WP Turned UP

How to Build an Online Business Using WordPress

IMPORTANT:

This guide is laid out in the same order as the tasks within the Business Project Template. Only those who have obtained the template will get the full details of each task card, including checklists, pro tips, direct links to resources and tools, and more.

Learn from my many years of ongoing experience running an Information Technology business, a WordPress agency, and multiple niche WordPress businesses.

Business

Brand Research

This is a critical step in launching a business, as the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time and money building something only to find out someone is already doing business under a similar name or, worse yet, the exact name.

Namecheap Business Name Generator

Start by creating a list of your top business keywords and then plug those into Namecheap’s Business Name Generator tool.

Namechk

After you narrow down your top list of business names, run those names through Namechk to find out which social media account names are available.

Account Security /w 2FA

Implementing 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) means that only users that know your password and have a device to verify a security code can gain access to your accounts.

I recommend you implement 2FA for almost every account you log into that offers 2FA. If a solution does not provide 2FA security, consider finding another solution.

Domains

Buy your domain names and to avoid brand confusion (i.e., prevent others from confusing your brand with someone else), consider buying TLD (Top-level Domain) extensions (fitness.com, fitness.net. etc.) and region-specific options (fitnesscharlotte.com, fitnesscharlotte.net, etc.) for your brand.

A lot of good can come with the right name, and a lot can go wrong later on if you don’t get it right. It is, therefore, crucial you make the right decision. Take some time to consider your target audience, future growth, long-term acquisition/buy-out, etc.

  • Relevance: A meaningful name that reflects your business values, products/services, or any part of your business.
  • Ease: An easy-to-communicate domain name is crucial, whereas the opposite could cause your customers to lose interest, get it wrong, or forget it.
  • Adaptability: Over time, businesses progress, evolve, and expand. Therefore, many companies spend a fortune on rebranding. To protect your company from outgrowing your domain name, think ahead.
    Distinctiveness: It’s all about making your brand memorable. A distinctive domain name will help your customers recall your brand. On the other hand, choosing a popular generic keyword as your domain will confuse your customers.

If you need a new domain or already have your domain hosted somewhere and you’re looking for a switch, I recommend Cloudflare.

Guide: Implement Cloudflare’s CDN for Better Website Security and Performance

Business Email

Website owners often use a free email account (Gmail, Outlook.com, website hosting email, etc.) to get started. While I understand this temptation, I recommend using a business-grade email solution from Day 1 to help protect your email reputation and to ensure you’re using a vanity domain (i.e., hello@yourdomain.com).

With your domain now in hand, it’s time to procure your business email, and for that, I recommend Microsoft 365, where business owners can get business-grade email accounts for as low as $5/month.

Google Account

I recommend creating a new Google Account that will only be used for website purposes to shield your everyday business email account from all the potential noise.

Color Scheme

A color scheme is one of the first elements to communicate the message behind the design on both visual and psychological levels. The color scheme is one of the most important elements because, when used correctly, color can reflect the niche and even the overall business marketing strategy.

I put this task towards the very beginning of the project because there are so many areas of building a website (or any online business) that your color scheme will influence.

YouTube Channel

Did you know YouTube is the second-largest search engine next to Google?

I highly encourage you to consider ways to use YouTube for your business, whether sharing your knowledge, introducing products, etc.

Some experts say that YouTube will get you found before Google searches will.

Social Presence

Once you’ve bought your domain name(s) and defined your color scheme, it’s time to consider building your social presence.

Procure Social Media Accounts
You’ll want to procure any social media accounts that make sense for your business/brand to be a part of, regardless if you need them immediately.

Build Social Media Accounts
Once you’ve procured your social media accounts, you’ll want to build out each social media account, apply consistent branding across all accounts, and complete the account as much as possible. When it comes to the images for your social accounts, knowing what image sizes to use is as simple as doing a quick web search for ‘social media image sizes’.

Social Media Account Communication
Set up communication channels between your social media accounts and your website to ensure two-way communication where it makes sense.

Deal: SEOPress Pro
Guide: How to Configure SEOPress for WordPress Websites

Stripe Account

If Stripe is available in your location (it’s available in most) and you plan to accept payments on your website, Stripe is my preferred payment gateway.

Guide: Keep Your Website on Stripe’s Good Side

Booking

A great option for connecting with your users, potential partners, etc., is to include the ability for people to book time with you or your team.

Deals: Booking Solutions
Guides: Booking Solutions

Policies

Depending on your business, you may require specific policies on your website that are there to protect you as well as the users of your website.

There are several ways to implement policies on our website, but my recommendation, which follows best practices, is to create website pages for each policy.

If you are interested in further protecting your business from potential fines and lawsuits, I recommend Termageddon.

