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When you're launching a new website there are certain factors you should consider before it goes live. Your priority should be to ensure that your site is user and search friendly, so that it is indexed by Google and does not drive visitors away.
Before your website goes live be sure to set up a Google Analytics account by adding the latest analytics tracking code. This will monitor the traffic on your website and give you an effective way of understanding its strengths and weaknesses.
2. Duplicate content
You may think that your website does not have any duplicated content, but if your demo website is hosted on a different server before it goes live and it is indexed by Google, then this can cause duplicate content problems. You will need to block the pages from being indexed in robots txt files. (See below)
3. Canonical Tags
Another duplicate content issue can be caused by your website having multiple URL's for the same version of the page. In other words, the content on your website can be accessed through multiple URL's due to things such as a tracking parameters or a session ID. This can be resolved by placing a canonical tag within the header of a page that will show Google which version of the URL you prefer to be displayed in search results.
4. 301 re-direct / .htaccess
If you are re-launching your website, it is a good idea to permanently re-direct the old URL to the same pages on the new website. If there isn’t a similar page on the new website then it can be re-directed to a similar page or the home page instead, without causing too many 404 errors pages. The main benefit of this is that it transfers the page rank from the previous page to the new page.
5. Xml sitemap
Once your new website is live, be sure to generate an xml sitemap for your website and submit it to Google in Google Webmaster Tools. This informs Google of all the pages that exist on your website that need to be crawled and indexed in order for them to appear in search engines.
Use the robots.txt file to block any pages you do not want to be indexed, this will restrict robots from crawling and indexing these pages. Sometimes during the development stage the websites are blocked so that it cannot be indexed or cached, ensure that your website can be indexed before it is live and transferred to the live server.
7. Broken Links
Look out for any broken links on the website as this will lead to 404 errors if the page listed cannot be found. The easiest way to do this check is to use a program called Xenu which will trawl the site and report back any missing pages and dead links. Always resolve the broken links before the website is live.
8. Meta Titles
It is essential that all your pages have unique Meta titles and descriptions based on the number of characters displayed in search engine results page. The Meta title of each page should reflect the content or keywords used on that page.
9. Webmaster tools
Set up Google Webmaster Tools, this will show you if there are any crawl errors or 404 errors. Also submit xml sitemap in Google webmaster tools after the site is moved to the live server.
10. Page speed
If your page takes too long to load, users are likely to leave the page, so It is a good idea to check page speed. For example, check if it has images that take longer to load or large size files.
Test your website, so that it works in all of the different browsers and check there aren’t any spelling or grammar mistakes. Also, make sure that the contact form works and that there are text alternatives provided for images or flash files used on the website. Before your website is launched it is a good idea to use the W3C validation to check for errors in the code, so that you can fix them.
The Design, Code and Search teams at I-COM ensure that your website performs to its full potential and drives quality traffic that leads to a high conversion rate. If you would like to find out more about marketing your website, call 0161 402 3170 to speak to an online marketing specialist.