27 Things to Do Before Launching a Website

27 Things to Do Before Launching a Website pixelwork

27 Things to Do Before Launching a Website

Ultimate Checklist for Testing a New Website

Launching a new website is always exciting – you've worked hard on that stunning design, impressive content and exceptional user interface. Obviously, you can't wait to share it with the whole world.

Why would you need to test your beautiful site before launching it? You better do it because this can happen:


And that:


And even this:

I hope I didn't scare you, but all those problems could have easily been avoided if the webmasters had followed simple checking steps. Don't worry – I'll walk you through these basic activities and your site will be in perfect shape when you launch it.


Before you start, create a launch schedule

Working without a schedule, but with a deadline is a dangerous thing. On the one hand, you have the illusion that everything will be completed by that date marked on your calendar. On the other hand, you often have to deal with more problems and tasks than anticipated, so you feel stressed right before the launch – eventually, you get nervous, blind to the details, and miss something really important.

Additionally, there are often many people working on a new website: developers, SEOs, testers, content writers and product managers, each with their own tasks, goals and deadlines. A comprehensive plan that defines the roles and responsibilities of each team member is a necessity.

Table of Contents:

For convenience, I have decided to divide all checkup tips into categories, depending on the team/specialist responsible for the task.

  • Chapter 1. What web developers and designers need to do
  • Chapter 2. What SEOs Should Do
  • Chapter 3. What writers and editors should do
  • Chapter 4. What marketing managers need to do
  • Chapter 5. What system administrators should do


Chapter 1. What web developers and designers need to do


1.1 Make sure all site URLs are live and working correctly

It is often the case that a website is built with a special platform, where things can be tested in multiple ways. Once the functionality and content are finalized, it's time to move the site to production and change all the URLs. However this often does not go well.

If you have a small corporate website with a dozen pages, you can simply check the live URLs and links manually, one by one, to make sure they are working well. However, if we are talking about larger websites, URL verification has to be automated.


How to test site URLs

Opens WebSiteAuditor (free version), create a project for your website and let the tool collect the data; Depending on the number of pages scanned, it may take from a minute to half an hour.

The tool will look for various URL-related issues, including

  • Resources with 4xx status codes
  • Resources with 5xx status codes
  • Pages with 302 redirects
  • Broken links


Copy the URLs in question and then share the list with your development team.

1.2 Check site speed

Did you know that Google experienced a 20% traffic drop years ago as a result of a 0,5 second delay in page loading? There is no excuse today for slow loading pages, it is one of your top priorities to serve content to users as quickly as possible. On top of that, page loading speed is an official Google ranking factor, and I bet your competitors are already working on this to outperform others.


How to check your site performance

There are many tools to do the job, you can use Google PageSpeed ​​Insights and check the pages there, or do a quick scan in WebSite Auditor. You'll find a list of the slowest loading pages on your site (along with the size of each page) in the Site audit panel.


For a more detailed analysis of page speed issues, go to the Content Analysis, Pages module, add or select a page you need to check, switch to Technical Factors in the left section, and scroll down to Page Speed ​​(Desktop).


Here you will see a number of factors that Google uses to evaluate page speed: page size, server response time, number of redirects, uncompressed images and resources, etc. Ideally, you should try to have all the factors in this section marked with a correct green sign.


Ways to fix page loading speed

It's important to look for page speed problems in as many places as possible. You can start with the following activities:

  1. Store media files on a CDN (Content Delivery Network): This will reduce the load on your servers.
  2. Minify HTML/CSS/JavaScript resources. These are some of the tools recommended by Google to avoid redundant resources:

To minify HTML, try HTMLMinifier (https://github.com/kangax/html-minifier).

To minify CSS, try CSSNano(https://github.com/ben-eb/cssnano) and csso(https://github.com/css/csso).

To minify JavaScript, try UglifyJS(https://github.com/mishoo/UglifyJS2). Closure Compiler(https://developers.google.com/closure/compiler) has also proven to be effective. You can create a build process that uses these tools to minify and rename development files and save them to a production directory.

Alternatively, the PageSpeed ​​module integrates with an Apache or Nginx web server to automatically optimize your site, including resource minification.

