How to Successfully Maintain a Website in 2021

Christian Van Noort
Christian Van Noort

How to Successfully Maintain a Website in 2021

If your website isn’t functioning at its highest capacity, you are almost certainly missing opportunities whether they be small or large. These opportunities can come in the form of new leads, sales, and much more.

Your website is a window looking onto the image that you want to convey, you are allowing the general public as well as your clients to view the corporate image that you wish to present. 

This gives you control over the first impression that any potential new client has of your business. If for any reason your website doesn’t show the best possible version of your business, then it isn’t a success. Managing your website is therefore just as important for your business as managing your reputation. A slow, unresponsive, stale, unappealing website creates the worst possible impression. That’s why maintaining your website is an important part of your business’s online success.

 

What is Website Maintenance?

There are multiple tasks that need to be completed in order to keep your website up to date and running smoothly. These tasks include core, plugin, and theme updates, refreshing content, on/off-page analysis, backups, and making sure your website visitors are happy upon every visit.

A good analogy for website maintenance plans is a machine of some sort that needs to be serviced regularly. For example, let’s compare them to your car. A car needs proper maintenance to ensure that it will get you to your desired destination. You bought it, and now you must keep it well-maintained and attractive, so it’s always up and running. 

The same goes for your website. You’ve invested your hard-earned money into it, and you’ve devoted precious time to content creation and portraying your business in the best light. But a website is not something that you create once, and then you just wait for it to function on its own. That’s not how the digital world works.

 

Why maintain a website?

It might give you a shock but, the unfortunate truth is that outdated website plugins cause one-quarter of breaches in WordPress based websites. Regular maintenance makes website functionality smoother. It will be much less likely that you will face situations where customers are disgruntled because they may have come across something that didn’t work for them just because it was a broken link. Potential and/or long-standing customers will often visit your website just to look for new arrivals; therefore you must offer them elite, exciting and trendy products, services, information, and features. Web maintenance practices are not centred on one area specifically; tasks performed may be broader and whole in nature. 

Not convinced yet? Ask yourself this question, if you visit a website that is outdated or updated rarely, what would be your reaction? Would you feel comfortable and continue with the hunt that brought you to that particular website? The answer definitely is going to be a ‘NO’. Well, why treat your website the same.

 

What is Included in Website Maintenance?

Let’s get down to the real reason you opened this article, to gain an understanding of how to update a website. Website maintenance tasks can be split into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually timeframes. Allow me to lay them out for you.

Weekly Tasks

  • Plugin Updates
    • A plugin is a piece of software that is developed by a third party creator. Most creators continue to improve their plugins by adding new features, improving code quality, and keeping them secure. These changes are then released to users in the form of updates, which the user can then install.
  • Check for Broken Links
    • Dead or broken links will certainly lead to a negative experience for visitors and can be detrimental to your search engine rankings. Regular scanning of the website for any problems with links and the correction of any errors found needs to be part of your routine website maintenance.
  • Post one or more blog posts.
    • Blogging is a great way to boost your SEO quality by positioning your website as a relevant answer to your customers’ questions. Blog posts that use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and make your site more appealing to visitors.
  • Backups
    • Backups of website code and contents should ideally be undertaken on a daily basis in case your website crashes or is hacked. Backups should be stored in a secure location that is physically and logically separated from the live website so that the backup can’t be affected by whatever affected the live website.

Monthly Tasks

  • Theme and Core Updates
    • It is crucial that all software updates are obtained from an authoritative source and are subjected to authenticity and antivirus checks before installation. Updates for WordPress websites are normally released every month.
  • Analyze website statistics
    • One of the essential advantages of reviewing your Web statistics is that you can learn more about your website’s users. Analytics shows you how people find your website, how long they visit, and the estimated area in which they visit.
  • Analyze your security scans
    • Malicious attacks on websites by hackers are a common problem across the internet where attacks can be launched from anywhere in the world for any number of reasons. To protect WordPress websites, it’s crucially important that the underlying software is kept up to date and all security patches are installed as soon as they become.

