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How to Fix Http 404 Error - Not Found on WordPress Website

How to Fix Http 404 Error – Not Found on WordPress Site

How to Fix Error 404 - Not Found on WordPress Website

There are many potential errors you might see on your WordPress website and Error 404 Not Found is one of the common ones.

But that does not mean it is not frustrating when you or your visitors try to browse your site and keep running into the Error 404 Not Found message.

That is the last thing you want for first time potential customers to see of your brand.

How to Fix Http 404 Error - Not Found on WordPress Site

A 404 error can also be an indicator to you that something has changed or moved and a 301 redirect probably needs to be added for SEO purposes.

In this post we are going to help you get your site working again by explaining a few things:

What is the Error 404 Not Found?

Whenever you or any of your visitors go to your website, your browser sends a request to the web server and receives back data including something called an HTTP header. The HTTP header includes HTTP status codes to explain what happened with the request.

Most of the time the request works perfectly and you will never actually see the HTTP status code but if something goes wrong then your web browser will usually display a message with the HTTP status code to indicate the exact problem.

Just like other error messages -500 error, 502 error, 504 error, etc the Error 404 Not Found message is the result of that process.

What Does Error 404 Not Found Actually Mean?

Basically it means that the client – your visitor’s or web browser was able to successfully connect to the host – your website’s server but it was unable to find the actual resource that was requested like a specific URL or filename.

For instance If you try accessing a specific URL like a domain.com/what-is-WordPress and if no content carries that name then you will get a 404 error message.

What Does Error 404 Not Found Actually Mean

This error has absolutely nothing to do with your server -it just means the requested file such as image, page, JavaScript, CSS or post is missing.

When a 404 error message pops up it simply means the server cannot find the file the user requests.

What Causes Error 404 Not Found on WordPress?

Some of the common causes of 404 errors are as follows:

  • A mistyped URL.
  • Caching problems.
  • An issue with your Domain Name System (DNS) settings.
  • WordPress compatibility issues.

If you get this error on the entire sites content then it is typically due to an issue with your WordPress site’s permalinks.

However if you only see it on certain individual pieces of content then it is most likely because you changed a piece of content’s slug without setting up a redirect.

This means that the content accessible at the Web address URL you have just accessed does not exist or no longer exists.

what causes http 404 error

The difference between the two can often help a user find the right URL if they use common sense.

As a webmaster you need to correct the link as soon as possible because it may risk losing a very large majority of visitors and sales – who are not going to bother doing if they cannot access your product page or blog article or other by any other means.

The consequences can be devastating for both the traffic on the site and for the turnover of an online store therefore you must be vigilant and watch this closely to correct any 404 errors as soon as it occurs.

To monitor this Google Search Console will be ideal and saves time in corrective actions. We strongly recommend you to use 404 broken link finder tools mentioned below in this article.

Error 404 Not Found Variations

Because each web browser displays error messages differently – you might see a different message for this error.

Other common variations include:

  • Error 404
  • 404 Not Found
  • HTTP Error 404
  • 404 – file or directory not found.
  • ERROR 404. PAGE NOT FOUND On WordPress site
  • The requested URL was not found on this server.
  • The page cannot be found
  • We can’t find the page you are looking for.
  •  The requested URL was not found on this server
google 404 not found page

The Error 404 Not Found message is also unique in that many sites will actually create a custom page to address the error rather showing one of the messages above.

Some WordPress themes also include custom 404 pages by default. For that reason you might not actually see the error message at all because many sites will use funny or creative 404 pages instead.

custom error 404 not found page

If you create a 404 Error Page – try to include a search box and some of your recent blog posts to help visitors find what they might be looking for. Always include search functionality on your 404 page.

Error 404 Not Found Impact on SEO

Error 404 Not Found does not have any inherent negative impact on SEO. But it might have a negative impact depending on the reason for why the error is happening.

For example -if a visitor just mistypes a URL and sees a 404 error then there would not be a negative impact on SEO.

no negative impact on seo

But if you have individual errors because of broken URLs then that will inhibit Google’s ability to properly crawl your site and this can have a negative SEO effect in that way.

Additionally if a permalink issue is causing site wide 404 errors then Google would not be able to crawl any of your site’s content. In other words always fix your 404 errors as soon as possible.

Error 404 Not Found Impact on Site Performance

Many sites do not realise that generating a lot of 404 errors can easily run into performance issues since these responses are not cached especially on larger sites.

To minimise the impact of 404 requests on site performance you need to automatically cache 404 pages for 15 minutes.

If you create a new page with the same URL as the cached 404 page then you need to automatically purge the cache so your visitors will be able to see the new page immediately.

minimise error 404 impact on site performance

This means your site will be protected from Hypertext Preprocessor – PHP and CPU spikes caused by traffic to dynamic 404 pages.

You are probably generating more 404 errors than you think and using the appropriate tools can help you determine the exact amount.

For example – a certain site is missing some mobile icons such as /apple-touch-icon.png.

These are most likely in a theme or plugin’s code that is getting queried but the actual icons were never added therefore the server generates a 404 error as it cannot find the resources.

WordPress is a flexible platform – no doubt but its flexibility can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes doing too much can overtake some settings and the whole hell breaks loose, random errors start appearing and your site goes down.

Luckily because WordPress has so many users therefore finding help is not difficult. 

How to Fix Error 404 Page Not Found in WordPress?

We will cover a couple different methods for how to fix the Error 404 Not Found message depending on whether it is happening site wide or to specific content.

Because this error discloses inconsistency with a link therefore it can resolve the same by properly configuring and saving WordPress permalinks.

You should also correct the linking structure using a .htaccess file.

how to fix error 404 page not found

1. Update Your Permalinks

It is a simple solution to fix 404 error in WordPress by saving WordPress permalinks. This will update .htaccess file with the correct configurations for WordPress website.

The easiest way to fix this is to update your permalink settings through the WordPress dashboard via WP-login or WP-admin.

wordpress wp admin

All you need to do is go to Settings → Permalinks. 

permalinks settings

Then scroll down and click on Save Changes. You do not need to make any changes – clicking Save Changes is enough.

save settings

Now try accessing the posts to see if the 404 error is fixed.

If saving the permalinks did not solve the 404 issues then you can manually reset permalinks by editing the .htaccess file.

To do this you need to access WordPress files using FTP or cpanel. When connected via FTP locate .htaccess file and edit it.

manually reset permalinks ia htaccess files

Add in one of the following codes, save and upload the updated file to your server:

If site is on the main domain – e.g. www.yoursite.com then add this code to .htaccess file:

adding code

Or copy and paste below:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

After editing and uploading a new file, refresh your site and access posts/pages to see if this fixes the 404 issues.

