WordPress Checklist: 17 Steps to Launching Your Site
Need help maintaining and optimizing your WordPress website? Here's a simple, easy-to-follow, and information-packed checklist to use.
From choosing an SEO-friendly theme that’ll juice up multiple devices to one-and-done plugins, this checklist will have you upgrading your underperforming website for a sleek ROI-boosting website in no time.
Your current level of WordPress prowess doesn’t matter. By the time I’m through, you will be a boss at all the things that matter in 2021 and beyond. And, in case you want to get a quick glimpse, here’s a checklist for you to use.
1. Web Hosting
The first key to successfully navigating WordPress is setting up web hosting. I’m all about handling my virtual private server (VPS) and backing up my data, but there are some cases you just don’t have time for – and ones you definitely should make time for. So, when it comes to time, resources, anyone-can-set-it-up website, I’m all about spending the extra money on a hosting solution. 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. The engineers at Google uncovered that a page load time of 0.4 milliseconds is long enough for users to search less.
3. SEO-Friendly Theme
3. SEO-Friendly Theme
Most of us aren’t typically concerned with finding the most SEO-friendly WordPress theme. It would be good, but in reality, it’s more likely you’ll spend your time just trying to figure out what theme looks the prettiest. Major kudos to the business owners who do make the effort to find an SEO-friendly theme.
4. Cache Plugin
Unlike most plugins, a caching plugin is rarely considered an unnecessary download. Instead, this plugin takes page load time to the next level, with amped-up website performance and changes dynamic content to static. It may sound like a whole lot to embrace (especially if you’re a non-plugin type of site), but this is one of those things you need to adapt your style for.
If your pages are of no use to searchers (e.g., archived pages), then noindex it. Within WordPress, your categories are broad topics of your blog posts – whether you’re writing about food, travel, fashion, whatever. 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. If you’re not already on board, keep reading; a client of mine gets 100,000 unique visitors per month. More than 3% of those are referred to by tags listed in the SERPs.
Permalinks on WordPress are great for lots of things – structuring your URLs with keywords, creating short links, increasing search rankings, and more.
Whether you just like to ogle SEO-friendly URL structures, are thinking of changing your URLs, or are looking to send a little nudge to your search rankings, there are endless options to update this on WordPress.
Example of an SEO friendly permalink:
Example of a not-so-SEO-friendly permalink:
8. Spam Comments
The newer versions of WordPress are nofollowing links posted in comments – viagra, words I didn’t know existed, things seen only on Booble, I won’t miss you. A whole slew of spam comments packed into one blog post that doesn’t offer anything relevant to the topic can damage your site. At the end of the day, your website will not perform well with spam comments.
9. Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, & More
Meta titles, meta descriptions, the well-organized placement of XML sitemaps, and let’s not forget the bulk editor – all of it. Meta titles and descriptions have proven to increase traffic and engagement, and they deserve a spot in 2021.
10. XML Sitemaps
Yoast SEO plugin offers a sitemap feature, and you need to know how to use it. Having a sitemap is a necessary evil when it comes to SEO. A sitemap contains all your posts and pages in a list that the search engines can easily read.
11. Internal Linking
Yoast SEO plugin will provide examples of how to do just the way to do that. And I’m loving it. Rather than randomly linking to posts, this plugin allows me to create a smooth site architecture and send link love to the appropriate pages on my site.
12. Image Alt Tags
13. Header Tags
It is always prettier and also engaging while using header tags, it may not be evey person's cup of tea, but for most , articles filled with H1, H2, and H3 tags from beginning to end is an attention seeker.
14. The rel=”canonical” Tag
The rel=”canonical” tag for pages on my client’s websites. It tells the search engines where the source URLs of content exist on their site. This eliminates duplicate content issues.
16. Broken Links
No matter how my broken links go down – ending with a shiny server error or the requisite semi-awkward not found – the broken link rite of passage will always live fresh in my mind (and cringe-worthy Integrity report): the 504, the 404, and, most importantly, the soft 404. So, I got to thinking about what I’d do differently. Nowadays, running a report on Integrity (team Mac) or Xenu (team PC) will pull all the nostalgic-inducing links you may need to fix.
17. Backup Your Site
Being good at backing up your website doesn’t necessarily mean you’re enhancing your online presence. It means you’re saving all your SEO efforts. When you choose to backup your site – daily, weekly, monthly – everyone wins.
Keeping up with the pace of WordPress technology is rough. Even those of us who are tuned into the newest plugins and software can find it overwhelming. (Sucuri? Come on; I just figured out Wordfence!) So it’s no wonder that small business owners may stumble a bit as they navigate the increasingly connected WordPress world. Sometimes even the most well-meaning and tech-savvy entrepreneurs can slip up. From caching your website and comment etiquette to robots.txt, this guide has it all.