There are so many things that need to be done before launching a new website and it’s sometimes easy to forget the most obvious jobs. Here’s a list of 10 things that you MUST do before unleashing your new website upon the masses.
1. Set up Google Analytics
It’s no use having a great looking website if you don’t know if anyone is visiting it and what they do when they are there. Any analytics or statistics package will do the job but the most popular one is Google Analytics and I use it for all my websites.
You can monitor the usual stats like number of hits and page views but you can also look at more interesting numbers like bounce rate that measures the percentage of people who leave your site after only one page view. This can help you find pages that need more work.
For the more adventurous, delve into conversion tracking that lets you set goals and track your customers actions like downloading a pdf or buying something.
2. Set up Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools
Finding out what the search engines think about your website and seeing the search terms that people use to find it is vitally important and this is where Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools comes into its own.
They both do pretty much the same job which is to let you know what they think of your website and give you a little bit of control over your listings.
The most important things to look for are website/server errors, large increases in 404 pages, robots.txt file issues and any manual spam actions taken against your site. You can also view a selection of your backlinks and identify any HTML issues that the search engines have with your website.
Take them both for a spin and head for the help files if you get stuck.
3. Do some keyword research
Keywords are not as important as they used to be, as in sticking them all over the place, but you need to check that the phrases you use in your content are being searched for.
It’s easy to rank number 1 in Google for something nobody searches for!
Set yourself up with a Google Adwords account and use the Keyword Research Tool to find out exactly what people are really searching for. You can target your own locality and get an idea of number of searches and how competitive these searches are. Use a few of these phrases within the content of your pages.
4. Write descriptive and clickable META titles and descriptions. Add ALT tags.
The META titles and descriptions in the code of all your pages will be seen away from your website, within the search results and on social media so its really important to make sure they are attractive enough to click on.
Titles & descriptions will be read by humans and clicked on by humans so forget about the search engines and create them for people.
That being said, try to include a researched key phrase within your title so you are targeting it correctly. Also use a power or sell word so that it encourages clicks.
5. Check spelling & grammar. Make sure you have enough content. At least 400 words.
It’s important to check your speeling and grammar!
Google takes a look at your spelling and if it’s consistently bad you won’t get any help in the rankings. The search engines want to put the best quality information in front of the searcher so it’s important, just like written press, to get your spelling right.
It’s also very important to have enough content. Writing 100 words is not enough and you need to go into detail when you write about your products and services. Answer customer questions and create something that’s worthy of being on page 1 of Google.
Think about the benefits that your products or services offer people and then write about them. If you split up your text with images then 400 words is not too much.
6. Set up NAP for local search, mention your locality in the title tag & sign up to Google Business Pages.
If you want to appear for local searches then you MUST have your company Name, Address and Phone number on your website. Put it in the footer and on your contact page so everyone, including the search engines can see it.
You also need to make sure your title tags are optimised for your location. Don’t go mad and start filling them with lots of place names, just the one you do business in. If you are multi-branch or multi-location then build separate, different pages for each location.
Finally make sure you have signed up to Google Business Pages and have filled in all the various boxes. Encourage your customers to write reviews, add a few posts and video and keep it up to date and active.
7. Make sure you are mobile friendly
With more searches being performed on mobile phones your website must be mobile friendly. The best way to accomplish this is to ask your web designer to create a ‘responsive design’ that will work on all screen sizes. This saves you having to build a separate website for mobile devices.
You can use Google’s Mobile Checker to find out if your website is ready to go.
8. Check your site speed
How fast your website works is very important especially now that mobile search is on the increase. Your visitors don’t want to wait ages for stuff to download so make sure all your images are well optimised and browser caching is being used. Chat to your web designer about ways to speed up your pages.
You can find out how you are doing by using Google’s Page Speed Checker.
9. Add social media sharing buttons
Sharing is important for SEO. It helps more people find your services or products and increases the chance of a back link in a blog or magazine article. More exposure means a better chance of generating back links, it can also bring you more traffic and sales!
10. Add your sitemap to Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools
Just before you’re ready to launch submit your sitemap.xml file to Google and Bing so they know where all your pages are and they can get crawling them.
Make sure your sitemap file updates automatically so when you add or change pages the search engines know about it.
There are plenty of other things you need to get right with your SEO and you also need to make sure the general content of your site is top notch but I think the points above are arguably the most important. Work together with your web developers to get them all ticked off.