So your WordPress site is built on a testing server and is ready to launch.
But you still have some work to do before it’s ready and unleashed on the world.
It’s not quite as simple as throwing up some files on the web and hoping for the best.
Read through the steps below and you will – I hope! – realise that the launch can take a few hours.
And we all wish there was one big button that would launch a site. I’m still looking for one…
Here’s what you need to know about launching your WordPress site.
1. Make sure you know where the site is being hosted, and that you can install WordPress there!
I’ve been surprised (more than once!) to find that clients’ existing hosts didn’t support WordPress!
Preferably you want a host with a newer version of PHP and a WordPress auto-installer to make the process easier.
Obviously, you should have all the relevant login details too.
2. Is email moving or staying put?
Email is often hosted with websites, but it’s not compulsory. In fact, it can be better to keep them separate.
I agree with Carrie Dils when she says that mixing hosting and email are a bad idea.
If you’re moving from one host to another, and email is migrating too, you’ll need to set up new email accounts on the new host.
Otherwise, you’ll just want to change the A record in DNS settings (or risk email disaster!)
3. Remove all test and dummy content
Yep, that means the Hello World post, any test comments and any other posts and pages you made up but don’t want live.
You can also remove old post revisions – ManageWP is a fantastic tool for doing this.
4. Make sure permalinks are optimised for SEO
I go into more detail in this in my post What is the best permalink structure for SEO?
5. Check any email addresses are correct
That means the admin email address in Settings > General, plus any email addresses used for contact forms or plugin settings.
It’s best for web designers to get security-related emails, rather than unsuspecting site owners!
6. Migrate your content cleanly
There are various ways to migrate a site, including:
- The old-fashioned way – migrate the files by FTP and export/import the database through phpMyAdmin.
- Using plugins such as BackupBuddy.
- Using the Clone feature of ManageWP.
Make sure your new site uses the live site URL in all the right places. I like to use the Search and Replace script from Interconnect IT for this.
Some utilities might create extra database tables too if you’re cloning over an existing WP installation. Removing these keeps things tidy.
7. Untick the box that says “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”
Super important step!
Oh boy, if you get this one wrong you will be sorry…
It’s hidden away in Settings > Reading.
robots.txt file should not say this:
User-agent: * Disallow: /
You can view and edit this file using Yoast SEO or Google Search Console.
8. Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerful measurement tool to track visitor numbers and behaviour on your site.
Without it – or another stats program – it’s impossible to assess your site’s success accurately.
Some themes have a panel to add the tracking code Google gives you. Or you can use a plugin like Insert Headers and Footers.
9. Create an XML sitemap
Yoast SEO does a pretty good job of creating them.
The relevant setting is under SEO > XML Sitemaps. Yoast will generate a
(If you can’t see this option, you need to enable Yoast’s Advanced Settings).
10. Set up Google Search Console
Google Search Console has a number of benefits:
- Feed your XML sitemap to it – search robots love them! (This will help your site be indexed more quickly, but be patient.)
- Get basic search analytics
- See any errors that might affect your mobile search ranking
- Warnings about any security issues affecting your site
Bonus points for configuring Bing Search Console as well.
11. Add 301 redirects
If your site was on any other platform before WordPress, or if it contains many new pages, it’s a good idea to add redirects.
12. Make your site super speedy
Finally, speed up your site with a caching plugin.
Faster sites tend to have higher rankings and are more loved by users.
Some plugins you can use are:
Are you launching your WordPress site soon? Have you got any more tips to add? Let me know in the comments