Why Running Regular Website Maintenance is Important
Once you create and launch a website for your business, you’re done, and the website takes care of itself, right? WRONG! Owning a website has its responsibilities, and every site needs some regular TLC to keep it engaging, efficient and effective.
You can’t just build a website and forget it. Well, you can, but as a website owner, it’s your obligation to ensure that your website is well-maintained. Your website is the digital face of your business. Unfortunately, we tend to treat things differently in the real world compared to the digital world. For stuff we own in the real world, like cars and houses, maintenance is an obvious part of sustaining these investments. For some reason, we tend to ignore the fact that digital assets like websites also need maintenance for the same reasons.
Think about it. Completing a task is important to keep up good work. But what happens after that? We can all agree that maintaining the result or even improving it will help you keep up good work.
Establishing a brand is no picnic, but maintaining your brand will require a whole new level of effort and dedication. No business would like to see years or even months of hard work circling down the drain.
Enter website maintenance.
More and more businesses in the UK are realizing why websites maintenance is a quintessential requirement. They are devising new and out of the box ideas for their business websites to stay ahead of their competition. Businesses do this by ensuring their sites run smoothly and by keeping their visitors and customers engaged with relevant content. With regular maintenance, you will not have incidences of disgruntled visitors because you provided a broken link or something on your website didn’t work.
What Exactly is Website Maintenance?
A decade ago, website maintenance was effortless. Most businesses had HTML websites that required simple updates. Fast forward to 2019, and SEO is now part of every business marketing strategy. Website maintenance is now a necessity. Maintaining a fresh website is now vital to staying in business.
Look at it this way; if you’re running an online store, web maintenance is similar to running a retail store. Pricing, product inventory and shipping need to be maintained frequently. Delays can cause you huge losses.
Web maintenance involves putting effort to sustain the established brand name and expanding user base. As a business, you can do this by seeing that your website has proper protection against malware, spam and hostile login attempts, undergoes regular backups and is unique in style and design. Just like any other software application you may use, websites have versions. Each new version fixes security flaws and adds features. If you ignore to upgrade your website, hackers can take advantage and gain access to your site through some backdoor.
Some DIY hosting services like Shopify, Wix and Squarespace take care of version upgrades for you. If, however, you run a regular website on a standard hosting service, you will need to perform the upgrades yourself. The frequency of maintaining your website framework is dependent on the type of framework your site is built on.
Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress and Drupal release an update every 2 months to fix bugs and other security issues. But that’s not all. The updates add new functionality and features meant to improve the overall performance and design of your website. In general, there are 2 main types of website maintenance:
- Preserving the integrity of the website code
- Regular updates to your web content
A Small Investment With Big Returns
Opting for the DIY route when it comes to website maintenance can be a tricky and time-consuming process if you’re unfamiliar with the complexities of your software’s features. If you can afford an in-house IT staff, they should be taking care of website maintenance by regularly monitoring your website and keeping up with updates and expirations. If you lack an IT resource, no need to worry. You can hire a Web Agency or IT consultant to monitor your website remotely and perform necessary updates for you at a fee. In addition to your hosting account, the Web Agency should also have access to your plugins, add-ons and extension licenses.
Alternatively, if your website doesn’t have too many customizations, you can contract with an automatic updating service. These services will automate your website updates for you.
Unfortunately, many businesses in the UK build great websites but then fail to maintain and update them regularly. In this article, we will look at 10 reasons why you should maintain your website on a regular basis.
1. SECURITY UPDATES AND BUGS FIXES!
I have written it in caps for a good reason. Security is the single most important reason for website maintenance. To prevent possible security breaches, you need to perform consistent website maintenance.
When you install new updates, there are changes to files making your website susceptible to hacker attacks. “Oh I run a small business website, no hacker has a reason to attack my site”, right now you’re probably thinking this. This common misconception about web security and the need for regular maintenance can cost you big time. And I am not only referring to the financial losses you will incur when your site is down, but also the trust of your customers.
Hackers are getting smarter by the day. Unfortunately, many website owners put themselves at risk of malicious attacks by ignoring updates. Hackers can hijack your website and utilize its server as a hosting environment to send attacks to other servers or spam emails; it is not always about stealing info.
They do this by creating bots to get access point in a vulnerable website, and then take control of the server. The infected servers make a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on other networks. Besides ruining your reputation, this can trigger Google to block your IP address.