  1. Look for a faster hosting solution. Try several providers, read reviews on unbiased forums and communities and choose the winner.
  2. If you're starting a WordPress-based website, make sure you've enabled a caching plugin, such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache.
  3. Adds expiration headers, which means you need to add some code to tell browsers whether to request a specific file from the server or whether to pull it from the browser's cache.
  4. Enable compression: You can compress large pages (with tools like Gzip) to reduce bandwidth.
  5. Optimize images on your website. It is best to avoid BMP or TIFF images and use JPEG and PNG files. Also, you should avoid empty src lines of code.
  6. Reduce the number of pages with redirects (you should have collected such pages in step 1.1), as they will also negatively affect the site's loading time.

After going through these optimization steps, you can also check your website loading speed from different countries and regions, especially if you are targeting multiple locations.


1.3 Make sure the 404 page is set correctly

Imagine that a visitor comes to your website but doesn't, because they made a typo in a page URL or clicked on an incorrect link on someone else's website. The last thing you want this visitor to see is an ugly error warning.


To avoid this, make sure you have set up a custom 404 page on your website. By the way, WebSite Auditor will tell you if you don't have one.


If you are not familiar with PHP and HTML, it can be difficult to modify the 404.php template or create the page from scratch. In that case, you will have to assign this task to someone expert.

Alternatively, you can use plugins to create a custom 404 page, using tools like 404 page (will only work for WordPress based websites).


1.4 Make sure the site is multi-device

You have to accept that we are living in a mobile world, so you should definitely consider mobile designs for your website.

To check whether the website is mobile-friendly or not, go to the Page Audit module in Website Auditor and check the page usability (mobile) information:


If you notice problems, I recommend reviewing Google's official guides for mobile device optimization:

Mobile Friendly Websites

Mobile usability report

Also, consider implementing AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to make your pages load super fast on mobile devices. The official AMP project help pages They are the best starting point for those who want to try this new technology.

However, you should not stop at just making your website responsive. You would have better results with your mobile traffic if you think ahead about the needs and wants of mobile users.

What does it take to place an order using the mobile version of your website? Do you really want your posts to take up most of the front page? Is it possible and convenient to send emails directly from your website? Marcus Miller from Search Engine Land has a great mobile site optimization checklist and mentions the following points:

  • Keep calls to action front and center.
  • Keep menus short.
  • Optimize the form.
  • Don't make users need to zoom.
  • Make product images enlargeable.

And even if you have already implemented everything above, don't forget to test how well your mobile version is working, there is always something that could be improved.


1.5 Validate code and CSS

Although Google says that some HTML/CSS errors won't hurt your site's results, I still recommend checking the cleanliness of your code. You can scan pages for errors using online tools, such as W3C Markup Validator and W3C CSS Validator, and desktop tools, such as WebSite Auditor.

For a list of pages with W3C errors, go to the WebSite auditor website audit panel and click Pages with W3C HTML errors and warnings and Pages with W3C CSS errors and warnings. You will see the list of pages with errors on the right side of your screen.


Is everything okay? Now is the time to do some good SEO and make sure that search engines fall in love with your site on the first crawl.


Chapter 2. What SEOs should do


2.1 Look for possible indexing problems

If you could only do one SEO task before launching a website, in my opinion it should be this: make sure crawlers can easily access your pages and content.

To see if there are any pages blocked from indexing, go to WebSite Auditor and follow these steps:

  1. In step 1 of creating/rebuilding the project, check the Enable expert options box.
  2. In step 2, uncheck the Follow robots.txt instruction box and click Next.


  1. When crawling is complete, click Restricted Resources in the indexing section to see which parts of your site can't be crawled by search engines. Make sure none of your site's important pages and resources (like CSS and JavaScript) appear there.


2.2 Check for duplicate problems

Duplicate content is complicated and has many faces. Regardless of what is causing a duplication problem, your site could suffer from wasted crawl budget, link dilution, and lower rankings. No one wants to fall into that trap so let's look at what you could do to better protect your new website.

  1. Choose the preferred version (www or non-www) for your domain

If you haven't defined the preferred version for your website, search engines can crawl and index multiple URLs with identical content. In WebSite Auditor, you will see if you have to fix this in the Site Audit, Fixed www and non-www.


