It’s the day when you get to see all of your hard work pay off…
Yes, I’m talking about launch day. That day when you finally push your WordPress site live and get to share it with the world.
But what are the things that you need to do right after launching your WordPress site? And how can you be sure that you’ve actually ticked all the boxes and are ready for primetime?
Wouldn’t it be great if you had, say, a checklist of things you should do right after launching a WordPress site?
We thought so – which is why we created this guide based on the launch tips we give to our enterprise clients. But you don’t need to be an enterprise to take advantage of these tips – no matter what size WordPress website you’re launching, you can benefit from this checklist.
Ready to go? Let’s dive in and make sure your site is ready for traffic!
Verify That Your SEO Settings Are Configured And Working
As soon as you launch your site, Google’s search crawlers are chomping at the bit to start indexing it.
It’s important to make sure that you’re ready to meet them by double checking all of the SEO settings on your site.
Make Sure Your Site Is Public And Indexable
When you’re working on your development site, you likely added a noindex tag to ensure that Google didn’t accidentally index your site before you were ready to go public.
In the excitement of pushing that development site live, it’s surprisingly easy to forget about that tag.
I know – you would never make such a simple oversight. But, I’ve actually seen a startup with tens of millions in funding do just that.
So, as trivial as it might seem, it’s a good idea to double check that your site is indexable before you push it live.
To do that, make sure that WordPress’ Discourage search engines from indexing this site option is unchecked (Settings → Reading):
Additionally, because you may have manually added the noindex tag, you can use one of the manynoindex checker tools.
Configure Your SEO Plugin And Make Sure It’s Working Properly
If you’re using a WordPress SEO plugin, make sure that you have it properly configured.
Most SEO plugins include both general settings as well as content-specific metaboxes.
For the general settings, you’ll want to make sure you’ve configured your:
- Basic structured data markup for Google Knowledge Graph and Rich Snippets
- Open Graph Meta Tags for Facebook
Beyond general settings, you should also go through and verify that you’ve set up custom titles and meta descriptions for all of your important pages.
Make Sure All Your Analytics Are Live And Working
It’s unlikely that you need us to explain the importance of analytics tracking to your site. But what you might need is a reminder to ensure that you actually have everything set up to start collecting helpful data.
Add Google Analytics Tracking Code And Verify That It’s Working
To start, make sure that you’ve properly added the universal Google Analytics Tracking Code to your site.
You can find your Google Analytics tracking code by going to Admin → Tracking Info → Tracking Code in your Google Analytics dashboard:
Add that code to thesection of your site to enable Google Analytics tracking.
Once you’ve added it, you can verify that it’s working by looking at the Status area:
Turn On Site Search Tracking In Google Analytics
Google Analytics’ Site Search Tracking feature helps you understand what users are searching for on your site.
It tracks all search queries (like those entered in the WordPress search widget) and presents them as a report in Google Analytics.
But in order for it to function, you need to turn it on and complete some minor configuration.
To get started, head to Admin → View Settings:
Then, scroll to the bottom and turn on the Site search Tracking option. Once you turn it On, you’ll also need to enter the Query parameter so that Google Analytics knows what to track.
For WordPress sites, the default query parameter is “?s=”. But for Google Analytics, all you need to do is enter the letter “s”:
Make sure to Save your changes when you’re done.
Set Up Google Analytics Goals And Events For Your Site
Goals and events help you track what your visitors are actually doing on your site. They go beyond regular Google Analytics reports and help you track conversion rates, specific elements that visitors click on, and plenty more.
If possible, you should use Google Tag Manager to implement your tracking. But if you’re looking for a more user friendly WordPress solution, WP Google Analytics Events is a plugin that helps you add event tracking from inside your WordPress dashboard.
Add Your Site To Google Search Console
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console helps you monitor how your site gets treated in Google Search.
You can view helpful analytics, change how your site looks in the search results, and submit information to help Google better crawl your site.
But to get all of these helpful features, you need to register your site with Google Search Console. Assuming you’ve already added the Google Analytics tracking code, the process will only take a couple seconds.
Once you’ve added your site, make sure to submit a sitemap as well by going to Crawl → Sitemaps → ADD/TEST SITEMAP:
Most SEO plugins create a sitemap for you at “yoursite.com/sitemap.xml”. Submitting this sitemap helps Google better understand the structure of your site, which can improve how effectively Google crawls your site.
