17 Things to Do Before Launching a Powerful WordPress Site

Thousands of websites are running on WordPress every day. One can see large and small companies use WordPress for its simplicity, flexibility, and ease of use.

If you’re planning on launching a WordPress site, there are things you should prepare and know how to do.

The technicalities are daunting, but you need not fret about that. From choosing a hosting site to making an action plan for WordPress security, we’ve got you covered with our WordPress checklist to get you started.

1. Choose a Reliable Web Hosting Provider

If you’re planning to self-host your WordPress site, it’s best to set it up with a web hosting provider. One benefit is that you have authority and control of over your content and scalability.

If you’re choosing a hosting provider, ask for their plans and see if it’s conducive to your needs.

  • How much is their data transfer or bandwidth?
  • Do they have daily or weekly backups of your files including restoration?
  • Do they have automatic malware detection and removal support?
  • Do they offer domains and SSL certificates?

Top five recommended web hosting providers:

  • Bluehost
  • HostGator
  • SiteGround
  • Hostinger
  • iPage

Does web host affect SEO?

The uptime and downtime of hosting providers will affect SEO. Also, speed is a factor that contributes much to SEO. If your page is loading slowly, chances are your visitors will abandon your site and visit someone else’s.

2. Consider Great CDN Support

A content delivery network, or CDN, handles images, videos, or CSS by caching and loading them from the closest server to their location. It helps deliver speedy content to web visitors.

Top five recommended CDN providers:

  • Google Cloud CDN
  • CloudFlare
  • MaxCDN
  • Amazon CloudFront
  • Incapsula CDN

Does CDN affect SEO?

Yes. Site speed is one signal when Google ranks pages. A slower site will have search engines crawl fewer pages, thus, affecting your indexation.

3. Use of SEO-Friendly Themes

Most business owners choose pretty designs over SEO-friendly themes. Here’s why you have to double check SEO optimized themes for WordPress.

  • Responsive. Google prioritizes websites with a responsive design because of the better user experience.
  • Simple layouts. A simple layout lets users and Google site crawlers navigate the pages easily.
  • Schema markups. It lets search engines know the most relevant feature and content of your site.
  • Codes, CSS, and Javascript files. A cleaner code will decrease load time. Also, having less CSS and Javascript files will help boost the site speed.

Top five SEO-friendly themes:

  • Avada theme
  • Best theme
  • Genesis theme
  • Hestia
  • Schema theme

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. Some themes are optimized for SEO boosting because of their web design. From responsiveness to cleaner codes, these elements make it easier for search engines to index them.

4. Download Cache Plugin

Caching plugins save load time by setting out the page itself the next time the same web visitor visits. It changes dynamic content to static, making the web page faster and easier to load.

Top five caching plugins:

  • W3 Total Cache
  • WP Rocket
  • WP Super Cache
  • WP Fastest Cache
  • Comet Cache

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. Cache plugins help load the site faster by saving web elements the next time the same user visits the site.

5. Properly Categorized Content

Categorizing your WordPress posts will amp up the user experience. Visitors get to understand the schema of your website and will have happy browsing.

Categorizing recommendations:

  • Use keywords users usually search for
  • Keep a post to two categories only
  • Stick to generic categories
  • Add content to archival and taxonomy pages

Does categorizing affect SEO?

Yes. It can improve user experience because of the understandability of the site’s layout. Also, it lets search engine index sites faster.

6. Tag Posts Accordingly

Tags help your users understand what the post is all about. They help navigate them to pages they are interested in. Tags are listed by search engines and one of the top referrers to visiting a website.

Tag recommendations:

  • Make relevant tags only
  • You don’t have to tag every post
  • Keep your tags short
  • Underused tags should be deleted

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. It increases web visibility in search engines, and thus, drives traffic to your website. In addition, it improves user experience because it helps them recognize what post it is.

7. Structure Your URLs or Permalinks

Better structuring of permalinks gets higher search rankings by Google when keywords are used. Always customize your URLs before publishing a post. The default permalink structure in WordPress is not at all SEO-friendly.

URL recommendations:

  • Use hyphens
  • Leave special characters out in URLs
  • Create short permalinks
  • Insert keywords
  • Include dates or categories if you have a larger site

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. It increases rankings and indexing of search engines.

8. Control Spam Comments

There are people who enjoy posting nonsense content on your comments section. Spam destroys the reputation of your website and Google will downrank you. Prevent and remove comments that can hurt your website.

Spam recommendations:

  • Use CAPTCHA
  • Don’t allow hyperlinks
  • Use the “nofollow” attribute
  • Use plugins like Akismet for spam monitoring and removal

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. Spams hurt a site’s credibility and will whisk away users in visiting your site. It will also affect your web ranking.

