Everything About Maintaining Your Website
Just having a website up and running isn’t really enough. You have to do maintenance to make sure it keeps running fine and to make sure that all the time and effort you put into creating your website doesn’t go to waste. Once it’s up, maintaining it isn’t as much work but it has to be done. It’s like maintaining a building or your home – if work isn’t done to keep it up, it’s going to eventually fall apart.
You might wonder why a website would eventually fall apart if left alone. Well, the online world is evolving/changing all the time. You may put your website up on a server and then the core software on the server changes (due to keeping up with security patches to counter attack hacks and to add new features or improve efficiency) and then find your website not running well or not even showing up right. Besides the server, web browsers update as well. Standards change. For example, websites that looked good in Internet Explorer 7 don’t work well with Internet Explorer 10 and so on.
A Poor User Experience
Having information that’s not up to date on your website or having issues with the website/web page not looking right will not provide your customers with a good experience when they stop by your website. Your website is very often the first impression people get about your company or organization, so it’s vital that it always looks its best.
You should always be updating your website and keeping it looking fresh and new. Think about the websites you visit most often. Take Facebook for example. People go there a lot because the information there is always new. No, your company website doesn’t have to be Facebook but it should have new content on it regularly for the same reason.
What Content Should You Add to Your Website?
Here are some ideas to help you decide what content to put on your website – or what you might call website maintenance activities:
- Company news – Did you get a mention in the paper or trade magazine? Have you been at a trade show? Do you have new employees? Constructing a new office? Look around, there’s probably some news to post on your website.
- Industry news – What’s going on in your industry? Post at least one news item per month about your industry. If you don’t have any news like this to publish, maybe you’re not looking hard enough (that’s right, I went there).
- Create a download – Write an e-book (PDF) or come up with a spreadsheet that does something cool.
- Update your products or services – This one’s important. Make sure all the information on your website is up to date – especially the things you make money on. If a product is being discontinued, you should mention it.
- Employee additions – If you hire new employees, that’s news. Of course, don’t publish news about firing employees.
- Giveaway or content – Get some buzz going by giving away something. It can be something you buy or else do a trade with one of your vendors or customers and use that item or service in the contest.
Ask your staff for ideas – they will often have a few or can help you brainstorm ideas for content.
Check for Broken Links
A part of making sure that your website’s content is up to date is making sure there are no broken links when your website links to other websites or between pages on your website (internal links). All outgoing links should be tested a few times a year. If search engines see a website that’s full of broken links (either internal links or links to other websites), they are not going to want to give your website as a top result. Your website will fall in the rankings and not be seen as an authority or valuable resource if there are a lot of broken links. You ideally want no broken links at all.
We can help check your website every month for broken links if you like.
Website Statistics Analysis / Analytics
Is your website getting traffic? How much? Do you know? You’re paying for it – you should know. Enough said.
If you don’t have a Google Alert set up for your company name, you won’t find out about issues with your company’s or organization’s reputation. Your company could be getting bad press and you wouldn’t even know about it until it’s too late. You have to stay on top of this to protect your assets.
Technical Website Maintenance
Besides updating content and images, there’s the technical side of your website that you should be maintaining or getting some help with. Don’t trust that your website host is doing everything for you. Your website could go down or get deleted and that’s the wrong time to find out that backups were never done.
Your website host should at least be doing a full backup once a week with incremental nightly backups. Are they? Ask them. Have them do a test restore of a backup from time to time (monthly) to make sure that backups are working.
Do you know when your website (web server) is not running? It’s a good thing to know because you’ll find out how reliable your hosting is. You can sign up for a website monitoring service or else ask your host to provide you with monthly reports.
Check Your Domain Name Expiration
From time to time, we hear about or see company websites not be available simply because the domain name expired. Make sure the contact information attached to your domain name is up to date so that you are notified by your registrar before this happens. You might be in the situation where the person that bought the domain name no longer works for your company. Maybe they used their email address which isn’t receiving emails anymore. If your domain registrar sends email to that account with a notice that your domain name is expiring, you won’t know.
