Taking a Website Live

There are a few things to do before authorizing your Web developer to “flip the switch.” Some of these items you can do yourself, while for others, you’ll want to consult with your Web developer. All of them can have an impact on how smoothly you’ll transition to the new website and how effective it will be.

Some of these items might be a bit tech-y, but don’t worry; think of this as a final checklist that you can share with your Web developer:

Page titles

Does each page of your website have a title that appears at the very top of the browser? Does the page title include a few keywords that are relevant to that page? Placing page titles is a very simple process and helps search engines, such as Google, to better index the page.

If your pages do not include titles, ask your Web developer to add them for you. Or, if you are using a content management system, you can add page titles yourself.

META data

Does each page of your website have META data included? META data is simple code embedded within a page that includes a description and keywords about that page. Search engines such as Google take notice of META data and can improve where you appear in a search result.

Ask your Web developer if your old website had META data embedded. If so, make sure it is transferred to the new website. If not, work with them in creating META data for the new website. It’s a simple process and a task that is more marketing-oriented than technical.

Go live date

Pick a date and time that ensures everyone involved will be available when the site is taken live. It sounds simple, but many times companies will pick a go live date when people are away from the office, such as January 1. If there is a problem when the site goes live, you want all hands on deck, including the development team, the host provider, the domain registration company and so on. For that reason, avoid holidays, weekends or Friday afternoons.

Modifying the domain

The domain is your website and e-mail address ( ____.com). In order to take the website live, the domain will need to be modified, pointing it to the new website (and perhaps e-mail) hosting location.

Here is a quick to-do list relating to modifying the domain. Coordinating these with your Web developer will ensure a smoother go-live event:

1. Do you have the login to the company where you registered your domain? This may be a company such as GoDaddy, Network Solutions and others. If not, you may need to contact the company directly in order to gain access and modify your domain.

2. Will the website be hosted somewhere new? If so, you or your Web developer will need to coordinate with the hosting company so that when the domain is changed it will point to the host location.

3. Is your e-mail provider changing as well? In many cases, e-mail is hosted at a different provider than the website. However, in some cases, both the website and e-mail are hosted at the same location. To ensure that both the website and e-mail will function when the domain is modified, coordinate with your Web developer.

Once a domain modification is made, it typically takes 12 to 24 hours for the rest of the Internet to see the change. If done correctly, your website should never be down, but seamlessly transition from the old site to the new.

Once live …

Now that the new website is live, here are a few final tasks:

1. Submit the website to various search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others. This will help jumpstart their indexing of your website.

2. Create a free account at www.google.com/webmasters. There you can create and submit a site map, which further helps Google find pages to your website that it might not ordinarily find. This can be coordinated with your Web developer.

3. Create a free Google Analytics account at www.google.com/analytics. There you can set up detailed (and free!) traffic reporting of your website. As a little coding is involved in the process, this can be coordinated with your Web developer.

Taking a website live is more than “If you build it, they will come.” Strong, substantive content and ease of functionality has the most impact when you’ve taken all available steps to ensure that most people can find your business.

By coordinating with your Web developer and having a short, simple checklist for taking a website live, you will eliminate downtime and frustration, plus set a strong foundation for search engine optimization. Best of all, most (if not all) of these tasks involve very little time and cost—or no cost at all.. 

John Forsberg is CEO of i2 Integration, dedicated to creating Internet, intranet and extranet Web applications, and interactive multimedia productions. 








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