When we started Cybervise in 2007, website maintenance was very simple. Businesses had html websites. Most didn’t have the skills to to do even simple updates. What is website maintenance today?
Right now, keeping a fresh website is crucial to staying in business. Website visitors were checking business websites more often. As businesses had to close and re-open due to COVID-19. Regular customers were looking for reassurance that businesses were still operational. The problem visitors were finding was website content was not updated. Let alone providing the current status of the business hours. Visitors are left wondering if this is an old website from a now defunct business.
Website maintenance consists of six areas that need attention on a regular basis. They are: Security, Content, Design, Technical SEO, Functionality and Performance. Here is a brief description of the maintenance required for each of these areas.
There is no such thing as too much time spent on security. Security is about making sure your website is accessible to all. Visitors should not have to worry about the safety of their contact information or payment data. If you could only spend a small budget on maintenance, focus your spending on security.
Maintenance for security has many levels. Protecting domain registrations. Keeping your hosting account clean. Clean from un-needed files and clean from malicious code. Keeping website software up-to-date. Making sure users who need to be on the website can get in and keeping those who should not, out of the site.
Maintaining the security of your site should be a priority and a frequent activity. Tools are availalble for daily monitoring. Software maintenance and site checks are weekly activities, at least.
Very often, I am told during my first meeting with a client that they don’t like how the website is working. Our meeting is also the first time the client has really looked at the website content in a long while.
They start to look and notice, oh, this is missing. Oh, we never even posted information on that new product. Then they begin to notice how much information missing from that site. Because no one had maintained the content. The problem is not lack of content. The content on the new product exists and the sales team has been using it. But it never made it to the website. Maybe it’s a matter of the internal team either doesn’t know how to post the content? Maybe they don’t know who to call to get it done? Or maybe they’ve tried it before and got discouraged and didn’t finish the job? No matter the reason, now you have a gap in your website content that could be losing customers.
Website Maintenance should include regular content reviews. Not only to post what is missing, but to update information and take down content that is no longer valid.
The look of your website doesn’t need to change a lot. Especially if you are happy with the design. You don’t have a need or a reason to make changes or updates to your design.
What is happening is the devices and the tools that people are using to view your website change. How many times have you upgraded your phone since you launched your website? How many times has your smartphone has pushed software updates? That is evidence of tools and devices used to view your website changing.
In 2021, we are also seeing the rise of design accessibility rules. One example is Google’s Core Vitals ranking factors. Part of those factors include design issues.
Maintenance needs to happen on the code and the the structure of your web design. If not, you risk website visitors unable to use your webpages.
The goal of Technical SEO is to make sure that Google’s spiders can access the pages of your website. That is what they refer to as “crawl-able”. If Google cannot physically visit your webpages, forget SEO.
Google Search Console reports will be a big part of your Technical SEO routine. What’s happening right now is very cool. Google is actually telling you what is technically wrong with your website. Then Google sends you alerts when they find new stuff that needs to fixing. And they’re doing this on a weekly basis.
Think about it. If Google is telling you there’s a problem with your website, you need to fix it. Otherwise why bother working on SEO. And if you can continue to keep up with the updates, that will only benefit your search rankings.
Function is about making sure your website works. Fixing broken things. The maintenance of website function can be obvious, or not?
To give an example, we had a client that came on that signed on with one of our maintenance plans last year. They came to us frustrated because they had only launched their website a year before. And we’re feeling like this website’s not working. They were wondering if they should start over and wanted Cybervise to take a look at it.
We started like we do with every new customer. Caught them up on maintenance and software updates. We noticed as we were testing things is that the lead forms were not working. The forms not sending notification emails when someone filled out the form. Emails that would have let our client know they were getting sales leads.
From the user standpoint, it looked like they were submitting requests. Those requests were never coming through to the sales team. This had been happening since the site launched. We found the problem during routine maintenance. And the client was about to start over and pay for a new website.
Website maintenance is not about only fixing broken things. It should also be about making improvements. I would also add checking on metrics to make sure improvements happen.
There are many areas of website performance to focus on. If resources are tight, focus on the performance of the areas of your site that are key to your business. Ask your team, what does the website need to do? Is it living up to expectations? Based on the answer pick an area of focus.
Areas of performance to look at would be: speed, which leads to Technical SEO and organic search. Others include: Content Performance, Mobile Compatibility, Lead Generation or Conversion, User-Experience, Accessibility.
Improvements to performance will likely be weekly or monthly activities. Include quarterly checks of website metrics or analytics to track progress.
How Often Does Your Website Need Maintenance?
We have been tracking this for years with our customers. We have found that to have a well performing website, you need to be paying attention to it on a monthly basis.
Now this doesn’t have to be attention from a webmaster or a programmer. If you have the capability to blog on your website, that can help. A new post at least monthly well help keep your website up-to-date.
Sites with shopping functions need maintenance on a more regular basis. Product inventory, pricing, shipping all need maintenance on a frequent basis. Online stores should perform maintenance at least on a weekly basis.
Why is website maintenance not happening?
I have a couple of theories on this.
First of all, many folks are trying to handle it in-house.
A recent study proved that 70% percent of small businesses are trying to handle websites on their own.
What happens is you don’t have enough focus on that website. It is part of somebody’s job instead of the focus of their service. Where outsourced website maintenance would be completely focused on this task.
My second theory is the relationship with your web developer has broken down.
You are trying to get updates to your website and communication is not happening. Don’t get discouraged. It may be a service management mismatch.
Traditional developers may not be set up to handle on-going support calls. They may be better on a project basis. It’s a matter of finding a resource that can give you the help that you need.
And finally, it is a concern about cost.
Lots of people budget for the cost to build their website. But few people budget for the on-going support that their website needs going forward. Which is an opportunity lost. What you think you may save in maintenance fees is likely costing you in site performance.
To learn more about website maintenance, listen to the broadcast of our webinar. Website Maintenance: Do I Really Need it?