The process of starting a website project and seeing it through to completion is no joke. It requires a lot of planning, hard work, and coordinated efforts to get it over the finish line — or, launch!
A common misconception is that once a staging link has been user-tested, quality assured, and approved a website is ready to be set live. While in some cases, some folks may be willing and able to do that, at Vendilli Digital Group, we’ve developed a process for launching a website that we feel is crucial for setting your website up for success from both a security and SEO standpoint. Here are a few things that we do every single time a client tells us to “take it live”.
Note: This process is indicative of Custom WordPress Website projects. StudioV and HubSpot each have their own
Set Up Mailgun
Custom WordPress websites that we host are set up with Mailgun. Mailgun ensures the delivery of transactional and marketing emails via a set of APIs for sending, receiving, and tracking emails. It includes features such as email validation, tracking, analytics, and easy integration with applications through its APIs. It’s a powerful tool that we can use in the event form submissions on your website are not being received and help us to identify a root cause.
Install Security Software
Website security is a must-have in this day and age. We specifically install Wordfence on all of our Wordpress sites. Wordfence is a robust WordPress security designed to safeguard websites from online threats. With features like a web application firewall, malware scanning, and login security enhancements, Wordfence protects against common attacks, such as brute force attempts and malware infections. It offers real-time threat intelligence, helping users stay ahead of emerging security risks. The plugin also aids in incident recovery, allowing users to identify and restore compromised files. In addition to its security functions, Wordfence includes performance optimization features and security auditing to ensure a comprehensive defense strategy for WordPress sites. It's a valuable tool for website owners and administrators looking to fortify their online presence.
Set Up Yoast and Configure / Copy Metadata
With each WordPress site we launch, our team installs Yoast to assist with what we consider fundamental SEO. Yoast SEO is a powerful WordPress plugin that serves as a comprehensive tool for optimizing websites for search engines. For our initial setup, Yoast offers a user-friendly interface that helps content creators with meta tags, XML sitemaps, and other crucial SEO elements, making it boosts a site's visibility on search engine results pages.
For those who partner with us for growth-driven design, Yoast SEO also assists users in crafting SEO-friendly content by providing real-time suggestions for improving readability and ensuring keyword optimization. With its intuitive design and practical guidance, Yoast SEO has become an indispensable tool for anyone looking to improve their website's search engine performance.
Check the Sitemap Against Pages in Staging
Another important step that we take in ensuring your website meets a high standard of excellence for launch is reviewing the pages in your final sitemap document vs the pages in staging. This is an important step for not only the obvious reason of making sure all the agreed-upon site pages made it into development, but it also allows us to determine which pages may need to be redirected and to where. Which then leads us to our next step.
Set Up URL Redirects (301)
If you have a previously existing website, then this next pre-launch step plays a crucial role in maintaining a website's search engine optimization (SEO) and ensuring a seamless user experience. When a 301 redirect is implemented, it informs search engines that the original URL has been permanently replaced by a new one. This is essential for preserving the ranking and indexing of the original content, preventing the loss of traffic and authority associated with the old URL. Website owners often use 301 redirects when restructuring their site, changing domain names, or updating URLs to guide both users and search engines to the correct and current location of the content, thus contributing to a more effective and user-friendly online presence.
This is different from a 404 error, which is an error that occurs when content is simply not found - either due to never existing or being removed.
Linking Google Analytics and Google Search Console
If an existing website has an established Google Analytics account and is registered with Google Search Console, we will make sure the correct tracking codes are included in the website and the site is submitted accordingly to both ensure the site is being indexed correctly with Google as well as being tracked properly for reporting purposes.
Setting Up Hosting and uploading Site
The exact process and length of time to set up a website’s hosting and upload it to the servers is highly dependent upon the chosen hosting provider. For some providers, it may be possible to use a migration tool to simplify the process, for others it may require an FTP upload, and an SQL database import, and in other cases, it may be necessary to install Wordpress or other software necessary to support the site. When launching a site, this is one thing to bear in mind that could affect how soon your website goes live. It’s truly different on a case-by-case basis depending upon your hosting provider and the level of access provided.
An SSL Certificate, which stands for Secure Socket Layer, is used to secure data transmission between a user's web browser and a website's server. It ensures that the information exchanged, such as login credentials, personal details, or financial data, remains encrypted and protected from potential eavesdropping or tampering by malicious third parties. SSL certificates are essential for websites, especially those handling sensitive information, as they establish a secure, encrypted connection, visible through the "https://" in the URL and a padlock icon.
Beyond data security, having an SSL certificate has become a standard practice for websites, influencing search engine rankings and user trust. As internet users have become more security-conscious, having SSL not only safeguards data but also demonstrates a commitment to online safety and privacy, making it a fundamental component for any modern website.
Once ready for launch, if we are hosting a website, we set them up in our ManageWP account. While one of the benefits of ManageWP is geared more towards agencies and those managing multiple websites, the benefits of the software extend to website owners themselves. By setting your site up in ManageWP, we can ensure that your website is being monitored and set up with appropriate backups, updates, and security checks. Should a website go down, ManageWP is equipped to tell a developer what caused the site to go down, making a solution to the problem to be reached faster than without.
While some of these steps certainly could be “skipped” to launch a website faster, hopefully, we’ve illustrated not only what our process is for when you tell us to “go live”, but also the reason why we as an agency have decided that these steps are necessary to provide you with a safe, secure, SEO-friendly website launch. At Vendilli Digital Group, we are committed to excellence in all that we do. We truly do not believe in cutting corners when it comes to our website process. When you ask us to launch a website, it may require a few days of notice, but rest assured, we are using that time wisely to ensure your website is secure and ready to be found by search engines. If you’re ready to get started with building and launching a new website the right way, give us a call.