Here at RealEstateMarketingBlog.org we have focused mainly on providing useful tips and advice to help real estate professionals optimize their real estate sites AFTER they have been launched or live for some time. We thought it would be good to change things up a bit and provide a simple checklist of 8 things to check before your site launches.
This checklist can actually be used at any time, but we recommend running through this list before your site even launches so it starts off on the best foot possible. Quality assurance is always a good thing and the time you spend upfront will most definitely pay you back in the long run.
Website Launch Checklist: 8 Things to Check Before Launching Your Website
1) Title and Meta Data
Unique, optimized page titles and meta data are vital for search engine visibility as they tell search engines, and your visitors, what is on the page and what each page is about. Titles and meta data that have been copied and pasted or replicated across other pages on the site will only confuse the search engines so be sure to create custom, unique titles and meta data for each and every page possible.
For more detailed information on how to best utilize your title and meta tags refer to our Meta Tag Configuration Guide
2) Cross Browser Compatibility
One of the biggest oversights of most web designers and developers is not checking how a website looks in ALL browsers. Although most people may think that Internet Explorer 6 or 7 or Firefox 3 are the most widely used broswers, the fact is that many different people use many different browsers and browser versions. Because of this it is important to check how your website looks in ALL possible browsers.
Here is a list of the most widely used browsers and browser versions that should be checked for compatibility:
Internet Explorer 6
Internet Explorer 7
Internet Explorer 8
Try this useful resource for checking your site’s compatibility in all of these browsers:
7 Ways to Test Cross Browser Compatibility
If you think that you know your website’s content enough already and don’t need to check it again, then you are making a common mistake that could be to your detriment. Your content on your site is representative of how professional and knowledgeable you are so take the extra time to read through your content more than once to proofread everything. It is always a good idea to allow someone else to proofread your content as well.
4) Link Checking
Just like assuming that your content is perfect, another big mistake is assuming that all of the links on your site work perfectly. Links can easily become broken due to common oversights in the development process. One bad link on your site could turn away a prospective customer so take the extra time to check ALL links on your site to assure the following:
- The link is going to the right page
- The link is not broken or creating an error on your site
- The link is leading to a custom 404 error page if the link no longer exists
Try this helpful Link Checking Tool to do a site-wide sweep of your website’s links
5) Functionality Testing
Again, like assuming that your content is perfect or your links are all working, not checking the functionality of everything on your site could be to your detriment. If you have forms, modules, widgets or any other interactive elements to your site then be sure to check to see if everything is working as it should be. If you have contact forms make sure to test them to assure that information from the form is either being sent to you via email and/or being stored in some sort of contact database. We recommend utilizing both email notifications and a lead or contact management system on your site for proper lead follow-up.
Try this fun, useful functionality testing tool to assure that your site is functioning as it should be
6) Website Validation
Every site should aim for 100% validation. Do NOT panic if your site is not hitting this mark as even some of the biggest, most successful sites do not come anywhere close to 100% on this validation test. Validating your site is just a gauge to assure that as many of the necessary elements are in place as possible on your website.
Try this simple website validation tool to see how your site stacks up
If you are obsessive compulsive like us, then check out the following resource to understand why your site may not be validating and how to fix these validation problems.
7) Website Analytics
There is no way to properly track how effective or successful your site really is, or can be, unless you have the necessary tracking and analytics systems in place. With so many options these days you should have no problem finding an analytics program that you are comfortable with. Analytics programs are great for the following reasons as they allow you to:
- Track how many visitors you get per day, week, month, year, etc.
- See where your visitors are coming from in the world
- Notice visitor trending and usability patterns on your site
- Research how people are getting to your site
- Determine where your visitors spend the most time on your site
This is just a short list of the benefits of a solid analytics program, but the possibilities are endless. The information you can derive from these stats will help you to constantly improve and optimize your site as well.
We recommend using Google Analytics for your analytics program as it is so robust with features and reporting.
8 ) Search Engine Optimization
Please read this first if you need a better understanding of Search Engine Optimization.
Take advantage of this pre-launch stage to make sure that your site has been optimized for maximum search engine exposure. Too often do people decide to wait until their site launches to tackle the SEO “process”.
*Notice that the word “process” is used and not “project”. SEO is a process, not a project, as SEO should never be done on your site. It is an ongoing service that, if done right and done consistently, will help your site to climb the organic rankings for your targeted keywords and phrases.
Some of the main things to consider doing, or preferably having a professional do, would be the following:
- ALL Title tags, Meta tags, page tags, image tags and other relevant coding has been optimized according to the guidelines provided by the search engines
- The website has been successfully submitted (once is enough) to the major search engines
- Unique, relevant content has been strategically and naturally placed throughout the site to help the search engines deem your site as a relevant, authoritative resource for your key terms and phrases
- Keywords are NOT stuffed throughout the site’s pages or coding. Like content, these should be added strategically and only for authentic reasons. Keyword stuffing does NOT work!
There are many, many more things that make up a solid SEO plan, but these will get you started. Again, we highly recommend that you allow an SEO professional to optimize your site for maximum results.
You wouldn’t try day trading with your own money if you had little to no idea how to do it correctly or successfully so why take the same risk with your website? There are experts in the industry, use them.
Your site should be your main lead generation and sales tool so take the extra time to assure that you are putting up something professional and representative of your business. If you are too busy or too green still to do this stuff, then employ the right people to do it for you, it will be the best investment you make in your business.
If you have found this information to be helpful, then please let us know and we will be happy to expand on the checklist.
If anything, pass this on to your website designer / developer and make sure that they can successfully check off each of these things before your site launches.
If you need an SEO professional for Item #8 then just let us know and we will be happy to refer a reputable, experienced person / company to help you out.