Yay! You Launched a New Website… Is It Optimized for Search Engines?
Whether you DIY’d your new website or hired someone to help, there are some key things you can do to set your website up for success after launch. Sure, you can publish a website and hope for the best, but it may not be optimized for search engines. So how do you ensure your website is optimized for search engines? You know we’re softies for lending a hand. We’ve got a website post-launch checklist of actions your team can take to guarantee its optimized for search engines — for the low cost of $0 and the next five minutes of your time. Plus, we’ve created a free guide you can download at the end called the Ultimate Website Launch Checklist. It’s filled with tons of step-by-step instructions on how to truly optimize your site to be found by search engines and your customers.
Top 5 Website Post-Launch Checklist Items
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Check for potential accessibility issues.
- Set up search engine tools.
- Optimize your website content.
- Test your website security.
1. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
One of the most important yet overlooked website design details is responsiveness. Having a responsive design, aka a mobile-friendly website design, means your website will respond for an optimal experience according to the size of the device viewing it. Responsiveness should be considered before and during the website build, but it’s never too late to take action. Google provides a free Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply visit the link and enter your URL. If you have a mobile-friendly website, excellent! If not, Google will provide information to help you fix the problem(s) and a process to notify them after it’s fixed. Contact your web developer for assistance or DIY. Use the test as often as needed until a resolution is found.
Keep in mind that while Google may not find any mobile-friendly issues, that doesn’t mean there aren’t browser compatibility issues. Test drive your site on mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop. Ask your family and friends to check the site on their devices and send screenshots of issues they experience or things that look out of place, cut off, etc. Make adjustments and test again. Then thank your wonderful community of loved ones for being such awesome team players!
2. Check for potential accessibility issues.
For many able-bodied people, accessibility may not be top of mind when building a website, but for millions of Americans and people across the world, web accessibility is incredibly important. It’s the difference between being able to access information about your business and not. Web accessibility, aka eAccessibility, is an inclusive practice of removing barriers that would prevent someone with physical or situational disabilities from interacting with or accessing your website. We can all become advocates for accessibility when we pay attention to the seemingly invisible barriers.
To check the accessibility of your website, use this free Google Lighthouse Chrome extension. You can also use the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool and the Web Accessibility test by Level Access without installing a browser extension. Some easy ways to improve eAccessibility include embracing white space and high contrast and increasing your font size.
3. Set up search engine tools.
One of the biggest mistakes we see businesses make after launching a new website is waiting for Google to find it. “If you build it, they will come” is a lovely idea, but your website is too important to wait to be discovered. Take full advantage of the free tools provided by Google and Bing, and set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Both services require you to verify site ownership by adding a DNS record (although now you can import Google Search Console properties into Bing, making the setup even easier). Once verified, submit your sitemaps to each platform to be crawled and indexed ASAP. You can easily tell them both that your site exists in 10 minutes or less.
These tools are also a great place to monitor the health and readability of your website, measure your site’s traffic, test your mobile-friendly website and more. If Google discovers a crawl error, you’ll get an email alert. Doesn’t get much easier than that! Take the time to address any errors — you know, by Googling them! Or ask your web developer for help.
4. Optimize your website content.
If you want website traffic, you need relevant content that is optimized for search engines. Relevant and optimized website content is crucial for search engines to deliver your site in your ideal clients’ search results. Not only should your content clearly communicate your products and services, but it is also a vehicle to integrate search terms (aka keyphrases) that your audience is searching.
Does word count matter? We think so, and we’re not the only ones. Yoast (in its blog and its SEO plugins for WordPress and Shopify) recommends a minimum of 300 words per page or blog post. But if you can add another 200 relevant words, then do it. We prefer a bare minimum of 500 words per page. For important or cornerstone content — like services, sales pages or funnels, targeted landing pages, etc. — you need 800-plus words. Then add metadata to every page, blog, product, link and image. It feels like busywork, but it’s totally worth it. And many platforms/plugins make it easy.
Do some free research on Google to create a list of questions your customers are asking. If you want Google and Bing to serve your site in relevant results, ask and answer the questions within your content that your audience is searching. Make your content is scannable. Break it up with subheads, and use numbered and bulleted lists when possible.
For many searches, especially questions, Google highlights the top result in a feature box. The Google answer box, also known as a featured snippet, is a special box showing the descriptive snippet from the result first, not after as is the standard format. Google determines whether a page would make a good featured snippet for a user’s search request, and if so, elevates it. If your customers are searching, “what is a great gift for a gluten-free foodie” or “what makes a piece of clothing vintage”, be direct and use those words to answer the questions. Take it a step further by summarizing your content in bullet points at the top of the blog post.
As your content gets better at answering the questions your customers are asking, it increases the authority of your website. Maybe Google will show your content some love and make it a featured snippet.
At CTMH Group, we offer a content-based SEO strategy that targets keywords and phrases in compelling content that keeps visitors engaged. Learn more about our three-tiered SEO strategy.
5. Test your website security.
In 2014 Google announced it would start ranking secure sites over non-secure sites when possible. A security certificate, or SSL, provides a secured and encrypted connection to your website. If you have similar content and domain rating to your competitor but your site is not secure, Google will show your competitor over you. Typically SSLs are purchased through your hosting provider like GoDaddy, BlueHost, SiteGround, LiquidWeb and our favorite — WP Engine! (Thanks for asking! ? #affiliatelink) If you’re unsure whether your website is secure, use this free SSL Checker. Superstar hosts provide free SSL certificates and make the installation easy.
This is a just partial website post-launch checklist, but spending some time to complete these five steps will ensure you website is initially optimized for search engines and drastically increase your website’s chances of being served in the SERPs, improve your rankings and funnel in more site traffic. You have built it — and completed our checklist — now watch them come! We want to support your chances for success every step of the way. That’s why we’ve created the Ultimate Website Launch Checklist filled with important steps to take to optimize your website. Get your free download sent right to your inbox by filling out the form below.
You launched a new website?! Congrats!
Is it set up to be found by search engines? Download The Ultimate Website Launch Checklist to get the full scoop!