B. If WordPress Site in a Subdomain

If your site is installed in a subdomain like a blog.yoursite.com then use this code instead.

if wordpress is in a sundomain

Or copy and paste below:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteRule ^wp-admin$ wp-admin/ [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
RewriteRule ^ – [L]
RewriteRule ^(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) $1 [L]
RewriteRule ^(.*\.php)$ $1 [L]
RewriteRule . index.php [L]

C. When WordPress in subdirectory

If your site is on a subdirectory like as – www.yoursite.com/blog then edit .htaccess to include this code instead.

when wordpress is in subdirectory

Or copy and paste below:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?wp-admin$ $1wp-admin/ [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
RewriteRule ^ – [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) $2 [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(.*\.php)$ $2 [L]
RewriteRule . index.php [L]

3. Set Up 301 Redirects for Moved or Renamed Content

The 301 redirect is the most effective solution for correcting 404 errors on your site.

However it must be done correctly to redirect to the right pages as appropriate:

  • The page with error 404 has been replaced on the site by a new page which has a different URL: We are redirecting directly to this new page.
  • The page with error 404 has not been replaced on the site: We are redirecting to a page with similar content. If no similar content exists then it is also possible to redirect to the category page of the old content. As a last resort- redirect to the home page but do not do this systematically.
  • Before deleting a page and redirecting always ensure to check if it has backlinks or external links, visits and if it is still well-positioned in Google.
set up 301 redirects for moved - renamed contents

To begin -you can use a free Redirection plugin to fix redirects from your WordPress dashboard. After installing and configuring the plugin visit the Tools menu and select Redirection and then type the 404 page URL in the Source URL box and the new working URL in the Target URL box.

how to start redirection in wordpress

Manually in the .htaccess of your hosting panel via cpanel – using the piece of code:

  • To 301 Redirect a Page:

RedirectPermanent /old-file.html http:// www.domain.com/new-file.html

  • To 301 Redirect an Entire Domain:

RedirectPermanent / http:// www.new-domain.com/

Once you have inserted the commands to 301 redirect your pages you need to ensure that there is a blank line at the end of the file.

Your server will read the .htaccess file line by line which means you need to throw an end line character to signify that you are finished.

An easy way to do this is to put a blank line at the bottom of the file.

Now that you have cleaned up your 404 errors – you can now anticipate this type of problem by creating a well-designed custom 404 page.

You can get inspiration from Google which offers different original creations than others.

Edit .htaccess

You need to edit the .htaccess file and add a snippet of code at the top which can be done in a number of ways. You can either get it done through an FTP program’s edit mode or edit the file on your PC and then upload it to the server via FTP or you can do this via cPanel >> File Manager.

This is the code:

manual 301 redirection via htaccess files

Or copy and paste below:

# BEGIN WordPress

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule ./index.php [L]

# END WordPress

While you can do your best to prevent 404 errors by using the tips above it is impossible to entirely eliminate 404 errors because some things are just plain outside your control. It is not uncommon for small WordPress sites to have thousands of 404 errors every month.

For example – if a visitor mistypes the URL or if another website links to a page that does not exist then people are going to get 404 errors no matter what.

To provide a more user-friendly error page you can use one of the many 404 page plugins.

create your own error 404 page not found

For example the free 404 page plugin lets you set up a custom 404 error page with:

  • A search box
  • Important links
  • Contact information

Another important feature of the 404page plugin is that it does not create redirects. A 404 page should never be redirected to a physical page such as yoursite.com/404.

The 404 error should always be generated dynamically on the page in question.

By including these elements you are providing your visitors the tools they need to find their way to the right page.

Always remember – keep your 404 page light for better performance and only include what is absolutely needed.

How to Monitor 404 Errors Going Forward

Going forward it would be beneficial to pay attention to which requests are causing 404 errors at your site.

This can help you:

  • Find broken links that are sending people to a non-existent resource which could be internal links or external links. You want to do your best to fix those links if it is all possible.
  • See which pages Google is having trouble crawling. You want to figure out why Google is trying to crawl a non-existent page and set up a redirect if needed.
  • Troubleshoot issues and improve performance with regards to 404 errors.
how to monitor 404 error going forward

Use Google Analytics Tools

For example – you could trigger the following event on load of the error page:

ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘error’, ‘404’, location.pathname);

With the help of Google Analytics, you can set up a custom report to track 404 errors from external links.

404 error using google analytic tool

Using Google Search Console

You can track 404 errors that Google’s crawlers encounter in Google Search Console.

Once you have verified your site with Google Search Console – go to Crawl → Crawl Errors → Not found to view a list of 404 errors that Google has encountered.

This is by far one of the easiest ways. It is also the best in terms of performance because it requires no third-party plugins or additional scanning against your site.

track 404 error with google search console

Google’s bots are already crawling your site on a regular basis so why not simply take advantage of the data they already provide? 😉

This can also help you to improve the user experience and the visibility of your website.

In most cases these solutions will fix the WordPress posts 404 error.

Use WordPress Plugin

If you want to use a WordPress plugin the abovementioned Redirection plugin can help you monitor for 404 errors from your WordPress dashboard.

Use Third-Party Audit Tool

You can also use a third-party audit tool like Ahrefs to monitor for 404 errors on your WordPress site. You can even set this up to run on a schedule.

ahref to track 404 error

To check every link on your website to determine whether the link leads to a 404 error, you can use broken link crawl or scan tools like:

Use Free broken link checker / dead links tools

error404.atomseo  – A free web-based online tool for checking broken or dead links (404 errors)

broken link checker - atomseo

Dead Link Checker: Free Broken Link Checking Tool

dead link checker

Broken Link Checker – Free Broken Link Checker Tool

broken link checker

Dr. Link Check: Broken Link Checker

Dr link checker

Hexometer – Broken Links Scanner for 404 or Dead links

hexometer

Conclusion

Unfortunately http 404 errors will happen on your site whether you like it or not.

The larger your WordPress site is the more you will start seeing this. We recommend getting a good workflow together for how you monitor these types of errors and go about fixing them.

404 errors are never good for visitors, your brand or business and Google definitely does not like to see them either.

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and select the package that suits your business needs.

If you prefer to discuss your requirements first just

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How to Fix Http 404 Error – Not Found on WordPress Website.

Best Video Length For Social Media Platforms

Best Video Length For Social Media Platforms

What Is the Best Length For A Video for Each Social Media Platform

The best length for a video is two minutes or less and this advice comes with conditions. Different platforms, messages and audiences require different video lengths. The trends toward micro-content means viewers expect videos to be shorter on platforms that allow long-form videos.

You will see the best results when you make targeted videos that are only as long as they need to be instead of sticking to rigid guidelines. This means you deliver one message in an entertaining way without tangents or fluff.

best results when target videos deliver right messages to target customers

Keep reading on for a more in-depth dive into your ideal video lengths for various social media platforms and hosting situations. We have organised the most important points into a handy way that explores the best length for a video – be it for business or entertainment.

Where did the two-minute rule originate from?

Back in 2016, a study by Wistia found that audience engagement drops off considerably after about 2 minutes which is about 5% points from minute 2 to minute 3. After this, engagement continues to drop at a similar rate until you hit the 6 ½ minute mark.

