Essential Steps for Launching a New WordPress Website

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Are you building a new WordPress website? Here are a few essential steps before and after launch that will provide you with a better and more usable site

WordPress is the most popular CMS, and many businesses and product brands, as well as countless individuals and professional service providers, have reasons for having a WordPress website. But there are a number of things to consider both before and after launching a new WordPress website.

Regardless if you are launching a new WordPress website, or simply redesigning your existing online presence using the WordPress platform there are a few things to keep in mind before you get started. You will need a domain for your site. What about web hosting or a content delivery network for your site? Selecting just the right WordPress theme is a major consideration as well.

Launching a new WordPress site is a fairly straightforward process. If you are working with a professional web designer or agency, they will take care of the actual process for you. But it never hurts to ask a few basic questions regarding their services after launching a new WordPress site. Will they optimize and promote your new WordPress site? And who will maintain and update your new online presence?

All of the above are important considerations when launching a new WordPress site. Especially if you are doing this on your own the entire process can quickly get totally overwhelming. And even when working with a professional you should know the essentials of launching a new WordPress website. Here are a few essential steps that will make a big difference.

Before Launching a New WordPress Website

Any effective online presence requires a good foundation. That is especially true for something as complex as a mobile-first WordPress website. At the onset of any WordPress project we discuss essentials such as website hosting, using a content delivery network (CDN), and a few other basics.

We always optimize our client websites with a few essential plugins, recommend optimized WordPress hosting, and basically help them understand how their new WordPress website works, and how to get the most out of it. That includes helping them meet their short and long-term business objectives as opposed to simply launching a new WordPress site for them.

Consider this to be your pre-launch checklist.

Website Domain

Especially if you are launching a new WordPress site you need to give careful consideration to your domain name. While there are many different available options a dot com domain is still considered to be the best in terms of usability and SEO. Of course, some dot com domain names are very hard to come by, or very expensive. In that case, you may want to play around with the domain name a bit to see if another option might work better.

You should always avoid special characters such as hyphens or dashes, “kute” spellings, or overly long domain names. Check out these 10 tips for choosing a domain name from GoDaddy. I also recommend you use them to purchase and register your new domain.

Web Hosting

The first step to launching a new WordPress site is selecting your web hosting. And this is one instance where simply going for the cheapest option will definitely work against you. Any WordPress website is fairly complex and does better if your hosting provider specializes in hosting WordPress sites. For e-commerce sites, this becomes even more critical.

Modern consumers are impatient and will simply not wait for your site to load. A slow, unresponsive site will only increase your bounce rate, and send your target audience to your competitors.

Even worse, if your hosting provider does not offer some sort of website security and backup your site is at risk of getting hacked or taken down completely. And that alone can make restoring your website after it got hacked a lengthy and expensive process.

Before you make a decision regarding a hosting service provider, be sure to cover these questions:

  • Do they have support for plugins, or forbid certain plugins?
  • Do they offer any website speed optimization services?
  • What type of website security options or services do they provide?
  • What type of backup support do they offer?
  • Is there a staging environment?
  • Are there any bandwidth limitations?
  • Which operating system are they using? Linux? Windows?
  • Are their servers compatible with the latest version of PHP?

Here are 5 things to look for when choosing a web hosting provider.

Our Recommended WordPress Hosting Providers:

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

If you need a bit (or a lot) of extra page speed for your WordPress website, you should consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN.) A CDN changes the way your site handles static content like images, Javascript, and CSS. It caches your static content to create faster page loading, lower response time, and an overall faster loading website, which in turn helps you rank higher in search results.

We have found that having a CDN is one of the easiest and fastest ways to improve your site load speed, especially for sites that have a lot of images or other large files, such as self-hosted videos. An added bonus is that using a CDN can also improve your site security.

Our CDN Recommendations:

WordPress Theme

Another consideration before launching a new WordPress site is the actual theme or framework you are planning to use. There are literally thousands of available options. Lucky for you most of them are so bad you can eliminate them right away. That includes any free theme and any theme that is not compatible with the latest version of WordPress or has not been updated by the theme author within the last few months.

Instead of simply going for a “pretty” design or “cool” functionality be sure to select a WordPress theme that will actually support your short and long-term business objectives. That means you should look for:

  • Clean and fast code: With a clean code structure, you can decrease the load of time on pages and increase the crawlability to your pages.
  • CSS and Javascript files: With Google, less is more and having a limited number of CSS and Javascript files will help.
  • Limited use of required plugins: The more plugins a theme requires in order to function properly the more bloated and unresponsive it will become.
  • Simple layout: A simple design will make it easy for users to navigate from page to page.
  • Responsive: As we know Google gives an edge to responsive sites in searches from mobile devices so choosing a WordPress theme that is responsive will give you an overall better user experience.
  • Schema Markups: Schema Markups tell search engines where the most relevant content is on your theme.

If you are not sure which theme is best for you and your business take a look at the best and most popular WordPress themes for 2019.

After Launching a New WordPress Website

Many people mistakenly believe that launching a new WordPress website is all it takes. After all, you just built a brand-new WordPress website, added SEO optimized content, checked to make sure it looks and functions great on tablets and smartphones, and selected optimized WordPress hosting.