Set Up User Roles And Verify That Permissions Are Accurate
While WordPress user roles are important for all WordPress site owners to understand, they’re doubly important for enterprises.
As you go forward with your new site, you’ll likely need to add new user accounts for editors, authors, administrators, and more.
Understood and implemented properly, user roles help you lock down the exact permissions that you give to each user with access to your site.
By default, WordPress includes five different roles in WordPress single site installs:
You can view a full summary of the privileges afforded to each role here:
In general, you’ll want to severely restrict access to the Administrator and Editor roles. This helps keep your site safe and secure by using the principle of least privilege to limit access to only those features that each user absolutely needs.
Regular authors should only be given the roles of:
- Author if they need to upload media
- Contributor if they don’t need to upload media
If you need more granular control over user permissions, you can also use a plugin like User Role Editor to create your own custom user roles. Or, you can have your developer hard-code custom user roles using the add_role() function.
Test Important Functionality – Then Test It Again
When you were getting ready to launch your site, you probably checked and rechecked the important functionality on your development site.
But here’s the thing:
Just because something worked on your development site, that’s not a 100% guarantee that it will work on your live site.
For example, contact form plugins often run into issues with caching plugins. But if you weren’t actively caching your development site, you might not catch that issue.
That’s why it’s important to test everything again once you push your site live.
Manually go through:
- Any forms that you use
- Social integrations like share buttons, follow counts, embeds, and more.
- eCommerce checkout process (if applicable)
- Anything else that might be “broken”
After you check things manually, you might even want to use a tool like Pingdom to set up transaction monitoring for mission-critical user flows.
Monitor For 404 Errors And Check For Broken Links
When you first launch your site, you’re going to be especially susceptible to 404 errors and broken links. These could be relics from your development environment or just accidental oversights.
Either way, they’re a net-negative on your site’s user experience and search engine optimization. Here’s how to find and eradicate them after launching your site…
How to Monitor For 404 Errors
Assuming you set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console per the previous step, you can use those two tools to monitor the 404 pages encountered by:
- Human visitors
- Search engine robots
To monitor 404 pages for human visitors, you can filter pages by Page Title in Google Analytics:
You’ll need to enter the Page Title of the actual 404 page used by your WordPress theme. Because each theme uses its own 404 page, you’ll need to investigate this for yourself.
For example, on NeatlyPressed, we can search for “Page not found”:
That covers humans – but what about search engine robots?
To monitor the 404 pages that Google encounters, you can use the Crawl Errors report in Google Search Console:
How to Check For Broken Links
To check for broken links on your WordPress site, you have two options:
- Use a plugin like Broken Link Checker
- Use a cloud-based tool like Broken Link Check
The plugin is nice because it integrates right into your WordPress dashboard and makes it simple to fix any broken links that it finds. But, it does use server resources and some people complain that the plugin can slow down the WordPress admin dashboard.
If you’d prefer to keep things off of your server, the cloud-based tool is a nice option. You’ll just have to hunt down any flagged links by yourself:
Don’t Forget Maintenance – Have A Plan For Security, Backups, And Upgrades
Finally, it’s important to remember that your work doesn’t end when you launch your site. Instead, you’re in for the slow, steady slog that is WordPress maintenance.
We already talked about these areas in our in-depth post on WordPress maintenance. But without reiterating too much of that information, here’s a quick refresher:
- We always recommend implementing security at the server level with a host like WP Engine or Pantheon. If you’re not already hosting with one of those hosts, your next best option is to install security plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri Security.
- Backups are absolutely essential to ensuring the integrity of your site. Again, whenever possible we recommend that clients run backups through their host. But if that’s not an option, a tool like VaultPress is a good second option. No matter what, make sure to test your backups and follow safe backup storage principles.
- Update WordPress and plugins/themes as quickly as possible, but make sure you test updates on a staging site and read changelogs to prevent potential issues.
Make Your WordPress Site Launch A Success
We hope that going through this list was as simple as checking off boxes for things that you’ve already done. But if something had slipped by, you hopefully had a chance to catch it early and ensure that your site’s launch is a success.
Then, as long as you stay on top of your WordPress maintenance, you’ll be in a great position as your site continues to grow.