Contrary to some people’s beliefs, a website is not something to set and forget. Website maintenance should be on your radar even if you’ve just launched a new site or recently made updates.
In today’s business world, your site could very well be your best sales tool. If designed strategically, it can serve your target audience at all levels of the sales funnel — from introducing new leads to your company to emphasizing your unique selling propositions (USPs) to warm leads to converting hot leads into customers.
A site will only achieve its full potential if it loads quickly, has current content, functions flawlessly and is safe and secure. The only way to guarantee this is the case is by monitoring performance and completing periodic website maintenance.
This article will provide an overview of what website maintenance entails and explain why it’s so important for your business in both the short term and the long term.
What is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance is the process of regularly checking a site for issues and outdated information. It includes things like:
- Maintaining fast load times
- Updating the website platform
- Fixing broken links
- Updating webpages or blog articles with inaccurate or out-of-date content
- Updating plugins
- Eliminating any spam or security issues
Website maintenance is important for all businesses regardless of how big or small they are. It keeps traffic coming to the site without disruption, delivers a satisfactory user experience and strengthens SEO performance. Think of website maintenance like a check-up. It identifies and remedies little problems before they become big problems and keeps your business operating smoothly.
Why Do You Need to Do Website Maintenance?
Business owners are sometimes reluctant to commit to ongoing website maintenance. They either underestimate its importance, don’t realize how frequently it is needed or decline it as a money-saving measure — perhaps a combination of these reasons. However, failing to maintain your website is an invitation for multiple problems to pop up down the road that will have a negative impact on your business. Below is a list of some of the major reasons regular website maintenance is essential.
Perhaps the top reason to maintain your website is security. Protecting your business’s data and especially your customers’ data from being exposed and stolen by hackers should be a priority. Many websites are built using open source technology such as WordPress, Drupal or Magento. To stay a step ahead of hackers, these systems are frequently updated, with new security patches getting released to address software vulnerabilities.
The longer your website sits dormant with outdated security patches, the more susceptible it is to a malicious attack. Staying on top of security updates keeps your site protected.
2. Keep Software Updated
Security software isn’t the only thing that needs to be updated on a website. The software responsible for the structure of your site content (website platform, plugins, themes, etc.) needs to be kept up to date as well. Doing so will ensure that your site is compatible with and displays and functions properly on all web browsers and devices.
Think of your website like a smartphone or computer. If you want it to operate at peak performance, you need to make software updates as they come available.
3. Deliver a Positive User Experience
Even a well-designed site that is new or recently updated can decline in effectiveness if left untouched for a long period. Site visitors expect to find accurate and timely information about your products, services and industry. If the content is outdated or contains errors, or if the prices or product information listed on the site aren’t current, your business will look unprofessional and people will look elsewhere for a solution.
Not only does the information on your website need to be current, but your site also needs to function properly so people can find what they’re looking for without issues. This means that the site speed should be fast so pages load quickly. It also means that the site should display properly regardless of device, be easy to navigate and all links should work and direct to the correct pages.
Website maintenance is necessary to identify and remedy any errors, technical issues or stale content so that your site is fresh, streamlined and informative to keep visitors engaged and position your business as a worthwhile option for their needs.
4. Strengthen & Maintain Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Ranking
Regular website maintenance plays a role in keeping a steady flow of traffic coming to your site. That’s because Google wants to provide its searchers with the highest-quality information possible. Your website needs to have relevant, up-to-date content to help its chances of getting a good ranking on the search engine results page (SERP). It also needs to load quickly and be a safe, secure site. Google doesn’t want to send people to risky sites or ones that won’t be helpful to them.
This part of website maintenance ties into SEO because if you monitor your web traffic and SEO performance, you can update your content and create new content to target the relevant keywords for which you want to rank.
5. Having a Backup in the Event of a Disaster
It’s always good to have a backup plan and be ready to respond when things don’t go as expected. Another crucial aspect of website maintenance is saving a backup of key site elements such as the source code and content.
Backing up your site is an important safeguard against disasters that could include a hack or a crash caused by corrupted files. If your site goes offline for one of these reasons, you can turn to your backup to get up and running again much more quickly and affordably than if you have to start over and rebuild the site from scratch.
6. Cost Savings
Yes, website maintenance is a line item you need to include on your expense sheet. There may be times when you question if it’s worth it. But think about the potential consequences if your site experiences major issues, gets hacked or completely crashes. For starters, all the money you previously put into building the site would be down the drain. Secondly, the costs associated with a major or complete site rebuild will surely exceed what you pay for site maintenance. You must also consider the loss of revenue associated with site downtime. Every day that your site is down negatively impacts your lead generation and sales efforts.
Think of website maintenance like an insurance policy. What you pay for may not result in drastic differences in the way your site looks or functions. However, it provides protection against a catastrophic situation that could last for an extended period and result in high expenses to get back online.
How Often is Website Maintenance Needed & How Much Does It Cost?
Once you concede that website maintenance is a worthwhile investment, the next things you’ll want to know are how often it’s needed and what it will cost. The answers to those questions depend on the size and complexity of your site, what it’s used for and who is performing the maintenance.
Below is a hypothetical website maintenance schedule. The exact task list and frequency can vary. For example, there may also be relatively quick and easy tasks like removing spam comments that could be completed weekly, especially if you have someone in-house who can take care of it. But generally speaking, website maintenance typically consists of monthly, quarterly and yearly tasks.
- Test the site speed
- Check for security risks/updates
- Check for platform & plugin updates
- Run a backup
- Review SEO
- Apply software updates
- Test forms
- Review site design
- Update outdated content
- Renew website domain
- Update the copyright date & legal policies
- Consider web design updates
Do you have an in-house team capable of doing all the work? Do you need to outsource it all to an agency? Can you manage some of the quick, easy tasks in-house and hire an agency to take care of the more complicated tasks? The answer will impact how your needs are taken care of and what the final price tag will be.
Have questions about website maintenance or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us. You can also visit the Website Design & Development section of our blog.