2021 WordPress website launch checklist

2021 pre-launch WordPress checklist: 21 dos and don’ts (part I)

Overview: “Dummy” text; lorem ipsum; meta goodies — be sure to address these things before you launch your WordPress site this year.

Arguably, your 2021 WordPress website launch checklist is more important than the launch itself. And for this reason, it could also be overwhelming. Why?

Well, WordPress can look pretty intimidating at first glance simply because there are so many different customization options. From posts to pages and themes to menus, it can be overwhelming.

However, part I of this list of 21 things to do before launching your WordPress website should already start to alleviate some of that stress. (part II will only ease you more). And remember that your current level of WordPress knowledge (or lack of) shouldn’t affect whether you can complete this checklist or not (it’s that easy)!

1. Set up web hosting — “The first key to successfully navigating WordPress is setting up web hosting. […] If I have a slow, unresponsive site, my bounce rate will increase, and users will drop off. There’s a massive difference between a site that takes one second to load versus ten seconds, and if you’ve got the latter, you’re more likely to lose users.” Anna Crowe, Search Engine Journal

When deciding on a hosting service provider, make sure they have support for plugins, offer backup support, and check for things like the volume of bandwidth. Understanding these will better help you decide on a hosting service that’s suitable for your needs.

2. Find the most SEO-friendly WordPress theme — Though a lot of WordPress users aren’t typically concerned with finding the most SEO-friendly WordPress theme, it’s still important to consider. The benefits of finding a theme that’s SEO-friendly: (1) Increased website speed and (2) more pages indexed.

3. Set up a static homepage — Most sites are better served with a static homepage. Of course, you can determine if your website would benefit from having one or not, but most do. Your homepage could also include new articles that you’ve posted so visitors could find everything they need on page instead of browsing through multiple landing pages. A homepage is also a great way to establish your brand. 

4. Remove “dummy” text, placeholder text (lorem ipsum), or default text — By default, WordPress comes with its own dummy content such as the infamous “Hello World!” post and “Sample Page” page. Some popular hosts also add their own dummy content on top. 

Beyond the default posts and pages that WordPress adds, it also adds a generic tagline that some themes still display (though not all do). To avoid confusion, you should remove this default tagline or change it to something relevant to your site. 

None of this content is useful to your site, so you’ll want to make sure you delete it all before you go live.

5. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to increase website speed — A CDN changes the way your site handles static content like images, javascript, and CSS. A CDN caches your static content to create faster page loading, lower response time, and an overall speedier website – which helps you rank higher in the search engines.

Having a CDN is legitimately the easiest and fastest way to make your site speed look rad to the search engines.

6. Use a cache plugin to amp-up website performance and change dynamic content to static — A caching plugin takes your website (especially on mobile) from “meh” 😑  to “great” 😍 with one simple click! Remember, once you activate the plugin, head over to the settings to enable your cache for mobile devices.

Create and test that all forms are working as expected — Before going live, you’ll want to make sure that all forms on your site are working as expected:

  • Does it accept new submissions?

  • Have you set up a custom confirmation message?

  • Have you configured notification emails for new submissions? Do those notifications go to the correct email address(es)?

  • Make sure to send a few test form submissions to really make sure your forms are working properly.

Test your contact forms, comment forms, email subscription forms, and so on.

Send test emails to confirm that your emails are delivered to the right mailing list. (Yes, you should build an email list.) 

If you run a multi-author or multi-user WordPress site, check your login and registration forms. Login with different user roles to check if you need to remove unnecessary items from the WordPress admin area for user accounts.

7. Create SEO friendly permalinks — Permalinks on WordPress are great for many things – structuring your URLs with keywords, creating short links, increasing search rankings, and more. You can also utilize SEO-friendly permalinks send a little nudge to your search rankings.

8. Categorize posts and clean up tags to keep topics searchable for visitors — Think of categories as your table of contents. And, on WordPress, you must categorize your post otherwise, you’ll end up in the “uncategorized” section which is of no help to anyone.

Whether you’re looking to know the basics or fix your current tag status, your WordPress tags need to experience a resurgence that goes way beyond keyword stuffing.

9. Use meta titles and descriptions to increase traffic and engagement — Meta titles and descriptions have proven to increase traffic and engagement, and they deserve a spot in 2021. SEO titles and meta descriptions are important for helping your site rank in search engines. They can also help you increase your organic search clickthrough rate (CTR) by helping you catch searchers’ attention.

10. Use image alt tags; header tags — The great thing about WordPress is you don’t need to understand fancy HTML or Javascript to edit your image alt tags. Some image alt tag recommendations:

  1. Name your image file name a natural keyword-rich phrase. I always include my brand name.

  2. Write a descriptive image alt tag description.

  3. Complete the image alt attribution description with your brand name. 

Header tags also create a more engaging read for long-length articles. Here are some header tag recommendations:

  1. Name your image file name a natural keyword-rich phrase.

  2. Write a descriptive image alt tag description.

  3. Complete the image alt attribution description with your brand name.

Related article(s): WordPress Checklist: 17 Steps to Launching Your Site; Elementor Team Writes: Website Launch Checklist — 25 Must-Dos Before A Website Launch; Your Final Checklist Before Launching Your Website; Checklist: 11 Things To Do Before Launching a WordPress Site

Stay tuned for part II of this article. We’ll address the remaining pre-launch necessities so your WordPress website is functional and both for visitors and on the back-end of things!

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