Establishing an online presence has become essential for both marketing and business purposes. In order to be successful in the modern marketplace, it is important to have a professional website. Studies on consumer behavior have shown that most of the market conducts online research about a product or service before making a purchasing decision. Regardless of their size or industry, businesses that do not have an active and optimized website are missing out on a huge marketing channel. However, there is a lot more to having a website than design, development, and launching. Once a website is live, it needs to be properly maintained to be effective and bring results. In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at website maintenance.
What is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance systematically checks your website for problems and ensures it is properly optimized and updated. Once a website goes live, it requires regular check ups, attention, and upkeep to stay healthy and remain relevant. Maintenance is an ongoing process that every website needs to run smoothly and bring about results.
Businesses of all sizes need to focus on keeping their sites well maintained and attractive if they want to engage and retain clients and customers. However, many businesses, especially smaller businesses and startups, find themselves having to cut corners and skip tasks related to maintenance, to focus on other more pressing issues. Maintenance quickly falls off the radar as other things become a priority. This is because maintenance tasks often seem minor and do not present immediate issues when not carried out.
The problem is that these tasks accumulate over time and eventually leave your site drastically underperforming, turning it into more of a liability than an asset. When it comes to the health and efficiency of your website, regular monitoring and maintenance are crucial.
Why Website Maintenance is Important?
A lot of businesses have their hands full of running day-to-day business operations. The last thing business owners need is the additional responsibility of maintaining a website. This usually results in them investing in a website, only to worry about additional website costs and responsibilities later. Such haphazard approaches are dangerous in the long run. We are going to look at some important reasons why you need to prioritize proper website maintenance.
Keeping up with Website Updates
One of the most important website maintenance tasks is ensuring that the website is regularly and properly updated. Once a website is live, it needs to keep up with the latest updates made to software and platforms. This means ensuring that your website installs all core, theme, and plugin updates. Doing so will ensure that the site does not fall behind in terms of search engine optimization or security.
Important for Website Security
Once a site is live on the web, it is exposed to numerous cyber threats. Hackers often use automated tools to scour the web and look for any unprotected websites they can access. Once they are inside, they can infect your site with malicious code and steal important data. In order to protect your resources and customer data, it is vital to keep up with the necessary security updates and security patches that come out. When it comes to security, website maintenance provides numerous services:
- SSL certificate
- Security and malware scans
- Preventive hacking measures
- Regular functionality and security monitoring
Reliable Website Backups
Your website is an incredibly important asset that you invest in to get an edge in business. The last thing you want is your site going down and losing the progress you made, as well as valuable data. While this might seem impossible, the threat is quite real. There are numerous reasons it can happen:
- Human error
- Getting hacked
- Updates can go wrong
- Malware and viruses
He who fails to plan is planning to fail. These are wise words to live by in all walks of life, including the virtual world. Having a data recovery plan set up is the safest bet to ensure you don’t lose your site should the worst happen.
Website downtime can have a severe negative impact on a business. The longer a website is down, the more visitors and potential customers it loses. While there is no way to guarantee a website stays up at all times, you can do the second best thing and get it up and running in as little time as possible. The best way to do that is with uptime monitoring. Uptime monitoring proactively monitors your site to ensure that it is live. The best service constantly monitor your site and show you stats at the end of the month.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
While Google is not transparent about ranking factors, many SEOs agree that unmaintained sites do much worse in SERPs. Regardless of how much you time you put into on-page SEO, you are unlikely to see the results you want until your site is in pea condition. Numerous algorithm updates can make proper optimization difficult. This is because poorly maintained sites collect a lot of issues over time. When a search engine crawls the site, it notices multiple problems and potential security threats. Issues such as outdated software, poor site architecture, slow loading time, and errors are all negative signals to search engines. Search engines are all about user experience; they prioritize well optimized and maintained sites while penalizing bad sites. This means that poorly maintained sites will plummet to the bottom of search engines and get way less traffic and potentially less website conversion rates.
Online Customer Experience
Website maintenance plays a key role in enhancing the user experience. With so much content and sites on the World Wide Web, the only way to stay relevant and attract more customers (as well as retain customers) is to go above and beyond in quality and services. Routine maintenance ensures that the site is optimized, well-designed, and frequently updated. Sites that run in an optimal condition at all times offer an amazing user experience to visitors, which in turn means more organic website traffic and a lower bounce rate.