But there are still a handful of things that you should do right after launching a WordPress website to set yourself up for success:

Change Your Site’s Basic Information

The first thing after launching a new WordPress website is to make sure all of your basic information is current and accurate. This includes changing some basic settings that come with a new WordPress site. Here is what to do:

  1. Log in to your wp-admin Dashboard
  2. Go to Settings / General
  3. Update your site’s title, tagline, time zone, email address, site language, and date and time formats as required
  4. Go to Settings / Permalinks
  5. Change your permalinks to Post Name
  6. Go to Appearance / Customize
  7. Upload your site’s favicon

Change Your Logins

The easiest way to break into your WordPress site is to just guess your login and password. As abstract as it sounds, it’s really the case. There are software scripts and bots that go through hundreds of thousands of passwords and try their luck with each one.

That is why you need to make sure that your login details are strong enough as part of launching a new WordPress website. At the very least you should:

  • Remove any user labelled “Admin”
  • Ensure the use of strong passwords; use a password generator if necessary
  • Create a new user profile for all editing purposes – the role of “Editor.” You can do it in the wp-admin, Users / Add New.
  • Limit the login attempts allowed before the site is locked down. You can do it with a plugin like WP Limit Login Attempts.
  • Use only safe passwords.
  • Store your password data with LastPass.

Make Sure You Are Visible to Search Engines

The first thing you need to do is to allow Google to index your WordPress site. Even though in most cases WordPress sets this up correctly on its own during install, checking if things are in order can never hurt. Here is how to do that:

  1. Log in to your wp-admin Dashboard
  2. Go to Settings / Reading
  3. Look for “Search Engine Visibility” and make sure that the checkbox labeled “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” remains unchecked.

Integrate Your Site with Google Analytics

The next step after launching your new WordPress website is to connect it to Google Analytics to help you improve your search visibility. It tracks your audience and their actions on your site. It comes with detailed information about everything related to your site’s content and visitors, such as the most viewed pages, conversion rates, the number of visits per day, in-depth user profiles, bounce rates, and lots of other essential stats.

The tool is free and can be easily integrated with your WordPress site through an embed code provided by Google. Alternatively, you can use a plugin like Google Analytics by MonsterInsights to connect it to your site.

Set up Google Search Console

Another important step after launching your new WordPress website is to set up your Google Search console. Google Search Console (GSC) should be a must-have item on your list. It will help you optimize your site for SEO and help you identify any search related shortcomings on your site you need to fix.

More specifically, with GSC, you can learn about things such as the health of your internal link structure, external links pointing to your site, any sitemap problems, your popular keywords, the indexing status of your site, any crawl stats and errors, security issues, and much more. A true goldmine.

Activate Caching

After launching your new WordPress website, it may be a bit slow. And since modern consumers are getting ever more impatient that can be a big problem. In fact, according to Kissmetrics, if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of people abandon it. Luckily it is fairly easy to fix this.

Many WordPress hosting providers provide caching as part of their hosting solutions. Another solution is to install a caching plugin to reduce the overall page loading times. There are free caching plugins out there, including W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, or more comprehensive solutions like Autoptimize and even premium plugins like WP Rocket.

Install a Backup Plugin

You spend a lot of time and money to build your new WordPress website. Obviously, you don’t want to repeat this process again any time soon. So, after launching a new WordPress website you should install and configure some sort of backup functionality. Many WordPress hosting providers offer regular backups as part of their service. Another way to do this is by installing a backup plugin.

Backup plugins will keep your site content in a safe place, in case anything bad ever happens and you need to restore your site to a previously working state. This is especially important if your WordPress site ever gets hacked and you need to restore it.

Improve Site Security

Another essential step after launching a new WordPress website is to improve site security. There are a lot of bad things that can happen to any WordPress site, such as hacker attacks, malware, viruses, etc. Protecting your WordPress website from all that with a firewall of some kind is always a good idea. Be sure to ask your WordPress hosting provider what kind of security options they provide as part of their hosting solutions.

Sucuri is one of the best WordPress security services out there. It provides malware detection and cleanup, monitors your site for hacks, mitigates DDoS attacks, and more. For free solutions, check out Wordfence Security or iThemes Security. Both offer more than adequate protection for most WordPress sites.

Create a Sitemap.xml File

Another thing to do after launching a new WordPress site is to create a sitemap. Sitemap.xml is a file that lists all of your website’s URLs. Google uses this file to understand how your site is organized and what sort of information is there. As a result, it will be easier for Google to index everything.

To create a sitemap, all you have to do is install a plugin such as Yoast or Google XML Sitemaps. Just a few clicks and you’re good to go.

Final Thoughts on Launching a New WordPress Website

That sums up my top recommendations for what you need to do before and after launching a new WordPress website. These simple steps should be an essential part of any WordPress design or redesign project. Without them, your new or redesigned WordPress website will lack essential features and functionality.

By implementing these essential recommendations, you will have a WordPress site that right from the day you launch it will perform better in search rankings and support your actual business objectives. It will also provide a better user experience and functionality, which in turn will help you attract, engage and convert your mobile target audience.

Of course, there are many other things you could do, and lots of plugins to add new and exciting functionalities on your site. But be careful, many WordPress plugins are outdated and could potentially hurt your site. And having too many plugins can slow your site. A good rule of thumb is to focus on the basic functionality your target audience will expect.

WordPress is free, responsive, secure, and highly customizable. In case you are looking for a digital publishing platform with ease of use, try WordPress. It is a highly effective tool for creating the best possible consumer experience. And we are here if you need help launching a new WordPress website.

Did You Launch Your WordPress Website?

Have you launched your own WordPress website? If so, have you followed any of our before or after launch recommendations? If not, what is your biggest obstacle to launching a new WordPress website? Do you have other problems with your business website design? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!

Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!

By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / CXO