You have been working really hard on a new website and ready to release it for the world to see. That sounds really exciting, but there are some imperative things to check before you launch the website. Take a look at this 10-step checklist and make sure you have completed everything, or it may lead to serious issues down the road. This will ensure your launch is as smooth as butter!
Purchase a Custom Domain
You may already have a custom domain, or you may be using a platform such as WordPress or Wix to create your website and using their free subdomain. In either case, it’s super important to have your own custom domain (i.e. www.techrasa.com). This will not only create an established brand for your website, but it will also appear more professional to people. Domains are very affordable, and usually one year contracts. Try not to make the domain name long or complicated, because it should be easy to remember, easily typed, and memorable. You can use Who.is to determine if the domain you want is available on the marketplace. If it’s not available, you will need to select an alternative of it or an entirely new domain, a .com is usually the best extension.
Purchase an SSL Certificate
This is the next step after purchasing a custom domain. These days, it’s crucial to have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, especially if you plan to have an online shop tied in with your website. Google and other search engines are fond of SSL certificates, they will boost your rankings and you will also have a nice green lock icon in the address bar like the one in this screenshot, people will trust your website. Let’s Encrypt provides free SSL certificates as long as you know how to set it up, if not, you can purchase one from a domain provider (i.e. GoDaddy) and they will take care of everything for you.
Hosting & Servers
When you have purchased a custom domain, you should now select a hosting plan from a reputable provider. There are many out there, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I have used 1&1 and Namecheap, they are very good, I also recommend GoDaddy. When you are shopping around for a hosting provider, there are a couple of things to consider; fast hosting, a 99.99% uptime guarantee, cPanel control, easy user interface, unlimited storage and transparent pricing. In my personal experience, I have found that if the pricing is too good to be true, it usually is, because it impacts the performance of the hosting you will receive.
Optimized Images & Coding
You can use free tools on the internet, such as TinyJPG or TinyPNG to optimize your images for free by compressing the file sizes without hindering the image quality. The faster your images load for people, the less annoyed they will be as well as the better it is for Google, because they will rank your website higher on the search engine. Images should also have ALT text (alternative text) to help Google better index them. You should also ensure your website’s coding is fully optimized, you can use a service such as Pingdom Tools or GTmetrix to calculate your website’s loading times and pinpoint the exact issues.
Now that you have a website and it’s coming together, you might want to think about having an ecommerce aspect to it. Even if you don’t have your own products to sell, you can use Shopify to take care of your online store and have an app like Printful create and ship products to customers on your behalf. You can even do dropshipping by using the Oberlo app which syncs with AliExpress. There is just so much you can do that you won’t even believe and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get started. An ecommerce platform like Shopify can even allow your store to accept credit cards and PayPal, in addition to taking care of shipping rates. The Huffington Post wrote an article about a merchant that started a dropshipping business and made $12k in the first month, he mainly sells products from China.
Add a Blog
Most websites now have a blog, because it creates interesting content for websites as well as helps websites rank higher on Google. You might be thinking to yourself that you don’t know what to blog about or you are not an avid blogger. This may be true, but it doesn’t have to be the case, because you don’t need to blog very often, once or twice a week is sufficient.
Check Spelling & Grammar
A website with perfect or near perfect spelling and grammar is something that is very important to readers, especially those that can spot even the smallest mistakes. You can use a built-in checker or a tool such as Grammarly, it’s a free grammar checker and one of the best in the industry. I also recommend asking a friend or family member to check your website, it doesn’t hurt to have a fresh pair of eyes look at the website, they may find something that you haven’t already noticed.
An Easy Contact Us Form
Making it easy for people to contact you shows you care and you are interested to speak to them, not to mention a courteous thing to do. This is why it’s a good idea to have a “contact us” page with a built-in form, and also link it to your website’s footer or a sidebar for people to easily locate. It’s also professional to have a custom email address (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org). And to ensure that you don’t receive spam, implement a CAPTCHA system for the built-in form.
One of the last things to check for your website is the metadata, such as the page’s meta title and meta description. These are displayed on search engines, and while it doesn’t increase your website’s chances of being displayed on search engines, it increases the likelihood people will click on the link. In other words, an effective metadata provides better information to people who are more likely to visit the link, because they are interested in what they read. The meta title and meta description must be unique for each page, and should include a few keywords. There are many guides online to implement this, here is an example code you can use for each page.
<title>TechRasa – Iran Startup & Tech Media</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Iran startup & tech media TechRasa aims to bring you the latest news on Iran’s startup scene and aims to promote local entrepreneurs.”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”tech,startups,tech media,entrepreneurs”>
Submit Sitemap To Google
The very last step on this checklist is to submit your website’s sitemap to Google. I should state that if you do not submit the sitemap to Google, they will automatically crawl the internet every so often and retrieve information about your website to upload it to the search engine. If you want to speed up the process and/or have recently updated your website’s metadata, it’s a good idea to manually submit the sitemap to Google. You can do this by using the Google Search Console and it’s completely free!