This is when it levels off just above 50%. Video engagement stays at this level until about the 13-minute mark when engagement begins to drop again.

There are a couple of important points to note here. First – any video length up to two minutes maintains the same level of engagement. Whether your video is 15 seconds long or 110 – you will see the same level of engagement.

Second – people do not automatically walk away at the two-minute mark. Some people will start to leave at this point but you still have the bulk of your audience.

2 minute rule

If your video really needs to be at least six minutes then audiences who have stuck with you this long will likely hang on a little longer so do not cut your content short for fear of losing them. If you are offering something useful or entertaining then they will probably stay with you for another few minutes.

However there are a few limitations to Wistia’s data that we should point out. Wistia is a video software and hosting company that works mostly with businesses that apply to self-hosted videos but may not be as relevant to social media platforms.

Their data also includes about 560,000 videos that have not been segmented based on audience, goals or industry which means that we are dealing with averages here. In short – your results may vary.

How to Choose the Best Length for a Business Video

If two minutes is just a broad guideline – how do you decide how long your video should be?

The answer is simple – your video should be exactly as long as it needs to be and no longer which means that you are not aiming for a specific number of minutes or seconds. You should focus on your message and how to make it clear, concise and engaging.

These best practices will help get you started and they are all equally important.

1. Start with a single - focused message

If you try to convey too many messages viewers are unlikely to hear any of them. Multiple messages require longer and more complex videos. The attention of your viewers may wander.

One focused message

If your topic is complex then drill down to a single question and just answer that. If necessary – you can create a series of videos to cover other related questions.

The key takeaway is: stay focused. Videos that take too long to get to the point lose viewer interest.

2. Where does your video fits in the marketing funnel

If someone has never heard of your business or product – they do not know what to expect and it might be too much to ask them to commit to a long video. On the other hand, videos for your established audiences can be much longer.

For example – a video tutorial on how to use your product might need to be less than a minute long if it is going to be shared on social media. The video that will be emailed to customers after they have purchased a product can be a little longer.

where does your videos fit in the marketing funnel

In the first case – your goal is to help new customers decide whether your product is easy to use. In the second case – you go into more detail because users are relying on you to help them understand what they have purchased.

3. Plan your video length based on your platform

From social media to self-hosting, the platform will determine how long your video can and should be. Do not just create a video and blast it out on every channel.

Make sure to learn and be aware from the start where you intend to share your video. We examine ideal video lengths for each platform in detail below.

Best Length for a Video By Platform

Every platform has its own length guidelines based on what the platform is capable of hosting and what it thinks its audience wants to see. When selecting an ideal video length, always keep your intended distribution channel in mind.

Plan your video length based on your social media platform

Here are some of the more common platforms and guidelines for each.

Facebook Ads

Length: 15 seconds

For Facebook feed video ads, you can share ads as long as 241 minutes. Yes – that is minutes and not seconds so in theory – you could have a Facebook ad that runs for 4 hours. We do not recommend doing so and neither does the platform. Facebook says that more people will watch to the end of video ads that are 15 seconds or less.

In-stream video ads  – this are ads played while someone is watching another video can be no more than 120 seconds and should be much shorter to avoid annoying your audience.

facebook video ads length

Remember – you are serving this ad to someone who is actively watching something else therefore minimising the disruption is a smart strategy. For videos shared on your Facebook page ensure to keep the two-minute rule in mind.

Video ads on Instagram can be no longer than 60 seconds. Facebook – which owns Instagram loves to stress that videos from Facebook can easily be repurposed as Instagram ads but this only works if your Facebook ads are short.

This is one reason why it is a good idea to apply Facebook’s 15-second guideline on Instagram too. Videos in an Instagram feed loop continuously so take that into account when planning your video.

instagram best video length and instagram tv -igtv

The rebranding of IGTV as Instagram TV means that organic videos on Instagram can now be up to 60 minutes long. Instagram Reels also updated their video length limits and you can now share videos up to 60 seconds long.

Tik Tok

Length: 16 seconds

Tik Tok lets you create videos up to 60 seconds long however the best average length was about 16 seconds according to one marketer who examined Tik Tok’s best 100 videos in 2019.

tik tok best video length

The exception might be if you are making a News Feed App Series Video Ad. In this case, you might want to aim for closer to 60 seconds.

Twitter

Length: 6 - 15 seconds

Videos on Twitter can be up to 140 seconds long. For ads, Twitter recommends videos that run between 6 to 15 seconds. Keep in mind that Twitter is all about quick content consumption so shorter is almost certainly better whether sharing to followers or serving an ad.

twitter best video length

Live videos are the exception to the shorter-is-better rule. With live videos, your goal is not to deliver a quick, focused message but you want to engage your audience in a more personal way.

Longer videos give more opportunity for your followers to see that you are live, join the stream and maybe even interact with you directly.

social media exception - as long as it is reasonable

When the live is over – you might take 20 to 60 seconds of it and repurpose that into a video for wider sharing and only do this if you have a section of the video that includes a clear, concise message.

Slicing out any random section of your live will not achieve much. You are much better off shooting a scripted video that gets your message across for those who were unable to join the live.

The average YouTube user can upload videos that are up to 15 minutes long. Verified accounts can go much longer. The platform hosts such a wide range of videos that it is not simple to make a unilateral statement about video length.

Many of the top most viewed videos of all time are music videos featuring celebrities. The rest are videos aimed at children.

It would be a mistake to assume that what works for them will work for you. Many YouTubers recommend making your video between 10 and 15 minutes.

youtube best video length

But these are professional YouTubers who want to make money from sponsorships and ad revenue. If your goal is to promote your business then choose your length based on where your viewer is in the funnel.

Self-hosted videos

Length: 2 to 15 minutes

The 2 minute rule also applies to self-hosted videos. If you are embedding a video on your website or directing them to your Wistia, Vimeo or another hosting page then assume that most of the audience will stick around for 2 minutes and about 50 percent will be gone by the time you get to 7 minutes.

self hosted videos best video length

Video Length by Location in Marketing Funnel

As we mentioned above – viewers who already know and trust you are more likely to watch longer videos.

Top of Funnel: Awareness

As short as possible - 30 sec or less

Top of funnel audiences have never heard of you or do not really know what you do. These audiences are least likely to invest time into watching your message.

Keep your videos aimed at them as short as possible. Ruthlessly remove anything that is not absolutely essential to your message.

top of funnel best video length

At this stage, the video should outline a problem and how you solve it and all essential info packed into a 30-second video so people who have never heard of them will be aware of your services.

Mid Funnel: Interest and Desire

Up to 2 minutes

Audiences who already know you exist are more likely to watch your videos for a longer period. People like the familiar and this gives you a few more seconds of their attention.

mid of funnel best video length

At this stage, your video needs to focus on a compelling case that shows why someone might want to purchase your product/services or join your organisation and be up to 2 minutes long.

