WordPress Website Launch Checklist

Take the stress out of launching your website with a helpful checklist of tasks. Everything from performance tweaks, security measures, tags for social media, and search engine optimisation tactics.

Every website is different, but there are plenty of little things to check and update before you launch a WordPress website. You can use this page as an actual checklist by clicking each item, and you can find out more about the recommendations by clicking the arrow on the right of each item.


Proofread all your content, especially key landing pages. There are some services that will automatically check your spelling.

One of the easiest ways to manage this, long-term, is to install the Grammarly browser extension. It checks spelling and common grammatical errors.

Make sure your WordPress timezone matches your location. It’s under Settings > General.

If your site uses external services such as Google Maps, PayPal, Google Recaptcha, or Adobe Fonts, check that APIs are configured to work with your live domain.

Make sure that any API services are using live keys and aren’t in testing or sandbox modes.

Site updates often result in changes to content and permalinks. Redirect visitors to your new URLs for a better user experience and to try and preserve any SEO benefits that your old content had.

Make sure automatic backups are in place.

UpdraftPlus Backups is a great option. The free option allows you to back up your site (database, uploads, theme & plugins) to a variety of locations. You can generate manual backups and scheduled backups.

It’s not great when a user clicks on a dead link and arrives at a “Not found” 404 error page. But that problem is worsened if there’s no page template.

A helpful 404 error page will inform your visitor of the error and give them a couple of options to get back on track.


SSL provides encryption between your website and your visitor’s browser, ensuring that data remains private. Most browsers will alert users if your site isn’t secure. Not only does SSL provide trust for your users, it is also a factor in the Google search algorithm and can benefit SEO.

You can usually buy an SSL certificate from your web host or another Certification Authority. You may find that a free SSL certificate can be issued by Let’s Encrypt.

The company owned by the co-founder of WordPress, Automattic, provides the Akismet service and plugin to manage comment spam. It’s free for personal sites, and you can buy a license for your business site.

Of course, if you don’t allow comments on your site, or use a third-party service like Disqus, this won’t be necessary.

There is a huge range of WordPress security plugins. Some provide simple, no configuration service, like BBQ: Block Bad Queries. Other security plugins like Cerber Security, Sucuri and Wordfence offer protection against brute-force login attempts, malicious IP requests, XML-RPC requests, block the upload of PHP scripts, and restrict access to unauthorised sections of WordPress.

There’s often overlap between the plugins, so it’s best to choose one service or be sure to configure the plugins so that they don’t interfere with each other. It’s also worth considering DNS security from Cloudflare and making sure that your hosting server is properly secured.


Favicons aren’t just used in the browser tab. They are also used on mobile devices when saving a bookmark to the home screen, as icons for tiles on Windows, and in the touch bar on MacBooks. Your favicon can help your website stand out, and it’s easy to create all the files you need with an online generator.

There are plenty of online favicon generators to choose from, but Real Favicon Generator does a great job.

Image files can make up the largest part of a website. Optimising the size of the images on your site can be the easiest way to improve the load time of your website.

You can optimise your images in a number of ways;

  • Make sure that your images are saved in the best format for the image type. In general, JPG for photos and PNG for charts or images with a lot of text.
  • Always edit your images and make sure that the image dimensions are never larger than you need.
  • Ensure that you export your images from your image editor using the “for web” option.
  • Compress your images using ImageOptim (Mac) or FileOptimizer (Windows).
  • For images already loaded on your site, you can use an optimisation plugin — I recommend using EWWW Image Optimizer which helps to optimise your images, serve modern image formats like webp, and even provides a CDN.


If you’re not sure about analytics, consider less invasive, privacy-friendly options, like Koko Analytics or Fathom Analytics.

If you’re going to use Google Analytics, make sure that your account is properly configured, with the necessary filtering to get rid of analytics spam. Include internal search tracking to see what users are looking for on your website. Add event tracking if needed.


Make sure that WordPress is allowing your site to be indexed by search engines. From the menu, Settings > Reading there is an option to discourage search engines from indexing your site. It’s useful to select this option when your site is being developed but you’ll want it disabled when you launch.

A robots.txt file gives instructions to web crawlers and bots, such as the Googlebot, that index content on the internet. The file will tell crawlers what parts of a site they are allowed or not allowed to crawl, and also points them to your sitemap file.

Even if you aren’t worried about what is being crawled, most bots will attempt to access the file. If it isn’t available, you might end up with a lot of access and error log entries.

Below is a basic example for a WordPress website, as recommended by Yoast:

User-agent: *

An XML sitemap is a file that helps search engines discover the content on your website.

There are a number of plugins that will generate an XML sitemap, including SEO plugins such as Yoast. I prefer Google Sitemap Generator. It’s simple to use and offers a good amount of configuration.

Once your site is live, add the domain to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools along with a direct link to the sitemap.xml file you have generated.

The search engine consoles will also flag any issues with crawling your site, along with other recommendations, and should be part of your post-launch review process.