Deal: Termageddon
Guide: Automate Your WordPress Website Policies With Termageddon

Services

Are there any services you would like to provide as part of the different membership levels and/or outside of them to help offset the costs of running your website?

For example, a photographer building a photography-based directory could offer consultations, training/courses, etc.

Maybe there are services you don’t perform yourself but could outsource to people or vendors you trust. Using the photographer example again, they could provide custom-framing services even though it’s not something they do as part of their profession.

Partnerships

Are there any strategic partnerships you could form to help bring value to your users/customers? For example, a photographer building a photography-based directory could partner with a vendor that provides custom-framing services.

That vendor might then work under the guise of your brand (i.e., white label) or work transparently as a trusted vendor.

Pricing Model

Create a pricing model that is easy to understand, matches your brand/message, and entices potential users/customers to sign up for your platform.

It may be tempting to have lifetime, annual, and monthly plans, all on the same platform. Take a hard look at this and put yourself in the shoes of the person potentially going through your sales funnel. Would you get overwhelmed with all the options?

If you offer lifetime or annual plans, are you prepared to refund thousands of dollars should you experience a change of heart with your business? What if you fall into a hardship?

For the brand/message aspect, sometimes it makes sense to come up with pricing tier names that are cute or catchy and not the typical ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, ‘Platinum, etc.

Newsletter

I recommend implementing a newsletter solution to help you stay in constant contact with your community, announcing new content, deals, platform changes, etc.

Deals: Newsletter Solutions

Founding Member Onboarding

Founding members believe in you, your products, and/or your services and are willing to participate in your offerings while you are still in the initial launch phase of your business.

They help you populate your platform to get SEO working and present an active community with quality participants.

Your founding members should feel (and know) that they are getting a great deal. Consider a lifetime membership, a lengthy FREE period, a heavy discount, etc.

Affiliate Program

Consider implementing a program that rewards people for helping you grow your business, and for this, I recommend AffiliateWP.

Deals: Affiliate Marketing Solutions
Guides: Affiliate Marketing

Social Media Reviews

As the website owner, consider displaying social media reviews (ex., Google Reviews) on your website. When you collect and display other customers’ experiences, you help potential customers make faster purchasing decisions by establishing trust.

Consider allowing social reviews to be added to Listings because it is important to the website/website owner. This is a great upsell opportunity, as many Listing owners depend on reviews to legitimize their business (products, services, etc.).

As one website owner said the other day – “Social media reviews are critical to our business and the businesses of our Listing owners. Reviews are everything to us.”

For all the above, I recommend EmbedSocial.

Deal: EmbedSocial

Website

Cloudflare CDN

Cloudflare is a global network designed to make everything you connect to the Internet secure, private, fast, and reliable.

It’s a solution so well regarded for what it offers that my preferred WordPress host for WordPress websites (Kinsta) partnered with them to bring enterprise-level features to their customers for no extra cost.

I use Cloudflare for every website to take advantage of its additional performance, security, reliability, and analytics.

Guide: Implement Cloudflare’s CDN for Better Website Security and Performance

Website Hosting

If you are looking for new hosting, Kinsta is my top recommendation. It’s where I host my websites and client websites.

Deal: Discounted Enterprise Level Plan (Kinsta)
Guide: Kinsta Hosting for WordPress Websites

SSL Certificate

SSL Certificates help ensure a secure path is in place for the data being transmitted on your website, enforcing a secure end-to-end connection over HTTPS.

These days, most hosting vendors provide a FREE SSL Certificate; if your vendor does not, it’s probably time to look for another vendor.

My preferred website hosting vendor (Kinsta) makes it super easy to implement an SSL Certificate.

Deal: Discounted Enterprise Level Plan (Kinsta)
Guide: Kinsta Hosting for WordPress Websites

Elementor Experiments

NOTE: Before we get into what Elementor Experiments are, I want to point out why this task is so high on the priority list. One of the Elementor Experiments allows you to enable additional breakpoints to fine-tune your designs. Since the next task is the first one involving design (i.e., building a ‘Coming Soon’ page), you will want to ensure that you’re designing this page to be mobile responsive. So, we want to install and activate the Elementor page builder plugin as part of this task card.

Elementor Experiments are a way for Elementor users, if they choose, to test and help shape new features before they are released. Future experiments might include widget enhancements, editor settings, functions, or WordPress backend functionality.

Are you at least taking advantage of the experiments that are in that are marked ‘Stable Features’?

Experiments marked as ‘Ongoing Experiments’ may provide even more performance, but these should be thoroughly tested.

Are you actively using all the experiments you have activated?

Coming Soon Mode

Right away, you want to put up a Coming Soon page so that anyone who tries to view your website during the initial building phase sees a well-designed page rather than whatever it is you’re working on in the background.