Bottom of Funnel: Action

As long as it needs to be

At the bottom of the funnel – viewers are almost ready to act. They are willing to invest more time to make sure they are making the right decision.

bottom of funnel - as long as it needs to be

Webinars, tutorials and other long-form content can perform well if they are aimed at customers who are almost ready or ready to act.

Attention Spans: How Short Do You Think?

If all of these different guidelines have left your head spinning – do not worry. We can simplify this even further.

You may have seen the oft-repeated statistic that the modern human’s attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. That might convince you that the best length for a video is always as short as possible – this is not true.

If it were, we would never finish a video project. Do you have any idea how long it takes to animate even 15 seconds of quality video?

The truth is that the average person will not spend more than eight seconds watching something that does not capture their interest. Your goal is not to condense your message into eight seconds or less but give your audiences a reason to keep watching.

give your target audiences a reason to keep watching

There are tonnes of content out there. Your audience must immediately know what your video is about and must quickly understand why it matters.

Video is useless – if audiences cannot tell what it is about, do not know why it matters and are not informed or entertained. Instead of focusing on length -focus on quality.

Concise, engaging and focused videos always outperform the competition every time.

The Secret to Optimal Video Length: Test and see

The secret of finding the perfect video length is that there is no perfect length that applies to all industries and all situations. You set your video up for success when you test several different video lengths and track your results.

You can streamline this process by partnering with a video creation company with experience in your industry. They will know what works and what does not.

there is no perfect length for a video

Remember that video views are not the best indicator of success – unless your goal is awareness. Choose a video metric that directly correlates to your goal for the video:

  • Did the person click the link at the end? This shows engagement.
  • Did they actually purchase something or at least sign up for a consultation call? If so, this video is effective no matter what the length is.

The best length for a video is not a hard and fast rule – it is a starting point. Your video can be longer than the ideal as long as it is that length for a reason.

If you have padded it out with extra information or gone off on tangents then cut it down.

Conclusion

The best video length for a video - meets your goals

Remember these guidelines for video length are just that – guidelines. Different audiences, industries and goals demand different video lengths.

For the simple reason – our video creation experts at Best-Digital Marketing Services have helped businesses in all kinds of industries to create the ideal video for their audience and goals.

Contact us today to start creating videos that are exactly as long as they need to be.

For full Video Production Services package functionality

and select the package that suits your business needs.

If you prefer to discuss your requirements first just

or fill your details with a message of your requirements at

Further Reading: Benefits of SEO

For more information about our services and how we can help you with your Video Marketing needs:-

Hope you are enjoying and learning a lot with abundance of information about:-

Best Video Length For Social Media Platforms.

 

Choosing the Right Type of SSL Certificate for Your Website

Choosing the Right Type of SSL Certificate for Your Website

The Right Type of SSL Certificate for Your Website

A website secured with a SSL certificate confirms to your visitors that it is safe. It also compounds the approval of search engines, confirming that your site is safe for browsing. Therefore you must get a valid SSL certificate for your website.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is a security protocol used to encrypt and authenticate the data sent between an application -like your browser and a web server. SSL certificate secures the connection between your site and your visitors from malicious affiliations.

SSL Certificate - DV SLL - OV SLL - EV SSL

SSL is closely tied to another acronym – TLS. TLS is short for Transport Layer Security – is the successor and more up-to-date version of the original SSL protocol. SSL and TLS are often referred to as a group – e.g. SSL/TLS and used interchangeably.

In this guide, we will dive deep into the different types of SSL certificates to help you make the right decision.

When & Why You Need SSL Certificate

Whether you run an E-Commerce store or a blog post, SSL is becoming absolutely crucial for every website as wearing a seatbelt before driving.

Here are the three main reasons why you will need SSL certificate for your website:

1. Data Protection and Visitor Trust

The primary purpose of SSL certificate is to ensure that the data exchanged between the user and the webserver is encrypted and protected from cyber threats like hackers, phishing and identity theft.

You do not want your visitors to get the – your connection is not private warning when they visit your website. A valid SSL certificate will help you avoid such errors and more.

SSL is an indicator to your visitors that they can safely share sensitive information such as credit card details, IDs, email addresses and passwords on your website. Therefore SSL strengthens the trust between you and your customers or visitors.

Connection Is Not Private

2. Authentication and Integrity

When you visit a website – how do you make sure that it is genuine and not a scam to steal your information? Identity verification is essential when it comes to web security and this is where SSL comes in. SSL/TLS verifies the authenticity of the web server’s identity.

To install an SSL certificate you must go through an identity verification process. In simple terms SSL is proof that your website is indeed your site and not a scam or a fake company, making it an effective barrier against phishing sites. See how you can verify your SSL certificate.

Data integrity is another critical benefit of SSL/TLS. Using a message authentication code – MAC, SSL/TLS ensures the data transmitted is not lost or changed in any way. The messages sent are received as they are.

3. Improves Search Engine Ranking

Search engines like Google have cracked down on insecure websites and made it clear that they prefer SSL encrypted sites to make web browsing a safer place for all — HTTPS instead of HTTP. SSL turns Hypertext Transfer Protocol – HTTP to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure – HTTPS.

Therefore if you want your website to be on the first page of Google then having a valid SSL certificate is one of the must-haves. SSL is now part of SEO ranking signal.

A website secured with an SSL certificate informs customers or visitors that it is safe and wins the approval of search engines.

Choose The Right SSL Certificate

How SSL Certificates Work

We have established that SSL encrypts and secures the connection between the hosting server and your customer’s web browser or app.

Assuming that your website is secured with an SSL certificate so when a person visits your website, their browser will request your website’s hosting server to identify itself.

The server will respond by sending the browser a copy of its SSL certificate. The browser will also do some validation checks to verify that the SSL certificate is trusted and sends a signal to the server.

In return, the server will digitally respond in acknowledgment to begin an SSL encrypted session between your website and the visitor’s browser.

How SSL Certificate Works

Types of SSL Certificates

There are two different categories in differentiating the types of SSL certificates — the number of domains and subdomains and the level of validation of the certificate.

By definition there are four different SSL certificate types:

1. Single Domain SSL Certificates

As the name suggests this type of certificate secures a single domain and all the pages on that domain. It will not secure any associated subdomains.

For example, if you have an SSL certificate for the domain www.mysite.com. It will also cover all the pages related to this domain such as www.mysite.com/web-features/ but it will not cover any subdomains such as www.support.mysite.com.

2. Wildcard SSL Certificates

Like the single-domain SSL certificate, the Wildcard SSL certificate only secures a single domain. However it also covers unlimited number of subdomains relating to that single domain. A single Wildcard SSL certificate protects them all.

3. Multi-Domain SSL Certificates

Multi-domain SSL certificates provide security for several different domains with just one certificate by using the SAN extension.

These certificates are usually called SAN certificates for this very reason.

Subject Alternative Name - SAN

With multi-domain SSL certificates, you can combine many different hostnames regardless of whether they are from the same domain or not.

