Published:19/09/2019

10 important things to check before launching your website

Whether you are using a professional website design agency or building your own website; after all the planning, writing the content, tweaking design and testing, it can be tempting to go live and move on to other things.

But all too often in the excitement of launching a new website some important things can get missed. So we’ve compiled a helpful, but not exhaustive, list of things to consider before you shift your focus to another important part of your business.

SSL Certificate

Is your site serving content over the secure https protocol?. Your website might not have a need to encrypt data between the end user and your hosting server but search engines, particularly Google, now flag any website without an SSL certificate as insecure. This will affected how well your website is ranked, so it’s pretty important.

Make sure your site is only available via one URL

This sounds obvious but if your website can be found at https://www.website.com and https://website.com then search engines will recognise this as duplicate content, and again will penalise your website.

Robots.txt

There’s a cheeky little file that should sit in the root of your website’s public directory, “robots.txt”. Search engines look for this file to tell them what files and content can be crawled. Guess what? If this isn’t set up correctly then chunks of content might get missed, or perhaps worse, private content or non public facing URLs might get picked up.

Sitemaps

Your website’s sitemap file is the most important thing when it comes to informing search engines of what content is available on your website, how often it changes and how important it is. You will also need to submit your sitemap to search engines to make the process of discovery a bit speedier. Usually formatted in XML and situated at the root of your website this is crucial to well structured search results.

Favicon and Icons

Often missed is the favicon. This is the little graphic that’s shown on the tab in your web browser. There is also a more extensive set of icons that should be specified to make sure if someone saves your website to their phone’s home screen that your website icon is clearly displayed.

Social cards

If someone shares a page from your website on a social media platform, what does the preview look like? This is often auto generated but you can declare specific images so that you can control how your website appears. Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin all support this.

Performance

It might be an idea to run some performance tests on your website to check it’s running smoothly. Web pages incorporate resources like, script files, images and stylesheets. These resources can be optimised and compressed to make the site load quicker.

Redirects from old pages

If you are replacing an old website with a shiny new one then just make sure you’re redirecting old content to new content correctly. There’s nothing more annoying for a user than a 404 page (when a page can’t be found) and search engines don’t like it much either. You can manually add redirect rules to your website’s .htaccess file or if using Wordpress there are plenty of plugins available.

Basic content optimisation

There are layers of complexity when it comes to optimising content, but do the simple things well and it will go a long way. The single most important thing to do is to have a relevant and meaningful page title for your website. This is located in the head of the web page but most common CMS platforms will offer a way for you to control this. Follow this up with a succinct, keyword-oriented Meta Description and you should be well on your way.

Analytics

The chances are you’re going to want some way of measuring the success of your website and performance of key pages. There are lots of analytics tools out there but the de facto choice is Google Analytics. Simple to integrate with bucket-loads of features and metrics available. By integrating Google Analytics at the earliest opportunity you can benchmark performance so you can build a sound strategy to move forward with.

If you’re an experienced website owner then this probably won’t have told you much you don’t already know but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the basics. For those that are less experienced with how to implement some of these points then, as always, we would be happy to help and go into more detail.