic your website will be receive and anticipate growth.

4.    Set Standards from your current Site

If you have an existing website that’ is undergoing a redesign, you will want to take time to measure its performance before you make the changeover.  This will help you assess how your new website will perform after launch and will give you a better idea of how your launch process will go.

Specifically, you will want to track metrics like your domain authority, indexed page count, and crawl errors. These will all you to set a early benchmark for your new site, and they will give you a better idea of the new launch success.

5.    Map Out Redirects While Building

For those who are redesigning, this next tip is for you.

When you swap all content from an old site to a new one, you will want to be reasonably sure that you will have somewhere to redirect content if they accidentally were to navigate to the old site.

To do that, you will need to map out a page for each old URL to redirect to.  That does not mean you have to recreate your website page-for-page, you just need somewhere to send your old URLs.

You may not be able to set up redirects until you launch your new site; it is best to have a plan in place while you are building.  This helps make sure you do not miss anything and end up with frustrated visitors.

6.    Publish Your ‘Coming Soon’ Page

One of the best ways to get a wave of interest for your upcoming launch is to set up a ‘Coming Soon’ page to direct people to in the interim.  This is especially useful if you are doing a redesign, this will let your audience know that you are working hard to improve their experience.

This will also be an opportunity to let them know when to expect the newly launched site as you can add a countdown timer to build excitement amongst your audience.

7.    Design Content Silos with Your Navigation

When you are mapping our your website, there is a lure to think about what you want from the design.  You want renovations for specific goals. You want to get traffic and sales, which often leads to non-linear, sales-hyped sites which may not have anything to do with your customers true needs.

The solutions is to design your site’s navigation to cater what your customers wants from you first.  The best way to do this is creating content silos that address the needs of your customer and direct them to the content of products that fill their needs.

Once you have mapped your silos, then you can start designing the pages and how they will help users navigate your site.  If you reverse these approaches, you will have a fully designed site before you ever think about how your customers will find what they are looking for.

8.    Test for Usability

Once you complete the previous step and have a fluid navigation, your next step should be to test your site for its functionality. While usability testing can be pretty broad, there are a few specific points that should be at the top of your list for this step.

·      Is it readable?

·      Does is work in various browsers?

·      Does it work on Mobile?

·      Will users know what to do?

If you confidently answered “yes”, then you’re on the right track. Keep polishing these elements until you are ready to launch.

If you answered “no”, then you should go back and brainstorm, until you turn that answer into a “yes”.

9.    Pick a Day to Launch & Spread the Word

You websites launch day is a special event. You have spent long weeks, possibly months designing and organizing your website. Just like anything else you do with you business this day should be celebrated and promoted.

The main purpose of the launch, beyond getting maximum traffic and engagement on day one, is to truly establish your brand as a new authority in your industry­­.

Ideally, you will want people to think: “Finally! Where has this been my whole life?”

Send out a press release to your industry’s major publications. Take advantage of a pre-existing email list and social network following.

This goes with out saying, don’t launch your site without any content on it.  Start creating helpful, rank-worthy content before your launch day. This way when visitors visit, they have something to do besides admire your cool new design.

10. Don’t Neglect Meta Descriptions & Title Tags

When building anew site, it is inviting to want cut corners in order to get your website published and out to the public.  Speed is not the goal, slow and steady wins the race.

Creating a well-written Meta description will help lure your audience in when searching in their favorite search engine.  A meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a brief summary of a web page. Google often displays the Meta description in search results where they can highly influence user traffic.

While it may seem tedious, make sure that every page on your new site has good, keyword optimized meta descriptions and title tags.

11. Build for Mobile-First Indexing

Google officially announced the rollout of Mobile-first indexing, making a huge splash last year.  When you are redesigning a website, mobile needs to be top-of-mind. Keeping this in mind will help tremendously, and it is recommended to build your site to be compatible with Google AMP.

At the very least, build a responsive site that gives your mobile audience a good user experience. All principles apply, it just has too look and feel good on mobile.