Before we do that, let’s talk about the SVG file format since this is the first task where you find the need to enable SVG support.

SVG File Format

SVG files work similarly to icons. You can scale them up or down without any loss of resolution or blurriness. They are extremely lightweight, keep your pages lean, and are ideal for illustrations like logos, icons, and graphs.

If you decide to upload an SVG image to add to your Coming Soon page or at some other point in your website build, choose to enable the uploading of SVGs when Elementor prompts you.

Coming Soon Page

There are many solutions for building a Coming Soon page. Still, I recommend using Elementor Pro since that’s a plugin you are likely already using and because it provides more features when compared to the free version of Elementor.

You can implement a Coming Soon page using nothing but the free version of Elementor, but unlike Elementor Pro, you are limited in which widgets you can use.

It is also advisable that you take this opportunity to capture email addresses while you continue building your website. This is easily done by adding a contact form to your Coming Soon page, which connects to an email marketing solution (e.g., Mailchimp). For this, you would need Elementor Pro.

Website Hosting (Staging)

Your staging website is a clone of your production website, where you should test new themes, plugins, WordPress updates, etc., before rolling them out to your production website.

These days, most hosting vendors provide a FREE staging environment; if your vendor does not, it’s probably time to look for another vendor.

My preferred website hosting vendor (Kinsta) makes it super easy to implement a staging environment.

Deal: Discounted Enterprise Level Plan (Kinsta)
Guide: Kinsta Hosting for WordPress Websites

WordPress

Admin Accounts

Ensure that you are not handing out admin-level access to anyone who helps with your website. Ideally, only your team members and anyone providing ongoing website care should have admin-level access to your production website.

I recommend implementing and requiring 2FA authentication for admin-level access to your production environments for yourself and anyone else you grant access.

Anyone else that needs admin-level access should only be granted that access on your staging server, and my preferred WordPress hosting vendor (Kinsta) makes this a super simple process.

Deal: Discounted Enterprise Level Plan (Kinsta)
Guide: Kinsta Hosting for WordPress Websites

Editorial Accounts

Also known as the “blogging” account, these users can produce content (i.e., blog) for your website but don’t necessarily need permissions as an admin account would.

Note: After you create this account, you’ll need to edit the account again to get to some of the settings mentioned below.

  • Nickname: Identifies the blog post author in the back-end of WordPress (i.e., meta). This defaults to the same value as the user’s username but should be changed if you want WordPress to see it differently.
  • Display Name Publicly As: The name is shown for the blog post author on the front end of your website. This defaults to the same value of the user’s username but should be changed for proper displaying of the editor’s name.
General Settings

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Reading Settings

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Discussion Settings

The key question to ask yourself when you’re getting your website off the ground is if you’ll need to allow comments at all. If you do, the next important question is whether you want to require commenters to first log in and whether you want to approve comments before they are displayed on your website.

As for the user avatars, it’s important to note that this feature will hit your website’s performance. While this hit is minimal, every hit adds up and might slow down your website. I recommend disabling avatars until you find out you want to use them.

Note: Listing comments/reviews run off the WordPress comments system, so if those are to be used on your site, be careful with the settings here.

WordPress Permalinks

WordPress Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks > Common Settings > Set to ‘Post Name’.

Initial Posts and Pages

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Post Categories and Tags

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Primary Navigation Menu

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Plugins

Starting on Day 1, the usage of plugins should be carefully thought out.

Every installed plugin impacts your website database, which often remains the case even after removing a plugin. This is because some developers configure their plugins to retain their settings in the database, just in case the plugin is ever reinstalled again.

The best practice is not to use your production website as a testing ground and instead test plugins in your staging environment. Only if you determine a plugin passes your tests should it reach your production website.

Parent Theme

A WordPress theme is a group of files (graphics, style sheets, and code) that dictates the overall appearance of your website.

As an advanced WordPress user, you can remove all themes except the Parent.

However, if you are not an advanced user, leave the latest WordPress default theme on your website for troubleshooting purposes.

The overall message here is just to keep things nice and tidy.

Child Theme
Site Icon (Favicon)

A Site Icon, also known as a favicon, is a unique icon for your website. It is shown on your site visitors’ browser tab and as a bookmark and home screen app icon when saved to a browser or phone.

You can follow my more advanced guide below or upload an image of 512 x 512 px that you either design yourself or create using a favicon generator.

Guide: How to Properly Add a Favicon to Your WordPress Website

Typography

Typography promotes legibility and helps communicate a website’s messaging, tone, and sentiment. People are drawn to clean, easy on the eyes, and visually attractive typography.

Website owners shouldn’t go crazy with too many fonts, font weights, etc., as that can hurt a website’s design and performance.

