Launching a WordPress site or any website is an exciting moment. Whether you are creating a personal blog, a small business, non-profit or a even a larger firm, the WordPress platform has more than enough resources to meet your needs. At this point, you may been have working on your first WordPress site or have had someone else doing that for you if you are a business owner, manager or director of a nonprofit. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there regarding WordPress. For one, there is the misleading idea that WordPress is ready to go out of the box. All one has to do is install WordPress, choose a theme, add a contact form and a few photos and away you go!
Such narrow thinking can not only be detrimental to your business, blog or organization, but eventually lead to its demise. While WordPress can speed up the process as far as getting your business or non-profit exposure on the Internet, there is a lot of work that has to be done once it is launched. In fact, this is the case no matter what kind of platform you use to build your organization’s website. Again, don’t think of WordPress as an out of the box tool that will automatically generate business. Whether you are using WordPress, Drupal, Dreamweaver or merely building a site from scratch in a text editor, the same rules apply. You may have an attractive site, but you need to take necessary steps after it is launched. Below is a checklist that should be followed.
1. Develop a consistent keyword strategy
Good design is very important for user experience and it also lends credibility with your site visitors. A good design shows that your business or organization made an effort and cares about detail. It also gives off the impression that you are professional, organized and serious about what you offer. However, a beautiful website also needs a thorough SEO strategy. A solid SEO game plan starts with finding the right keywords for your site and then implementing them in a way that is SEO friendly. SEO is a who other topic in itself. To better educate yourself about SEO or what is known as search engine optimization, start with MOZ, which is far and away the most informative blog on the subject. A great and free tool for choosing the right keywords for your site is Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
2. Verify your site in Google and Bing
Since Google is by far the most used search engine, verifying and ultimately indexing your site in Google should be top priority. Google controls at least 65% of the market, so it will remains king and it will be that way for the foreseeable future. Although I never use Bing and don’t know of anyone that does, it still somehow garners roughly 33% of all search engine request. While Google should be top priority, don’t ignore the relevance of Bing. To verify your account with Google, set up an account at Google Webmasters or what used to be referred to as Google Webmaster Tools and is now called Google Search Console. If you want to keep your information private from Google and opt not to verify your site, well good luck. Unfortunately, Google has cornered the market in almost every possible way. For Bing, verify your site at Bing Webmaster Tools. I’m not sure why Bing kept the ‘Webmaster Tools’ part and Google didn’t. Verifying your site will take a little technical know-how, but you can always ‘Google’ it.
3. Submit a sitemap to Google and Bing just after launching a WordPress site
After verifying a your site in Google and Bing, the next thing to do is submit a sitemap. You may be wondering what exactly is a sitemap? Think of a sitemap as a list of pages of your web site that are accessible to search engine crawlers. It is basically a blueprint of your site that tells search engines how to index your site. There are several online tools for creating a sitemap. I would recommend using the SEO plugin Yoast since it is not only a great tool for SEO, but also generates a sitemap of your site automatically. Once you are ready to submit your sitemap, log back into Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools (the same places to verify your site) and submit your sitemaps.
4. Set up a local business listing in Google and Bing
If you have a small business or local non-profit, then it is imperative that you list your site in Google and Bing as a local business listing. If you are operating a blog or some sort of international business or organization, you can ignore this part. Creating a local listing on Google and Bing also plays into ‘local SEO’ which is essential for any business or organization that is localized or even regional. To see how it works, do a quick search for ‘Italian Restaurants’ in Google without including a city or state. What do you see first in your search results? You should see local listings of Italian restaurants. To register your business or organization in Google, go to Google My Business. For Bing, go to Bing Places for Business.
5. Create Social Media Accounts
There is a lot of misconception out there about the importance of social media accounts, why you need them and if you need them. Obviously, if your company sells playground equipment or coat hangers, nobody is going to randomly check out your Facebook page or Twitter account. At least not any sane individual. However, social media is important for two reasons. First, many believe that Google and Bing are beginning to weigh social media activity of a website in its search algorithms. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend endless hours promoting your site on social media, but having an active Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest boards and so on will probably help in the log run. Try to post articles and items in your Facebook Feed that are interesting and informative. Second, having social media set up on your site just makes it look more legitimate and professional. End users have come to expect social media icons and accounts and it is in reality another way to validate your site and organization.
Keep in mind that this list is in no way exhaustive. In reality, there is a whole slew of other tasks that need to be done when launching a website. It is also important to remember that your website, whether large or small, will always be a work in progress. Remember that your business, non-profit or project is tied to your website whether you like it or not. The five steps outlined above are a great starting point that will hopefully set your organization in the right direction. If you are launching a WordPress Site and are in need of services, we are welcome to help, so just get in touch.