Making a website that looks great and functions well is important for any industry, but that’s only half the battle—the upkeep is just as crucial. Your website maintenance ensures that your business, blog or online presence continues to evolve and succeed over time. This also establishes that anyone who interacts with your site will always have the best user experience.
While there are a number of tasks to consider when maintaining your website, organizing each one by week, month, quarter and year can help you build a foolproof plan, leaving nothing unchecked and unnoticed. To help you get started, we’ve put together this complete guide on website maintenance, why it’s important to your long term website management goals.
What is website maintenance?
Website maintenance is the practice of monitoring your website’s overall health and performance. Keeping a website up-to-date is crucial to ensuring it's working at full capacity, engaging and retaining site visitors.
There are a number of tasks required to properly check and maintain a website, including updating security software and plugins, adding fresh content, increasing new and returning traffic, and meeting the satisfaction of your site users. While some of these points are more time-sensitive than others, each one will be addressed extensively further in the post.
Read also: How to make a Wix website
Why is website maintenance important?
Website maintenance can impact your business’s first impressions, SEO strategy, security and sales. Whether you’re a business owner or creating a blog, you’ll want to make sure that when people and search engines land on your site, they will immediately see the benefits of your site’s offerings—or risk losing them. This means that your ability to rein in and retain online interest lies primarily in your website maintenance.
Having said that, if you go too long without regular website maintenance, your site could suffer in the process. Your website will begin to run slow, stop converting leads, potentially house malware and get hacked, thereby causing problems for those who click on it. It could even stop working altogether.
Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of website maintenance:
01. First impressions
Just as the saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression,” businesses online can make or break a deal depending on the initial look and feel of their website. If yours looks old or isn’t working as it should, you may potentially lose out on capturing new leads within the first few seconds that matter.
Research shows that first impressions are 94% design related. Using attractive and up-to-date web design can help you convey the right message to new site visitors. It reassures them that they've found what they’re looking for and reinforces your site’s relevancy, credibility, trustworthiness and uniqueness. As a result, searchers will find it in their interest to stay on your web page.
02. Business reputation
Along the same line as first impressions, your business reputation is extremely important in gaining customers’ trust. Some ways to uphold your online standing include having working links, adding a 404 page for broken ones, updating plugins, freshening up content and abiding to a recommended page load time of under two seconds are just ways to uphold your reputation online. You’ve got to make sure your website delivers on your company promise of quality, reliability and professionalism.
03. SEO strategy
Paying attention to website maintenance is essential for your site’s SEO strategy. Consider this an opportunity to establish a routine process of monitoring and improving your website’s SEO, ranging from updating content to fixing broken site links.
These bits of information are what a Googlebot looks out for when it crawls your website. In this initial stage of analysis, Google is determining the value of your website, potentially affecting your ability to rank first page or not down the line. Ranking positively on search engines can help drive traffic to your website, bringing customers to your business. That said, ranking poorly will make it harder for people to find you online.
Sales are the lifeline of any online store. More people purchasing from your eCommerce site translates to a healthy and functioning business. To ensure keeping sales figures high, you’ll want to keep certain technical glitches at bay which could deter your customer’s shopping experience. Some common eCommerce site problems include bugs in product ordering, check out and payment processes, or failed discounts and free shipping due to an error.
Furthermore, people shopping online rely on quality images and the ability to zoom in on a product that they otherwise would have tested at a store. It’s especially important that you offer professional images, videos or other visual support to cover any gaps that come with not being able to physically try on clothes or shoes. Along with seeing images, customers also want to get as much information as possible about their potential purchase, so you’ll want to invest time in writing product descriptions that can attest to your business reputation.
A website maintenance plan helps protect your business from virtual threats. Regularly updating your security software and renewing your SSL certification provider help safeguard your site’s files. These are made up of sensitive information, such as passwords and customers’ private data—credit card numbers and banking details.
Developers who release these website updates are doing so to patch vulnerabilities they might have found. When you maintain your site’s security, it becomes harder for hackers to compromise your business and easier for customers to entrust their monetary assets to you.
Common website maintenance tasks
Now that you've made your website and you know what to look out for when monitoring website maintenance for your business, you’ll need to create a list of tasks to work into your schedule.
Here are some examples of common website maintenance tasks:
Security updates: Security updates should be applied as soon as they become available to ensure that the website remains protected against known vulnerabilities.
