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2018 Pre-Launch Checklist: 7 Things to do Before Launching Your Blog

Pre-launch checklist for new bloggers!

Are you about to launch your blog? Pause for a second and read through this pre-launch checklist before you pull that trigger! Launching your blog is a big decision, and there’s some housekeeping you need to take care of before you get to business. These things are a must in 2018 before you launch your blog!

Tired of reading? Listen to my wine-induced rant instead! Subscribe to my YouTube channel for more alcohol inspired blogging videos.

While this is in no way a complete list of things to do before launching your blog, these things will for sure help! Start your blog on the right food by doing these pre-launch must-dos!

Yoast SEO

I’m a self-proclaimed SEO guru, so believe me when I say you need Yoast SEO in your life. A lot of new bloggers wrongly believe they don’t need to pay attention to SEO. It’s too complicated, it doesn’t make any sense, where do I begin…I get it, I get it. I’ll make it simple for you: You do need SEO. In 2018, it’s just not optional. Do you know how many blogs are out there on the internet? Me neither, but I bet it’s a lot. SEO makes it easier for your audience to find you!

Don’t want to spend hours (or days) researching the intricacies of Search Engine Optimization? You don’t need to. Yoast SEO is the answer to all of your SEO prayers. With one simple plugin, you can optimize your website for SEO in just a few clicks. With on-page optimization on every post and page, you don’t have to do any thinking. Here are just some of the many ways SEO will rock your blogging world:

  • Meta tags and descriptions: Fun fact alert: meta descriptions and titles don’t affect your SEO so this is a bit of a moot point. What they do affect, however, is how your pages/posts appear in search results. You want them to look so fresh, so clean!
  • Image tags: Your images need to be optimized too! Never forget an alt tag again thanks to Yoast’s reminders.
  • Inbound/Outbound Links: Google loves to see you linking to other great content! Yoast will walk you through it!
  • Keywords: This is the big one right here! Yoast SEO lets you choose your target keyword or key phrase. Then, it’ll make sure you’re using it in the right places and frequently enough to actually matter.

If you understand the difference between green and red, you’re experienced enough for Yoast SEO. Not only is Yoast SEO free, but it’s basically the best thing that ever happened to you. You’re welcome.

Pre-Launch Checklist for Bloggers

Google Search Console

What is Google Search Console, you ask? It’s basically a platform where you can manually submit website information to Google. Search engines like Google automatically crawl your website for posts, pages, and updates, but it always helps to be in control of the information. If you use Yoast SEO, it helps you configure Google Search Console in its startup steps.

When you set up Google Search Console, you’ll need to walk through a few steps to claim ownership of your website. I won’t lie, this is a bit of pain. You can do it! I believe in you! Once you’re set up, you’ll be able to access a lot of fun info like analytics, search traffic, and your web performance. The Moz SEO blog has a great guide to getting started and understanding Google Search Console.

Pre-Launch Checklist for Bloggers

Privacy Policy

The legalities of blogging today are confusing! With the FTC cracking down on influencers and new GRPD compliance guidelines, how do you know where the heck to start? Well, I’ll make it easy for you. You need to start with your privacy policy.

A lot of new bloggers think they can get away with not having a privacy policy because they don’t sell anything on their website. Not so fast, buddy! If you’re collecting any user information, you need a privacy policy. If you have a contact form, comment area, traffic analytics, or email list, you’re collecting user information.

What does that mean for you? Just that you need a clear privacy policy on your website that is accessible from all pages. Don’t stress, you don’t need a lawyer or anything wild like that. Just use a template or look at my privacy policy as an example! Here’s what you need to include:

  • Contact information. How can users contact you about their privacy? Your email is all you need to include.
  • How you use user information? Is it for analytics, research, etc?
  • What information do you collect? Like search results, keywords, age, location, etc?
  • Affiliate information. Are you a member of any affiliate networks? How will disclose this to users?
  • Advertisements. Do you display ads on your blog? Connect to these services privacy information.
  • Email Lists. Do you collect user emails for your marketing lists? How do you use these emails?
  • Opting out. How can users opt out of any information collecting?

Google Analytics

No matter what content management platform you use, it will come with a way to track your traffic. WordPress comes with Jetpack, and while it’s great, it’s no Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the Be-All And End-All of website traffic monitoring. Its name is pretty self-explanatory.

Google Analytics gives you insight into your traffic, demographics, real-time audience, and way more. You’ll see your bounce rate, your organic search terms, and the ages of your users. This might seem overwhelming and that’s because it is. The Google Analytics dashboard looks like a screenshot from a sci-fi movie at first. It’s confusing, but it’s well-worth learning the basics

Like Google Search Console, Google Analytics takes a bit of set up. Luckily, WordPress users can install plugins that do the hard work for them. MonsterInsights has a great plugin to get the job done.

Pre-Launch Checklist for Bloggers

Pinterest Rich Pins

I’ve ranted about the power of Pinterest before, and I will do it again. As a blogger, Pinterest is one of your biggest sources of traffic. I get over 90% of my traffic from Pinterest. I owe it my blog and my firstborn child.

I can preach about the good word of Pinterest all day, but that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. You probably already use Pinterest. You might even have a Pinterest account for your blog! But do you have rich pins? Rich pins are different than “regular” pins because they come with your website name and icon under the pin. They get way more traffic than regular pins! I would try to explain how to set up rich pins for yourself, but I honestly don’t remember how I did it. Melyssa Griffin explains the steps in detail here with her guide!

Pre-Launch Checklist for Bloggers

Custom Email

Are you still going by “cutiequeen12@aol.com” or “danceluverrrr@gmail.com”? If you’re over the age of 13, it’s time to get serious. Leave your MSN Messenger screen name in the past where it belongs. Grown-up emails are a must in 2018. No brand is going to take you seriously as a blogger if you’re responding from “doglover44.”

When it comes to your email, get a custom one from your host. For Samanthability, I use hello@samanthability.com. Other options are contact@yourwebsite.com, yourname@yourwebsite.com, and so on. Log into your host cPanel to see how to add your own custom emails!

Pro-tip: Integrate your new custom email to your current email client to get all your emails in the same place. Use your favorite email client like Outlook or Gmail and make one mega-inbox.

Backup

Let me tell you a tragic story as a warning. A few months ago one of my WordPress plugins updated. A file was corrupted and it crashed my entire website. Did I have backups saved? Nope. Did I weep for hours and resent old-me for her stupidity? You betcha.

Do yourself a favor and set up automatic backups. Your host can run backups for you manually or automatically, but you can also use WordPress plugins. I have automatic backups set to my Dropbox account every day because I’m paranoid and not talking any more chances. This is extreme. Weekly or even monthly is more than enough! This guide recommends the best plugins for WordPress backups.

Pre-Launch Checklist

Whether you’re a new blogger or an experienced blogger, this pre-launch checklist is for you. Sure, you can set these things up later, but why not start out strong from day one? Setting up these things above before you get started will boost traffic and SEO while keeping your website secure!

I wish I’d known about these things when I started 3 years ago! Don’t be like me! Learn from my mistakes and follow this pre-launch checklist.

Thanks for reading! I’m thrilled to be back blogging, and I hope you find this information useful. What are your pre-launch must-dos? Let me know below!

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