The best practice in this case is to have the domain name registration’s Administrative Contact (the main contact) be set to something like firstname.lastname@example.org – which is the “info” or main account for your domain name. Of course, you have to make sure that yourself (if you’re the owner) and at least 1-2 other people get any email that comes into that account. Test that account and make sure it works.
Also, check what that expiration date is by doing a whois look up. Set a reminder in a calendar to renew your domain name. Use this as a fail safe in case somehow you don’t get those email notices.
Keep Up With Software Patches and Updates
This one’s super important. Make sure that any software/scripts running on your website are up to date with the latest patches. This helps minimize security compromises (a nice way of saying “hacks”). If this does happen to your website, then find out how to clean up hacks.
Test Your Website’s Download Speed
Do you know if your website loads quickly or slowly? Find out! Use the Google PageSpeed checker. If you need help fixing things technically, then let us help you.
Getting these things fixed is very important. Your website’s speed does affect how you rank. Think about it… if you are Google, you want to give people the best results, right? Well, if two pages are equal but one loads twice as fast, you’re going to give that as a better result, right?
Check for Errors
Checking for errors is yet another factor that goes unnoticed. A website generating a lot of errors on the server is going to load more slowly. Your load time (speed) is definitely affected. When software doesn’t work right, it’s going to be slow and it may be causing errors that you’re not aware of. Your server error_log files need to be checked once a month.
You should also have accounts set up with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. If you want to rank well with these leading websites, you have to find out how they are viewing your website. If there are errors or reasons why they would want to delist your website, they are most likely going to use these areas to send you messages to let you know. These tools should be checked monthly as well if not more often than that. You don’t want to find out six months down the road that Google or Bing had delisted your websites.
Does your website have a “Contact Us” form or payment form or other kind of form? It’s important to test them and make sure they work or you could be losing leads or sales. You’d hate to find out months later that a form hasn’t been working. Test them every few weeks for sure.
Make sure your website’s SSL certificate (security for shopping carts or for sending sensitive information) is valid and up to date. Make sure pages that are supposed be secure are fully secure (the broken lock symbol should not be there). We can help test for this as it should be done often.
There’s even such a thing as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) maintenance or SEO maintenance plan. If you’re serious about making sure your website ranks high or if you need it to, then there are certain SEO maintenance tasks that should be done every month.
SEO maintenance is mostly about information and data. Here is a list of things you should know every month:
- How much traffic did the website get?
- Where did the traffic come from?
- What keywords were used?
- What are your rankings for your top keywords?
- What new keywords can you capitalize on?
Knowing this data will help you determine what to do in order to rank higher or maintain your current rankings. With this data now in hand, you can do the following:
- Tweak current pages to rank better with good keywords.
- Decide what content should be written and posted.
- What content should be improved – or even what content should be removed.
- Know how many links you’ll need to get to maintain your rankings.
We can also include information about what changes have been made at search engines (they constantly change how they rank websites) and give you advice about other things you can do to help boost your rankings.
Beyond telling you what to do, we can also do the work. We can tweak pages, get you links (the right way) and even have you work with a copywriter to post fresh, new content on your website.
Does this list look maybe slightly overwhelming yet? This list isn’t meant to scare you… well, maybe a little. It’s meant to make you aware of all that going into properly maintaining a website. It’s work. If you first thought that you could launch a website and be done with it, we think you’re wrong.
The bottom line is, your website is a tool. With any tool, you have to maintain it if you want it to work as well as it can. Without proper maintenance of your website, it’s simply going to fall apart – that much is clear.
We’re here to help! Webstix is fully staffed with a team of experts that can help you with maintaining your company website. We have a simple pricing plan that lets you keep time in the bank (your website maintenance account), essentially. This means that you’re only paying for what you use. Our team performs backups of work before they start working and they test your work. We’re great at sending you a report when the work is done and you get updates if you work is taking some time. We always send you a quote and wait for your approval (or you can pre-approve work if you want).
If you’d like to get on a website maintenance schedule where we do the monthly tasks for you, we can certainly send you a quote and set you up so that you don’t have to worry about these things. We can do all or some of the things mentioned above to help you make sure you get all the return you can on your investment (your website).
Contact Webstix today to learn more!
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