Quarterly Tasks

  • Update your web graphics and photos.
    • If you want your customers to visit your website on a daily basis, you need to work on making your site more attractive. This includes fixing your homepage, navigation bars, headers, logo, and images. You don’t need to spend a fortune having expensive designs developed. If your website is just starting, try to aim for a simple layout that doesn’t look cluttered or outdated. Pick appropriate colours and images for your posts. Create a theme fitting for your website’s product.
  • Check your website content and make sure it’s up-to-date
    • Are you connecting to your audience effectively? How should you create your content so that you’ll engage readers and turn them into customers? These are just some of the questions you have to keep in mind when you have to maintain your website’s content. Basically, your content (in the form of blog posts, images, and videos) is your gateway to your potential customers. Before posting, always take time to proofread. Don’t hit the publish button without taking the time to edit and review a couple of times. Remember that your site’s content is your connection to your valued customers.
  • Make sure that the website is still mobile-friendly
    • Devices nowadays are created in all different shapes and sizes. It is for this reason that you need to have your website adapt to these different resolutions. According to a rough estimation, more than 67% of users prefer to buy a product or service from mobile responsive websites. This clearly shows that you should pay increased attention to maintain a mobile-friendly website. 
  • Check Forms and Checkout Process
    • Make sure to regularly test all calls to action and points of contact/sale, such as “Contact Us” forms and the checkout process on your website. There is nothing worse than discovering your contact form stopped working after a website update and you lost business opportunities due to this flaw.

Yearly Tasks

  • Renew your website domain name
    • You might pay for your domain name on a monthly or yearly basis. While a domain name typically isn’t too expensive, it’s essential to keep up with the payments so that someone else doesn’t buy your domain name.
  • Renew your SSL
    • You’ll also want to ensure that your website has an SSL certificate, which helps keep your site secure. An SSL certificate enables your site to receive and transfer sensitive information securely. Sites that have an active SSL certificate have HTTPS, instead of HTTP, in their URL. They also have a padlock image next to the URL in many browsers. Be sure to keep up with your SSL payments so that your certificate stays active and your site stays secure.
  • Renew Hosting
    • Website hosting is another website maintenance cost to consider. You can either host your website yourself or hire a hosting provider. When it comes to website hosting providers, you have several options.
      • With a shared host, your website shares a server with several other websites. It’s the least expensive option.
      • If you choose a virtual private server (VPS), you still share a server with other sites. However, the provider divides the server up into several VPSs, giving your site a dedicated amount of server space.
      • With a dedicated server, you get full access to your own server. This option is definitely the most expensive, but also the safest.

 

How to determine whether you need a website maintenance plan

There are several elements that go into determining whether you should purchase a website maintenance package. After answering these questions, ask yourself whether you have the time and resources to execute a maintenance plan yourself. If not, you would benefit from a maintenance package.

  • How big is your website?
  • What is the purpose of your website?
  • How much of your website is customized content?
  • How quickly is your business growing?
  • How much experience do you have with website maintenance?
  • Is your website currently out-of-date?
  • How much time do you have to dedicate to website maintenance?

 

Some common errors to find on websites are

If a website has any of the following errors, there is a good chance that the website owner is not executing all areas of a maintenance plan, or is not using one at all.

  • Unavailable sites – websites being unavailable due to hosting failures, poorly managed maintenance activities or malicious attacks can all lead to sites being unavailable which creates a very poor impression for your potential visitors.
  • Slow loading pages – large numbers of unoptimized images, excessive and poorly coded JavaScript or plugins and excessive adverts can all lead to slow loading pages which may lead visitors to abandon viewing your website.
  • Broken links – links to website pages that have been removed or renamed, links to external websites that have gone offline, errors in creating the links in the first place. All result in a frustrating error for the website visitor.
  • Page not found – search engines pointing to a page in your website that has been removed or renamed cause an error which creates a very poor impression to the user who wanted to view your website.
  • Poor spelling, grammar and structure – there is nothing worse than content that is difficult to read because it is full of spelling or grammatical mistakes, includes sentences that are poorly structured, uses excessive niche wording, is full of undefined acronyms and abbreviations or just plain unhelpful.

 

If you’ve read this whole article, it’s safe to say that you probably have a good idea as to whether maintaining your own website is something you are currently capable of. If your website is simply sitting and taking up space on the internet, you should definitely consider purchasing a website maintenance package. Your website should be a tool that is supporting and helping your business grow. It is a living and breathing entity that deserves your time and attention in order to fulfil its potential.

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