13 Step Checklist to Successful Ecommerce SEO

With our thorough website launch checklist, you can be confident that we’ve ticked all the boxes and your site is ready for primetime.

1. Set Up Homepage

Because WordPress started as a blogging platform, its default behavior is still to show a list of your latest blog posts on the homepage of your site. That might be ok if you’re creating a blog, but most sites are better served with a static homepage.

2. Delete Dummy Content

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.

None of this content is useful to your site, so we make sure we delete it all before you go live. Browse through the Posts, Pages, and Comments areas and delete anything that shouldn’t be there.

3. Deactivate and Delete Unused Plugins

Having unnecessary plugins on your site is bad for both site performance and security, so we deactivate and delete any plugins that we aren’t planning on using on your live site.

These could be plugins that we tried and didn’t like, as well as default plugins that our host installed but we’re not planning on using.

4. Set Permalinks

Your WordPress site’s permalinks control the structure of your site’s URLs. For example, should a blog post be yoursite.com/2020/post-title or just yoursite.com/post-title? Permalinks lets us choose what works for your site and it’s important to choose them before you launch (because changing them later on will mean all the URLs on your site change).

5. Double Check Admin Email Address

Having an accurate admin email address is important for receiving error notifications from WordPress Site Health and also resetting your password if you accidentally get locked out of the WordPress dashboard.

6. Set Your Timezone

Your WordPress site’s timezone plays an important role in various scheduling and administrative tasks. Your timezone affects the timestamps on posts/comments, the time when you schedule posts to go live, and more.

The simplest solution is to set the timezone to your local timezone. This will make it easier to perform administrative tasks, like scheduling posts.

However, if your target visitors are in a significantly different timezone, you might want to use that timezone instead so that your visitors see comment timestamps and publish dates that are relevant to them.

7. Make Sure We're Allowing Search Engine Indexing

While we’re working on a development site, it’s a good idea to disable search engine indexing to prevent Google from indexing your work-in-progress website. However, when you go live, it’s important to turn off this behavior so that we don’t accidentally block Google from indexing your live website.

8. Turn off Comments (Unless We Really Need Them)

While comments can be useful for some sites with an active community, most “regular” WordPress sites are better off disabling comments because they’re just going to attract spam.

For example, if we’re creating a brochure website for a local business, that local business almost certainly doesn’t need blog comments.

9. Remove the "Just Another WordPress Site" Tagline

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, we should remove this default tagline or change it to something relevant to your site.

10. Set Your Site Icon/Favicon

Your site icon/favicon is what appears next to your site title in visitors’ browser tabs, bookmarks, etc. It will also be used as the “app” icon if someone saves your site to their mobile device.

11. Create/Test Your Forms

Before going live, you’ll want to make sure that your form is working as expected:

  1. Does it accept new submissions?
  2. Have you set up a custom confirmation message?
  3. 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.

12. Create a Custom 404 Page

Your 404 page is what visitors will see if they try to visit a page on your site that doesn’t exist (which will happen fairly often as your site grows). It’s an important page to have because it gives you a chance to help those visitors find what they need and keep them on your site.

13. Set up 301 Redirects if Needed

A 301 redirect lets you automatically “redirect” visitors to a different page. For example, let’s say you change the URL of a post from yoursite.com/old-title to yoursite.com/new-title. A 301 redirect lets you automatically redirect people who visit yoursite.com/old-title to yoursite.com/new-title.

If you’re creating a brand new website, you probably won’t need any 301 redirects at the beginning. However, if you’re working on relaunching an existing site, you might need to set up 301 redirects to account for any changes that you’ve made.

14. Activate SSL Certificate and Enable HTTPS

In 2023 and beyond, every website needs an SSL certificate to boost security and user trust.

15. Make Sure All Links Work Correctly (+ Use Relative URLs)

To limit 404 errors and improve user experience, it’s important that all of our links are working as expected. However, you’ll often run into broken link problems if you’re moving a site from staging/local development to the live version.

We test key navigation items, widgets, etc. to make sure that there are no issues.

One tip to avoid problems is to use relative URLs instead of absolute URLs. For example, let’s say your site is https://yoursite.com and you want to link to https://yoursite.com/example-page:

  • Absolute URL – <a href=”https://yoursite.com/example-page”>
  • Relative URL – <a href=”/example-page”>

Basically, with relative URLs, you can change the base URL of your site (https://yoursite.com) without breaking any of your links.

16. Set SEO Titles and Meta Descriptions

Search engine optimization (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.

Before we can set them, we need to make sure we’re using an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or Rank Math. Then, you can set up SEO title tags and meta descriptions from inside the editor for each piece of content.

17. Set up Web Analytics

Web analytics are a useful tool that lets us see how many visitors your site gets, what content they like, where they come from, and lots more. We install website analytics from day one so that you can start understanding your site’s visitors right away.

18. Submit Your Site's XML Sitemap To Search Engines

Your XML sitemap is a list of all the content on your site in a special format. It helps search engines like Google discover all of your content and include it in the search results.

As of WordPress 5.5, WordPress creates an XML sitemap by default – you can access it by appending /wp-sitemap.xml to the end of your site (e.g. yoursite.com/wp-sitemap.xml). Most WordPress SEO plugins also include their own features to help you create a sitemap.

19. Set up an Email Sending Service

By default, your WordPress site will try to send its transactional emails (password resets, form notifications, etc.) via your web host. Unfortunately, this method isn’t very reliable and some hosts will completely disable sending emails from the server.

A much more reliable option is to use a dedicated sending service like SendGrid and a WordPress SMTP plugin.

We make sure that we’ve set everything up and also send some test emails to ensure that there aren’t any issues with deliverability.

20. Set up Legal Pages (e.g. Privacy Policy)

Legal pages will depend on your jurisdiction and what your site is about. But in general, all websites should have at least a privacy policy.

If your site targets visitors from the EU, we also need to take steps to comply with EU laws like cookie consent and the GDPR.

21. Optimize Your Site's Performance

How quickly your site loads will affect everything from user experience to SEO, conversion rates, and more. For that reason, it’s an essential ingredient if you want your website to be successful.

22. Put a Backup Policy in Place

Every website needs a strong backup policy to ensure your data is always safe and secure in case something bad happens. If you use premium managed WordPress hosting, your host might already offer secure off-site backups.

We make sure that:

  1. Your backup schedule is working.
  2. Your backups are stored off-site. That is, you don’t want your backup files to be on the same server as your site.
  3. You know how to restore your site from backup.

23. Secure Your Site

Securing your site is one great strategy to help make sure you never need to use the backups from the previous checklist item.

24. Activate Plugin/Theme Licenses for Automatic Updates

Updating your plugins is important to keep your site secure and avoid compatibility issues. For free plugins from WordPress.org, you’ll receive update notifications in your dashboard and can update with a single click.

However, for any premium plugins that you’re using, you’ll need to add a valid license key to enable automatic updates.

Before you launch, go through each premium plugin on your site and check to see if you’ve activated it with a license key — otherwise, it’s far too easy to forget about updates.

25. Test, Test, Test (and Then Test Again)

Finally, the last step in our website launch checklist is to test your site. Then, we can test it again. And then maybe one more time for good measure.

Click around to different pages and make sure everything is working. Check for broken links, missing content/images, CSS issues, etc.

Pay extra attention to important actions, like forms or registration/purchase flows. Additionally, remember to test on different devices, like both your desktop and smartphone.

If nothing breaks, we feel confident that we’re ready to launch your website.

Checklist provided by elementor.com

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