So, you’ve completed your website – that’s great! As a hub of information, your website is the centre for all online campaigns and is crucial for conversions. But let’s be realistic things change – not just the technologies but digital marketing and customer needs as well. What customers want is shifting constantly, while digital marketing constantly adapts to meet these wants.
And that’s where the importance of ongoing website maintenance comes in. In this article, we are going to explore why website maintenance is important, what it should cover and how to create a website maintenance checklist.
Without further ado, what is website maintenance?
What is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance is all about making sure that your website is not only live but is up to date and free of errors. Far too often we see business owners launching a website and then believing that their work is done. They see the site is online and think that the site will continue to support their business with very little attention. But the reality is a little different.
In this article, we’ll explore the factors that require ongoing attention, to ensure your website is well maintained.
So, why is site maintenance so important?
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Why is Website Maintenance Important?
If you want your website to work properly, you need to keep an eye on the website’s every detail. A big part of any website maintenance checklist deals with site security – constantly checking for issues and security risks. But it’s not all about security.
Website maintenance is, for most businesses, an opportunity to keep content fresh. Think for a moment about the last website you visited. Did you notice any new content blocks or updates? Even if you know the website well and visit it often, fresh content will pique your interest. And that’s the end goal anytime you update your website – to draw readers and visitors in.
In short, fresh content has the power to keep the interest of return customers and attract new ones. You can do this by:
- Releasing new product updates and refreshing the information about the older ones
- Creating blog posts which interest your target audience
- Boosting your SEO with fresh content to increase your site’s visibility
- Answering the questions that customers ask
- Creating new FAQs
As part of your website maintenance plan, fresh content should remain high on your priority list. When you regularly update the content on your website, visitors and customers have a chance to learn more about you. From upcoming events to new team announcements, the more information you present to your customers, the more they will engage.
Modern digital marketing has shown, again and again, that customers buy from brands they relate to. When you use fresh content, you optimise the online experience and give customers a reason to keep visiting your website.
And this doesn’t just apply to big organisations. Even the smallest of businesses will find that regular content updates help to keep users engaged and returning for more.
SEO and Visibility
Fresh content isn’t just for the benefit of readers and customers. It is also hugely important when it comes to SEO, visibility, and the ranking of your site across platforms like Google.
Google’s top-rated websites are those that regularly and consistently update their information. It shows Google that you are committed to giving your users fresh and relevant content on a regular basis. And that’s not all. Google also notices when old and outdated content is removed, showing the importance of maintenance in removing as well as adding new content.
Some of the aspects of website maintenance which link to SEO and visibility include:
- Showcasing your expertise in the industry you work in
- Reviewing and removing duplicated content
- Checking the quality of internal links
If you already know about SEO and how to give Google what it wants, you will be aware of the importance of outbound links. But did you know that the quality of those links is as important as having them in the first place? Website maintenance should include reviewing and checking all outbound links regularly. This will allow you to pinpoint any sources which are lacking in quality or pages which have been removed.
Keeping up With Updates
Besides marketing reasons such as helping users find your website easier or increasing engagement, there are also technical reasons for website maintenance, such as ensuring the website’s proper functionality, speed and overall performance.
Website Core Updates
Website core updates are related to the website’s engine or backend code. They make sure your website stays up-to-date with web technology updates, has no issues in the code and is secure.
Core updates are not a one-time thing and need continuous surveillance so that your website can function without any issues. But the way you will manage these updates will depend on whether you have a custom-coded website or a CMS website.
If your website is customer-coded, then your developers need to constantly inspect the website code, in case there are any issues or something needs to be changed. In case your website works on a CMS, depending on a CMS platform you may not even need to care about the core updates. Shopify for example controls all the server environments and manages core updates on your behalf.
But WordPress leaves it up to the admin to make the changes. They notify the website owners of upcoming updates and new versions so that they can install them. They don’t automatically update websites, as some hosting or plugin configurations may result in errors. Though some hosting providers make these updates automatically, it’s not recommended as websites may face significant issues because of automatic updates.
Web Technology Updates
One of these updates is web technology updates. These updates are similar to software updates like iOS, Android or Windows updates. If your website is not updated according to the latest standards and protocols, you’ll face speed, accessibility and many other issues.
For example, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, which has become an important requirement for every website, the users who try to open your website, will see a threat warning and many of them will quickly close your website. You will lose a big amount of your traffic because you simply didn’t install an SSL certificate which some hosts (including us) provide for free.
These kinds of updates are not so frequent, but they can hugely affect your website’s performance if you don’t pay attention to them on time.
Extension, Library, Plugin Updates
Many websites use additional extensions, libraries or plugins that add more functionality to their websites and which require to be updated too.
For example to implement a payment system many websites integrate PayPal or other payment systems into their website. While these payment platforms are responsible for their infrastructure updates, website admins are responsible for updating the libraries, plugins or extensions on their websites, so that they work properly.
And when your website has multiple plugins like this, you’ll need to manage all these updates so that they can function properly. You might also want to avoid using too many different extensions or plugins as they might not be compatible with each other. As you see, this part of your website also needs ongoing support.
With different security requirements depending on the website platform and hosting used, your website developers will be able to help pinpoint the exact security risks and things to consider. For example, the WordPress vulnerabilities and security risks will be different from those across other platforms. But the concept remains the same no matter what hosting or website platform you use. Security is crucial for websites, and website maintenance is the best way to keep on top of it.
Unfortunately, the web is crawling with malicious individuals and software that attempt to identify security vulnerabilities, bypass security systems and obtain control of business websites to either request a ransom or to use the hacked site for blackhat SEO tactics.
