The Importance of a Comprehensive Website Checklist
Launching a website is akin to navigating a labyrinth. The ever-evolving trends, design elements, user interface and user experience (UI/UX), and shifting market demands that marketers must stay abreast of have only intensified. To avoid a constant back-and-forth after designing your website, it is prudent to cross-check everything against a comprehensive website checklist before your site launch.
The Role of SEO and Usability in Web Design
Don’t misunderstand; you can always course-correct later on if necessary. However, it is beneficial to address potential issues before they can negatively impact your chances of ranking in search engine results. For instance, forgetting to set up redirects can be a costly oversight. Here is our round-up of 90 things you should check to improve SEO and usability.
1. Ensuring Website Accessibility for Humans and Bots
The first order of business is to ensure your website is accessible to both humans and search engine bots. Website indexation is crucial because if Google is unable to crawl it, then it won’t know that your web page exists.
2. Setting Up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an indispensable tool that allows you to track your website’s performance metrics such as page views, organic traffic, conversions, and time spent on site, among other vital details.
3. Prioritizing Website Speed
Speed can be a deal-breaker for SEO results. The longer your website takes to load, the lower your chances of ranking higher. It is just as important to prioritize loading speeds on mobile devices.
4. Ensuring Cross-Device Compatibility
If you don’t get cross-device compatibility right the first time around, then rectifying it could be a challenging (and expensive) task later on. Hence, it is advisable to build a responsive website that can load seamlessly on both mobile and desktop devices.
5. Emphasizing Mobile-First Conversion Rate Optimization
Brands should adopt a mobile-first mindset to enhance conversion rates. This means that the design should be fully optimized for use with mobile devices, including navigation, smart search, as well as the user experience (UX).
6. Optimizing the Website for Local SEO
Local SEO can be a significant source of traffic for most businesses, especially those with a physical presence such as retail outlets and restaurants. Focus on on-page SEO optimization that targets location-specific keywords, such as “pizza in New York.”
7. Providing Location-Specific Information
Include information that is specific to your location. This could encompass directions for users to reach your office, your contact details such as phone number, and email address.
8. Crawling Your Existing Website
If you have an existing website, use a crawling tool such as Screaming Frog to crawl your current website assets and pages. This is a crucial step to help you determine which pages existed, the current structure of metadata, and the redirects that are currently in place.
Meta Tags and Headers
9. Crafting Compelling Meta Descriptions
Ensure that your meta descriptions are meaningful and not merely stuffed with exact match keywords for the sake of it. They should provide a concise summary of the page’s content and entice users to click through from the search results.
10. Creating Effective Title Tags
Similar to meta descriptions, your title tags should be carefully crafted to help search engines understand the content of your pages and to attract users’ attention in the search results.
11. The Importance of a Single H1 Header
H1 headers can be used as a wrapper for your page’s title. However, avoid stuffing it with exact match keywords if they don’t naturally fit within the context. Remember, you should only have one H1 header per page.
Design and Structure
12. Setting Goals for Your New Site
Once you have addressed the initial checks, you can start setting design goals for your website. Depending on your business objectives, you might focus on visuals or ease of use. Just ensure both aspects are performing well from an SEO perspective.
13. Choosing a Robust Content Management System (CMS)
A ‘robust’ CMS allows you to make quick structural and visual changes to your website on the fly. The best SEO-friendly CMS for beginners would be WordPress, but there are other options to explore based on your specific needs.
14. Ensuring Consistency in Brand Design
Consistency in brand design is something users appreciate. This means you should maintain the same logo and menu structure throughout the website. Also, try to use a consistent color scheme across all pages.
15. Creating an SEO Strategy
It is crucial to have an SEO strategy in place before you start working on your website. This includes conducting keyword research, identifying necessary pages, and removing pages that are no longer relevant.
16. Identifying a Primary Keyword
Each page on your website should target a primary keyword that aligns with the content and purpose of the page.
17. Optimizing Content Based on Search Intent
Search intent dictates how a user types out their query. If your page does not align with this intent, then your chances of ranking will decrease. Consider optimizing for voice search as well.
18. Assessing Keyword Accessibility
Some keywords are more competitive than others. When starting out, focus on less competitive keywords. You can use a keyword difficulty tool like SEMrush to assess the competitiveness of your target keywords.
User Experience and Navigation
19. Creating Conversion Paths
Figure out how users will navigate around your site to complete certain goals, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form. If there are any obstacles along the way, address them to ensure a smooth user journey.
20. Replacing Placeholder Images with Final Images
Often, your website designer may use placeholders for images if they didn’t have the correct picture at the time. Ensure each page has the appropriate images before launching your site.
21. Evaluating Content for Accuracy
The content on your site must be proofread for spelling and grammar errors. Consider hiring an editor if you don’t have the time to do this yourself.
22. Ensuring Content Aligns with Your Brand
The text on your website should be strategically crafted to ensure it is consistent with your brand’s style and voice.