  1. Avoid scraped content

Now, let me talk to you ecommerce website owners! I know how difficult it is to create unique product descriptions for thousands of items and pages, but that's exactly what you should do. And even if some of that content is identical across multiple websites, most of your description should be unique.

  1. Avoid duplicate meta tags

Be careful with your CMS settings – make sure you're not using identical meta title tags and meta description tags on hundreds of pages.

You'll find a page with duplicate meta tags in the Site Audit module, under Duplicate Titles and Duplicate Meta Descriptions.


Whenever your website content can be found at multiple URLs, it should be “canonicalized” by search engines – you can do this by specifying the rel=canonical attribute or via a 301 redirect.

2.3 Make sure URLs are search engine friendly

Check if your site's URLs are clearly encoded: you should avoid dynamic URLs and URLs that are too long. You can find these URL warnings in Site Audit, URL.

2.4 Install Google Analytics and create an account in Search Console

Set up Google Analytics tracking for your website before you launch it – you don't want to put this off, as you can easily forget about it later, and a lot of data will be lost forever. Please note that the addition of the tracking code may vary depending on the CMS configuration.

I would also suggest adding filters to exclude traffic from your office IP(s).

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics
  2. Click Admin and select All Filters. Press + Add filter.
  3. Specify filter criteria and click Save.


To link your Google Search Console data with your Google Analytics account, sign in to Google Analytics, go to Admin, Property and click on the All products option and search for search console.

Finally, set goals for your conversions: log in to your Google Analytics account, go to the Conversions module, select Goals, and click the Set Goals button. After that, fill out the data for your conversion pages.


2.5 Make keyword mapping for your website

Keyword research is the backbone of all your additional SEO activities and you can spend hours and hours building and editing your keyword lists. What I suggest you do this step is create a keyword map for your important pages aka home page and categories.

So after doing some initial keyword research, take another look at your site structure and map your keywords to the site's landing pages.

You can manage this using a simple spreadsheet:


Or if you manage keywords in Rank Tracker, you can go to the Keyword Mapping module (under Target Keywords).


Why do you need this keyword map?

  1. It will optimize your on-page optimization activities.
  2. It will help ensure that all the most important pages target the necessary keywords.
  3. It will be useful for your content creators and editors.


2.6 Optimize meta tags and content

Optimizing titles and descriptions is not the most entertaining activity you can have, but it is certainly worth it and luckily it is technically simple.

To quickly get a snapshot of the current state of your site's meta tags, go to WebSite Auditor, Site Audit, and look for on-page factors:


After that, you can switch to the page audit module and get a more detailed overview of how a page is optimized for your target keywords.

I highly recommend that you take a look at the TF-IDF dashboard in WebSite Auditor to discover the most important terms that are relevant to your topic and that have been collected from your main competitors.


2.7 Use schema to mark content

Schema markup tells search engines what the data means and helps them represent it in a more user-friendly way. Using special microdata language can tell search engines a lot more about your content.


The first result uses schema markup and definitely stands out from the rest. By the way, this website is listed twice on the first page of Google results, entering the featured snippet as well:


And this works not just for recipe websites – you can use markup for articles, local businesses, restaurants, TV episodes, book reviews, movies, software applications, events, products, etc.

In WebSite Auditor, you can check if a site page already has structured data and Open Graph markup:


2.8 Check the user experience

Google cares a lot about user satisfaction, so it's logical to assume that the search engine can collect some user experience data and then use it to deliver search results.

Since you just launched a website, you don't have any bounce rate or session time data to analyze. The web developer's job is to ensure that the website loads quickly and looks good on multiple devices, this is probably half of your user experience success.

You can also do some usability testing through special services like usertesting.com or do it yourself.


Chapter 3. What writers and editors should do


Content is the backbone of your site's success. Your website may lack some design elements, but it simply cannot live without valuable content. Here are the things your copywriters and editors should check before you spend a fortune on content promotion.


3.1 Make sure your content adds value

Pure self-promotion doesn't work very well. You should provide expert advice, share your unique points of view, interview industry leaders, etc.

