While some of the following tasks assume you have an existing site and are creating a new version of it, many of them will apply to cases where you are building a site for the very first time.
1. Be sure to either maintain the existing urls from the old site onto the new or redirect the old urls to the new ones if you are going to change them.
2. Put up an “Under Construction” page while in the development phase or build the new site on a different domain used for development
3. Be sure to make a copy of the old site and import any of the content like articles and images that will be used on the new site.
4. Don’t delete any of the existing content like an article you feel is outdated. If using wordpress, just set the article as a draft. Consider updating the article to make it more relevant.
5. If you are building the site right on the existing domain (refer to #2) Be sure to block search engines from crawling the site during its development. This can have an unrecoverable negative effect on your marketing down the road.
6. Don’t forget to unblock to allow search engines to crawl once the site is completed
7. Submit the site and/or a sitemap to Google Search Console as soon as possible after completion
8. Choose a version inside the Search Console (ex. www or non www)
9. Create a Robots.txt file and submit it within Googles Search Console to identify areas of your site you do not want crawled by search engines. Even if you can’t think of anything that you don’t want them to crawl you should still submit one.
10. Run a link checker on your site to find any broken links and repair them before they start producing 404’s to google.
I got the idea for this post the other day when I couldn’t figure out why my meta -tags were not showing up on my pages. After testing several plugins and coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t a plugin issue, I knew it had to be theme/ code related. As it turns out, it was. The header.php file was missing one very small piece of code. After adding it, like magic, all of my meta-tags appeared.
1. The missing tag attribute that allows meta tags or any plugins that manage them, to work properly is:
<title><?php wp_title(); ?> – <?php bloginfo( ‘name’ ); ?></title>
2. Turn a post into a page or a page into post with ease by installing a plugin called Post Type Switcher. Change it to your desired type and that’s it. The plugin does all the work.
3. Build Child themes – updating is an important security measure and themes have regular updates. If you don’t want to fix your site everytime you update so it has all your changes, build child themes.
4. If you are building your site online be sure to block search engines during the design phase as this can negatively affect your site ranking and overall placement later on. *Be sure to uncheck this feature (found under the settings+reading section) when your site is completed and ready to allow all visitors.
5. If you aren’t allowing registrations on your site such as other users, writers, or other member types be sure this feature is unchecked. It’s a favorite way for hackers, spammers and other malicious types to wreak havoc. This setting is found under Settings + General – About 1/3 of the way down on the page is the word Membership – in the right column it says: “Anyone can register” Uncheck the box if it isn’t already unchecked if you will not be having registrations on your site.
6. Do install a cache plugin. There are more complicated ones like W3 Total Cache. Installing this may require you to enter some code to files residing on your server. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that then sticking with something like “Quick Cache” is my recommendation. This is a light cache plugin that stores pages on your website for quick retrieval upon access by your visiting traffic. The settings are good right out of the box, requiring very little technical knowledge. W3 Total Cache on the other hand while may be more extensive is a bit complicated, especially for the general user. Remember if you make changes to your site and can’t figure out why your changes aren’t showing up. It’s probably because your cache is storing old versions of the page and serving those up instead of the new one. Clear it always after making changes or simply turn it off while you are doing edits to the site. Remember to turn it back on though!
So far so good. After having over 4 sites now with this security plugin, I have had no intrusions, hijackings or site takedowns. No issues but a ton of people trying. This plugin is excellent at showing you just how often people try to hack into your site. It will astonish you trust me but rest assurred Better WP Security is exactly what the name says. It offers a very self explanatory user interface and upon installation will lead you thru the process of setting up the plugin properly by giving you options to change or not change according to your desires and your current hosting parameters.
By explaining each step and recommending what to change and why, the user has a good understanding of how intruders infiltrate sites. In addition you will have the ability to lockout individuals attempting to login repeatedly using the wrong password and to add those people’s IP address to a list of “lockouts” for further review or if you’d like you can completely ban them from your site. For me it is simple-they get banned. Since I am the only person with access to a number of sites, there should be no reason why someone would be trying to login other than for malicious reasons.
And as if all that wasn’t enough – This plugin will even do regular backups for you that you can have sent to your email address or stored on the server. Brilliant! On a scale of 1-10, I give this plugin a 10. No problems, glitches, or cross plugin issues. Better WP Security does everything it promises, with error free seam-less-ness.
P.S. You can set the security so that each time a user is locked out of your site an email is sent to you with their IP Address. I recommend using this feature in the beginning. It’s an eye opening experience about how important security is on your site. Later on you will probably just get sick of all the email you are receiving and turn that feature off.
I have recently discovered some very valuable plugins from WordPress that I thought I’d share. There are many more that deserve recognition but I will save those for another post. If you have any plugins you like – let me know in the comments. Please include the name of the plugin and what you like about it, or include some of its features/benefits.
1. Yoast SEO Are you still using All in One SEO Pack? If so you are missing out on the ease and massive time saving features of this plugin. It’s extensive and offers more than just the ability to easily enter meta tags. Sitemap creation and submission, addition of social media profiles, and even confirmation of the website in Google Web Console are just some of the features available in this plugin.
2. iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) Excellent full solution to an ongoing and increasingly serious problem of website attacks. I just have to say “Thank You” It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a security solution and more. Easy control panel and ip-address information on who these scoundrels are. Automatic blocking of suspicious ip’s , automatic backups …and like I said..more!
3. Velvet Blue Urls Anyone that has moved a site from a test domain to it’s main domain will appreciate the ability of this plugin to automatically scan your pages, posts, images, etc for test site urls and change them to the new domain url. Example: http://www.testsite.com to http://www.domainname.com. It saves an incredible amount of time and frustration but beware, it may miss a few here and there.
4. Post Type Switcher While there seem to be a lot of plugins that have this functionality, I find this one particularly good because it is simple. No bells and whistles, and it does exactly what it says. Switch from a page to a post or a post to a page with the click of a button. It’s really that simple.
5. Optimize Database After Deleting Revisions Did you know that each time you make a change to a page no matter how small it may be, the old version is stored in the database. If your site is sluggish, or you are reaching maximum capacity on your server, this is all you need. Simply install it and it does the rest.