9. Optimize Meta Titles, Descriptions, and Tags

Optimizing meta according to Google SEO will help you achieve better click-through rates. Your site’s visibility will increase and so does traffic.

Just remember to update yourself with the latest Panda and Penguin updates regarding the use of descriptions and tags.

In other cases, perform an on-page SEO website audit to better your optimization purposes.

Title and Description recommendations:

  • Download Yoast SEO
  • Optimize post-type configurations
  • Keep titles and description at length

Does it affect SEO?

Not directly. Since meta titles and descriptions appear on search results, it affects click-through rates and web visibility. They also help search engines what the site is all about and thus create faster site indexing.

10. Know and Submit Your XML Sitemap

A sitemap serves as a blueprint of your website. It helps Google find your pages and index them for crawling. A sitemap lists all URLs of your site and gives temporal information to Google for ranking.

XMP Sitemap recommendations:

  • While WordPress automatically submits your sitemaps to search engines, many self-hosted sites do not offer this feature. Instead, you submit your sitemap manually.
  • You can find your sitemap in the Yoast SEO plugin
  • Head to Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster, and Yahoo to submit your site

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. It serves as a map for search engines to prioritize which pages to index. A sitemap lets Google understand your website and enhance search results and rankings.

11. Practice Internal Linking

Internal links are hyperlinks that redirect the visitor to another page of the same domain. You’re linking to another page of your own website.

Internal linking recommendations:

  • Link to quality pages
  • Link as naturally as possible
  • Use links reasonably

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. Internal links help you establish site architecture, which allows ease of navigation to users. Also, they add an equal rank of power around your websites by promoting other pages.

12. Insert Image Alt Tags Properly

An image alt tag is a description used in images to provide vivid information for search engines. The more specific your descriptions are the better search engine crawlers index an image.

Image alt tag recommendations:

  • Insert keywords as possible and include your brand name
  • Write a clear, concise description for your images
  • Write within 125 characters only
  • Refrain from keyword stuffing

Does it affect SEO?

Alt tags allow search engines to understand the image for them to crawl and inspect a page. Images with appropriate alt text contribute page ranking.

13. Use the Right Header Tags

Header tags provide a structure for your article. It talks about what your content is all about by describing the topics you’ll cover. They are akin to book chapters such in the table of contents.

Header tags recommendations:

  • Insert important keywords
  • Keep the header and titles up to 50-60 characters only
  • Place your brand name if you can

Does it affect SEO?

Search engines understand the context of the page better with complete header tags rather than with keywords on articles alone.

14. Enable the Rel=” Canonical” Tag

Canonical tags tell search engines that a URL is the main copy of a page. It prevents duplicate content when the text or topic appeared on multiple URLs. Also, it lets search engines know which URL you want to prioritize.

Canonical tag recommendations:

  • Use Yoast SEO
  • Correct systems that generate duplicate content
  • Use the canonical tag in every post

Does it affect SEO?

Duplicate content is an easy means downrank your website. Similar content appearing at multiple URLs will have search engines confuse which page they’ll show in the search results.

15. Understand Which Content Search Engines Will Crawl With Robots.Txt

Robots.txt tells search engines what to crawl and not to crawl on your website. You can find the file on your root directory where you can customize which pages should search engines index.

Robots.txt recommendations:

  • Disallow readme.html files
  • index high-quality content instead

Does it affect SEO?

Search engines limit the number of indexing on a website. If you have tons of web pages for crawling, it will delay in the indexing and filtering of your site. Thus, it will cause suboptimal rankings in Google SERPs.

16. Fix Broken Links

To put it, broken links are hyperlinks that don’t work. It is often because of the URL structure of the site, a webpage being moved without a proper redirect, or a website no longer available.

Broken links recommendations:

  • Update content
  • Use 301 links to redirect visitors
  • Contact webmaster for the updated link or use a new one

Does it affect SEO?

Yes. It improves user experience and lowers bounce rates. With that, it increases page rankings.

17. Back up Your Site Regularly

Save your efforts instead of losing them all to spam, theft, and hacking activities. Backing your site serves as an action plan for WordPress security. You can save your progress daily, weekly, or monthly.

Backup recommendations:

  • Choose a web hosting plan that supports this feature
  • Opt for a WordPress plugin to back your files

Does it affect SEO?

Not really. But it helps you save your site development in case something has gone awry.

The Takeaway

WordPress is the optimal platform used to scale one’s business. Whether you’re in need of a simple or complex WordPress website, it is important to equip yourself with this essential knowledge to bring your vision to life.

Have you encountered any glitches when launching your website?

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