If you’re just starting your website design project, or if you already have a site and want to know if the basics are in place, this post is for you!
From saving your links from your current site to making your pages optimized for search engines while you build them, we’ve got you covered!
Here are the top 5 things that Molly and I do with each new website project we embark upon.
Prefer to watch instead of read? Here’s my FB Live where I review each of these steps in detail:
#1: Save Your Current Website’s Page Names and URLs
If you already have a website and you’re redesigning it, you may end up changing some of the page names.
But what if you have those page links in some of your marketing materials. Or maybe you have the link in a blog post. If you change the page name and someone goes to find it using the old name, you won’t want them to get the dreaded “Page Not Found”!
Also, chances are that you already have some Search Engine Optimization going on with your existing site and you don’t want to lose it. Yet another reason why knowing the URLs in your existing is so important.
Fortunately, there’s a free tool that we use that makes downloading a list of all of your current pages super easy.
It’s called Screaming Frog.
Weird name, I know, but it works!
You just have to go to the Screaming Frog site, download the software, and run the SEO Spider Tool. You’ll get a CSV file that you can save that shows you all of the pages and links on your current site.
Once you know all of your URLs, you can set up a 301 Redirect to the new pages.
Don’t know what a 301 redirect is? We wrote a blog post all about it! Read it here!
#2: Add Anti-Spam Protection
If you have content on your site, especially content like a blog where people can leave comments, you’re bound to get SPAM. Those crazy comments that show up that have nothing to do with your post are not only annoying, but if they’re public, your readers will see them.
In order to stop SPAM in its tracks, we always make sure to install the Akismet plugin.
It’s seriously the easiest and one of the best ways to stop SPAM from invading your site.
Once you install and activate the plugin, you’ll need to create an account and get your API key to make it live. It’s free for a personal website but if you’re site is a business site, you can choose to pay the $5 per month to support it (which we recommend that you do; it’s an amazing plugin and worth the money!)
#3: Protect Your Website with a Security Check
WordPress is amazing and we love it for so many reasons. But there are definitely some things that you need to do to make sure that it stays safe and secure from hackers and other threats.
There are many different options that you can choose from, some are paid and some are free. A great free version that we use all the time is Wordfence.
When you install the Wordfence plugin, you can scan your site for malware and other threats. You can schedule scans to happen automatically or you can manually run them. You can even set up alerts so that if they find something during a scan, you’ll get an email notification.
For a free plugin, Wordfence is super powerful!
#4: Install Google Analytics
You work hard to create content for your site, and you’ll want to know which pages people visit, how often and how they get there.
Google Analytics is another free tool that we always add to our client websites. There are a few different ways that you can install Google Analytics on your site.
The first is by getting the Google Analytics code (once you’ve set up your GA account!) and adding it to your website. The code for our sample site is below:
You add that script/code to the headers area of your site. Depending on the WordPress theme you’re using, it may be found in the Customizer or somewhere else.
An easy way to add header or footer script code is by using the Insert Headers and Footers plugin by WP Beginner.
But if you don’t want to deal with code at all, there’s an even easier way to add Google Analytics to your site, and that’s with another plugin called MonsterInsights.
It’s another free plugin that makes it REALLY easy to add Google Analytics to your site without touching a line of code.
#5: Add Yoast SEO
If you have a site, you want to be found online! That’s called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Yoast SEO is a really powerful tool that allows you to optimize your website pages even as you’re building them! It’s super easy to use and the Yoast SEO website has a ton of free video tutorials that are all about SEO.
We wrote a whole blog post about it here!
We install Yoast SEO on all of our websites as the first step in optimizing a site for search engines.
So there you have it! Those are the first 5 things that we do with every new website project. Have some tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!
And be sure to watch our weekly show here every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. EST where we talk about WordPress, websites, branding, graphic design, dogs (yes, my two make appearances every now and again!) and more!
Until next time!