12. Implement your 301 Redirects

If you built a map earlier, this is where you get to use it. 301 redirects are a tool you can use to capture visitors who may be clicking a link that leads to your old, now unused website.

Without a redirect set up, your potential visitor will merely hit an error page and be none the wiser of your new site. If you’re using a WordPress site, you can use the Redirection plugin or do it all manually.

If you picked a different platform, then you’ll probably be able to find redirection tools in your backend or your platform’s app store.

13. Change Your Address in Google Search Console & Google Analytics

One other potential failure point when launching a new website is not having your Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up soon after launch.

If you do neglect to set up Google Search Console until months down the line, they you will be submitting your sitemap well after you could be benefiting from it.  Google will not be able to index everything resulting in loss of traffic.

We advise to activate your Google Search Console on day one and upload your sitemap immediately.  The goal is to see the green “Success” light up as soon as possible because that means Google is crawling your site at 100 percent. 

This will allow insight in to the performance of your launch and the days thereafter.

Google Search Console will also help you see potential errors that may need correcting, also showing you where your audiences focus is on your products and content.

Each of these data points (and everything else in Google Search Console) will help you grow in the aftermath of your launch day. That’s the ultimate goal, after all.

And what about Google Analytics?

The same principle applies. It won’t track anything until you set it up.

If the months after launch day come and go without your Google Analytics set up, you aren’t going to have any actionable insight on improving your site.

How are you going to know if your content and landing pages are successful?

Setting up and using these two tools is a no-brainer when you’re launching a site. You will be better prepared for the day after launch day, and every day after.

14. Check for Broken Links

After launch error and broken links are usually par for the course. The last think you want for a website that is meant to help your visitors is them not having the ability to use it properly.

While it may seem weird that websites can just stop working at times, they are just jumbles of human-made code that need maintenance from time to time. Part of that maintenance is some good old-fashioned link checking. One way to do this is to check everything manually. Takes time, but at least it’s thorough.

A more efficient way would be to enter your URL into a broken link checker tool and see what the results are. This will give you a quick list of errors on your site, and then provide a plan for a solution.

15. Verify Your Site Speed

When launching a new site, there will be things you need to repair, optimize, or otherwise edit

Site speed is one of those aspects.  There is no getting around site speed if you want to build an efficient site, especially running ecommerce.  Check you speed with tools like GTMetrix or PageSpeed Insights, and follow their advice where and when possible.

16. Claim Your Local Listings

If you are a brick-and-mortar business, you also want to make sure that you lay claim to the online tools that help you compete on a local level. If you have done this already, you will want to ensure that your new site is the one that is listed.

The two leading options for this are Yelp and Google My Business. These also provide a reviewing platform. With out these listings set up, you may be missing a huge part of what can make your website effective.

17. Keep Promoting After Launch

Last but not least, never stop promoting the day after launch, your new website is going to be new and exciting for a good while.  The feeling doesn’t wear off, and you probably will not capture all of you audience on the first day.

Keep sending out email to your lists.  Workflow is better than a one-off celebration, post more announcements on social media.

Promote on using Facebook Ads or start a Google. Ad campaign.  Traffic generated from ads is a great way to get new eyes on your website, maybe tap in to an a whole new audience. The possibilities are endless.

In conclusion once everything is in place, you have done what you could.  Launch day has come and gone, and hopefully you have followed this plan to help guide you through.

You picked the website platform that best suits your needs and goals.  In the greater scheme of things, you have avoided embarrassment and ridicule by giving some thought to your brand name and domain name. You managed to pull data from you old site to set benchmarks for the new one.

You ensure that you had a page-for-page equivalent for each significant part of your od site. You have married your navigation and design in a way that provides the optimal user experience from day one. Spread the word about your launch day and got your audience anticipating its release.

Make sure to keep promoting and keeping your website new and fresh as long as possible. Keep checking for broken links and verify your site speed. If you find success do not settle, keep building on your successes, continue creating content and growing your brand.

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