SEO

The Post-Launch SEO Checklist

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.

  • Head over to OpenSiteExplorer.org and type in your site’s domain.
  • Check the “Top Pages” report. This shows you the pages with the most links (i.e., SEO value).
  • Visit each of those pages and make sure you’re still getting to an appropriate page.
  • If those top pages end up erroring out, get your team to fix it using a 301 redirect.

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.

  • Go to the Google Analytics Real-Time content report. Home > Real-Time > Content
  • Open a different web browser, or use your phone, and go to your website.
  • A new visit should pop up in Real-Time analytics.
  • Navigate through your main pages and site areas using your other browser and make sure your visit doesn’t drop out of Real Time.

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: *
Disallow: /private/
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: *
Disallow: /
Sitemap: http://www.newsite.com/sitemap.xml

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.

  • Log into Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Select your site. If you haven’t verified yet, it won’t be there. Add it and verify using your Google Analytics tracking code.
  • Go to Health > Fetch As Google
  • Since you’re checking the homepage, just leave the input field black. Click “Fetch as Google” and wait about a minute. If it’s successful, you’re good to go. If it’s not, we should talk.

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.
This 9-step, post-launch SEO checklist will make sure your new site is airtight for SEO. Assuming you didn’t remove 50% of your content during your redesign, you should be sitting pretty in terms of SEO. If you’ve used this checklist, please let me know how things went in the comments. Happy optimizing!
Mike Arnesen

Mike Arnesen - Director of Analytics & Optimization

Mike, who leads the SwellPath SEO service, is a self-confessed SEO addict and uber-geek. He is also a board member at SEMpdx. Mike's fascination for search experience optimization, structured data and semantic markup, and web technology knows no bounds. Beyond geeking out with the SEO team, Mike is also a prolific blogger, speaker (MozCon, SemTechBiz, SEMpdx, SMX, State of Search Conference, etc.), and company culture advocate. When not in the office, Mike is spending time with his wife, playing outdoors, or keeping up with inbound marketing news via mobile; most of the time, it's all three simultaneously.

Watch Mike talk about his role and life at SwellPath

22 Responses to “The Post-Launch SEO Checklist”

  1. candycardinal

    thanks for sharing big help for my website

    Reply

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