What are the first things you check after launching or re-launching a website? Here are seven things worth checking.
Make certain that the search engines can visit and index your website. The blocking of search engines occurs more often than you may think. Developers disallow all spiders on the beta site then forget to change over the robot.txt file when the new website goes live.
Robots Meta Tag
Make sure any noindex Meta Robots tags have been removed, except those which should be in place for SEO or security reasons.
<META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>
Run a Crawl
Check for Broken Links
Sometimes the switch from development or beta site to live site does not go as planned. Use the crawl that you ran to check for broken links.
After launch all your pages should return a 200 File Found server response code. Use your crawl data to confirm this.
Analytics & Webmaster Tools Code
Check that your analytics and webmaster tools code is in place and working. Your website should be registered with Google and Bing. I’d also register with Yahoo Site Explorer until they officially shut down. You can register with Yandex too.
If your website uses XML sitemaps, verify them in Bing and Google webmaster tools.
When redesigning a website an SEO best practice is to reuse as many URLs as you can. Of course this is not always possible. Be sure old URLs 301 redirect to their replacements. This will help the search engines index your new website and transfer ranking authority from off-site links. It provides a better user experience for visitors from off-site links too.
Not every page has a one-to-one replacement. If the category for a depreciated page exists, 301 redirect to the new site’s category page. Otherwise a 404 is permissible.
Check for 302 Redirects
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. Search engines know to forward ranking authority through a 301 redirect from the old page to the new page. The other type of redirects is a 302 or temporary redirect. Search engines will not pass authority through a 302 redirect; it’s like a brick wall, so it should never be used.
Check 404s for External Links
After you make certain your 301 redirects are in place and working, check the 404 ages for external links using a tool like Open Site Explorer. Ranking strength is passed from site to site via links. Recycle unused ranking strength by pointing them to SEO keyword hub pages that can use a boost.
Page speed, how long it takes pages to appear in the browser and finish loading, is both a usability and an SEO factor. Check your website’s page loading speed. Pages should load quickly, within a couple seconds.
I am only listing a thin slice of SEO here. I assume you will cover bigger SEO opportunities like site architecture and important keyword targeting during the website visioning, design and build/copy writing phases and that your will conduct ongoing search engine optimization after launch.
What’s on your after launch SEO checklist?