2. Plausibility Checks
It is vital to do regular checks to determine whether everything your site offers is indeed useful and gives your users value. Plugins and extensions are added to your site to increase features. Some of the features you can add with these mini-applications include a social media feed, a slideshow on the homepage, a photo gallery or a video player.
Plugins and extensions routinely expire. Leaving plugins and integrations un-updated means that you will miss out on improved features. Failing to upgrade them can also make them the backdoor that hackers will use to gain access to your site.
Once you install a new plugin, you should check your website to see that new plugin hasn’t broken any website feature. In some instances, plugins that worked seamlessly together may not be compatible after an upgrade. Most web frameworks will send you a notification when a new version of a plugin is available.
3. Content Maintenance
Your content should keep readers coming back. Most organizations have an ongoing need to update web content like staff bios, product/service info, company news, and anything else that’s going to attract visitors and retain existing customers. You should not only double-check content being published but also continuously after release.
The built-in CMS in modern web frameworks like WordPress lets website owners manage content easily. Most businesses give little attention to website content. Outdated web content makes a bad impression. It is vital to keep your content up to date. If your website has an ecommerce element to it, product updates are essential. You will need to make updates when you announce a new product and when a certain product is discontinued. Upcoming price changes are also something you must communicate.
Hiring an IT consultant or Web agency that knows your company will go a long way in maintaining your content.
They can do this by offering a communication process to enable prompt response to customer requests and scheduling content edits. You can go through some older articles to see if they contain outdated information.
4. Load Time Checks
Loading speeds are a crucial part of website maintenance. Faster loading speeds is an attribute of a well-maintained website. Web surfers have a very short attention span. If your website loads slowly, web visitors will exit your site.
Load time needs to be checked up front, but should also be tested regularly to avoid inconveniences due to graphic or code changes. All pages on your site should load without errors.
5. Keeping Up With Best Practices
The internet is always changing, and so are the best practices that search engines, social media and other websites employ. The more updated your website is, the more you’ll convince visitors that you’re the real deal.
Invalid style sheets and documents can lower your business credibility.
Quality Assurance of websites overtly includes validation. You probably know that SSL is now an obligatory part of search engine and browser experiences. Ignoring it can affect how your customers and visitors find and view your website.
6. Link Checks
Over time, links become broken. The 404 error may seem like a simple error, but it is a major cause of frustration for internet users. Nobody likes to be directed to an expired or non-existent page. Nobody. Changes within your website and if you referenced a certain website in one of your blog posts, or somewhere else within your website, the links could have changed.
Your site should be able to make a perfect first impression.
Thankfully, it is not hard to find broken links. With a link checker, you can test your internal and external links periodically. Google Search Console, for instance, can help you track incoming links to your site.
7. Backing Up Your Website
Besides clients and partners, data is one of the most important things for any type of business. You should back up your website regularly to avoid possible future losses if the data gets corrupted or removed. This is particularly essential if you’re a website owner who uses blog or online interface of your store to make changes.
A few minutes of back up could save you a whole day’s work.
8. Analyzing Your Stats
Most businesses focus on analyzing sales stats at the expense of website stats. To gauge your website’s performance and determine your website traffic, you need to inspect your web server stats.
If your web hosting account lacks website stats, consider getting one installed. With Google Analytics, you can monitor stats such as countries your visitors are from, keywords that were used to find you, bounce rate, pages entered on and left, referring sites, time spent on the site etc.
9. Improve Your SEO
The whole purpose of starting a business is to have clients, customers or an audience. Adding new content and optimizing your website helps improve your search engine rankings and add traffic to your site.
Conversely, sites with old and irrelevant content rank lower in SERPs. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo love new and relevant content. Every time you update your website with new content, Google will crawl your site and improve your rankings. It is also crucial that you delete spam content. Having a blog on your website puts you at risk of getting spam. Your visitors use the comments section to share their views and ideas about your products/services. Spam robots can crawl into your website and comment on your articles.
Instead of disabling comments, you can delete the inappropriate comments manually.
10. Test Browser Compatibility
You never know when a change in technology is going to cause problems with a specific aspect of your website. With time, website technology or layouts may become incompatible with the new version of browsers.
To be on the safe side, it is vital that you review and test your website regularly in the latest versions of mainstream browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge.
Your website is a core part of your business. Besides bringing traffic, it is also a worldwide window into your company. Regardless of size, your business needs continuous website monitoring, maintenance and upgrading in order to maintain search engine rankings, attract and keep customers, and provide info about your products/services.