While website maintenance might seem like an additional expense initially, it will actually save you a lot more money in the long run. A well-maintained site loads much faster, ranks better, improves sales, and ensures a better user experience. All these things will help ensure that your internet marketing efforts are not wasted. Not only will you be earning more, but you will also save money on storage and hosting costs that an unmaintained site accrues. In addition to that, website maintenance helps you avoid the headache of accumulated problems and issues that usually require a lot of resources to get fixed. It is best to invest in website maintenance early on and continuously keep your site healthy. Your visitors, business, and budget will be grateful.
What Does Website Maintenance Encompass?
When it comes to websites, there are a lot of things to work on to improve your website. Multiple things to pay attention to in regards to the front end, backend, and content need to be checked.This can become very overwhelming, especially if you do not know what to focus on. In order to shed some light on the maintenance process, we have broken what falls into website maintenance.
- Web Design
- Web Development
- Data and Analytics
These are four areas in which you need to focus on and periodically make improvements. Each of them is vital for your business’s success and needs to be addressed from an optimization and maintenance standpoint.
Poor design and aesthetics could work as a deterrent. It is important to find a design that looks good and embodies your brand well. When it comes to design, there are no rules, and your imagination and abilities only limit you. While there is a lot of freedom in web design, there are certain key areas that you need to make sure are handled well. These include:
- On-page text – If you want your message or information to reach customers, you must pay attention to it and make it legible. This includes making sure the font is clear and not too big or too small. In addition to that, make sure to factor in foreground and background colors. The last thing you want is to have a text that isn’t readable because it blends in with the background colors of the site.
- Recognizable interactive components – When it comes to interactive components (clickable elements) on pages, it is important to add cues that suggest clickability. Adding a signaling cue such as color, size, borders, placement in adherence to current web standards gives your page the functionality and look needed to succeed. The goal is to ensure that visitors know what parts of the page are static content, and which are clickable/tappable.
- All links need to function – Broken links will affect not only user experience but also your site ranking.
- Proper media placement – Images and videos are powerful tools, but only if used correctly. Proper placement of media can make all the difference in user experience. Any bugs (misaligned images, covered texts, e.t.c) could distract users from the message you are trying to send.
- Easy navigation – Make sure that all navigation features are well designed and easy to use. People do not want to spend time figuring out how to navigate a website.
- Well Placed Logo – Don’t overcomplicate things with your logo. Keep it simple and visible. Avoid making it too large or to small for the page.
- Responsive Design – Visitors can reach your site through a number of different devices. I t is important to ensure your website is mobile, desktop, and tablet responsive.
While there are many components in web design, these are some quick fixes you can do to make a dramatic impact on the feel and function of your site.
Proper website development and optimization will require you to focus on software and code. Some essential parts of web development include:
- Being HTTPS compliant (having a secured site) – Every website should aim to create a trustworthy environment in which visitors feel safe. In order to do this, you must have a Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) website. This is an encrypting technology that keeps data and information secure.
- Website Speed – Website speed is one of the major ranking factors in Google. Pages that keep visitors waiting will lose a lot of visitors and potential clients; search algorithms will also overlook them.
- Cybersecurity – Keeping your website safe from malicious malware and would-be hackers is of utmost importance for your business and your visitors.
- HTML, CSS, and Java fine-tuning – Design and development usually go together. While there are ways to set up a website without going into code, there are times you will need development expertise to get the job done.
Getting your website looking and running right is only half the battle. You still need to create, put out, and manage content. With so much content on the internet, you will need to hit the mark to get noticed and convert visitors to customers. This includes images, video, audio, and written content. The aim of content can be to:
- Encourage Conversions– This is known as copywriting. The aim is to package content in a way that moves visitors emotionally and encourages them to purchase.
- Provide Information – This is known as content writing. Content writing includes blogs, and the purpose behind them is to educate users and establish your company as a credible source of information in your industry.
The better the content you produce, the better your results will be on SERPs. Google values optimized and well-researched articles that provide value to visitors. The more topics you cover in detail, the more credibility you will have with search engines. In addition to being optimized for search engines, well optimized pages and content is great for digital marketing. It gives you amazing content you can share to social media, which can improve your website traffic even more.
Data and Analysis
The goal of web maintenance is to keep a website running smoothly. In many cases, this might involve making some changes to aspects of your site. Making changes on a hunch is no way to grow. The best way to do it is to collect data and use it to improve your site continuously. This is a crucial step in maintaining your website correctly. You will need to connect your site with the right analytical tools to track essential metrics. This usually involves connecting Google analytics, and keeping traffic of various metrics such as social media leads, organic search, time on site and much more.