The important point here is that you should already have some of this valuable content before you launch your site. Otherwise, people will go to your website and see a post called “Hello world!” – Do you think they will subscribe to your newsletter? No, Internet users have too many distractions to continue waiting for the content that you are only promising to create.


3.2 Review your content

Keeping your content free of grammatical errors seems obvious, but at the end of the day, it is often overlooked. Correcting the content on your site means that you are showing respect to site visitors who really care about what they think about your company and products. To streamline the process, use grammar checking apps.


3.3 Use the appropriate format

It's important that the pages and articles on your site don't look cluttered. Use properly formatted and aligned headings, subtitles, lists, images.


3.4 Ensure that the content is factual

We live in the age of fake news – there is too much information available online and even Google had to introduce a fact-checking feature to not only display search results, but results that demonstrate authenticity.


3.5 Keep the content style concise

The style of your content should be aligned with the brand's editorial guidelines. No, it doesn't mean you have to write an entire book of guidelines; Companies often have these guidelines stored somewhere and completely ignored. What's really important is to identify the voice and style that is truly yours and maintain it when creating content, marketing materials, videos, etc.


For example, here is an excerpt from the description of Don Perignon wine:

Dom Pérignon is only vintage champagne. Each wine is created from the best grapes grown in a single year. It is reinvented by interpreting the unique character of the seasons. It is not manufactured if the harvest does not meet the ideal qualities. After at least eight years of production in the cellars, the wine embodies the perfect balance of Dom Pérignon, the greatest promise. This is Dom Pérignon Vintage, the fullness of harmony.

And now compare it to this “about us” text from the Ovo website:

We are OVO Energy. OVO started as an idea on a kitchen table. A couple of friends listing what they wanted from their energy supplier, that they weren't getting. Things like fair prices. Great service. Clear and simple information. Technology to facilitate your energy management. And above all, honesty and openness.

I bet you have detected the difference in the voice of these two examples. Keep in mind that there is no single ideal type of tone for your content. If you're not sure whether you need to be formal or more relaxed, stay neutral and develop your brand voice as you learn more about your target audience.


3.6 Create a content map

We don't create content just to create content, right? Every page you work on answers important questions and fills someone's need for this particular information. Content mapping will help you organize user needs, business goals, and content plans.

Content mapping is similar to mind mapping techniques. This is what it can look like:


A content map helps prioritize content creation activities and shows gaps that need to be filled.

Marketers, editors, and even managers should be involved in this process as it determines how the website will develop in the future. What's more, it also implies what kind of business objectives have to be met in the first place.


3.7 Create social media accounts for your brand

People tend to spend most of their time online on social media websites, and they also expect reputable companies to have a proper social media presence. If there is no dedicated social media manager on your team, some of your writers can handle the task.

They will have to create unique biographies, short and concise descriptions, prepare images for cover images and logo, add photos and videos, etc. This way, when your site launches, social media won't have a sad, abandoned look.


Chapter 4. What marketing managers need to do


A marketing team doesn't just work on launching a new website, it works on launching a product or a series of services and presenting them to potential customers. This is what they may be working on while the site is offline.


4.1 Formulate unique selling propositions

A unique selling proposition is a statement that includes a description of the benefits of the product and explains how it solves customer needs. In other words, help people understand what sets you apart from similar companies.

Consider the following steps:

  • Analyze your target audience – who is likely to buy your products and order your services?
  • Write a list of all the needs your products could satisfy – these are basically draft versions of your USPs.
  • Now do some competition research and study the USPs already used. Look through the list you've written and eliminate the propositions that are being well used by the competition.
  • Look for gaps – Study your niche forums and FAQ sections to look for some unique “needs” of your potential customers.
  • Finalize the USPs using all the information you've gathered and let other people on your team take a look and decide if they're persuasive enough. If possible, ask someone who has never heard of your product, but may belong to your target audience.
  • Continue to monitor trends and competition to identify new opportunities. You can get automatic email alerts for necessary key phrases using a social media monitoring tool, like Awario.


4.2 Plan outreach and advertising

Think of all kinds of people who can spread the word about your launch. These can be your colleagues, partners, friends, relatives, etc. You can ask people to follow your Facebook and Twitter page and share some links for example.

