New website checklist

Launching a new website? Here's a list of things you should probably do but might forget.

1. Secure your website with SSL/HTTPS/TLS

There are a whole host of reasons your website should be served over HTTPS. There are very few circumstances when you won't want encryption protecting your website and visitors.

Best of all, SSL certificates which are trusted by most browsers are available free of charge through Let's Encrypt and cPanel. Getting and installing an SSL certificate is far easier and cheaper than it's ever been in the past.

SSL Resources:

  • Your web host may sell SSL certificates and/or offer free ones.
  • Your web hosts control panel may have a Let's Encrypt tool to generate, install, and update SSL certificates.
  • Let's Encrypt
  • SSLLabs SSL Server Test - Tests your web server and report on any issues with the SSL certificate or configuration.

1A. Redirect your website to HTTPS.

If you've installed an SSL certificate, chances are your site is now accessible at the old HTTP:// URL and also at the new HTTPS:// URL. This presents two problems: 1) You may be penalized by search engines for duplicate content, as the same exact pages are available at two different URLs and they don't know which is the better resource. 2) Users can still access the unencrypted HTTP URL, which defeats the point of having the SSL certificate in the first place.

Redirect Resources:

  • Your web host can advise you on how to redirect all traffic to the HTTPS URL for your website. Their control panel may provide a tool to manage redirects which you can use to do this as well.
  • Our guide on redirecting to HTTPS with .htaccess, for websites powered by cPanel and/or Apache.

2. Keep your own, off-site backups

You've probably spent a lot of time building your website. Make sure you are protected from the unforeseen by keeping regular, off-site backups of your website, it's configuration, and other content. No matter what happens, you will always be helped by having a recent backup in a safe place.

Backup Resources:

(Coming soon)

3. Setup Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google to help manage your site in their search engine. They offer a variety of useful tools, monitor for issues, and even give search stats about your sites.

Related search engine tools:

4. Consider uptime monitoring or downtime alerting

Is your website mission critical? Is it a problem if your website is not accessible? Various services will monitor your website and alert you if it goes offline. Some even track the overall uptime for your website and give you a monthly report.

Uptime trackers and resources:

  • Pingdom - Uptime and web performance monitoring. Free and paid plans.
  • Host Tracker - Uptime monitoring and tool to check if your website is accessible from various servers around the world.

Have I forgotten something?

Did I forget something? Got a resource to suggest? Let me know in the comments.

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Life time nerd with 15 years experience in coding, web development, and web hosting. These days I run an automotive business, but still help people learn to manage their own websites.