Just like your car, websites require regular maintenance to keep working properly.
Sounds a bit strange, I know, but there are things which can go wrong, and things which need regular “servicing” to maintain optimum performance.
Not performing regular website maintenance is just like not having your vehicle serviced. If you don’t regularly have the oil and oil filters changed, fluids topped up, filters checked, tyres and brakes checked and belts and hoses inspected – then it won’t be long before something breaks, you can’t drive it, and the cost of repair becomes major.
The same is true for your website. Your website should always be live, functioning smoothly, presenting your business professionally and providing website visitors with the right experience. If it’s not, your website visitors will soon click away to a competitors' site.
What can go wrong?
You could be hijacked
As soon as it goes live, it’s there in cyberspace, waiting to be found by google, your ideal customers, and unfortunately every nasty hacker, spammer and bot on the planet.
TRUE STORY. A couple of years ago we did a complete makeover of an old site and created a beautiful new site for a client, and within 1 month of launching, the site was hacked and the entire content was replaced by porn. Why? Because the client insisted on using his cheap shared hosting service with his original weak password, and refused to pay for security and maintenance services.
The hosting company didn’t have a full backup of the site, and so the new site was gone. The client had to pay the hosting service to clean up all the porn content and malicious code on the server, and pay us to re-install the copy we had from our development server. Of course, this copy didn’t have any of the new content he’d added since launch. And yes, the site got hacked again, 6 months later, for the same reasons, this time by a Viagra seller.
You could lose functionality
Sometimes website owners with a little bit of technical skill (or their geeky teenager) will tinker around and add a cool new plugin that promises to get more leads, or make content look amazing, or they’ve hired someone on Fiverr to add a bit of tracking code.
The intention is good, but suddenly one or several of these issues happen:
- the site has code all over it
- the forms don’t work
- the fonts have gone weird
- it’s not responsive on mobile devices
- pages or posts can’t be found and throw error pages.
There are different reasons for these issues, including behind the scenes conflicts going on between the new code and the existing code on the website; code isn’t compatible with the latest version of Chrome or Firefox or pages/posts have been removed or the slug has changed.
It doesn’t take much for these things to happen, and can take a while (and the right know-how) to fix them.
Your leads might dry up
What’s the point of having a website if it doesn’t generate enquiries or sales?
Just because your website is sitting up there in cyberspace, doesn’t mean it will be found amongst the other 1.2 billion sites. And if it is found, is it from the right kind of people, and do they take the right kind of action? Every day 51.8% of internet traffic comes from bots, while only 48.2% comes from humans.
You need to be maintaining and updating your website, investing in SEO and other promotional strategies to attract the right kind of people.
You also need to ensure that your Google Analytics reporting is adjusted to filter out bot traffic, and your website visits, so you make strategy decisions based on fairly accurate statistics.
Back to the car analogy. If you don’t put petrol in it, it will sit in the garage because you can’t use it. Parts will deteriorate and it will lose value. It’s a waste of money because it’s not providing you with any benefits, and it has no practical purpose. Same with your website. If you don’t keep it serviced to minimise security and functionality issues, and don’t keep it fuelled with relevant content and working hard for you, then what purpose does it serve?
The many benefits of regular website maintenance
So we’ve painted the picture of what can go wrong, let’s look at why investing in website care is well worth it.
Website performance factors such as load time, downtime and uptime, is dependent on a number of things.
- Choice of hosting service
- Bandwidth allocation and the amount of traffic you’re receiving
- The number of plugins, how up to date they are, and their compatibility with browsers
- Size of images, and use of compression
- Number of third party ads appearing on your site
- Externally imbedded media
If these are regularly monitored and tweaked, your website should continue to load within a reasonable time. The two big benefits of maintaining optimal performance is
- a better user experience (most people click away if a site doesn’t load within 7 seconds). and
- more love from Google. Site speed is one of the important ranking factors in the Google algorithm.
The last thing you want is for your site to be hijacked, or completely taken down.
- Your website visitors need to feel that your site is a trustworthy place to visit, and a safe place to enter their details or to make a purchase.
- You need to be assured that your site is being protected, and if anything does happen, it can be restored quickly.
Just like your car, your site needs to function perfectly – 24/7, on any browser or device.
- The forms need to work properly, keep your enquirer’s details safe whilst in cyber transit, notify you instantly that you have an enquiry, and block spam signups from bots.
- The navigation throughout the site needs to be logical and work perfectly. Broken internal or external links will cause Google penalties. (I had my Google Adwords account shut down a few years ago by google because I had a couple of broken links on one of my site. They were external links to other people’s sites, and I didn’t know they’d taken their websites down! Not having Adwords severely impacted my sales)
- Your phone number should be clickable so people can call you directly from their mobile phone.
"Do It Yourself" website maintenance
Undertaking website maintenance yourself may save you a bit of money initially, but will probably end up costing you a lot more money (and headaches) than you ever dreamed of.
Here's all the things you need to do.
- You need to regularly schedule time to do all the “maintenance” tasks. If you put them off for a month because you get busy – and inevitably that will be the month when your site gets hacked and then you find you don’t have a recent backup to restore to.
- If your site gets hacked or hijacked, you may need to run special software on it to find and remove all the malicious code, or restore to a backup – although it may take a while to figure out which backup to revert to.
- You need to ensure that your site (and your email marketing) complies with all the relevant Australian privacy regulations, and if you have customers in Europe, your site needs to also comply with GDPR.
- When you add fresh content, you need to ensure that it displays correctly, that links work, images load fast and it’s optimised well for SEO.
- Proper maintenance involves using special tools to monitor performance and activity, and these are not free.
When things go wrong, you could try and fix it yourself, in which case you may do further damage. Or you could pay (sometimes a hefty price) for a professional to fix it. Just like your car, it costs more to fix it than it does to maintain it properly.
“Done For You” website maintenance
Think of your website as a key asset in your business. It’s your silent salesperson, working hard for you 24/7.
Securing the services of an experienced web professional to maintain your site correctly makes a lot more sense strategically and financially.
Whomever you choose, make sure they have these skills, experience and tools as a minimum:
- maintain security and monitor performance weekly – as a minimum
- undertake full website backups and theme and plugin updates
- restore hacked website from backups
- fix code conflicts so site maintains functionality
- add supplied content, with the ability to quickly spot and correct obvious spelling or grammar errors
- correctly optimise all new content for SEO
- implement and monitor 3rd party integrations,
- install and review tracking metrics
- report monthly on all the critical metrics of your website’s performance
- make recommendations to improve performance, digital visibility, lead generation and conversion.
At Commonsense Marketing, our team works tirelessly in the background providing hosting and Done For You Website and Digital Services for all our clients. Not only do we provide the essential website maintenance services, but because we are a marketing company – we care deeply about our clients’ marketing performance.
We offer a range of Website Care Packages to suit just about every requirement, so if you’re ready to remove website duties (and perhaps digital marketing) from your huge list of “things to do”, order a website care package now and remove the stress from trying to do it all yourself.