Launching a new WordPress website is exciting and fulfilling and if we're honest, more than a bit stressful. Even with an easy to follow website pre-launch checklist . But the work is not yet over.
Even if you have a top-notch quality control process, there are a few issues that are difficult to detect before launching a new website. Below are the 5 most common issues that occur on WordPress sites after the site goes live, and tips on how to fix them quickly.
1. Spam Submissions on Contact Forms
It's difficult to determine what level of spam protection is needed before a website goes live. Spam – whether unwanted or downright harmful – is so widespread on the web these days that it can be hard to avoid completely, and it's very common for a website owner to be inundated with spam form submissions shortly after launch.
There are 2 common ways to battle spot bots: honeypots and captchas. Honeypots refers to the method of adding a field to a form that is hidden to users but that bots will fill out. For WordPress sites, there are plenty of popular form plugins like Gravity Forms and Contact Form 7 that offer simple steps to enable honeypots.
Another option is to add a captcha to a form which requires a user to complete a little puzzle to prove they aren't a robot. Captcha options have improved over the years and Google recaptcha now offers an invisible captcha with different settings. Some websites may require both honeypots and a captcha to reduce a high volume of submissions (luckily there are a variety of anti-spam plugins available).
2. Slow Performance Due to Hosting Configuration
Performance has been a critical focus for every WordPress site ever since mobile page speed became a Google ranking factor in 2018 . Poor page load times and downtime can have a far-reaching negative impact on a new website, but there are several steps you can take to mitigate any potential harm.
Start by running preliminary speed and performance tests while redesigning a website on a production server. These initial tests can take the edge off any future issues, but post-launch tests will yield the most accurate results, especially when it comes to high-traffic websites.
If you see slow page load times, evaluate the hosting configuration first. Is the website on a shared hosting server with limited resources? Can the server handle the volume of traffic?
Since most web designers and developers follow best practices for optimizing images , you typically won't find image optimization as a top performance culprit on a new site.
Most performance tests will break down the server response time, and this metric can help pinpoint whether you need to change hosting setups or services. In addition to performance, you may want to test an uptime monitoring system for the first 30 days after launch.
3. Indexing Errors with Google Search Console
Indexing problems often occur with new websites, especially for sites with major changes to the URL structure and numerous redirects. Google Search Console is a great tool to find indexing errors.
Within Google Search Console, review the Index Coverage Report and look at the troubleshoot section for any errors. Here are some of the most common error messages that may occur after launching a new website:
- Pages Are Blocked by robots.txt
- Page marked no index
- Page has a crawl issue
- Submitted URL is soft 404
- Submitted URL is 404
For any errors related to a robots.txt or no index setting, always double check that the general reading setting in the WordPress site for "discourage search engines from indexing this site" has been unchecked after launch. This can be a simple yet significant mistake for a new website.
For specific page URLs marked as no index, you'll need to review the website settings and whether certain pages need to remain no index or be adjusted. A crawl issue in the Index Coverage Report can be harder to resolve. The URL inspection tool in Google Search Console is the best way to gather more data on what may be causing the issue.
If any 404 errors have been detected, it's critical to address these as soon as possible. Having numerous 404 errors can hurt existing website rankings. Beyond these common error messages, Google Search Console may reveal additional data such as mobility errors and performance reviews that can also be helpful to evaluate post-launch.
4. Incorrect Featured Image for Social Sharing
Launching a new website is an amazing marketing opportunity and of course, you'll want to share the beautiful new site on social media and various marketing channels.
Before you or anyone hits the share button, check the featured image for the home page. Test sharing the website URL on a social media platform and see what featured image and text shows up for the URL.
If you haven't reviewed the social sharing settings, it's very common for a platform like Facebook to pull a random image from the home page, turning your exciting post into a disappointing preview of the new website.
There are several ways to adjust these settings. Facebook and several platforms use open graph protocol. You can use the Facebook open graph debugging tool to see the current information that the platform is using when the home page URL is shared. After adjusting the open graph protocol on your home page, you can use the debugging tool to clear the Facebook cache for the URL.
The Yoast SEO is another helpful tool for social sharing settings. The free plugin includes a social media section for Facebook and Twitter. Since these are 2 of the main social media platforms, fixing the settings for these platforms will often ensure that the website looks great when shared on other ones. Or you can use these tips to create shareable images for social media (manually or with the help of a plugin).
5. Missing or Incorrect Tracking Codes
Most analytics platforms and advertising campaigns rely on tracking codes to collect data on your website. When redesigning an existing website, you may not realize or remember that these tracking codes were set up in the past and may forget to move them over to the new website.
You may be employing several marketing campaigns to coincide with the launch of the new site. Having the incorrect tracking codes or forgetting to add them can cause several issues, including a major lapse in data collection right when you need it the most.
If you are using Google Tag Manager to handle all your tracking, you'll often have the Google Tag code on the site and all of the additional tracking codes within the tag manager. However, if you are missing the primary Google Tag Manager code on the new website, this could lead to a loss of data on numerous tracking platforms.
As a post-launch checklist item, take a look at any analytics or tracking software, such as Google Analytics, right after launch and then again 30 days later. Look for irregularities and drops in data. Most tracking codes are added to the header of the website, so you can also do a review of the header codes for any existing or missing codes.
Avoid Post-Launch Hassles
And there you have it: 5 post-launch quality control tasks that help you to avoid as much post-launch hassle as possible.
After all, launching a site is a huge accomplishment, and no doubt you'd rather enjoy smooth sailing rather than fuss with avoidable problems.
Have you run into any other issues after launching your site? Or do you have additional post-launch tips you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments section.
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