As I mentioned in my last post, several of my clients – not to mention Marketing Mojo! – have undergone or are planning to undergo either a rebrand or website redesign. Change is good and can be inspiring. But when it comes to planning for that new website, there are a few very important items to keep in mind, otherwise all your hard work could go right down the drain when your website isn’t found in search engines. Here are my Top 5 SEO recommendations for a successful website launch:
301 Redirects are especially crucial if you’re changing your URL as part of a website re-launch. These will help maintain previous rankings, tells search engines that your original page is no longer relevant and points them to the new, more relevant page. You’ll want to make implementing these a priority when launching a new site. You’ve worked hard to create solid SEO, so why lose it with the launch of a new site?
With all the excitement surrounding a new website, it’s easy to overlook the (not so) “little” things. One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen in launching new sites is forgetting to add Google Analytics tracking code. Without this code, there is no way to see how the new site is performing. Are people visiting it? Is traffic up? Down? What pages are they visiting? You’ll never know if there’s no tracking code in place. TIP: If you haven’t transferred your Google Analytics profile to a universal profile and you have a launch coming up, start that process. It takes 24-48 hours to complete the process and once it’s done, new tracking code is generated. You’ll want that code for your new site.
Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools are frequently overlooked when a new site is launched. These are imperative tools for monitoring indexing status, submitting and testing sitemaps and robots.txt files and receiving warnings regarding site errors. Having these set up and ready to go on launch day will allow you to have monitoring from the onset.
Creating and submitting a sitemap to both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for your new site is also extremely important. This will not only tell searchbots what to index, it will also give you an indication of any pages that may need adjustments. Sitemaps will also help new content to be indexed faster than if you were to wait for Google or Bing to “find” your new content.
Launching a new site is a long, often stressful process. Once the site is live, don’t think for a moment that your work is done. This is when the real work starts. Monitor your rankings daily for at least two weeks after launch. Check Google Analytics frequently. Look at Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for anything that may need your attention. What have been your biggest challenges with launching a new website, and what tips – SEO or not – do you have? Leave a comment or tweet me at @Sarah_Wyland!