It’s been an exciting month here at SwellPath; lots of projects that we’ve partnered on for SEO or analytics tagging are launching! Unsurprisingly, we’ve been doing a lot of quick post-launch SEO audits as a result. Since not everyone can have a full-service SEO agency in their corner, I’ve put together a comprehensive post-launch SEO checklist that everyone can use. Check off each of these 9 items and you’ll be ensuring that your new site performs well in organic search and has a solid foundation for measuring SEO gains.
Record Your Rankings
|If you didn’t do this in the days leading up to launch, do it right now! This is the last chance you’ll ever have to record how your old website ranked in search. You’ll be up against the clock because once the spiders hit your new site, your rankings could change dramatically.|
Pick the five non-branded keywords that are most important to you and record where your site ranks for them in both Google and Bing. File that away and, in a few weeks, you can compare how the new site ranks for those same searches.
Test Your Top Links
|Chances are, the differences between your old site and your new site are significant. You’ll want to make sure that the pages (i.e., URLs) from your old site are redirecting visitors and search engines to appropriate places. If your old URLs are resulting in errors of just being lumped into the homepage, that’s a problem. You likely don’t have time to check every URL from your old site (assuming you had them all recorded), but you can get a pretty good idea by checking your top links.|
Assess Your Analytics
|The next thing you’ll want to do once you’ve tackled the most critical concerns, is make sure you’re still tracking visitors.|
If that all worked, you should be good to go for Anaytics. If not, head over here to troubleshoot.
Annotate Your Achievement
|Add an annotation in Google Analytics on the day your site launched. In a month from now, you’ll want to compare traffic levels from before and after. Adding an annotation in Google Analytics will make your life much easier when you’re trying to remember the exact day the new site went live.|
Recalibrate Your Robots.txt
|I’ve seen this more times than I care to remember, so it’s important to check for it. Many staging sites will, for obvious reasons, want to disallow search engine spiders from crawling and indexing them. Sometimes that directive gets carried over when the site is pushed live. Check www.newsite.com/robots.txt. It should look like this:User-agent: *|
Sitemap: http://www.newsite.com/sitemap.xmlThe red flag you’re checking for is a line that reads “disallow” followed by a single forward slash. That forward slash is powerful; it means disallow EVERYTHING. If your robots.txt looks like the example below, get rid of that second line!User-agent: *
Retrieve Your Root
|There’s only one thing left to check to make sure there are no show stoppers on your site. You’ll want to check if Google can fully access your site by asking Googlebot to “fetch” the page through Google Webmaster Tools. If there’s any issue that would prevent search engines from indexing your new site, this test will fail.|
Inspire Your Indexation
|Submitting to search engines is so 2001. The engines want to find your new site on their own. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t steer them in the right direction. Google loves Google+ (no duh), so encourage your whole team to post about your site launch there! Feel free to have people Tweet about it, too. That should get your updated site indexed fairly quickly.|
Maximize Your Media
|If you do press releases regularly, this one is a no brainer. Beyond being good exposure for your company, you can make sure your press release includes a link to your website. One of our recent releases was picked up by Yahoo! News. By putting out a press release for something we would have done regardless, we got a highly powerful backlink to our site. While there are tons of great sites out there for press release distribution, a couple we use and recommend are PR Web and PR Wire.|
Secure Your Seat Belt
|Hold on to your butts. This could get bumpy. With any new site launch, we always expect a bit of turmoil in the site’s ranking and organic traffic levels. You’ll probably see direct and referral traffic spike on launch day start to trail off a few days later. Organic could go up and down, but if you’ve followed the steps in this post-launch SEO checklist, you should see things start to even out within a week.|