23. Implementing Styling Preferences Consistently
Styling preferences include elements such as paragraphs, lists, headers, and brand colors, including button and link colors. It is recommended to keep these consistent throughout your website.
24. Ensuring a Visually Pleasing Website Design
CSS files often power your website’s design elements. If so, ensure they are optimized for all pages to create a visually pleasing and cohesive design.
Security and Compliance
25. Creating a Site Backup Strategy
Minimize the risk of data loss through malware attacks and other issues by creating regular backups of your site.
26. Implementing a Password Strategy
After launching your website, ensure all your passwords are reset and securely stored.
27. Creating a Site Map
A site map is an essential tool that helps search engines find content on your website. It provides a roadmap of your site structure and allows search engines to crawl your site more efficiently.
28. Ensuring Proper Licensing or Citation of Assets
Outsourcing web design to a third party does not absolve you of your duty to ensure there are no copyright issues. Make sure all assets used on your site are properly licensed or cited to avoid potential legal issues.
29. Testing User Experience
This includes checking for compatibility across all devices and browsers, and ensuring that all images and videos are functioning correctly. Content hidden behind paywalls should also load properly.
30. Creating a Robots.txt File
A robots.txt file instructs search engines what they can and can’t do on your site. It is used to prevent search engines from accessing certain parts of your site that you don’t want to be indexed.
31. Configuring Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a powerful tool that lets you track your search performance and see which keywords you are currently ranking for. It also provides insights into any issues that might be affecting your site’s performance in search results.
32. Testing User Experience Pre and Post-Launch
User experience testing should be an ongoing process that requires constant review from an expert. Check elements such as CSS, HTML, internal linking, external linking, and more.
33. Integrating Third-Party Tools
Some tools may not be compatible with your website. Check to see if all third-party tools are functioning correctly and providing the intended benefits.
34. Ensuring Backups Run Properly
The backup strategy you implemented should be reliable. Regularly check to ensure the backups can be accessed and restored if necessary.
35. Ensuring Site Security
Regularly update your plugins (if applicable) to ensure they are secure and functioning correctly. You will also need to implement HTTPS to do well in search rankings.
36. Complying with Regulatory Laws
Ensure your website complies with all applicable laws and regulations. It may be beneficial to consult with an attorney to ensure you are not inadvertently violating any laws.
37. Creating a Social Media Strategy
Once your website is up and running, you’ll need a social media strategy to attract user attention and drive traffic to your site.
38. Identifying New Ways to Boost Engagement
Find innovative ways to promote your content in engaging ways. Consider providing freebies and exclusives to your users as an incentive to engage with your site.
39. Maintaining an Email Checklist
An email checklist is a great way to keep your users updated about new content, products, or services. Make sure you have a system in place to collect email addresses and send out regular newsletters.
40. Promoting Your Website Post-Launch
Promote your website through various channels, including social media, email marketing, and SEO. Consider using paid advertising to boost your reach.
41. Checking Browser Compatibility
Your website should be compatible with all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. Test your site on each browser to ensure it loads correctly.
42. Setting Up 404 Pages
A 404 page is a page that users see when they try to access a page that doesn’t exist on your site. Make sure your 404 page is informative and helpful, and includes a link back to your homepage.
43. Checking URL Accuracy
Ensure all URLs are correct and functioning as intended. Broken links can lead to a poor user experience and negatively impact your SEO.
44. Implementing Calls to Action
A call to action (CTA) is a prompt that encourages users to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. Make sure your CTAs are clear and compelling.
45. Installing an SEO Plugin
An SEO plugin can help you optimize your site for search engines. It can provide suggestions for improving your content, meta descriptions, and more.
46. Checking for AMP Compatibility
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a Google initiative that aims to make web pages load faster on mobile devices. Check to see if your site is AMP-compatible.
47. Ensuring Social Media Share Functionality Works
Make sure your social media share buttons are working correctly. This allows users to easily share your content on their social media platforms, increasing your reach.
48. Checking SSL Functionality
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a security protocol that encrypts data between a user’s browser and the server. Make sure your SSL certificate is installed correctly and functioning as intended.
49. Implementing Anti-Spam Measures
Spam can be a major issue for websites, particularly those with comment sections or contact forms. Implement anti-spam measures to protect your site.
50. Updating the Timezone
Ensure your website’s timezone is set correctly. This is particularly important if you are scheduling posts or tracking analytics.
51. Deleting Unwanted Plugins
Unwanted plugins can slow down your site and pose security risks. Delete any plugins that you are not using.
52. Including Google Map for Navigation
If you have a physical location, include a Google Map on your contact page to help users find you.
53. Featuring Social Media Widgets
Social media widgets can help increase your social media following. Include widgets for all your active social media accounts.
54. Setting Up a Google My Business Page
A Google My Business page can help improve your local SEO. Make sure your page is set up correctly and includes accurate information.
55. Using a Tagline
A tagline can help convey your brand’s message and values. Make sure your tagline is clear, concise, and aligns with your brand.
56. Displaying Prices
If you sell products or services, make sure your prices are clearly displayed. This can help users make informed decisions and reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment.
