This page describes the process of going live with your Web sites.
Prepare Your Site
Create the pages for your site, and gather all other content. Do not launch until the major pages are ready; avoid “Coming Soon” messages. Plan for graceful expansion as additional pages and sections are added. Use templates so that your HTML code is easy to maintain and evolve.
Set up Google Analytics (or some other analytics package).
Make sure that you have followed the main SEO guidelines in your pages. Use a doctype. Fill in Title, Description, Keywords. Use H1-H6 to denote hierarchy. Use ALT and TITLE properties. Check all links.
Buy a Domain Name
Use a service like GoDaddy or Tucows to acquire your domain name(s).
Some ISPs will sell you a domain name as part of the signup, which makes it pretty easy. Bluehost.com does this, for example.
You may need to buy variations of the same domain to protect your business: .com, .biz, .info, .net. The service may offer discounted prices for the additional names if you do it when you buy the first name. If you buy a domain name from GoDaddy.com, they will make it easy to buy these additional names at the same time.
Here are a couple of articles about domain name choices and tools.
Sign up with an ISP
Choosing an ISP:
- Make sure the ISP provides all of the services your site will require. Can you do all routine operations for your site without help from the ISP?
- If the site will be for your business, look at the ISP’s support policies and practices. Are they 7x24x365? Do they work on the weekends? Can you call someone if you need it?
Assign the hosting for your domain name (may be bundled with some ISPs).
Set up additional services (databases, mailing lists, etc) that your site will need.
Configure the New Site
Upload your files using FTP.
Configure services: create databases, email distribution lists, etc. Add robots.txt and .htaccess if needed.
Configure security. Use strong passwords. If you have a dynamic site, pay close attention to the security recommendations of the supporting software (like WordPress or Joomla).
Let the World Know
If the site is a blog, then submit the site to Technorati and other social media search engines. Submit your RSS feed to Feedburner and others.
Ask other sites to link to your site. Register in any relevant directories, but avoid “link farms”. The single best thing is to get highly-ranked (“authority”) sites to link to your site.
Use your URL in every marketing piece, including business cards.
Keep expanding your site, and keep it fresh. Blog if you plan to keep it up. The search engines like to see things being updated and extended.
Back up your site regularly, including any databases, images, and other documents.
Keep your software up to date if you are using a Content Management System like WordPress or Joomla. Developers fix security issues, and it behooves you to stay current.
Check your links periodically and after any site changes. Use a tool like Xenu to automagically check everything.
Don’t let your domain name expire! The search engines look more favorably on sites that expire farther into the future than a year, since it appears less fly-by-night if you’re willing to spend the money on it.
Adding Ecommerce to Your Site
Simplest Approach: use PayPal to collect payment. This is pretty simple to program, and you can usually find a module that will handle the details for you (like in WordPress). This actually takes the customer to the PayPal site to check out, although you can customize the page with your own logo and colors. You don’t have to have a merchant account with a bank, and the customer can use credit cards.
Medium Complexity: use something like ZenCart, where all transactions are handled on your site until the customer is ready to check out. The Web site is usually standard HTML, although it might be dynamically generated. The customer is redirected to another Web site that maintains the shopping cart and processes payment. You usually have to have a merchant account with a bank for this type of system.
Large-Scale Ecommerce: your entire site is built in the ecommerce software, such as with osCommerce. A site like this is managed almost entirely through forms in a Web-based backend, and you don’t deal much with code (because you’re dealing with the complexity of the overall system). You may have to create a template in the beginning, which is usually a mixture of HTML, CSS, and PHP (for the backend). While you may have additional HTML pages, the pages are usually generated dynamically in a system like this (i.e., you don’t have standard HTML files sitting on the server’s hard drive).