This SSL certificate’s purpose is the complete opposite of the Wildcard SSL certificate as it secures multiple domains but does not secure any related subdomains. It is also known as Subject Alternative Name – SAN and Unified Communication Certificate – UCC.

The multi-domain Wildcard SSL certificate combines the features of both the multi-domain and the Wildcard SSL certificates.

In other words, with a single certificate, you are able to secure multiple domains as well as all their related subdomains.

SSL Validation Levels

Validation level refers to how the Certificate Authority – CA confirms the identity of the company and person/s who are applying to obtain the certificate.

There are three main types of certificates: Domain Validated – DV, Organisation Validated – OV and Extended Validation – EV.

When a security certificate is not trusted, users will receive the following notification:

Security Certificaate is Not Trusted

An authentic authority must obtain the certificate so that users will not see this message. Any certificate will provide the same level of protection no matter the type of validation.

But some authorities might require a specific level of validation to use certain services. For example – a payment system requires much more validation than a plain domain certificate.

This is because it is important to verify that the organisation collecting funds legally exists as a registered business.

Now let’s take a look at domain validated SSL certificates first.

Domain Validated SSL certificates show that a domain is registered and that a site administrator is running the URL.

The certificate authority can validate this through an email, DNS or HTTP.

Domain Validation - DV SSL

When validating via email – the certificate authority will send an email to the administrator who maybe the owner or manager of the site. He/she will need to click a link in the email requesting the certificate to verify.

E-mail Validation

With DNS verification, the owner or manager will validate that they own or manage the site through a DNS record that is attached to the website domain.

A DNS record is a text file showing which IP addresses each domain is associated with.

DNS Validation

 

HTTP validation includes the owner proving ownership by creating and saving a text file in the public web root of their domain.

Once a certificate is valid and the authority signs it, web browsers will show that there is now a secure HTTPS connection.

HTTPS Validation

Domain validated certificates are encryption certificates only. All you have to do to obtain one is prove your ownership of the site.

Because they are so easy to obtain there are several advantages and disadvantages of domain validated SSL certificates.

They are reasonably cheap. The process for obtaining a domain validated SSL certificate is normally via automation making it cost less than other SSL certificates.

It does not take long to obtain one. You can get an SSL in just a few minutes and you do not have to send extra documents to verify your business.

> They are not as secure as other SSL certificates. Any hacker can obtain a domain validated SSL certificate and then hide their identity. That is true for your site if they attack your DNS servers. There’s no way to verify identities for sure when it comes to domain validated certificates.

>  Because of this, visitors might not trust your site as much as they would if you had a certificate that forced you to validate your company.

>  Potential buyers might not feel comfortable handing their payment information over with this kind of certificate.

DV is the simplest form of SSL certificate validation and only applies to domain ownership verification.

It is usually done through email verification and does not require any further investigations from the CA. It is the cheapest and fastest way to acquire an SSL certificate.

2. Organisation Validation (OV) SSL Certificates

The organisation validated SSL certificate shows that you own a domain while also verifying that you own a business in a particular country, state and city.

The process for obtaining one of these certificates is exactly like getting a domain validated certificate but you need to take some extra steps to verify your company’s identity.

Organisation Validation

It does not take too long to obtain this kind of certificate – anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

These kinds of certificates also show your company’s information in the certificate details.

Having this extra information might seem a bit more legitimate for consumers – leading them to make a purchase. These certificates are considered very reliable.

3. Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates

The extended validation SSL certificate requires businesses to provide even more records to prove their ownership of a company.

This certificate gives you the same kind of validation as both domain and organisation validated certificates and it also proves that you have legally registered your company as a business.

In addition, it also shows that a business is aware of the request for an SSL certificate and approves it.

Extended Validation

This validation can take days or weeks depending on what the certificate authority requires. This one requires you to provide documents certifying your company’s identity as well as some other bits of information.

You can easily identify these kinds of certificates by the green bar in your web browser that contains the company’s name.

The certificate authorities only grant these kinds of certificates after they have received documents that prove two things:

  1. the operational existence and location of a company and
  2. the consistency between those records.

After this, the certificate authority that issues the certificate will issue the proper authorisation to the company and the website. This is the most secure type of SSL certificate when it comes to validation level.

EV SSL is typical among business websites and offers the highest level of trust and reliability. It involves a full background check of your business. Acquiring this certificate involves a strict vetting process by the CA.

On some browsers, the business names with EV SSL certificates are displayed prominently. They will be shown in green beside the domain name when accessing their website.

SSL Certificate Type
Validation Level
Single Domain
DV or OV
Wildcard
DV or OV
Multi Domain
EV
Multi Domain Wildcard
EV

Benefits & Drawbacks of Different SSL Certificates

In terms of security, protecting your website with an SSL certificate does not carry any disadvantages. However each type of certificate has its strengths and weaknesses thus making each one suitable for a different purpose or needs.

Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of the different SSL certificates that we discussed above.

Starting with the single-domain SSL certificate, the main significant advantage is that it is an affordable certificate type and covers all the pages related to the domain. The only setback is that it does not secure any subdomains.

A Wildcard SSL certificate is more expensive but it covers a single domain -all its related pages and an unlimited number of subdomains at the first level. Unfortunately, it does not cover any subdomains at the second level.

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Multi-domain SSL certificates cover multiple domains at the same time. Even though they seem expensive, you only acquire one that covers all your domains instead of obtaining an SSL certificate for each domain thus making it more cost-effective.

The multi-domain Wildcard SSL Certificate has the advantage of both types – covering up to 100 domains and unlimited subdomains at the first level. The only disadvantage is it can be very expensive however like the multi-domain SSL certificate, the Wildcard SSL is very cost-effective for large websites or businesses.

How to Choose the Right SSL Certificate

As mentioned earlier, SSL certificates come in different variation. If you want your website to look legitimate and be trusted by your visitors but not sure which SSL certificate will meet your needs, we will help you make the right choice.

  • For a small or personal website with a single domain then the single-domain SSL certificate is more suitable for you as it is affordable and does the job.
  • If your business website has a single domain with multiple subdomains then the Wildcard SSL certificate is the way to go and will be much cheaper than acquiring a separate SSL certificate for each subdomain.
  • For larger websites or businesses with more than one domain such as a company that owns multiple brands, each with its own domain then multi-domain SSL certificate is a wise choice. This will cover all your domains and is cheaper than getting an SSL certificate for each domain.
  • If your business or organisation wants to save both time and money, the multi-domain Wildcard SSL is ideal for securing multiple domains as well as an unlimited number of subdomains.

For your simplicity reference, here is a quick table outlining the benefits of each SSL certificate type:

How Do Visitors Know If Your Website Is Secure and Safe?

Your visitors will easily know if your website is safe and secure or whether your SSL certificate is valid or not. We will show you how.

Look at the address bar of the website homepage and you will see a small padlock which means that your website is SSL secured.

