The Importance of Website Maintenance

Your website is the foundation of your business’s online presence, reaching users across the country and world. It’s the place where users visit and learn about you and your company. They learn what you have to offer, gaining contact information while also purchasing products and/or services.

You might have heard the phrase ‘new year, new website’, but we don’t believe this is necessary all of the time. Simple tweaks and occasional updates can be enough, especially if your website is already sophisticated and contemporary. However, these need to be taken seriously as an on-going project to ensure your website is working properly. Otherwise, it’s likely that you will lose out on significant opportunities such as new leads and sales.

If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to maintaining your website we’re here with some helpful content that will get you and your website on the road to recovery.

What is website maintenance?

Website maintenance is the act of regularly checking your website for issues and mistakes and keeping it updated and relevant. This should be done on a consistent basis in order to keep your website healthy. It will encourage continued traffic growth, and strengthen your SEO and Google rankings.

Keeping a well maintained and attractive website is important to companies big and small in order to engage and retain customers. It’s easy for businesses, especially startups, to cut corners and let a few tasks slide, mainly because issues do not always immediately arise. However, we know from experience that without a regular check-up, the health of your website can deteriorate significantly. This impact can be long lasting, including damaging your brand reputation in some instances.

A poorly functioning website is a major problem for your brand and the image you want to project to potential new clients, as well as your existing clients and customers. Routinely examine the look and feel of your website and update it to match your corporate image. Here is what needs to be monitored on a semi-regular basis:

Review Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most insightful ways to see how people are using your site, while also allowing you to identify issues too. It will help you identify a multitude of sins.

Page Errors

A 404 error is returned when a browser or search engine goes looking for a page that cannot be found. It presents a poor user experience. URLs for error pages can vary, however, many contain “404” in the URL. In GA go to the All Pages report (Behavior > Pages > All Pages) and search for “404” to see how many times people hit an error page in the timeframe you’re viewing. You can then use a free tool by screaming frog to locate and fix these broken links.

Sudden Changes In Traffic

It is important to know how many people visit your site on a given day. It will allow you to quickly identify if there is a sudden downward spike in your site traffic. A sharp or complete drop-off in visits could indicate that your site went down entirely or is not functioning properly. Your immediate attention will minimise downtime.

Identifying problems that your users are encountering while they are there. Patterns like drop-offs in traffic can guide you toward issues that need your attention. Direct metrics like error page hits and notifications in your account can indicate potential problems you need to fix. There are a few sections of Google Analytics that can be highly informative for helping you assess possible site errors.

Page Speed

Page speed is critical to a website’s success as according to Neil Patel, 47% of consumers expect websites to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of users will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds.

That might sound like a surprising statistic, but page loading time is an essential part of any website’s user experience and is becoming an ever more important ranking factor, especially after Google’s Core Web Vitals update in May 2021.

A free tool to test the speed of your site is UpTrends – a website that allows you to enter the URL of the website you would like to rest in a really user-friendly way. If you run the test and find out your website is taking ages to load, don’t fret too much, we can help.

Take a look at our post on 10 Ways To Improve Your Site Speed and find easy and simple things you can do today.

Automated image optimisation

Moving on from page speed is of course, is image optimisation which is vital. To make your website maintenance process quicker, we’d suggest opting for automated image optimisation – instead of manually doing this which can be a very time-consuming task.

That way, you can simply upload images to your website, knowing that a plugin installed on your website can automatically step in and not only resize the dimensions to something more reasonable but also reduce the file size.

Fresh Content

You can demonstrate to your website visitors that you are experts in your field by providing content that is regularly reviewed and updated. Sharing up to date content drives engagement.

To do this it’s essential to run a content audit once a quarter. This will improve updating pieces written in 2020 to ensure they are relevant in 2021 – this is particularly important if blog content is looking at trends of 2020 for example. Also, review your analytics, which blogs posts are underperforming? Can these blogs be optimised/edited to increase user engagement?

To identify whether your content is performing well or not, use Google Analytics to measure these metrics;

  • Pageviews
  • Organic Traffic
  • Engagement – how long are users spending on the page/site overall

Remember to proofread everything on your site from time to time, with a fresh pair of eyes. The last thing you want is for poor grammar and spelling mistakes to be present on your website. You should correct these, preferably before a customer brings them to your attention.

External backup system

While many web hosting companies offer a built-in backup service of your hosting account, this should never be solely relied upon, ALWAYS have a backup. Ideally, an external backup system –  that backups everything automatically.

There is a chance that your hosting provider might experience technical issues across all their product offering and services. This would mean that your website server could go down as well as your backup server, leaving you with no recourse options or access to any of your website’s files, folders or databases. You can avoid this huge issue by using secure external backup systems.

Maximise and check the security of your website

This is the single most important reason to keep website maintenance on your radar. Keeping your website secure is especially important if you are an eCommerce website that stores customer information. It’s vital that you are installing regular software updates and security patches as and when they become available.

It can be easy and attractive for hackers to find and target your website if it has sat dormant for too long. Ensure you have automatic updates activated, while also taking the time to manually check your website is running on all the latest software.

Here are a handful of things to consider when doing your routine website maintenance work.

  • Update Plugins as soon as new updates become available. Ensure all malware and bugs are corrected by actively checking if updates are available within settings.
  • Integrating an SSL certificate is not only safer for your website and website visitors, but Google standards also require your website to have an SSL if you want to rank successfully in organic search.
  • Use Malware detention is crucial, even if you’ve updated your website in every other aspect. Malware is very high level and will look through files and folders you didn’t know existed. To run a full malware scan on your website consider using Sucuri or Wordfence Security for WordPress website – however, there are plenty of others available too.
  • Remote junk files
  • Update passwords, but before doing so, make sure you carefully consider them beforehand. Your website password should be somewhat complex, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols alike. You should update them regularly.
  • Choose or swap to a strong server. There are two options: shared hosting vs dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is cheaper and requires minimal technical knowledge. However, they share server resources and are vulnerable to higher security risks, compared to dedicated hosting that hosts your website solely. They also have alower chance of  downtime. It is wirth noting that they can be more expensive and will require technical knowledge and laboured maintenance.
  • Integrate a Firewall is essential too. By installing a WAF, or a Web Application Firewall, you are setting up a filtering system that allows certain bots through and blocks the suspicious ones that can cause your website to shut down.

Is your website in need of a little TLC? Make sure to allocate time each week to check everything is running to avoid any future downtime.

If you’re in need of some assistance, look no further, we can help, all you have to do is contact us to get started. Don’t forget to follow us on socials too: FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram!

  • Written by Simon Proctor, December 15 2020