Has your law firm ever been through a website launch (or re-launch)? If so, you understand how fragile the process is and why so many website launches run into trouble. Small errors can create really big problems – even costing one company $300 million from a poorly designed button. Your best chance of success is ensuring your launch will go smoothly before you make it live. Make sure to review these 16 important items before your law firm launches a new (or redesigned) website.
1. Make sure your site’s structure is optimized (complete with internal links)
Your website structure is critical because it helps your users to get around and it enables search engine crawlers to find your site. Review your site-wide links (those that appear in your header/primary navigation) and then review content for internal links. Any links should help visitors to find what they’re looking for and engage them.
2. Optimize your On-Page SEO to start ranking from day one
While optimizing your website navigation is one important aspect of on-page search engine optimization (SEO), there are also a bunch of other factors you’ll need to double check if you want Google to start ranking your site. You may want to start by installing a tool that can help – for example a WordPress SEO plugin. Double check things like metadata, heading structures, SEO titles, etc.
3. Test your site on all devices (and optimize)
How quickly your site loads ultimately impacts everything. You need to make sure pages load fast, whether on a laptop, tablet, or phone. Make sure pages load in under 3 seconds. You can use a tool like WebPageTest to see where you’re falling, and consider optimizations from there. Things like faster hosting or image optimization can improve load times.
4. Check for broken links
This one is pretty simple: look for any broken links, and fix them before you launch. Broken Link Checker is a free plugin you can install directly from your WordPress dashboard.
5. Set up Google Search Console and add a sitemap
This tool lets you control how Google treats your site and view important analytics. Don’t forget to add your site’s XML sitemap in Google Search Console. Note: most SEO plugins will create one for you.
6. Remove noindex tags
When you’re creating a WordPress site on a live server, it’s common to add these tags so that pages aren’t indexed before you’re ready. You just need to make sure to remove these tags when you do go live. You can double check really quickly here.
7. Set up Google Analytics and other measurement tools
Analytics are important. They can help to direct your time and money, and also point to problems. Google Analytics is the most common starting point, and is very robust. You can also add plenty of other tools to measure your progress and track against your goals.
8. Set up alerts about uptime
Anytime your site goes down, it’s a problem. To keep track of when and how often this is happening, you need to set up uptime monitoring. You can also set up email or text alerts for when there is an issue.
9. Ask yourself: is your site hack-proof?
WordPress is extremely popular and has become a target for hackers. It’s important to make sure you have your website security in order before you even launch. There are third-party tools, such as Wordfence that can help with this, but in addition you should develop strong passwords, use SSL certificates and HTTPS, and limit login attempts.
10. Take anti-spam measures
The reality is that as soon as your site goes live, you’re likely to get some comments that are just spam. You will need to moderate comments, but that can be time consuming if you get a lot of them. To make better use of your time, you should install an anti-spam plugin (such as Akismet).
11. Test forms and functionality
Since newsletter sign ups and generating leads is an important goal for your law firm’s website, you need to make sure that the functionality you’re using to do so works. Fill out forms and make sure information is following the workflow you set up. Click on “contact us” buttons and other calls-to-action (CTAs) and ensure they are working and that the information ends up where you want it to (in your CRM or marketing automation workflow).
12. Set up automatic backups (or make sure your host did)
It’s essential that you have a backup solution so that your website’s data is always safe and secure. This is one of the most important items on this checklist. Your host may be doing this for you already – confirm that. If they aren’t, research options (there are plenty of free or paid platforms).
13. Integrate social media accounts
Your presence on social is just as important as your website. Since your content is really there to connect with your audience, make it easy for them to engage with you on social media. Install social share buttons and social follow buttons that link to your profiles.
14. Look at little details
There are likely to be a bunch of little things that are missed before you go live. Create a list of these and check them off before you go live. For example, adding author bios and changing comment settings.
This is more important than ever – not simply a suggestion but a new mandate. Make sure it’s easy to find on your law firm website.
16. Remove any testing items
Chances are there will be plenty of things on your website that were there simply for testing. Consider unused users who were testing, test content, unused themes, etc. Scan any content for the word “Test” and take down anything that you don’t want seen on a live site.
These steps are the basics that your law firm marketing and web development team should perform before going live with any website launch. Of course, you’ll want to spend additional time testing, proofreading content, reviewing for keywords, etc. Most firms find that it makes sense to have a design expert review everything before they go live.
Having a trained eye who knows what to look for can save you time and costly mistakes in the long run. If you need help putting together a new website or refining one that already exists, contact us for help today.