After plenty of coffee and hard work, you’ve finally published your WordPress website. Good for you! But don’t think you’re done; your job has just begun! Here’s a checklist with the top 10 things that everyone should tick off immediately after a website launch.
1. Safety First!
WordPress accounted for 90% of all hacked CMS websites in 2018, so don’t forget to install a security plugin that protects your website against hackers and malicious code. WordFence Security , All In One WP Security & Firewall and iThemes Security are three popular plugins with good free versions (and even better paid versions). Pay close attention to all the steps in the setup wizard to get solid protection.
Three bonus tips:
- If you have a user named “admin” you should rename it immediately.
- Remove any plugins you don’t use and replace plugins that have bad reviews or are obsolete.
- Keep WordPress, themes and all plugins up to date.
2. Activate Regular Backups
Backups can be a life-saver if your website crashes. Some web hosts, like SiteGround, will create automatic backups of your websites. Nonetheless, you should use an extra service for automatic backups, manual backups and one-click-restores.
With more than 2 million(!) users, UpdraftPlus is the the worlds most used WordPress backup service. The competitor ManageWP Worker offer monthly cloud backups free and for just a couple of bucks per month, you’ll get daily (or real-time) backups as well as on-demand backups.
3. Collect Data From Day One
You don’t get any user statistics retroactively so make sure you implement your Google Analytics tracking code directly. Create a free account and make sure the tracking script is in the head tag of all pages and posts. (You should register your Google Analytics account at least 48 hours before launch to ensure proper data collection.)
If you are using the Divi theme, log into WordPress and navigate to Divi> Theme Options > Integration and paste the script into the <head> field. (You can follow the Divi instructions and put the UA script in the <body> field instead, but then you run the risk of getting misleading bounce rate data.)
If you use another WordPress theme, you can enter the tracking code in the theme’s header.php file (make sure you have a child theme first) or use the Header and Footer Scripts plugin.
4. Inspect Your Server Performance
Lack of sever resources affects both your websites’ functionality and security. From WordPress 5.2, you can do a simple health check for your site under Tools > Site Health.
Furthermore, if you use Divi, you will get valuable information at Divi > Support Center > System Status. All bullets should be green for optimal performance. Contact your web host if your website does not have PHP version 7.2 or above – and do not hesitate to leave your web hosting service if they cannot help you with this very reasonable demand.
5. Add Cache For Increased Page Speed
A cache plugin creates static files form your website content which improves the page loading time for the visitors. Use a cache plugin such as Swift Performance (free and paid), WP Fastest Cache (free and paid) or WP Rocket (paid only).
6. Compress Heavy Images
If you publish several megabytes (mb) heavy high-res images, it doesn’t matter how well you optimize your website – it will be slow as a snail. A full-width image should be no more than 1920 pixels wide. The number of kilobytes (kb) per image obviously depends on how many images (and other content) you present on the specific page, but a simple rule of thumb is to keep each image under 200 kb.
If you have not already compressed your images in, for example, Photoshop or Pixlr, you can install a plugin that adapts and compresses your images.
7. Activate Search Engine Visibility
If you have hidden your website for search engines during the design and development phase, it’s easy to forget to remove this setting after launching your website. This is actually a very common issue but it’s very easy to fix.
Just log in to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Settings > Reading and make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unticked.
8. Fix Your Technical Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about technology, content and links. If you have done the steps above, you have already come a long way with your technical SEO. But there is much more to do.
Three Bonus Tips:
- Make sure each page has a unique page title and meta description.
- Use Google Trends to see which keywords your audience is using.
- Write copy for people and not for search engines.
9. Register Your Website At Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is an awesome free tool that both facilitates indexing on Google and gives you valuable insights on search behaviour, website performance and security issues. Bing also have their own Bing Webmaster Tools.
10. Test, test, test … and test again!
As you probably know by now, a website is never finished. Put on your visitors’ shoes and click through your entire website and test links, forms and all major features. You should also regularly check the health status of your website to ensure good page speed, mobile-friendly web design and.
Three Bonus Tips:
Now that you have a solid technical foundation, it’s time to create great content, market your website and improve the user experience. If you use the Divi theme, there are lots of plugins that will take your website to the next level. In addition to several awesome free Divi plugins, I highly recommend three premium Divi plugins that give your website superpowers: Divi Toolbox, Divi Bars and Divi Overlays.