If you are using the Google Chrome browser then click on the padlock sign and select Certificate. You will be able to view all the details you need to know about the SSL certificate installed on your website: who issued it, to whom it belongs and its validity date.

In addition to the small padlock sign, you will notice that the URL in the address bar starts with HTTPS.

HTTPS indicates that the connection on our website is safe, secure and that it has an authorised SSL certificate.

Secure Website - HTTPS - https

Cost of SSL Certificates

The cost of SSL certificates varies from pinch of salt to buying a Bentley per se depending on the type of certificate, validation level and where you are purchasing it from.

For example, Let’s Encrypt is an open Certificate Authority – CA that offers free SSL/TLS certificates. You can get free SSL hosting powered by Let’s Encrypt integration for all your WordPress sites from Best-Digital Marketing.

When investing in a premium or paid SSL certificate, the cost of DV and single-domain SSL certificates is the most affordable.

Best SSL Certificates Prices

As your business demand grows and you take higher steps up the SSL ladder, you will find that Wildcard SSL certificates come at a higher cost. In contrast, OV and EV SSL certificates are the most expensive and provide the highest encryption for organisations and enterprises.

Struggling to choose the right SSL certificate for your business? 

Conclusion

SSL certificates are widely adopted by almost every website to guarantee a secure internet connection and with the increase in cyber-attacks, its enforcement is strictly popular by search engines.

You now have a clear idea about the different types of SSL certificates and their various validation levels. We hope that it helps you choose the most suitable SSL certificate for your website.

Do you have any questions about choosing the right SSL certificate? Feel FREE to contact us should you need any help with SSL Certificates.

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Choosing the Right Type of SSL Certificate for Your Website

How To Launch A Website On Google With Checklist

How To Launch A Website On Google With Checklist

How To Launch A Website On Google With Checklist

Launching a new website can be a tedious task but you can alleviate some of the stress by using this comprehensive website launch checklist.

If you are just getting started on your first website then here is a comprehensive checklist that can help you streamline your process.

As professional website builders, we admit that launching a new website can be stressful and even so for the most seasoned digital marketers.

Websites are complex and sophisticated arena of the digital world. There are so many things that are easily overlooked such as a broken link or a misspelled word and of course – a handful of things could go exceptionally wrong. 

Launch Your Website On Google With Checklist

For instance – what if you forget to test an important data capture form that loses out on generating new leads or what if you forget to set up website redirects which gives valuable search engine visitors – a page not found message?

It would be much easier to have a comprehensive website checklist to run down before every website launch rather than worry about the uncertain. 

At Best-Digital Marketing – we have created just that. Keep reading to learn everything you need to do before launching a website and it is one that you could use for enterprise websites, microsites, landing pages and everything in between?

Table Of Content

Below are the content on Launching Your Website On Google With Checklist

Click on any of them to get diectly to your prefered section or you can scroll down slowly and read from the start.

What Should You Do Before Creating Your Website Design

Whether this is your first website that is being built from scratch or you are doing a website redesign, there are a few steps that you should take before hiring a web designer like Best-Digital Marketing or diving in yourself.

1. Analyse your existing website

In order to make good decisions, you must first understand where you have been. This means starting with your existing website if you have one. Ask yourself: 

  • What is the purpose for my new design or overhaul?
  • What have not accomplished with this existing site?
  • How will my new design serve my new business?
  • What does it lack to reach my full potential?

The answers to these questions will help you identify your gaps which will then confirm your goal setting for the new site.

Analyse Existing Website

2. Crawl existing site and document its structure.

You can get an idea of your site’s existing structure, pages and assets by using a crawling tool such as Screaming Frog, SEMrush, Deep Crawl or Sitechecker.pro.

This is an absolutely necessary step in creating your website development plan because you will have a concrete view of what pages existed before, what redirects are in place and what the Meta data currently looks like.

3. Compare new and old website for benchmark data and confirm testing procedures.

Here you want to compare how your new site is performing compared to the old one and continue to identify gaps that will provide data-driven insights to help your with your new strategy.

Ultimately you want to confirm testing procedures. The sooner you begin testing your website to make sure all the different components are working, everything flows and there is a system for tracking bugs and enhancements – the better.

Use a more streamlined form such as Google Forms instead of asking consumers to email their thoughts so the feedback-gathering process is well organised. Finally get one person in charge of choosing which bugs to prioritise and filter all the creative feedback you receive through the form.

4. Identify your goals for the new design.

Once the above gaps have been identified, you can now begin to craft your goals for the new design. You may come to conclusions such as: 

  • The current site is cumbersome and difficult and we need ease of use. 
  • The current site no longer trendy – so we need a visual refresh. 
  • The current site does not perform, so we need a more SEO-friendly structure with a better UX. 
  • And much more.

Whatever your goals are – you will want to understand exactly how a new site will help you achieve them so that you can craft its implementation accordingly. You need to know how to achieve them and how to measure its success.

5. Define and list action items, roles and responsibilities.

Draft and create a project management checklist for the website.

  • What content needs to be written?
  • What calls-to-action need to be created? 
  • Make a master list of the things you need for your website
  • Add deadlines for when they should be completed. 
  • Assign each action item to an individual or team. It usually takes a lot of people to launch a website.
  • You have marketers writing the content; designers choosing images and laying out the overall look and feel; a technical team doing all the back-end development. 

To ensure everyone is on the same page with no role confusion, you need to lay out a comprehensive plan for what each team or person is responsible for.

A great way to do this is by using the DARCI Decision Making Model that stands for Decision Maker/s, Accountable, Responsible, Consulted and Informed.

This is a powerful model or tool that will help everyone understand:

which individual is responsible for completing which action or item

which individual/s or group/s need to be consulted before any final decisions are made and

who needs to be consulted once a final decision has been made or an action has been taken. 

6. Prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Question and poll everyone involved in your website launch on their concerns about what could go wrong and devise a few backup plans for what to do when and if somethings go wrong.

7. Choose a Reputable and Solid Content Management System - CMS.

If you have never launched a website before then the exhaustive list below may help you. If you have already built your website then you might have already gained some experience using a CMS. 

A Content Management System or CMS often allows you to design a website from a pre-created template, optimising your content for SEO and editing content after it has been published.

Content Management System - CMS

If you are in the process of building a website – one way of going through this checklist in less time is by building your pages on a CMS that already does a lot of the work for you.

There are a few alternatives that you can test on CMS platforms however the most popular one is WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Woo-Commerce, Wix, Elementor and much more.

8. Develop a consistent brand.

Always decide on a consistent brand message and tone – one that you are committed to present consistently across all digital presence and social media. This will make you look more legitimate, credible and memorable.

  1. Understand your value proposition.
  2. Choose a mission statement, vision statement and tagline that represent value for your brand identity. 
  3. Choose colours and fonts that convey your brand identity well. 
  4. Decide on the type of images that you want to further convey your brand identity and messaging.