Also, research social media influencers and bloggers and contact them before you launch your site. If you have a unique and interesting product to offer, people might be interested in trying it first. You can organize pre-launch interviews, let a few people sign up and test the product. So when you go to launch it, there will be some posts and reviews published for users to take a look at.

Finally, plan your advertising budget. Are you going to use pay per click campaigns? Banners Paid reviews? You should check what options there are and know which ones you will start with.


4.3 Establish your marketing tools

The big day has arrived, but are you busy looking for the best email marketing solution. Imagine that people have started visiting your website and subscribing to the newsletter, but they are not receiving a response because you completely forgot about it. These are the things I recommend setting up before launch:

  • Enable conversion tracking in Google Analytics.
  • Choose your email marketing tool.
  • Choose a social tracking tool to stay informed about real-time reviews and comments related to your product/company, so you can respond as soon as possible.
  • Consider a CRM tool to manage and process customer orders.

Also, make sure you know how to contact software vendors (by phone, email, Twitter, etc.) in case a tool stops working and you need urgent assistance.


Chapter 5. What system administrators should do


Last but not least, your website must be managed, protected and updated on a regular basis. This is typically the responsibility of a system administrator, who focuses on the activities described below.


5.1 Create and manage backups

Losing your business due to lack of backups is a nightmare. Especially, when there are plenty of strategies to safeguard your website data:

Manual backups. As simple as that, you can manually transfer the files to your hard drive, but on the downside, you'll have to do this on a regular basis, otherwise your backups will quickly become obsolete and you'll risk losing chunks of content.

Automatic backups. You can schedule full site backups using plugins and tools, such as BackWPup (for WordPress websites) or Akeeba backup (for Joomla websites).

Whatever solution you choose, make sure you are always using the most up-to-date version that works correctly.


5.2 Monitor site uptime

Your website is like a living creature – it needs care and support on a regular basis, it can also get sick from time to time and you better be aware of what is happening. Using a site monitor app or plugin will help you stay up to date on any type of problem that happens to your website.

Basically, these applications check pages regularly to ensure that the content is available to site visitors. If the bookmarked page is not responding correctly, the app will send you an email/SMS alert. You can try the UptimeRobot app to set up this type of site monitoring.

Later, when your site goes live and starts seeing traffic and conversions, you may need deeper checks for the most important landing pages. Therefore, it will be a good idea to ask your system administrator and web developer to set up form completion tracking. If some of your web forms stop working, you'll know before you lose dozens of sales.


5.3 Prepare for large crowds

You never know if this new project will receive a million views on the first day of release! It sounds unlikely, but you still have to think about whether your website is ready for the heavy traffic scenario. Ask your system administrator to perform load testing beforehand. The good news is that there are so many open source options and paid solutions to choose from.


5.4 Think security first

The number of hacked websites increased by 32% in 2016, which means webmasters are often too relaxed when it comes to web security issues. Without a doubt, it is much better to secure your website before launching it than to deal with the aftermath of a hacker attack. Here's how you can make your website less vulnerable:

Make sure the administrator's computer (or anyone with administrator access) is free of malware. Install and run several trusted virus scanners and let them scan your system regularly. A hacker could install special spyware to hijack your access passwords and other sensitive data.

Avoid weak passwords and never use the same password for multiple apps again. If you suspect that someone tried to hack your server, check the logs and you will see those suspicious commands. By the way, this will also help you identify which backup files are still clean and safe to use.

Always use the most up-to-date versions of the software used to run your web infrastructure. Today you ignore an update alert from your CMS, tomorrow you will receive thousands of outbound links from unknown sources.

Lastly, if you are launching an e-commerce website, it is an absolute must that you use the HTTPS protocol, otherwise you will have to migrate your website in the future, which can pose a risk to site traffic and applications. classifications.



By now, you should have a general idea of ​​the things to test before launching a website. And if you're that kind of unlucky person who is responsible for everything (and that's a common situation for small businesses), get ready, get all the tools you need, and get to work.

Have you ever launched a new website? What routine did you face and what kind of challenges did you face? I'd be happy to hear your story in the comments below!