SEO Checklist for Launching a WordPress Website
So, you’ve made a killer WordPress site and you think it’s ready for launch.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. You cannot just build a site, launch it, and expect to get thousands of visitors on a silver platter.
To get more eyeballs on your new site and encourage clicks and conversions, you need to improve your site’s visibility on Google.
This is where SEO steps in.
And, by SEO, I don’t mean just link building and keyword research. SEO incorporates a wide range of tactics critical to your website’s performance.
Let’s check them out!
Check WordPress Settings
When launching a site for the first time, we get obsessed with its optimization and design that we usually forget to check some basic WordPress settings. So, here is what you need to check on your WordPress Dashboard before launching a site:
- General Settings
While you can set a WordPress title when installing WordPress, your tagline will probably remain set to the generic “Just Another WordPress Site.” This tagline may appear in search results and hurt user experiences. So, go to Settings> General>Tagline and customize your text. Changing your tagline is ridiculously simple and there is absolutely no excuse in leaving the default option.
Simply put, permalinks are URLs of your website content. As such, they are one of the most significant aspects of your SEO-friendly site. Even though your WordPress site comes with an optimized “plain permalink” structure, you can still adapt it to your preferences.
Go to the admin area Your WordPress site, choose Permalink Settings, and you will see the most common permalink structures to choose from, such as Plain, Day and Name, Month and Name, Numeric, and (my favorite) Post Name. You can even create custom permalinks.
- Search Engine Visibility
Many marketers decide to prevent search engines from seeing a site before its launch. That’s fine, but you shouldn’t forget to unblock your site later. So, go to the Search Engine Visibility settings just to make sure your site can be seen in the SERPs.
How Fast Is Your Site?
Page speed is one of Google’s most significant ranking factors. Moreover, with the latest Speed Update, it has even become a mobile ranking signal.
For starters, use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom that will tell you how fast your site is. If you find out that there is still room for improvement, here are a few effective ways to boost your WordPress site’s speed:
- Install a caching plugin, such as W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, or WP Super Cache.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN), such as Max CDN, CloudFlare, or KeyCDN.
- Invest in managed WordPress hosting providers that include backups and CDN options as a part of their plans. Bluehost, WP Engine, and SiteGround are just some of the numerous options to consider.
- Optimize images by choosing the right format (usually JPG or PNG) and compressing them. This is where image compression plugins like TinyPNG for WordPress, Kraken Image Optimizer or ShortPixel Image Optimizer can help.
- Minify your code. By cutting unnecessary lines of code, you will make your pages easier to load. If you don’t know to do so manually, you can always use tools like MinifyCode.
Optimize your Content
Content is still the backbone of your SEO strategy.
Every post you publish needs to be relevant, backed by recent statistics, and engaging. It needs to intrigue a reader and motivate them to keep reading your other posts.
Now, here is how to optimize your awesome content for search engines:
- Use headings properly.
Inexperienced bloggers use bolded text throughout their content instead of H2 tags. This is a big mistake because headings, just like your title tags or meta descriptions, have a strong SEO value.
- Add internal links.
In their recent SEO Terms Glossary, Four Dots defines an internal link as “any link leading from one of your site’s pages to another.” Internal linking is critical for your site’s performance because it passes link juice from authoritative pages to less authoritative ones and makes your content more visible to readers.
- Write alt text for visual content.
When publishing photos or infographics on your blog, keep in mind that Google is still not able to understand visuals. So, to make your images indexable by the Big G, always write descriptive alt text for them. There are numerous plugins, such as SEO-Friendly Images plugin that will automatically add these elements for you if you forget to do so.
Check your Social Media Integrations
In today’s hyperconnected era, you shouldn’t observe our major digital marketing channels in isolation. Instead, tie them together to boost your online visibility and rank higher. And, integrating social media and SEO may be your great starting point.
To encourage your audiences to find you on social networks and build closer relationships with them, check whether your social media integrations are easily findable on your site.
You should also check whether social sharing plugins work so people can share your content extensively on social. Some of the most popular social media sharing plugins are Social Warfare, Easy Social Share Buttons, WP Social Sharing, and Social Pug.
Do All Forms on your Site Work?
What happens if a customer takes time to fill out a lengthy form on your site, but they cannot submit it? Or, what if they need to pinch and zoom endlessly while answering questions? They’ll probably leave your site frustrated and you’ll lose your leads and potential customers. That’s why you need to test your contact forms, email subscription forms, and comment forms and optimize them regularly.
- Use a single-column layout. It’s difficult for mobile users to navigate through your form horizontally to see all questions.
- Place your form above the fold to stand out.
- Add a strong call to action.
- Remove unnecessary fields.
- Provide testimonials and customer reviews to increase lead generation.
- Ditch captcha, as it hurts user satisfaction.
Identify 404 Errors on your Site
Before launching your site, you need to check whether all pages load properly. 404 errors make ruin user, especially on new sites.
If you’ve already added your site to Google Search Console, in this case, you can find your broken links in your crawl reports. You can also look for broken links manually or use web page crawlers like Screaming Frog or Broken Link Checker.
One of the simplest ways to fix your 404 pages and update permalinks is to go to the abovementioned Permalinks and simply hit “Save Changes.”
If this doesn’t help, you will probably need to edit your .htaccess file (a configuration file) manually. This process is quite risky, as it may result in numerous serious server problems.
This is where Yoast SEO helps, as it will keep your technical configuration under control. Installing the Yoast SEO plugin is a great choice for both new and experienced marketers, as it handles a bunch of SEO tasks for you, from keyword research and internal linking suggestions to redirects and duplicate content.
3, 2, 1… Ready for Launch
By combining the right plugins, themes, and SEO tactics, you can be sure your site is optimized for search engines.
However, this doesn’t mean you can now kick back and relax. Use Google Analytics to track your site’s performance continually, identify your major pain points, and fix them fast. It’s important to install it before your website launch, so you can measure how well the site launch went.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!