Essential checks before launching a website

Favicon

A favicon brands the tab or window in which your website is open in the user’s browser. It is also saved with the bookmark so that users can easily identify pages from your website.

Titles and metadata

Your page title is the most important element for SEO and is also important so that users know what’s on the page. Make sure it changes on every page and relates to that page’s content.

Meta description and keyword tags aren’t as important for SEO (at least for the major search engines anyway), but it’s still a good idea to include them. Change the description on each page to make it relate to that page’s content, because this is often what Google displays in its search result description.

Cross-browser checks

Just when you think your design looks great, pixel perfect, you check it in IE and see that everything is broken. It’s important that your website works across browsers. It doesn’t have to be pixel perfect, but everything should work, and the user shouldn’t see any problems. The most popular browsers to check are Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera and the iPhone.

Custom font checks

If you use custom fonts, remove them from your Windows fonts folder if they exist and test all browsers to see that they render them with no problem. Also check the address with non www.

Functionality check

Test everything thoroughly. If you have a contact form, test it and copy yourself so that you can see what comes through. Get others to test your website, and not just family and friends but the website’s target market. Sit back and watch how a user uses the website. It’s amazing what you’ll pick up on when others use your website differently than how you assume they’d use it. Common things to check for are contact forms, search functions, shopping baskets and log-in areas.

Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics is important for measuring statistics to see how your website performs and how successful your conversion rates are. Track daily unique hits, monthly page views and browser statistics, all useful data to start tracking from day 1.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is almost like an add-on to Google Analytics. It is also free to set-up. It provides you with complementary information to Google Analytics. In fact, you can link both accounts to make them even more powerful.

Google Webmaster Tools will provide you with the following information:

  • How well you rank for certain keywords on Google
  • If your site has any problems, such as broken links, or has gone down
  • How many pages on your site are indexed by Google
  • If your page titles and descriptions are unique
  • How many other websites link to your website

Mobile-Friendly Test

Make sure to take the Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and ensure that your site is responsive.

Sitemap

Adding a sitemap.xml file to your root directory allows the major search engines to easily index your website. The file points crawlers to all the pages on your website.

Back Up

If your website runs off a database, you need a back-up strategy. Or else, the day will come when you regret not having one.

SEO optimization

Use the QuickSprout website analyzer to check for SEO errors and fix them.

X-UA-Compatible

Internet Explorer has many rendering engines ready for use. What this line of code basically does is force IE to use the most up to date rendering engine that it has available, so that your pages will render as well as possible. It then goes on to talk about Chrome Frame. Chrome Frame is a plugin for IE6, 7, and 8 which brings all the rendering, and js power of Google Chrome to IE. If the user has it installed, we render our site using it.

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge,chrome=1">

Learning Resources

  • 15 Essential Checks Before Launching Your Website article.
  • 20 things to check before going live article.

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