I recommend taking a hard look at System Fonts before jumping right in and adding Google Fonts, Custom Fonts, etc.

Guide: How to Switch to System Fonts and Boost WordPress Website Performance

Elementor Global Fonts

Global Fonts allow you to define font styles that apply to various Elementor text-based elements.

What you set initially will probably be adjusted as you go along with your build regarding font size, weight, and maybe even the font family itself, so don’t worry about perfecting these fonts immediately.

Below are some benefits of utilizing Elementor’s Global Fonts feature.

  • Consistency: No more guessing what your fonts and font weights are.
  • Faster Workflow: Your typography scheme will be right at your fingertips when working with elements.
  • Performance: Elementor-based websites perform better when typography is globally set.

Elementor Theme Style

Whereas Global Fonts are a manual process, Elementor Theme Style Typography allows you to define global font styles that are automatically applied to various Elementor text-based elements.

This feature gives you even more control in maintaining consistency across your website, allowing you to take over the global design layer typically handled by the WordPress theme.

What you set initially will probably be adjusted as you go along with your build regarding font size, weight, and maybe even the font family itself, so don’t worry about perfecting these fonts immediately.

Below are some benefits of utilizing Elementor’s Theme Style Typography feature.

  • Consistency: No more guessing what your fonts and font weights are.
  • Faster Workflow: Your typography scheme will be right at your fingertips when working with elements.
  • Performance: Elementor-based websites perform better when typography is globally set.

Elementor Global Colors

With your Color Scheme in hand, it’s time to set your Global Colors in Elementor, and below are some benefits of utilizing Elementor’s Global Color feature.

  • Consistency: No more guessing what your colors or shades of colors are.
  • Faster Workflow: Your Color Scheme will be at your fingertips when working with elements.
  • Performance: Elementor-based websites perform better when colors are globally set.

Elementor SVG Support

The variety of devices, screen sizes, and display resolutions makes quality scalability and responsiveness essential in providing your digital audience with an optimal experience. SVGs are ideal for illustrations like logos, icons, and graphs.

By default, Elementor will not allow you to upload SVGs into widgets, so you must enable that option if you wish to use SVGs within Elementor.

Please don’t enable this to enable it. Ensure you only enable this option when/if you’re ready to add SVGs to your website.

Logo

How you add your logo depends on whether you’re using the default options included with your theme or building custom headers with Elementor Pro.
Your logo does not have to be an actual image. If you design a custom header with Elementor, you can easily create a great-looking, text-based logo.

The steps below assume you are adding an image-based logo that you’ve designed, someone has designed for you, or you’ve obtained pre-made, ensuring you have it available in a scalable vector format and have an SVG version ready to go.

Before uploading your logo, ensure you have optimized the image file, so it’s the smallest size possible while retaining the crispness you’re looking for.

Elementor Pro - Custom Header

You can build custom headers with Elementor Pro rather than using your theme’s header options if you need to do more than the theme provides.

Elementor Pro - Custom Footer

You can build custom footers with Elementor Pro rather than using your theme’s footer options if you need to do more than the theme provides.

Contact Form

Website owners need to ensure they can be easily reached, and one of those ways is adding contact forms to a ‘Contact Us’ page, where users are accustomed to looking for them.

It’s also very common to activate contact forms as part of a pop-up using solutions like Elementor Pro.

The above said, contact forms may not be the preferred method of contact, whether because of an overall design strategy, the battling of SPAM, or other reasons.

Chat Widget

Website owners need to ensure they can be easily reached, and one of those ways is using a chat widget. Chat widgets often provide much more than just a mechanism for communication, and their ability to convert customers is undeniable.

Having a chat widget on your website is a great way to connect with your customers, giving them some comfort knowing you are just a click away from anything related to purchasing, account management, etc.

Understandably, there are concerns about being too accessible, but you can easily mitigate this by configuring the hours you are available to chat, blocking people with bad intentions, etc. In short, you can be as accessible as you want.

Deals: Chat Solutions
Guides: Chat Solutions

Transactional Email

WordPress websites rely heavily on Transactional Email to communicate order confirmations, password resets, and account alerts.

Setting up your website transactional email correctly is important to prevent it from ending up in SPAM/Junk folders or not being received entirely.

To take your transactional email to another level and make more money with your WooCommerce store, I use and recommend Mailpoet.

Deals: Transactional Email Solutions
Guides: Transactional Email

404 Page

Every website should have a 404 page that displays when users stumble upon content that is no longer available and produces a broken link.

This page should be lightweight and have clear/simple calls to action to get users back on track.

Having a 404 page that is lighthearted is a great way to show the business/brand personality and ease any tensions that may arise from users having difficulty with your website.