Backups: There are two kinds of people: those who create backups and those who have never lost all their data. Regular backups are essential for protecting against data loss and should be performed regularly. The frequency of backups will depend on the frequency of content updates on the website. For example, if the website is updated on a daily basis, then daily backups are recommended.
Website performance tracking and optimization: Website performance should be monitored regularly to ensure the website is loading quickly and functioning properly. It may involve monitoring page load times and website uptime and introducing changes to the website to improve performance.
Content moderation: It's vital to keep the content on the website fresh and engaging for visitors. Web owners should add new pages, update existing pages, and add new blog posts or articles through their blog maker. The frequency of content updates will depend on the nature of the website and its intended purpose.
How often is website maintenance required?
The frequency of website maintenance required depends on various factors, such as your site's complexity and purpose. However, it's considered a good practice to regularly perform website maintenance tasks to ensure that the website functions properly.
Weekly website maintenance tasks
With Google Analytics you gain access to information about how people are reaching your website and using it. You can do weekly website maintenance checks by logging in to your Google Analytics account to track traffic, thereby understanding your site’s performance and identifying areas of improvement.
Traffic-driven data, such as number of site visitors and bounce rate, can lead to making better decisions for your business. Additionally, this analytics tool lets you know where the traffic comes from, by geographical location, keywords and intent, and interest.
Monthly website maintenance tasks
Check that all your online platforms are secured, plugins are updated, and your website content is backed up. This will help you avoid losing any valuable information and fortify your site against cyberattacks.
You should also test your website speed with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool that offers detail about your site working on different browsers and devices. After analyzing your website, it will then generate suggestions for making your webpage faster.
Quarterly website maintenance tasks
Review your website content based on defined goals and metrics, such as SEO (organic traffic and backlinks), user behavior (page views and bounce rate), engagement (likes, mentions and shares) and sales (conversation rates and ROI).
Some questions to ask yourself during this stage are, “Are all my meta titles and descriptions as SEO effective as possible?” “Is this blog post getting relevant traffic?” and “What can be updated in my content, topic-wise and linking-wise?” These are linked to performance. Then, proceed by tweaking your content, testing out calls-to-action across your pages and seeing whether your site’s content, both visual and textual, displays correctly on all types of browsers and devices.
Annual website maintenance tasks
Your site’s header, footer and legal policy might also require special attention by this point. Make sure all your information is up-to-date, and that main menu categories reflect what’s most relevant to your business. Look out for old logos and company images that may not serve your best interest anymore. After a period of time, a website redesign could benefit your site greatly.
Should I hire a professional or maintain a website on my own?
Whether you should hire a professional or maintain a website on your own depends on several factors, including your technical skills (maintaining a website requires technical skills such as knowledge of HTML, CSS, and web hosting), the complexity of your website, your available time and your budget. If you have technical skills and experience with website development, you may be able to maintain your website on your own. However, if you are not familiar with website development or don't have much time to devote to maintaining your website, hiring a professional may be a better option.
Let’s discuss some pros and cons of hiring a professional vs doing it all yourself.
Hiring a professional
Time-saving: Hiring a professional to maintain your website can save you time so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Technical expertise: Seasoned professionals have a wealth of technical knowledge, allowing them to solve complex tech issues with your website quickly and efficiently.
Cost: Hiring a professional can be expensive, especially for small businesses or individuals on a tight budget. (Here are website maintenance costs to keep in mind.)
Communication: You need to clearly communicate the tasks to a professional. Communication with web professionals can sometimes be challenging, especially if they are working remotely.
Dependency: You may become too dependent on someone else. You won't be able to introduce changes to web design yourself and will need to wait for help.
Maintaining the website on your own
Cost-effective: Doing site maintenance yourself can save you money, and it's especially valuable if you have limited resources.
Control: You have complete control over your website and can make changes whenever you want.
Gain new skills: Maintaining a website can be a great learning experience, allowing you to develop new skills that you can use in other areas of your business.
Time-consuming: Maintaining a website requires time and effort. You will need to find time for it in your busy schedule.
Technical challenges: When technical issues arise, it may be challenging to troubleshoot them if you do not have a technical background.
Limited expertise: You may not have the same level of expertise as a professional, and the result of your work might not look like work done by a seasoned specialist.