Depending on the platforms you can typically install more advanced firewalls, security and monitoring tools and take multiple proactive and counteractive measures to avoid the website being compromised, and also have a quick action plan for regaining access and removing malicious software should the website already be under attack.
Constant maintenance checks and updates are a big part of keeping hackers out and keeping your website safe for all users.
Having a great website is all about delivering what users want, and when and where they want it. If you work in the online sphere then you will know the value of a responsive website. This means running a website which adapts to different devices – putting user experience in front and centre of every update.
And that’s where website maintenance becomes a little more complicated. Because updates don’t need to just work in a chrome browser running on a Windows PC with a Full HD 1920×1080 screen – they need to consider the updates of every device and platform and adapt accordingly.
In fact, over half of all website visits come from mobile devices. That means that if your website isn’t responsive in design and experience, you are providing a poor experience for over half of your potential customer base.
Your website maintenance checklist should include regular monitoring of the customer journey on different devices. This will allow you to pinpoint any stumbling blocks and make the necessary updates to keep the experience smooth and effective.
With website maintenance covering so many different areas, building a plan and a website maintenance schedule is the best way to keep on top of it. Let’s take a look at what an ideal plan looks like.
How to Create a Website Maintenance Checklist
A website maintenance checklist should list what needs checking and how often it needs to be checked. By assigning a priority list to each of the main areas of maintenance, you can build a website maintenance schedule.
Most businesses work with a high-quality website design company to support their website build and ongoing maintenance. By outsourcing this process, you ensure both quality and consistency, with every update managed by a company that understands the software, internal, and external updates.
Here are some of the things to check as part of your website maintenance strategy – and how often to check them.
Checking for and staying ahead of software updates is the best way to ensure your website security is always effective. As a general rule, any software updates should be prepared for completion between the launch of the new software and the removal of the old software. This ensures that you remain in a safe, protected zone and never remain without proper software support.
The frequency of software updates can change, and this is something your website design and maintenance team should be able to look out for.
Website Loading Time
Back in 2020, Google launched its set of update requirements for ranking – called Core Web Vitals. This list of requirements deals largely with user experience as a core part of the ranking of a website. As such, website maintenance has shifted to become more focused on the user experience than ever before – and that includes load time. Checking your website loading time regularly will allow you to stay ahead of any stumbling blocks, isolating and fixing them quickly. This should be checked every few weeks.
Another area which considers user experience is accessibility, encouraging websites to regularly review the accessibility of navigation, the customer journey, and the layout. A full check should be completed every 5-6 months. This should look at colour, font, wording, layout, white space and many other things.
Short and sweet, this is where you assess the quality of content and the customer journey as a whole. The quality of the website as part of ongoing maintenance means considering how effective the site is concerning the needs of the end-user. This means putting yourself in the shoes of a customer and viewing the site from their eyes. Better yet, for many businesses, it means conducting regular surveys to assess how users are interacting with the site.
From metadata to outbound and internal links, website maintenance means ensuring your website is in a good position to be found. SEO is, as discussed earlier, a core part of the success of a website. Because of this, investing time and effort in SEO will give you your desired results. But remember, that SEO is a continuous process, so you need to regularly check and assess keywords, update content, refresh backend data, and check links.
A full SEO check should be done every few months, but the quality of content should be checked more often.
How Often You Should Review Your Website
The frequency of reviewing a website actually depends a lot on your website and what kind of updates you need. Some updates, like web technology updates, need to be taken care of 1-2 times a year, and others need to be reviewed once a week. In general, reviewing your website once a month can make sure it’s up-to-date and works properly.
Note that each item of a website maintenance checklist has its own timing and frequency, and if you’re planning to do the maintenance by yourself, you’ll need a plan for them separately.
Another important question about timing is how long website maintenance takes. It also depends on your website and its functionality. Small checks and updates won’t take even an hour, but bigger updates may take a couple of days. It’s highly recommended to place a message that your website is under maintenance so that users won’t get confused about why something is not working (if avoiding downtime is completely unavoidable).
Whether you work on your own website maintenance or outsource to a third-party company, now is the time to build a website maintenance plan. Your website maintenance is a year-round commitment, covering everything from user experience to backend security. This article is designed to introduce some of the core areas of ongoing maintenance to you and pinpoint the importance of these updates. To end, here is a basic website maintenance checklist to get you started.
- Software updates
- Security updates and releases
- Removal of viruses or malicious code
- Hosting updates
- CMS updates
- Redesign and design features
- Content updates, announcements, marketing campaigns, launches
- Links (internal and external)
- Page speed and other Core Web Vitals updates
Increase brand awareness, build trust and drive conversions.
With website maintenance such a long-term commitment, outsourcing the maintenance lets you focus on the business itself. It is also a cost-effective way to keep your website safe and secure and ensures you check all the above points. Not to mention, most third-party companies will be able to make recommendations to improve as well as maintain your website.
The cost of website maintenance services will depend on a number of factors. We recommend collecting quotes from a series of companies before committing and asking for a breakdown of what the cost involves. Before signing, you should be 100% sure of what the service includes.
Every area of website maintenance is important. The top three areas to focus on first are:
- Content and SEO ranking
- User experience
Without these three things, your website is not only inefficient but unsafe for your users.
Website maintenance keeps your business’s one of the most important online assets safe and running effectively. Ongoing maintenance allows you to keep an eye on new updates and ensure that everything runs safe and smooth. For more information on the importance of website maintenance, our team is always here to help!