Take some time to ensure that your website is given a solid foundation for Technical SEO success. From site architecture and content hierarchy to Meta data and XML sitemaps, do not leave any stone unturned.

  1. Perform SEO keyword research and decide what you want to rank for. 
  2. Create a content strategy that satisfies those keywords. 
  3. Understand how your existing pages can be adjusted and which pages will need to be created new. 
  4. Determine which pages are no longer necessary.
  5. Map out where unnecessary pages can be redirected to using a 301 redirect.

Once you have an understanding of the primary pages that will exist on your website – you need to figure out what actions you want users to take and how are you going to capture their information which includes: 

  • What top-of-the-funnel offers are needed?
  • What middle-of-the-funnel offers are needed?
  • What bottom-of-the-funnel action will be presented on main pages?
  • What forms need to be created?
  • What landing pages and thank you pages need to be created?
  • How conversions will be tracked?
  • What actions will take place after a website visitor converts – email responder, etc.

Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of website data to understand and optimise web usage. Web analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research and assess and improve website effectiveness.

There are a few website analytics tools to use such as Google Analytics, Open Web Analytics, Wix Analytics, Chartbeat and much more.

  1. Choose which analytics platforms you will be using on the new site.
  2. Decide if any previous analytics tracking scripts will be used or if new accounts/scripts are needed. 
  3. Set up new accounts where applicable.

When you have an idea of what needs to get done before the launch – pick a feasible launch date. Give yourself at least a month.

Best-Digital Marketing plans for 2 to 3 months of research, design and development and we also cater for more immediate request if required.

Set A Launch Date

Before you launch, it is absolutely imperative to review all of the content on your website that means page content and premium content. From data -driven content and downloadable documents to rich media such as videos and images – you want to make sure everything is in place, working properly and looking beautiful.

It is important to set up a staging site to prepare your new website before going live. Staging sites are exact copies of your website on a private server that are used to prepare and proof content and code changes before they go live.

The staging site is a place to edit, amend and play around with updates in an environment that is identical to the one that will be going live. This is so you do not have to worry about crashing your site or messing something up when you make a change.

Later on you will sync content and templates between the staging environment and your live website via your Content Management System – CMS. It allows you to generate a preview of the entire site so you can click around and test things in context.

1. Ensure text is error-free and accurate.

Site content has been proofread for spelling and grammar.

Company contact details are accurate throughout the website.

Generic content such as lorem ipsum has been properly removed and replaced.

All premium content such as case studies, e-books and whitepapers have been proofread. Spelling and grammar are correct.

Copyright date in the footer includes the current year.

Test Are Error Free and Accurate

2. Replace all placeholder images with final images and designs.

On occasion, a website designer may use a placeholder image if they did not have the correct asset at the time of the page’s creation. It is up to you to make sure each page is picture-perfect.

3. Ensure copy aligns with the new brand.

The text has been copy-edited to ensure consistent brand voice and style. 

All company tag lines and mission statements are up-to-date.

Paragraphs, headers, lists and other formatting are correct.

Brand colours have been implemented correctly including link and button colours.

Scripts, images and CSS are optimised across web pages.

Even if you outsourced the design to a web designer/developer, the responsibility falls on you to ensure there are no copyright licensing issues.

Otherwise you could end up with a unavoidable infringement settlement on your hands.

No Copyright Infringement Intended
  • Website pages are compatible across browsers and devices.
  • Images, videos and audio files are in the correct places, formatted and working on all devices.
  • Social media share icons are associated with the correct accounts.
  • Company logo is linked to the homepage.
  • All premium contents such as case studies, e-books and whitepapers are stored in their proper libraries/databases and working properly.
  • Internal links across web pages are working properly. 
Testing Website For UX
  • All necessary forms are present. 
  • Landing pages and thank you pages have been implemented. 
  • The correct buttons and call to action – CTAs are present in the proper locations. 
  • Everything is linked together appropriately.

You can prevent loss of data and protect against malware and other damages by properly setting up site security and regular backups. Check that:

  • Backup schedule has been created. 
  • Backup location has been identified. 
  • A plan for implementation is set to be put in motion after launch.
Create Website Backup Strategy

10. Store passwords and credentials in a secure place.

Many individuals may have been involved in the website launch up until this point so ensure that passwords are reset when the time comes and proper password etiquette is followed.

Store Passwords & Credentials In Secure Place

You will be able to amend, change or delete any existing content that does not serve your target audience and refine future content to provide better outcome.

11. Audit the technical SEO implementation for errors.

  • Pages have unique page titles and appropriate Meta descriptions.
  • Each page has a specific purpose and pages meant to rank organically are optimised around a single keyword or set of keywords.

12. Carry out a stress test.

In a website redesign scenario, it may not be 100% necessary to do a stress test because the traffic spike may not overrun your server’s capacity. However a stress test – also called a load test is a must for any company that plans for a large influx of visitors during specific times such as the holidays or after a major press event.

This will help you figure out how much simultaneous traffic your website can handle by simulating up to tens of thousands of simultaneous virtual users from different locations around the world.

Stress tests simulate virtual users and does not totally replicate a real-life scenario so you need to find a load test that will bring you as close to reality as possible.

Load testing usually identifies:

  • The maximum operating capacity of an application.
  • Determine whether the current infrastructure is sufficient to run the application.
  • Sustainability of application with respect to peak user load.
  • Number of concurrent users that an application can support, and scalability to allow more users to access it.

Load testing is a type of non-functional testing. A load test is a type of software testing which is conducted to understand the behaviour of the application under a specific expected load. Load testing is performed to determine a system’s behaviour under both normal and at peak conditions.

At Best-Digital Marketing, we recommend using Apache JMeter. This is a pretty technical tool that is not ideal for someone who is new to the concept.

Make sure to notify your host or provider that you want to perform a stress test before you actually do one. Otherwise your test might look like a DDoS -Distributed Denial of Service attack on your provider. 

User Experience – UX is a key aspect of how they view your business so testing your website before it goes live will bring more confidence to your visitors whilst pleasing them with your services or offerings.

Pre-Launch Website Checklist

  1. Ensure Text is accurate and error free.
  2. Replace all placeholder images with final images and designs. 
  3. Ensure copy aligns with the new brand.
  4. Check all styling preferences have been implemented.
  5. Make sure your design is aesthetically pleasing.
  6. Ensure all rights to images, fonts and other content have been appropriately cited or licensed.
  7. Test the site for User Experience -UX.
  8. Check the conversion paths have been implemented properly.
  9. Create your site backup strategy. 
  10. Store passwords and credentials in a secure place. 
  11. Audit the Technical SEO implementation for errors.
  12. Conduct a Stress Test / Load Test.

Website Post-Launch Checklist

Let’s say you have completed the website and the button has been pushed – the domain is pointing to the new site and you are about ready to tell the world……. that you are here!

But hang on just one minute because you still have things to check for now that your site is officially live.

1. Test the site for user experience again.

Just in case there was an issue at the implementation stage, you want to ensure the experience is consistent with what you reviewed before it went live.

