Your Definitive New Website Checklist for Results

Setting up a new website is hard. Getting a new website to start generating organic traffic is even harder. Fortunately there are a number of plugins that can make this much easier. Here I’ve written up a simple guide for getting your new website–made with WordPress–to rank. If you’ve used another CMS (content management system) other than WordPress, like Drupal for example, most of these will still apply but you’ll obviously have to find the Drupal equivalent.

Personally I really like Drupal–in fact I am an certified Drupal developer–but WordPress is just so easy to setup to get a website off the ground and running. That’s why I built this website with WordPress. I used this exact same check-list to build this site.

My name is Mont Cessna and I am Google Certified in both AdWords and Analytics. I am an UpWork certified Drupal Developer and have more than eight years of experience with WordPress as a developer, author, editor and administrator. I studied marketing in college, earning a bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in marketing, from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Digital marketing management is my specialty. Here I’ll walk you through my personal website checklist. If you’re using Drupal, Squarespace, Joomla or some other CMS than WordPress, many of the same things still apply.

What You Need to Install on WordPress for a New Website

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a good, simple to use search engine optimization plugin for WordPress. It will automatically generate and submit XML sitemaps to Google for you. It will also make sure your writing doesn’t get too convoluted for SEO purposes. Remember, most people reading on the Internet have a relatively low reading comprehension level. It even makes sure your keyword density, post length, snippets and images are good to go. The basic Yoast SEO plugin is free and it does 95% of all the SEO things you’ll need.

You can find Yoast SEO for WP it here.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is still the best option for tracking your website’s traffic. Plus it is free and easy to setup. Can’t beat that! You can either install a header/footer plugin and copy/paste your Google tracking JavaScript code or just install Monster Insights’ Google Analytics plugin for WordPress and enter your tracking code #. Personally I like MonsterInsights’ plugin.

You can find Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights here.

Signup for a Google Analytics account here.

3. Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)

Google Search Console is how you as the website owner interact with the Google Search Engine. Google has a huge percentage of search on the Internet so you want to make sure you get in good with its search engine. You can do this by signing up with Search Console. Follow the steps Google outlines to setup and verify your web property–verification is really easy since they can integrate with your website hosting provider to auto-verify–then make sure you follow the steps Google lists to set your preferred region for search results (the United States, UK, UAE, etc. for wherever the website is targeted), make sure the your sitemaps are submitted, etc. It’s pretty easy to figure out but I will write additional articles on it at a later date.

Signup for Google Search Console here.

4. Email Signup with MailChimp

There are a number of free email mailing list plugins but I like MailChimp. It is easy to use and the free version can handle up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month–no credit card required. I use it too. Simply signup for your free account, download the plugin that links MailChimp to WordPress, setup the plugin to link them and place your email signup form on your website. Then you can send emails to everyone who signs up from MailChimp. What could be simpler?

How to setup MailChimp.

Signup for MailChimp here.

5. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

AMP is a fairly new technology that serves up cached, mobile optimized pages in search results. Faster page loading, higher search result placement and a special place for AMP results on Google Search on mobile are a few reasons why you should install this. Your website’s homepage might not work well with AMP so you can disable that in the plugin. It works with Yoast SEO, Search Console, etc.

Download Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin for WordPress here.

6. WP All Import

If you need to upload a list of things from a spreadsheet like products, doctors, locations, etc. to individual WordPress posts, then WP All Import is the tool you need. The free version unfortunately cannot upload images but there are some workarounds you can do. I used this plugin to upload all the brunches, happy hours, etc. for Brunchy and all the doctors authorized to certify people for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania for Medical Marijuana Pennsylvania (two other websites I work on). It works like a charm and there is even a Yoast SEO extension plugin for it!

How to use WP All Import.

Download WP All Import here.

External Tools You Need for a New Website

1. PageSpeed Insights from Google

The speed at which your website pages load has a fairly strong effect on both user experience and where Google puts your website in search results. You can check how fast your website’s individual pages load with PageSpeed Insights–a free tool Google provides–and get recommendations for optimizations. It is invaluable.

Go to PageSpeed Insights here.

2. SEMRush Site Audit for SEO

SEMrush is an amazing tool to see exactly what is going on with your on-page SEO. There are paid versions of SEMrush but fortunately, you can sign up for a free account and audit your website. First you’ll go through the report the tool generates. You would be surprised how many incorrect (either just wrong or links that actually have to redirect to get to the right place) links the average new website has! Expect your new website’s SEO score as generated by SEMrush to fall in the 70s to 80s (out of 100).

Signup for a free SEMrush account here.

3. Google Campaign URL Builder with UTM Codes

UTM codes are those strings of text appended to the end of URL. They let you track specifics about incoming website visits in Google Analytics. For example, you’re running multiple ad campaigns in Facebook and want to know which ad campaign results in the most pageviews per session. With UTM codes you can break traffic from specific sources into individual campaigns.

Find out more about UTM codes here.

Use Google’s Campaign URL Builder for UTM codes here.

Social Media Setup and Integration You Need for a New Website

Social media is a huge part of the mediascape now. Even if you don’t plan on posting much to social, social can provide a good boost to SEO. Your website might not show up for a while on the first page of Google Search when your company’s name is searched for, but your Facebook page might. Google also indexes social media websites so it’s another way to get your posts into search results. You should also try to get at least your Facebook and Google Business pages verified.

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Google+ (Google Brands)
  5. Google Business
  6. Instagram
  7. Pinterest
  8. YouTube

Backlinking to Your Website to Rank Higher on Google

Ah backlinks. They’re the bread and butter of good SEO. If you write a lot of content for your website, you should definitely develop backlinks with some of the top sites on the web. Here is a list of places you need to post your content with links back to the original article on your website. Backlink away and watch your organic traffic soar!

  1. Medium
  2. Quora
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Reddit
  5. Yelp
  6. StackExchange
  7. Forums

Use this handy checklist when you setup a new website (or go through it with your current one(s)) to make sure you’re doing all you can to get the content you produce to start to drive organic traffic. Have any suggestions for things I’m missing? Leave a comment below and make sure to share on social media if you liked this!

Who are the marketing hackers?

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Mont Cessna
Mont has 10+ years experience in digital marketing. Experienced with LAMP, CMS and HTML5/CSS3 website development, Mont also excels at math and C/C++/C#. He has managed multi-million dollar media buys though Outbrain, Facebook, Taboola, Yahoo Native, Google AdWords and a number of other display advertising vendors. Mont's written work has regularly appeared on the first page of Google News results and the homepage of Yahoo! He has a B.Sc. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Drexel University.