Elementor Pro provides a simple way to add a 404 page to your entire website.

Testimonials

Including testimonials throughout your website is a great idea to help you build trust with your potential customers.

The more information your past customers provide, the better, but it’s recommended to set a baseline for consistency.

You don’t want some of your testimonials to have images while others don’t, and you don’t want your testimonials showing company/brand names while others don’t.

Find a baseline of information that all past customers are willing to provide.

WooCommerce

NOTE:

The Business Project Template has several task cards related to WooCommerce. This guide doesn't have information about these tasks because they are primarily in checklist format, and every store is different.

Performance

Edge Caching

I approach website performance optimization from the outside, looking inward, optimizing at the edge (e.g., CDN), and working my way down to the most granular level, which typically ends at the plugin level, depending on the overall environment.

Edge Caching is the storing of website assets on a network (separate from your website’s core infrastructure) to deliver content to your website users faster while freeing up some of your server’s resources to do other things and reducing page load wait times (TTFB).

Cloudflare is my recommended solution for Edge Caching, and it is so well regarded for what it offers that my preferred WordPress website host (Kinsta) has partnered with them.

Getting this feature directly from Cloudflare will cost you significant money, as it’s part of their Enterprise plan. The good news is Kinsta provides Edge Caching using Cloudflare’s network at no additional cost.

If you are not going to use Kinsta, then at a minimum, I recommend going with Cloudflare’s FREE plan. It won’t get you the robust Edge Caching I’m talking about here, but it will get you a watered-down version.

The only levels of caching I recommend are Edge Caching and Server Caching, which work together beautifully, especially when using the Cloudflare/Kinsta combo. Adding caching plugins into your environment can cause conflicts and make it difficult to ensure all levels of caching are cleared.

Deal: Edge Caching Solutions
Guides: Edge Caching

Server Caching

Continuing with my approach to website performance optimization from the outside, looking inward, optimizing at the edge (e.g., CDN), and working my way down to the most granular level, Server Level caching is next to tackle.

Where Edge Caching stores website assets on a separate network, Server Caching stores assets from your website’s core infrastructure to deliver content to your website users faster while freeing up some of your server’s resources to do other things and reducing page load wait times (TTFB).

Ideally, you want your CDN (i.e., Edge Caching) to serve your website assets, but there are times when assets aren’t cached. When that happens, that’s where the importance of Server Caching comes into play. In short, Server Level caching provides an extra layer of caching to give your assets the best chance of getting optimally served.

Kinsta provides some of the most robust Server Caching in the industry!

The only levels of caching I recommend are Edge Caching and Server Caching, which work together beautifully, especially when using the Cloudflare/Kinsta combo. Adding caching plugins into your environment can cause conflicts and make it difficult to ensure all levels of caching are cleared.

Deal: Server Caching Solutions
Guides: Server Caching

Plugin Caching

Typically, those that use lower-quality hosting will need to install a WordPress caching plugin that offers things like Page Caching. This is because their core infrastructure is not optimally configured and/or running on premium hardware like my preferred WordPress host for WordPress (Kinsta).

One of the problems with Plugin Caching is it adds yet another layer that must be closely administered in terms of what’s allowed to be cached, clearing the cache, etc., as it can contribute to content not being displayed correctly.

This could be avoided simply with quality web hosting and a top-notch CDN

Since switching my websites and client websites to Kinsta over 3 years ago, I no longer need caching plugins. Therefore, I don’t follow the developments of caching plugins on the market.

If you’re in an environment where you absolutely need a caching plugin, I’d ask you to reevaluate your hosting. You should also be aware that you should exclude certain pages from Page Caching, and a checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Image Optimization

I see there being two parts to this. There’s setting a max file size (Image Governance) for images that can be uploaded to your website. Then there’s the optimizing of the images (Image Optimization) that make it through and land in your Media Library.

Image Governance

This is a very important piece of the puzzle. If you don’t implement image governance, you run the risk of presenting a terrible user experience (slow uploading process), abandonment (uploading timeouts), higher costs (disk space comes with a cost), etc.

Image Optimization

The images that make it through and land in your Media Library must be optimized, so the posts/pages they appear on will load faster.

Those that use my preferred WordPress website host (Kinsta) get access to an Image Optimization feature that eliminates the need for a 3rd party Image Optimization plugin, and it could not be easier to set up.

This means you have one less plugin added to your website, one less plugin to maintain/manage, and a reduction in operating costs (e.g., Image Credits) often associated with Image Optimization plugins.

If you are not going to host your website with Kinsta, I recommend ShortPixel.

I used the ShortPixel Adaptive Images plugin until Kinsta launched its Image Optimization feature, which offers the same functionality. This allowed me to eliminate a plugin and the associated costs of running the plugin.

