Your car regularly gets tune ups. Your lawn gets mowed regularly. Your computer even needs a little help once in a while. What about your website?
Just like all of these, your website needs some TLC on a regular basis.
Many people assume that once the website is built, they can check that off the list and move onto other things. Your website will just sit there and make you money. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Just like any other tool, it will rot and decay with time and disuse.
Here’s a few areas where regular maintenance is important.
An outdated website a major security issue.
If you are using WordPress, you need to be regularly updating your software. This is crucial. WordPress is the most popular platform on the internet* (and for good reason), and this makes it a target for hackers. The crew over at WordPress are working around the clock to release patches and updates to thwart hackers but if you don’t update, you are not taking advantage of these patches and will be vulnerable. When it comes to outdated WordPress software, it’s not a question of if you are hacked, it’s a question of when you are hacked.
Read More: Simple Steps to Avoid WordPress Hacks
Even if you are not using WordPress, the languages used to write websites are fluid and regularly updated. As new technologies emerge, the old ones are deprecated or unsupported. Social media sites are notorious for changing their feeds (I’m looking at you, Facebook) rendering older feeds useless.
At the very least, your website should be looked at by a professional once a year. Every 6 months would be preferred.
While I prefer that all of you are writing and adding new content regularly, that isn’t always feasible. If you aren’t, you should still go over your content once a year to revise or remove outdated content. Remove products you don’t sell anymore. Get rid of old news posts or events that are past. Nothing makes a website feel more stale than outdated content.
Check your Stats
It’s wise to regularly check into your analytics for any major changes to the flow of traffic or drops in traffic. Occasionally a Google algorithm change or the like can have a direct hit on your traffic and you’d want to be on top of that before it affects your sales. If you are doing regular digital marketing (hint – you should be), you’ll be doing this anyway.
Backups are like insurance. No one wants to think about them until they need it! While I prefer the automated backups, done through a WordPress plugin or the host, this isn’t always possible. I suggest monthly backups at the very least that are not saved on the same server as the website.
WordPress has a great plugin that takes automated backups that it will save on the server as well as email a copy (when possible). This saves the backup in two separate locations for double security. (Note: If we built your site, you may even have this up and running already!)
If you have a blog, it’s wise to regularly check for spam. Spam comments that got past the filter can negatively affect your SEO rating and should be removed.
Check all contact forms! Recently I visited a website that had an email form on their site. When I went to send them an email, the form gave me an error and refused to send. What did I do? I went to a competitor. The contact forms on your site, as well as other basic contact info, are the main conversion points for new clients. They should be tested regularly to make sure they are still working. If you have an email form, make sure it is not going to your spam filter and is being properly handle on the receiving end.
It’s a good idea to check all links once a year as well. Websites are removed or change their name. Maybe you removed a page off your site and forgot about a link. No matter the reason, Google does not like broken links as it makes your site look inactive and out of date. Use a link checker such as this free one or this one to run scans on your site.
In summary, plan for a few hours of your time every few months revisiting the overall plan of your website. Go over all the content and make sure it still aligns with your overall goals. Secondly, budget for a few hours of time with a web professional to update software and fix any outdated code at least once a year.
*Source: Content Management usage statistics. http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all