For someone who is new to online marketing (and more than a few veterans, as well), launching a new website can be a daunting task. Beyond the excitement of putting yourself and your business out there for others to see (and critique?) comes the apprehension that you may have forgotten something important. Fear not fellow intrepid website owners for we are here to offer a website launch list to ensure you get it right!
Of course, professional help from an online marketing team can be invaluable to a launch, from design and development to the actual launch (and do we need to mention who we recommend?). However, if you really want to go your own way, here are a few very important steps you will need to take to ensure a successful launch.
Your Website Launch Checklist
Please remember that the list below outlines the basic elements that you need to have in place to launch your business website.
- Page content – A business website should display a minimum of three pages: Home, About, Services/Products. Each should describe in detail your purpose, as well as the benefits of doing business with you. beyond these three critical pages, you should also have a Contact Us page and a Blog.
- Home page – This is the most important page on your website, with 60% to 80% of visitors landing here first and, since first impressions are so important, the copy you create for this page will be critical to your success. This is a great place to share your vision and mission, as well as your purpose.
- About page – What makes you special? What are your qualifications? Do you have specialized training? Why are you so committed to the path you’ve chosen to pursue? How have you helped others and how can you help the reader? Answering all of these questions will go a long way toward generating interest from your target audience.
- Services/Products page – Benefits, benefits, benefits… will be the key to selling your services or products. In other words, while sharing features and details are fine, you must also answer the age-old question of all consumers… “What’s in it for me?”
- SEO – Search engine optimization is, and will forever be, a critical element to a successful launch and there are a few very important steps to consider:
- Word count – While Google won’t necessarily ignore a page with little content, they will not consider it very important if you can’t publish at least 300 words. This is true of your pages and blog posts. Basically, if you can’t offer 300 words on a subject, what you have to say must not be very important.
- Meta data – Your page titles, Meta descriptions, and tags should all be tailored to the content you publish. All should be descriptive and compelling to attract both the search engines and your target audience. Titles should be 60-70 characters, while descriptions should not exceed 156 characters (otherwise it will end in an ellipses in the search results).
- Image alt tags – Hidden in the code behind the images you publish, image alt tags are hints of the image content to the search engines. They can typically be added in the same menu you use to edit and/or publish your images.
- Terms of Service (TOS) statements are not legally mandatory in most cases, but they can still be valuable. Your TOS states the ground rules for visitors who want to use your site.
- Set Your Site to Back Up Regularly
- If your website crashes or is hacked, or if you install a plugin that causes a problem, having your files backed up regularly and automatically is a lifesaver.
- There are many ways to approach this task, but one surefire way to keep things running smoothly is by using managed hosting for your website. That way, your provider can take care of restoring backups and automatically archiving them for you.
- Set up a Comprehensive Site Map
- Sitemaps play a vital role in how search engines read and index your pages. While a sitemap won’t directly improve your rankings, it can help to ensure that your site is indexed properly.
- If you use WordPress, there are plugins available to help you generate and manage sitemaps. Google also has an established process for submitting your sitemap directly.
- Add Analytics Tracking to Your Site
- Once your website is up and running, you’ll need a way to measure how well it performs. That’s why it pays to set up an analytics tracking solution before even launching your site.
- Connect Your Social Media Accounts
- Promoting your site on social media can be vital to reaching your target audience. Providing icons so your visitors can easily find your social media pages is one of the best ways to do that.
- Check for Responsiveness on Mobile Platforms
- Whether you’re writing a blog post or operating a Shopify store, it’s vital that your site looks good and performs well on devices of all sizes. One easy way to check your website’s mobile responsiveness is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
Now that your head is spinning and real panic has set in at the length and complexity of this website launch list, it must be said that these are just the beginning of what needs to be done to ensure a successful launch of your website. (Yeah, the panic just got worse, right?)
The good news is, there is help available. Here at YOMT we do this type of stuff daily and the checklists we use are far more comprehensive – as is the knowledge and experience we can put to work for you.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with trying to design, launch, and maintain your new website, get in touch with the YOMT Team today.