Deals: Image Optimization Solutions
Guides: Image Optimization

Database Optimization

Revisions, comments, spam, transients, trash, etc., are just a few things that add to database bloat over time. You should optimize your database regularly to keep things clean and tidy.

For this, I highly recommend the Perfmatters plugin. I use it on every website. The product is amazing, and its team is extremely responsive and supportive.

Deals: Database Optimization Solutions
Guides: Database Optimization

Asset & General Optimization

You can greatly increase the performance of your website by reducing HTTP requests, stripping out unnecessary code, minimizing back-end component loading, and more.

For this, I again recommend the Perfmatters.

Deals: Asset & General Optimization Solutions
Guides: Asset & General Optimization

Remove Old Plugin Data

While I talk about using a Staging environment to test plugins before installing them into production, sometimes plugins make it to production and are removed down the road.
As I also mentioned, removed plugins don’t always clean up after themselves, leaving tables in your database behind.

It’s worth seeing if your plugin allows clean uninstalls and/or manually going into your database and removing the stale tables.

Clean Uninstalls for Plugins

If you haven’t removed the plugin yet, but plan to, be sure to see if it has a setting for doing clean uninstalls, which means the plugin should clean up after itself upon removal. If you’ve already removed the plugin, but you find out there is a clean uninstall option, you could install the plugin again and choose the ‘clean uninstall’ option this time around.

Manual Database Cleanup for Plugins

If the plugin doesn’t provide a clean uninstall option or you don’t want to install the plugin again, you can access your database and clean out the files by hand.

Video: Manual Database Cleanup

Audit Page Weight & Complexity

While Elementor is making great strides to optimize its page builder plugin, it’s not a secret that with Elementor, pages can be quite heavy and complex fast, as is the case with many page builders.

Page complexity is measured by excessive DOM depth, CSS rules, JavaScript execution time, etc.

Using the Yellow Lab Tools auditor (Free), you can quickly and easily identify areas that need improvement.

Pro Tip: Work on this task card after you have completed all other optimization task cards so that you have a current representation of your website’s performance.

Online Presence

Google My Business

Ensure your business has a Google My Business listing, and it’s as complete as possible regarding information that can be included.

Google changes its systems so often that it’s difficult to maintain 100% accurate documentation for finding your business on Google, so I recommend the following steps.

  1. Open a web browser and go to Google.com.
  2. Enter ”how to find your business on Google’ in the search area.
  3. Follow the instructions provided.

Google Search Console

To optimize the visibility of your website in the world’s largest search engine, I highly recommend having Google Search Console set up the day you launch your website, even if you’re not going to look at the data immediately.

Guide: Google Search Console

Google Analytics

Google Analytics (GA) is a free service that provides valuable insights to help website owners shape a successful strategy for their business.

Knowing what content is driving engagement, where visitors are coming from, and what devices they are using to view the content is important.

I recommend having Google Analytics set up the day you launch your website, even if you’re not going to look at the data immediately.

Guide: Google Analytics

Google Tag Manager

I assume you’ve already completed the Google Account and Analytics tasks within this project template for this task.

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free service that provides valuable insights to help website owners shape a successful strategy for their businesses.

Google Tag Manager should be used when you need to track multiple entities, such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel.

Knowing what content is driving engagement, where visitors are coming from, and what devices they are using to view the content is important.

I recommend having Google Tag Manager set up the day you launch your website, even if you’re not going to look at the data immediately.

Guide: Google Tag Manager

SEO Plugin

Whenever someone puts up a “what’s the best SEO plugin?” poll within SEO-based communities, SEOPress is typically the top recommendation, and it is my recommendation.

But, as I always tell people, there is no “best” SEO plugin. An SEO plugin is just a tool that is only as good as the person using it.

You cannot install an SEO plugin and magically rank your website in search engines.

Deals: Online Presence Solutions
Guides: Online Presence

On-page SEO Optimization

On-page SEO is optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.

This refers to the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to Off-page SEO, which refers to links and other external signals.

Deals: Online Presence Solutions
Guides: Online Presence

No-Index Pages

Whichever crawlers (Googlebot, Bingbot, etc.) you allow to index your website, each has a “crawl budget”, which is essentially how long they allow their bot to traverse the various areas of your website looking for valuable content.

If a website has a lot of valuable content, we want the bots to have enough time to get to it all, and by setting content to ‘no-index’, we free up more time for the bots.

Also, some content is pointless to index because it holds no value and could do more harm than good if indexed due to having such ‘thin’ content.

Lastly, there is some content you don’t necessarily want floating out there because you want to avoid serving up outdated/incorrect information.

SEOPress provides an easy way to mark Pages, Posts, Listings, etc., as no-index using the WordPress ‘Quick Edit’ feature (see attached image).

