Before you hit that publish button on your shiny new WordPress site, there’s a handful of things you should do first to make sure you’re ready! Some are essential and some are less so, but definitely all highly recommended...
- Make sure you have a secure password!
Websites are incredibly vulnerable to brute force attack, so as annoying as it is, make sure your website password is the most unique and complicated password you can think of. After working hard on your website to get it live, the last thing you want is for hackers to take control of it and demand money for it’s safe return...
- Get your Google Analytics code
Once your site starts drawing in a crowd, it’s essential to track your digital marketing efforts with Google Analytics. Analytics can tell you where your audience is coming from, what pages they like the best and the least, and how much time they’re spending browsing. Check out this post for tips on how to get started with Analytics!
- Install Yoast SEO
When it comes to essential plugins for WordPress, Yoast SEO is right at the top. Make sure you’ve got it installed and then visit every page and post to edit your meta descriptions. These are the little sentences that Google shows during search results, so make sure they’re keyword enriched, but also honest and clear about what your page is about. Additionally, head to Social under the SEO menu in the left sidebar and ensure you have Open Graph meta data enabled under Facebook, as well as Twitter cards under Twitter. This ensures your pages appear correctly when they’re shared across the web. Even if you don’t have Facebook or Twitter, you should still make sure these are enabled - you never know when or where your visitors will be sharing your content. You can also add your Pinterest and Google+ verification codes here too!
- Compress your images
Before you upload any image on your site, it’s best practice to ensure they’re the smallest file size they can be without sacrificing quality. Large files on your site can severely slow down your load time which is damaging for SEO and also for user experience. There are plenty of free websites that will do just that - compress your images with no visible quality loss - such as Compressor or CompressJPEG. Take it a step further and install the plugin WP Smush to do that last little bit of compression of every file on your site (not just images).
- Set your Featured Images
While you’re updating your meta descriptions, make sure you’re also setting featured images on every page. Even if it’s just your about page, or your contact page, I highly recommend having a featured image on every page. As mentioned before, you never know when or where your site visitors will share your content, and that extends to “what”. Make sure you’re always presenting your best self and get those images up!
- Add alt text to every image
Adding alt text to all your images ensures your website is accessible to all users, including those using screen readers. Alt text is what is read to users to describe images to those that cannot see them, so make sure you’re properly describing the images contents. Additionally, adding alt text is excellent for SEO - did you know that Google Images is the second most commonly used search engine? (behind normal Google, obviously!) These days, search engine results show just as many images as it does text, so increase your chances of being found and include alt text on every image.
- Check your Pages with Facebook and Twitter
OK great! You’re almost there… Now that’s all set, test out some pages using the Facebook Debugger and Twitter Card Validator to make sure their pulling the correct information about your site. These sites will simulate exactly what users will see if your pages are shared across a number of different social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter but also LinkedIn and Google+. Pay attention to any errors they show and edit as needed...
- Social media share buttons!
And finally, if you’re blogging you want users to share your content. Make it easy for them by installing a social media share plugin so they can share your hard work with the click of a button! I use this one.
And there we go! A quick checklist to make sure your site is putting it’s best foot forward before it goes live.
Let me know what you thought, and if there's anything else we should be doing before going live!
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