  • Ensure your design is rendering as you expected it to across browsers and devices. 
  • Ensure CSS/HTML is properly validated. 
  • CSS styling is rendering properly.
  • Favicon is in place and rendering properly. 
  • Internal links across web pages are working correctly.
  • External links across web pages are working properly and opens in a new tab.
  • Social media share icons are working correctly.
  • Feeds are working properly such as RSS, news, social media and so forth.
  • Company logo is linked to the homepage.
  • 404 Redirect pages are in place -page-not-found.aspx.

2. Test your conversion path's functionality.

Take some time to test and validate all of the different features on your website. Lead generation forms, CRM integration and any other technology should work flawlessly across your website.

  • Forms are submitting data properly.
  • Thank you message or page displays after form is submitted.
  • Form data is being emailed to a recipient and/or stored in a company database.
  • Auto-responders are working correctly -if applicable.
Test Conversion Path

3. Check integrations that third-party tools are running smoothly.

Integrations such as your CRM, E-commerce software and/or marketing platform link to your website and help you run your business.

If there is a potential issue that can cause data loss, you do not want to find out later down the line. 

4. Copy the final website for backup purposes.

Now that everything is in place and finalised, you want to have a clean, clear and defined copy of it should you experience data corruption or loss. 

5. Make sure backups are running correctly.

Now is the time to check the implementation of your backup strategy. Check that ongoing copies of the website are being created and stored on a regular basis.

6. Ensure your site is secure.

  • 24/7 monitoring scripts are installed.
  • There is a plan in place for updating plugins – if applicable. 
  • Ensure that all applicable parties are aware of your businesses password etiquette policies.
  • Purchase an SSL certificate – if needed. An SSL certificate can take up to two weeks to purchase and set up so ensure you have it prior to launch.

An SSL certificate will ensure your website is encrypted so hackers cannot intercept any of your data and you will put your website visitors at ease too. It will also boost your website’s SEO since SSL is now part of Google’s search ranking algorithm.

SSL Certificate - DV SLL - OV SLL - EV SSL

7. Comply with relevant applicable laws.

Ensure your website complies with any and all applicable laws and regulations. Internet law can be diverse and each industry has its own set of rules to follow.

Hence it is best to consult with your legal counsel to make sure you are not missing or breaching anything — this post is not legal guidance.

Here are a few you might need to know about:

  • Web pages offer accessibility for users with disabilities –WAI-ARIA.
  • Web pages announce if the website uses cookies which may be required in some countries.
  • Website is compliant with usage rights for purchased or borrowed code, images and fonts.
  • Terms and privacy policies are visible to website visitors.
  • GDPR compliant if you are planning to offer services to EU countries.
  • Website is PCI compliant – if you are planning to store and process debit/credit cards details.
General Data Protection Regulation - GDPR

8. Crawl the site to highlight errors prior to launch.

Compare the crawl to the previous crawl and see if you find any inconsistencies that were not intended. You also want to ensure that all pages have the proper search engine indexing settings.

You also want to check for formatting consistency where sometimes font codes get dropped into a page by accident so you want to scour your site for any of these weird formatting errors.

Make sure all your formatting are consistent and any unwanted blips are mitigated from your copy.

9. Check technical SEO components for errors.

  • Page titles, Meta descriptions and URLs are all present and match the original technical SEO strategy.
  • Load time for site pages is optimised.
  • A dynamic XML sitemap has been created.
  • The XML sitemap has been submitted to search engines.
  • Page URLs consistently reflect site information architecture.
  • 301 redirects are in place for all old URLs – if applicable redirecting old and outdated pages to new pages.
  • rel=”nofollow” tags are in place on applicable links and pages.
  • Images on the website are properly compressed to help with load times. 

10. Optimise your Metadata.

  • Metadata is correctly in place for any content in an RSS feed and social media sharing content.
  • Spelling and grammar are correct in all Metadata.
  • Alt tags have been added to every image.
Data - Metadata

11. Set up analytics.

Make sure your website is set up to capture web data and analytics. This valuable information will allow you to continually improve your website going forward so make sure to get this optimised.

  • Your website analytics codes and tracking scripts have been inserted on website.
  • Relevant IP addresses have been excluded from analytics tracking.
  • Funnels and goals have been correctly created in your analytics software – if applicable.
  • Google Webmaster and Google Analytics accounts have been correctly synced.
  • Google Ads accounts have been correctly synced – if applicable.

12. Start a post-launch enhancement list.

The website you launch should be functional, well-designed and well-positioned. However it may not be everything you hoped and dreamed on the first go and you certainly do not want to spend months of effort designing a website that consumers will not react well to.

What if your clients do not like it? What if conversion rates fall? This could add up to lost time, money and effort.

Well there is a solution! – how about publishing a solid website then testing and building on top of it — a website creation approach known as Growth-Driven Design – GDD.

Create a document that lists out all the things you were unable to get done for the launch but want to add in the future and add features and elements to it as you discover more about how users interact with your website.

Post-Launch Website Checklist

  1. Test the site for user experience again. 
  2. Test your conversion path’s functionality.
  3. Check and ensure all third-party integrations tools are running smoothly.
  4. Make a copy of the final website for backup purposes. 
  5. Ensure that backups are running properly. 
  6. Ensure your site is secure.
  7. Comply with all applicable laws.
  8. Perform a crawl check on the site to ensure no errors happen on launch.
  9. Check the technical SEO components for errors. 
  10. Optimise your Meta data.
  11. Set up analytics.
  12. Start a post-launch enhancement list.

Launching a Website Announcement

You did all of this work so far for the benefit of your website visitors, prospects and existing customers.

Your next step is to tell the world about your new website design.

Here is how you do it:

1. Build anticipation teasers before going live.

Launching a new product, a new movie or a new website all requires marketing before the actual release date. Think of the last movie you watched in the cinemas. Did you see the trailer before you decided to buy those movie tickets along with popcorn and coke?

Teasers for your website launch can only help to build anticipation and get users wondering what the new experience will be like and this can build buzz and interest once you finally break the news.

2. Create social media strategy for the announcement.

Decide what social media channels you want to promote the news on, how will you make the announcement and how long the promotion will last.

As you create and craft your messaging – remember to focus on new features and how they benefit your audience. 

Social Media Strategy Announcement

3. Identify exciting ways to promote engagement for the new site.

For users who are not involved in your brand, a new website launch might not seem like a big deal.

Your goal is to provide an exclusive offer for the first users who visit the site or create a contest that promotes engagement with the website’s new features.

Whatever you choose, make sure you make it fun and interesting.

4. Email to your existing database.

You may want to give existing leads and customers a head’s up about your new design especially if it will cause any confusion when they visit the next time.

You can break the news as a matter of courtesy but also sneak in ways to underscore the value you are providing.

You can also alert all stakeholders of the redesign and ask them to spread the word of the new website. 

IMG Best Digital Marketing