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Deals: Online Presence Solutions
Guides: Online Presence

Blog Posts

Have at least 3 SEO-optimized blog posts added to your website before you officially launch. This indicates that you’ll publish content routinely, so visitors have a reason to come back to your website and/or sign up for your newsletter.

I recommend using Elementor Pro to create powerful and flexible blog post templates that can be dynamically applied to all posts, posts within a particular category, and more.

Social Network Links

Add links to your website for your social media profiles to help bring awareness to those online entities.

I often see people placing these links in the header area of their website, but I don’t recommend that practice.

Instead, I recommend placing them in your footer to help facilitate visitors staying on your website rather than leaving it.

Social Link Placement Ideas:

  • Coming Soon Page
  • Footer
  • Contact Us Page
  • Blog Posts/Blog Post Sidebars

NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number)

For SEO, it’s important to include this information on your website, especially if you are a brick-and-mortar business serving local customers.

I’ve helped clients outrank their competitors by adding NAP to their websites.

With everything else equal, if a website has NAP, but a competitor does not, that could be all it takes to jump to the top of search engine results.  

It’s also important that your NAP be consistent across all of your entities (website, social media accounts, citations, directory listings, etc.) that comprise your online presence.

NAP Placement Ideas:

  • Header
  • Footer
  • Contact Us Page

SEO Audits

After you work through the online presence tasks, I recommend performing an SEO audit of your website.

There is a good argument for hiring someone to do the audit, but it might be more cost-effective to get some software and run the SEO audits yourself.

Another benefit to having your software is running audits on-demand for no extra cost, whereas with a consultant, you might have to pay them each time to run an audit.

I recommend SEO Powersuite as a complete solution for auditing all things SEO.

Deals: Online Presence Solutions
Guides: Online Presence

Up for Debate

WordPress Security Plugin

In all my years of running a WordPress agency and multiple WordPress-based businesses, I have never needed to use a full-blown (i.e., all the bells and whistles) security plugin for my sites or my client’s sites.

So, what’s up for debate here is whether you need to use a full-blown security plugin.

Instead of using a full-blown security plugin that can potentially slow down your website and add unnecessary administrative overhead, I recommend the following solution stack.

Cloudflare CDN
This solution adds a layer of protection at the perimeter before the bad guys even get to the infrastructure where your website is hosted.

Kinsta WordPress Hosting
This is some of, if not the best, hosting in the industry and one of the reasons for that is how much of an emphasis they guys place on security. Not only that, but should some bad guys sneak into your environment, Kinsta support will fix it for you for no additional cost.

2FA Security Plugin
Instead of a full-blown security plugin, this lightweight plugin makes it pretty much impossible for people to log into the backend of your website. In short, they would need your password and your phone to log in.

WordPress Security Plugin
If you feel like you still want/need a full-blown security plugin, I recommend iThemes Security Pro, which eliminates the need for a separate 2FA plugin.

Common Sense/Best Practices
Use good judgment when operating your website or doing anything online that involves credentials, personally-identifiable formation (PII), etc.

  • Use Unique Passwords for Each Solution You Log Into
  • Use Strong/Complex Passwords
  • Use VPN Software When Using Your Computer on Public Wifi
  • Keep the Number of Admin-Level Users to an Absolute Minimum
  • Only Grant Access to Your Staging Environment for 3rd Party Support
  • Use Your Staging Environment for Testing
  • Never Let Nulled Software Hit Your Production Environment

Deals: Security Solutions
Guides: Security

WordPress Backup Plugin

In all my years of running a WordPress agency and multiple WordPress-based businesses, I have never needed to use a full-blown (i.e., all the bells and whistles) backup plugin for my sites or my client’s sites.

So, what’s up for debate here is whether you need to use a full-blown backup plugin.

Instead of using a full-blown backup plugin that can potentially slow down your website and add unnecessary administrative overhead, I recommend the following solution stack.

WP Umbrella
This is a cloud solution that I use to manage my sites and my client’s sites. It has robust backup options, allowing you to back up your website every hour, and it gives you another restore option to go along with your server-level backups for redundancy.

Kinsta WordPress Hosting
This is some of, if not the best, hosting in the industry and one of the reasons for that is how powerful, yet simple to use, their backup options are. I have a lot of clients that only use Kinsta for their backups, and they have been just fine.

Deals: Data Backup Solutions
Guides: Data Backup

Launch

General Functionality Testing

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Online Presence Testing

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Responsive Design Testing

From desktop-sized screens, use the most popular browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) to ensure your website looks great.

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Pro Tip: The task card containing the aforementioned checklist should be duplicated to also cover the following testing areas:

  • Mobile Devices
  • Mobile Emulators

Mobile Devices
From mobile devices, use the most popular browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) to ensure your website looks great.

