How to launch a WordPress site

So you’re ready to launch your WordPress site? If you’re happy with how it looks and ready for the rest of the world to see, then it’s time to go live with that new website! It sounds intimidating and complicated but it’s really not. I’ll break it down piece by piece for you. Here’s how to launch a WordPress site, step-by-step:

Step One: Add your domain to your host’s domain list

The first step in launching your new WordPress website is to assign it a domain name. You need to tell your host server what address this site will use when people view it from the web. That address is called your domain name.

If you’re hosting with WPEngine, add your domain name to your account by clicking on Domains when logged in to my.wpengine.com

A helpful hint: With WPEngine, add your domain to your domains list twice, once with www and once without. Trust me, this one is wonky but it’s important.

Step Two: Set domain’s DNS to look at your hosting server

Your domain name is like your street address. It’s how you tell people where your website lives. And its DNS settings are what allows your host to serve up your site at that address.

DNS stands for Domain Name Server, and the settings are found within your Domain Registrar control panel. Your Domain Registrar is whoever you pay to register your domain and reserve it for you. Common domain registrar’s include GoDaddy, Google Domains, Register.com, and sometimes site builders like Wix and Squarespace.

A helpful hint: If you’re not sure who your domain registrar is, you can run a free lookup at whois.net by entering your domain name into the search field and scanning the results for a registrar like those listed above.

Once you’re logged in to your domain registrar, follow the awesome instructions provided by the blog at WPLauncher.com for step-by-step DNS directions.

Step Three: Set your domain as the site URL in the WordPress dashboard

Once you’ve pointed your DNS to your host – whether it has completed propagation or not – go into your WordPress dashboard and open the Site Settings > General panel. In the Site URL field, enter your custom domain with its full path (e.g. https://mysite.com)

A helpful hint: If you don’t yet have a SSL certificate assigned to your domain, which is common at site launch, enter your domain with an insecure “http://” at this time and return to add the “s” later. This will help avoid that “insecure, are you sure?” error message, at least for some users. It is common for SSL to follow a site’s initial launch by a few hours.

Step Four: Request an SSL certificate

SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, and it basically means, any data that is passed on your site is passed through security first. Not only is it important for security reasons, but it’s important for search, too, now that Google penalizes sites that don’t have SSL and shows a warning to visitors instead (read ServerGuy’s handy explanation here).

A helpful hint: SSL certificates are FREE with all sites hosted by WPEngine and WordKeeper, our two favorite hosts. You can also get SSL for free via Cloudflare, if you host elsewhere. In most cases, you should NOT need to pay for SSL on a single site that is not eCommerce-centric.

If you’re hosting at WPEngine, adding SSL is easy. Just click the SSL item in your my.wpengine.com account and add SSL via Let’s Encrypt. It’s free, it’s easy, and it takes 2 minutes. Just don’t forget to update your site URL after it’s working!

Step Five: Add the site to the Google Search Console

The Google Search Console is a site owner’s way to tell Google that your site exists. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s imperative to take care of on launch day so that your website is properly indexed by Google.

A helpful hint: Try the URL Prefix method of adding your site, and then follow these instructions to add the header code to your Divi Integration Options to verify the connection.

If your WordPress site uses the Divi theme, good news! Elegant Themes, the makers of Divi, recently published an exhaustive guide to the Google Search Console which covers all the details and more to getting your site indexed. Don’t skip this step!

Step Six: Track with Google Analytics

The last and final step of launching your WordPress site is to embed the code that will enable tracking with Google Analytics. Google Analytics is the most widely used traffic and analytics provider and will give you all sorts of gold in the form of data about your site visitors, what they do, and what parts of your site they like the most.

Launching a WP site? Get my FREE Pre-Launch Checklist first!