SEO Checks Before Launching Your New Website
Launching a new website is exciting for any business. Still, before you launch your website it is important to perform necessary SEO checks so you don’t run into common mistakes when launching your new site.
When these SEO checks are not considered prior to launch, there are big implications for your company, like loss of search visibility and rankings — and in some cases, these can have negative impacts on revenue for your business.
Here are some important SEO checks to perform:
- URL Structure
- Site Speed and Performance
- Website Indexing
- Meta Tags and Descriptions
- Mobile and Responsiveness
- Image Optimization
- Content Optimization
- Internal Linking
- Schema Markup
- Social Integrations
- Analytics and Tracking
- Hosting Configuration
When rebuilding or migrating your site to a new CMS, marketers usually take advantage of a “clean slate” by reorganizing a site’s page structure. This means that URLs will change too. It is important that old URLs for a page are redirected to the new URL.
There are a few ways to redirect pages, but when rebuilding your website, the redirect you will use is a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect permanently sends traffic from one URL (typically an older URL) to a newer URL. Without this redirect in place, users will land on a 404 page (page not found) which has a negative impact on user experience, a key factor when search engines determine site ranking.
URL structure is another important part of SEO and has a close relationship with your site structure. This means that when planning your site layout, URL structure should be addressed as well.
Review your website's URLs and ensure they are clean, descriptive, and user-friendly. Use hyphens to separate words and include relevant keywords when possible. Avoid using excessive numbers or special characters in URLs.
Site Speed and Performance
Test your website's loading speed and performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Optimize images, enable caching, minify code, and leverage browser caching techniques to improve speed.
If you have your website on a development or staging environment, you can still run your site through tools like SEMRush or PageSpeed Insights to see if there is coding that needs to be compressed or images that need to be optimized before pushing your site to your live environment.
Once your site is live though, it is important to run site speed and performance tests again to make sure your live site is properly optimized.
If your website is not indexed, then no one will be able to find it in search results. Although this can be done organically, it does take some time for search engines to crawl your site.
You can use a tool like Google Search Console to check if search engines can crawl and index your new website. This is something that would need to happen once your new site is live but meanwhile, you can set up a robots.txt file to control search engine access and submit your new sitemap to search engines like Google and Bing.
Meta Tags and Descriptions
Check that each page has unique and relevant meta tags (title tags and meta descriptions). Optimize them with appropriate keywords and compelling descriptions to entice users to click on your website in search results.
Mobile and Responsiveness
Even though your page templates are responsive, it doesn’t mean everything on your pages will look great or function well on mobile. This commonly happens when adding an element to a page, like an image, video, or a button that isn’t set to be responsive. If the element is wider than the mobile breakpoint, then it can cause your content to extend beyond your template and cause it to look something like the example below. It's pretty easy to spot when there is a shift in your template on mobile because you will usually see a lot of white space on the left side of your screen.
This is why it is important to verify that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive prior to launch. Because most website users are accessing websites with their phones, search engines not only prioritize mobile-friendly sites but favor sites that offer great mobile experiences too. Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to evaluate your website's mobile compatibility.
Text may not change much on pages, but often images and graphics are refreshed when redesigning a site. When uploading new images to your site, make sure they are optimized for the web. The file size should be small—no more than 200KB and ideally much smaller than that. For file format, you should use JPG files for photos and PNG or SVG for illustrations and logos. It is important to know that JPG files are typically smaller, so they will load faster than a PNG. The faster your images load, the faster your page will load, and since page load speed is a critical element for SEO, this is a prelaunch site check you don’t want to miss.
It is always a good idea to run your images through a compression tool like TinyPNG. This is a quick way to help keep your file smaller without sacrificing image quality.
You should review your website's content for keyword optimization and readability. Ensure that your target keywords are naturally incorporated into headings, paragraphs, and image alt tags. It is also important to aim for informative, engaging, and valuable content for your users.
This step will usually be considered way before you are ready to hit the launch button on your new site but it's important to make sure any pages you optimized are published and ready to go once your site goes live.
While you are rewriting or populating content into new site pages, it is important to carry over any internal links you had previously. Internal links placed within your content should remain since these indicate to search engines which pages on your site are important to users.
Once you are done adding page content to all pages, it’s important to test all your buttons and other linked elements on your page to make sure they are working properly and going to the right pages.
Check that your website has a logical internal linking structure. Create internal links between relevant pages to help search engines understand the hierarchy and relationships between your content.
Consider implementing schema markup, such as structured data, to provide additional information about your website's content to search engines. This can enhance your website's visibility in search results and enable rich snippets.
It is important to revisit your integrations to ensure all the tools you use are properly configured and ready to go. For SEO purposes, it’s important to integrate tools like social sharing on your website which encourages visitors to share your content on social media platforms. This can help increase your website's visibility and generate social signals that may positively impact SEO.
Analytics and Tracking
Set up web analytics tools like Google Analytics to track and monitor your website's performance, user behavior, and traffic sources. This data will provide valuable insights for future SEO improvements.
Just because you had Analytics set up on your previous site doesn't mean it will carry over to your new site. You will need to make sure your tracking code snippet or GTM container is added to your new site once it's launched. Forgetting to add this will cause you to miss critical data right after the launch of your new site.
If you are currently in the redesign process of a new website, you should go ahead and set up the new Google Analytics 4 property also called GA4. We will show you how to add the GA4 property to your new site in this article.
Hosting is another thing considered early on during a website project but it is important to ensure everything is configured so that your site is safe for visitors and performs well once your site goes live.
Also, if you are utilizing a CDN, which speeds up content delivery for users, then make sure this is configured prior to launch.
Continuing after Launch
Since SEO is an ongoing process, you should make sure any SEO tools you use are set up so you can continue to monitor and optimize your website after launch. Regularly track your rankings, analyze user behavior, and adapt your SEO strategy based on performance and industry trends.