Mobile Emulator
Using mobile device emulators (SaaS emulator apps, browser inspect tools, etc.), ensure your website design looks great on mobile devices. I use and recommend both Blisk and Hoverify.

Deals: Responsive Testing Solutions

Disable 'Coming Soon' Mode

The final step before launching is to disable ‘Coming Soon’ mode, so the world can see your website and search engines can start to crawl your content.

Verify Google Indexing

In a Google search bar, type “site:[domain]” (e.g., site:wpturnedup.com) to search for all the pages of the website being indexed in Google.

The results should only return URLs for the website you search for.

Website Care

If you want to have a go at doing website care yourself, I’ve created some tasks for you to perform on an ongoing basis.

I’d also consider signing up for WordPress Website Care so you can focus on growing your business, save money on premium solutions, get my lowest support rate, and more.

Uptime Monitoring

You should always monitor your website to identify and investigate downtime to ensure ongoing stability.

Deals: Uptime Monitoring Solutions
Guides: Uptime Monitoring

Staging Environment

Your staging website is a clone of your production website, where you should test new themes, plugins, WordPress updates, etc., before rolling them out to your production website.

These days, most hosting vendors provide a FREE staging environment; if your vendor does not, it’s probably time to look for another vendor.

My preferred WordPress hosting vendor (Kinsta) makes it super easy to implement a staging environment.

Deal: Discounted Enterprise Level Plan (Kinsta)
Guide: Kinsta Hosting for WordPress Websites

WordPress Core, Theme, and Plugin Updates

Keeping your software up-to-date helps protect against security vulnerabilities and helps you take advantage of performance enhancements.

As updates are released, I recommend you test them in your Staging environment before updating your production environment. This gives you a chance to make sure your website’s design and functionality do not suffer due to any updates.

A checklist is included within the Business Project Template.

Deal: WP Umbrella
Guide: Easily and Effectively Manage Multiple WordPress Sites With WP Umbrella

Verify Website Backups

It’s not enough to set your backups and forget about them. You need to ensure your scheduled backups are being completed and that they are not reporting any errors.

Deal: WP Umbrella
Guide: Easily and Effectively Manage Multiple WordPress Sites With WP Umbrella

Database Optimization

Schedule the deletion (weekly) of items like post revisions, spam comments, etc., to keep your database clean of stale data.

Deal: Perfmatters
Guide: How to Optimize WordPress Websites With Perfmatters

Broken Link Monitoring

You should always monitor your website to identify and investigate downtime to ensure ongoing stability.

Deals: Broken Link Monitoring Solutions

Form Testing

If you have forms on your website, you will want to check them routinely to ensure they reach the destined inboxes, newsletter/email marketing lists, etc.

General Website Contact Forms
As an alternative to general contact forms, you can take my approach of removing contact forms in favor of a chat widget, which has the following benefits.

  • Eliminates the Need for General Contact Forms
  • Eliminates the Need to Test General Contact Forms
  • Eliminates the Need to Fight General Contact Form Spam
  • Increases Overall Trust By You or Your Team Being Accessible
  • Increases Customer Satisfaction By Providing Quick Responses (Manual and/or Automated)
  • ….and more

Deals: Chat Widgets
Guide:  How to Improve Website User Engagement With LiveChat

Monitor Analytics Tracking

Routinely verify that you are successfully collecting analytics for your website, as there is always the possibility that something has caused analytics to stop working.

Deals: Analytics Solutions
Guides: Analytics Tracking

Monitor Google Search Console

Routinely check in on your Google Search Console to see if pressing issues need to be addressed.

Guide: Google Search Console

Review Admin Accounts

From time to time, you should review the existing WordPress administrator accounts on your website.

You should limit admin-level access to only yourself and those that provide ongoing/consistent support for your website.

Verify SSL Certificate

Your website must have an SSL certificate installed properly to not present security warnings in the browsers of your users and customers.

Ensure your website has an SSL certificate installed and no mixed content warnings.

While you might have an SSL certificate installed, your website might still serve images and source files with an HTTP:// address (i.e., not a secure URL like HTTPS://), called ‘Mixed Content’.

Mixed content on a website will also produce a security warning on the visitors’ browsers and can easily be remedied with the method below.

  • Kinsta
  • Elementor

Kinsta provides a ‘Search and Replace’ tool that’s super easy to use. This tool easily replaces HTTP:// URLs with HTTPS:// URLs.

Elementor provides a ‘Replace URL’ tool that is also really easy to use. It does the same thing the Kinsta tool does, but for URLs added specifically through the Elementor page builder.

Deal: Kinsta
Guide: Kinsta Hosting for WordPress Websites

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