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The Complete Website Checklist

Websites are like ideas, pretty much everyone has one but very few ever bring them to market. Creating a website and having it reach the right audience are two different things.  Websites are like ideas, pretty much everyone has one but very few ever bring them to market.  To make websites more effective at reaching target markets, we assembled a list of over 200 launch and marketing tasks.

This is a combined 130 hours of research and testing poured into the AwareLabs marketing guide. We've done the research so you can execute.

Think of it as a pre-populated Basecamp for website marketing. This article includes all the tasks from Phase I - Pre Launch Checklist of the AwareLabs marketing guide.  If this list seems too low level, please skip ahead to the full AwareLabs Marketing Guide to unlock Phases II - X.  

Phase I - Pre Launch Checklist

Have You Set Up Hosting? - We suggest Amazon EC2 free tier for hosting.  Its secure, allows complete customization, and Amazon provides many additional marketing tools.  With Amazon EC2 you can host your own website or choose from hundreds of pre-configured setups.

Have You Picked A Domain? - We recommend using the Bust-A-Name service to quickly identify a list of domain names from a series of keywords.  Using this tool, you can create a list of words, quickly find synonyms, and instantly see all the combinations as available domain names.

Is Your Site Fully Functional?  -  When a customer visits your site, will they enjoy their user experience?  Its better to launch with a smaller site than an incomplete site.  Avoid broken links and incomplete pages.  If it doesn't work, get rid of it.

Have You Registered Your Email? - This is a link to the free version of GMail for business.  We strongly recommend setting up your email through GMail.  First, you can set up a single Google login for several tools ( listed below ).  Second, GMail is accesible from anywhere, provides spam filtering, and is compatible with all desktop applications and mobile phones.

Have you Set Up Mail SPF Records? - To help fight spam many email providers will block certain emails.  To keep your email out of other peoples spam folders set up an SPF record.   This tells the server that any emails coming from your website are authentically yours, not necessarily spam.

Are Google Webmaster Tools installed? - Google uses sitemaps to examine websites in detail and ensure they are accurately represented in search results.  They even show you rankings, broken links, and on page errors.  Setting up Google Webmaster Tools will help you ensure your page is searchable.

Are Google Analytics Installed? - The best way to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaign is to set up analytics.  Sure other sites offer metrics but since 2012 Google Analytics provides all the bells and whistles, so save yourself some time and install this.

Do You Have A Bing Site Map? - Like Google, Microsoft's Bing also provides a sitemap tool that analyzes links, checks for HTMl errors, and improves search results on Bing. 
Do You Have A Blog?
- Setting up a blog is not essential to all websites, however, since the advent of social media blogs have become more important in engaging evangelists, the people who love your product so much they market for you.  We recommend a WordPress based blog service called Pagely.

Do You Have A FAQ Page? - The second or third most commonly visited page on most website is the FAQ.  Its an opportunity to solve customer issues, provide copy for reporters, and improve signups or sales.

Do You Have A Contact Page? - Why market your website and pull customers in only to avoid communicating with them once they arrive?  Contact pages should make it as easy as possible to reach you.    Provide a form, your email, your phone number, and social media links.  You'll be surprised at how amazing a phone call from a customer can be.

Ready To Collect Payments?  - Our personal philosophy is that everything has a revenue stream.  You have operating costs, don't be shy about having a buy button or ads on your website day one.  Set the expectation that your site is monetized early.  We suggest WePay because they have a very clean and easy integration.

Open Graph Is Set Up? - Also known as "OG", this is used to integrate your site into social media sites like Facebook.  Adding a few OG meta tags to your website will go a long way to getting more likes and shares.

Have Google Alerts Set Up? - The best way to see what you should include on your website is to see what others in your space are talking about.  Google provides an alerts functionality that will email you anytime a new news article mentioning your chosen keywords is published.

Install Rapportive in GMail - This is a must.  The service integrates with GMail and shows all of a persons social media profiles when you hover over an email with your mouse.  It also lets you connect with that person instantly with a single button click through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a handful of other services. 

If you complete these tasks for your website, you are in a very good position to complete the rest of the marketing guide.  The basics are important, everything in the AwareLabs guide builds on prior tasks.  The next phases incrementally build messaging, social media profiles, online directory listings, PR, and advertising.  Try the AwareLabs marketing Guide.

Written By: Paul Kenjora

Paul Kenjora is the Product Manager and founder at AwareLabs, a company that provides the next generation website builder for small businesses. He has 10+ years product development experience, has launched sites netting millions of visits a day, and has consulted for fortune 500 companies.