57. Adjusting for Horizontal Screening
Ensure your website is optimized for horizontal screening. This is particularly important for users who browse on tablets or other devices that can be used in landscape mode.
58. Adding Descriptions to Images
Image descriptions, or alt text, can help improve your SEO and make your site more accessible to users with visual impairments. Make sure all your images include descriptive alt text.
59. Creating an FAQ Page
An FAQ page can help answer common questions and reduce the number of customer service inquiries you receive. Make sure your FAQ page is easy to find and includes answers to the most common questions you receive.
60. Making Information Accessible
Ensure all important information is easy to find. This includes your contact information, shipping and return policies, and product information.
61. Organizing Information
Organize your information in a way that makes sense to your users. This might involve grouping similar products together, or organizing your blog posts by topic.
62. Simplifying Forms
Simplify your forms as much as possible to make it easy for users to complete them. This might involve reducing the number of fields, or using dropdown menus instead of text fields.
63. Optimizing Site for Disabled Users
Make sure your site is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. This might involve using larger text, providing alt text for images, or including captions for videos.
64. Providing a Search Feature
A search feature can help users find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Make sure your search feature is easy to find and works correctly.
65. Using Short URLs
Short URLs are easier for users to remember and share. They can also help improve your SEO.
66. Simplifying Navigation
Simplify your navigation as much as possible to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. This might involve reducing the number of menu items, or grouping similar items together.
67. Using Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Make sure your anchor text is descriptive and relevant to the page it’s linking to.
68. Guiding the Eye with Design
Use design elements to guide the user’s eye towards important information or calls to action. This might involve using contrasting colors, or placing important information above the fold.
69. Incorporating Negative Space
Negative space, or white space, can help make your site look clean and uncluttered. It can also help guide the user’s eye and make your content easier to read.
70. Avoiding Ad-Like Content
Users tend to ignore content that looks like an ad. Avoid using ad-like content and instead focus on providing valuable, engaging content.
71. Linking Logo to Home Page
Link your logo to your home page to make it easy for users to return to your home page from any other page on your site.
72. Using Color Effectively
Use color to guide the user’s eye, convey your brand’s message, and evoke emotions. Make sure your color scheme is consistent throughout your site.
73. Maintaining Consistent Site Structure
Maintain a consistent site structure to make it easy for users to navigate your site. This might involve using a consistent menu structure, or grouping similar pages together.
74. Using Relevant Graphics
Use graphics to enhance your content and make it more engaging. Make sure your graphics are relevant to your content and are of high quality.
75. Limiting Use of Animation
While animation can make your site more engaging, too much animation can be distracting and slow down your site. Use animation sparingly and only when it enhances the user experience.
76. Checking for Broken Links
Broken links can lead to a poor user experience and negatively impact your SEO. Regularly check your site for broken links and fix them as soon as possible.
77. Implementing Internal and External Linking
Internal and external linking can help improve your SEO and make your site more user-friendly. Make sure your links are relevant and provide value to your users.
78. Adding Schema Markup
Schema markup can help search engines understand your content and provide more informative results to users. Consider adding schema markup to your site to improve your SEO.
79. Writing a Compelling Introduction
The introduction is the first thing users see when they visit your site. Make sure your introduction is compelling and gives users a clear idea of what your site is about.
80. Using Shorter Sentences
Shorter sentences are easier to read and understand. Try to keep your sentences short and to the point.
81. Creating High-Quality Content
High-quality content is essential for attracting and retaining users. Make sure your content is informative, engaging, and provides value to your users.
82. Removing Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can negatively impact your SEO. Regularly check your site for duplicate content and remove it as soon as possible.
84. Avoiding Unnecessary Splash Pages
Splash pages can slow down your site and lead to a poor user experience. Avoid using splash pages unless absolutely necessary.
85. Including a Review Page
A review page can help build trust with your users and provide valuable feedback. Make sure your review page is easy to find and includes honest reviews from real users.
SEO and Backlinks
86. Building a Clean Citation Profile
A clean citation profile can help improve your local SEO. Make sure your business information is consistent across all platforms and directories.
87. Obtaining Supplier Links
Supplier links can help improve your SEO and drive traffic to your site. Consider asking your suppliers to link to your site.
88. Writing Local Guest Posts
Local guest posts can help improve your local SEO and build relationships with other businesses in your area. Consider writing guest posts for local blogs or news sites.
89. Running Contests
Contests can help engage your users and drive traffic to your site. Consider running contests on your site or on your social media platforms.
90. Implementing Pay-Per-Click Campaigns
Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can help drive traffic to your site and increase your visibility in search results. Consider implementing PPC campaigns as part of your marketing strategy.
Recap of the 90-Point Website Checklist
In conclusion, this 90-point website checklist covers everything from pre-launch checks to post-launch checks, design and structure, user experience and navigation, security and compliance, content, and SEO and backlinks.
The Ongoing Nature of Website Optimization
Remember, website optimization is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update your site to ensure it continues to meet the needs of your users and performs well in search results.