Important Website Maintenance Tasks
As soon as a site goes live, it becomes your responsibility to keep it running. However, we have already seen that site maintenance covers a lot of things. To make things easier, we have outlined some of the most basic and crucial maintenance tasks. We have organized them by how frequently they should be done.
Annual Maintenance Tasks
- Make sure you renew your website domain name.
- Update areas that reference the current year.
- Check active email addresses and determine if they can be removed or not.
- Review pages to make sure content is accurate, well written, and relevant.
- Consider updating the website design
- Look at your best-performing articles and update them.
Quarterly Website Maintenance Tasks
- Go over website structure and design and look for things that can be improved.
- Review photos and graphic and see if they need to be updated
- Check content to make sure it is up to date.
- Look at meta titles and meta descriptions to ensure they are effective.
- Test out and update forms, pop-ups, and calls to action.
- Access your site from multiple devices to see if it displays well.
- Go over marketing and advertising campaigns to see if anything should be changed or updated.
- Restore a recent backup to assess backup health.
Monthly Website Maintenance Tasks
- Test the website loading speed. If the site does not load in less than three seconds, you will need to work on it. (Great tools that can help you assess page speed are GTMetrix and Google Page Speed)
- Conduct security scans and make sure there are no issues.
- Go over website statistics from the previous month.
- Look at your blogs and see if any articles need to be updated.
- Check local search visibility with Google and Bing.
Weekly Website Maintenance Tasks
- Check for broken links. If there are any, fix or redirect them.
- Check pages for loading errors.
- Make sure all forms are running properly
- Delete any spam comments.
- Post a blog. This is great for SEO and visitors.
Daily Website Maintenance Tasks
- Log in and check for completed forms.
- Make sure you back up your website
- Check for any updates. (core updates, plugin updates, theme updates)
Options When it Comes to Website Maintenance
Depending on the resources and skills you have available, there are four routes you can take when it comes to website maintenance.
- Tackling it on Your Own – If you have the necessary skills and time to properly maintain your site, then this is a good option. If you do are not quite there yet but are willing to learn, be prepared for a great deal of trial and error.
- Creating an in-house team – Creating a dedicated team to handle this for you is an expensive option. It requires a team of experienced professionals, as well as the expenses that come with that. It is a viable option for larger companies that have the resources and experience needed to set up an effective in-house team.
- Using Freelancers – Hiring freelancers is more affordable than setting up an in-house team. However, it will require proper coordination and communication to work. This can be difficult given that a lot of freelancers work with multiple clients and have to juggle numerous tasks.
- Hiring an Agency – When it comes to your website, it is best to have one service provider covering all your needs. This is why hiring a professional agency is the best option. They have the resources, experience, and expertise needed to handle all of your website optimization and maintenance needs. This allows you to focus on your business and not worry about the time-consuming job of maintenance.
How Much Does Website Maintenance Cost?
A lot of businesses are not up to date with the maintenance market and are unsure of how much they should be paying for website maintenance. Site maintenance is usually charged monthly in the form of a website maintenance plan. There are numerous types of plans available, and their price varies on the level of service they provide. A ballpark estimate of a basic website maintenance package for a medium to large business is between $100 and $300 dollars. These plans include essential maintenance services such as regular updates, site security, slight changes to website design, and blog posting. These plans are a great option if you are looking for a service that offers the bare essentials of maintenance.
If you are looking to go beyond the basics and take your site to the next level, it is better to opt for a more advanced web maintenance plan. These plans offer a more technical approach and aim to provide a more in-depth level of service. They include services such as website development, detailed analysis with suggestions for improvements, analytics, and other additional features that can give you the edge over the competition. Pricing for these plans depends on the quality and size of your size, which is why they usually require a quote. They are the best option for someone looking to enjoy the benefits of a basic maintenance plan while also staying up to date with the latest search engine requirements needed for high rankings.
The StrongWP Advantage
Website maintenance cannot be overlooked in the modern marketplace. It is an essential service that every site needs. With so much on the line, it is important to choose a service provider you can rely on. Strong WP has years of experience in the industry and uses all the latest technology, resources, and data to create an all-encompassing website maintenance plan that gives you everything you need to succeed. We are the best solution for creating, optimizing, hosting, and maintaining your website to the latest Google standards. If you are interested in finding out more about our services, do not hesitate to contact us for more information.