After a month long hard work your blog is now ready to go public. By now, you would have fine-tuned it as per the review/preview feedback received from multiple parties. And you must be ready with your logo, branding and a good blog structure with minimum number of plugins and widgets. If you need some more plugins for your blog, you may check out this post viz. Top 30 wordpress plugins that are actually useful.
Phase 8. Pre-launch validation
Before you could make your blog really public, please make sure that the following checklist items are validated against the current state of your blog and its web presence.
Your blog launch checklist
- Make sure that your blog posts that appear on the first page are free of spelling errors or grammar mistakes
- Click and validate all links including pages, posts, category and tag links
- Adjust the timestamps of the last couple of posts to make sure that they are not too outdated
- Create a short launching today post  that summarizes what has gone into the making of your new blog and what you intend to do
- Make sure that your RSS feed links are working and if you have not already done it, you may now sign up with the Feedburner feed distribution service, configure your feed and also use their ‘Publicize’ links to serve your feed by email. You need to paste this piece of code in your theme, ideally in the sidebar or banner area
- Google Analytics: Sign up with Google Analytics (GA)  to get extensive information on the number of visitors to your blog, their geography, type of visit, how long did they use your blog, which are their favorite posts etc. After signing up with GA make sure that you paste the latest GA tracking code (not the old urchin version) in your blog theme’s footer area so that tracking starts immediately on the launch day itself. Do not use tools such as AW Stats or Webalizer but stick to GA.
- Backup once – Backup your theme folders, plugins, uploaded images and any other directories that you might have created using an FTP client or whatever tool is available with your hosting provider. Also back up the WordPress database using your WordPress database backup plugin
Phase 9. Launch your blog!
Now that we are through with our quality assurance check points, the blog is ready to fly! The following are the steps to make it public:
- Sitemap release: The sitemap that you were holding on until now has to be now released to the search engine spiders. If you used the Google XML Sitemap plugin as per a previous post in this series, all that you need to now is to enable all those checkboxes to make sure that further changes to your blog are indexed by leading search engines such as Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask.com . It will also modify the robot.txt file to tell search engines to recursively crawl.
- Google Webmaster Tools: Since you already have a Google account (used for GA sign up or otherwise), now it is time to sign up with Google Webmaster Tools. The webmaster tools is a bunch of utilities that provide extensive information on your crawling statistics, link reports, robot errors etc. It is a must have FREE tool for any (blog) webmaster  and sign up there and submit your sitemap that is already created. Please note that the webmaster tools will take a couple of days or even a week to start producing reports. There’re also other webmaster tools such as the one offered by MSN, but it is better to stick with Google as you can manage all your services from a single account.
- Update Ping Services: WordPress has a feature by which it automatically informs several blog aggregators on you posting or changing some content. Their spiders then will index your post to make it publicly available. By default you should have one ping service (http://rpc.pingomatic.com/) listed under your settings->Writing->Update services option. But there are many other ping services that you can add as and when you sign up with different social media sites (I have as many as 28 ping agents listed there – will write about them in another post). At the moment your default ping service will do and make sure that the entry is present there. 
- Site Submission: You can now submit your site to popular search engines. I used a FREE service from Submit Express that submits your site to 60 plus search engines. They have a paid service as well that probably submits your pages to thousands of search engines and directories. When you use the free service make sure that you use an alternate or temporary email address  as they are going to spam your email inbox otherwise. If you search Google, you can find more free website submission pages.
- Change your profiles: Now, it is time to update all your social media and social networking (Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn…) or various other web portal accounts and profiles to reflect your new blog’s URL. This will soon attract some visitors to your new blog.
- Inform your friends and group members: You may now send out personal mails to your friends and private groups (Yahoo Groups etc) informing them about your newly launched blog. If you ask politely some of them may even subscribe to your RSS feeds.
- Free Press Release: There are a number of websites that provide you with FREE press release services. If you serach Google for the phrase ‘free press release’ you will find many. You could use one of those services to announce your professional blog’s release by creating a good quality write up and submitting the same there.
Voila! You have just launched your dream project!!
A few things to avoid
- No ads yet: Please note that launching a site with too many ads will not fetch you any good. It could instead have a negative impact as some of the initial visitors may never ever come back 
- Do not put site counters and feedburner feed counts yet . However great is your blog and its contents, the general psychology of the visitors are to visit again those blogs that are popular i.e. those sites with their feedburner count displaying some ridiculously large numbers
- Do not spam news groups and forums with your site announcement. Also stay away from cheap tricks such as using hidden URLs or tiny URLs to mislead people into your site.
I guess we have covered enough topics in this post though I was intending to provide some more information. Probably we can cover the same in our next post titled ‘Post launch exercises’. Until then, do not forget to bookmark this post and provide your valuable feedback.