Website maintenance is never something you want to think about after you've had a new site designed. When website owners do think about it instead of it being viewed as a necessity, it’s often looked at as a chore. Unfortunately, it’s often a chore that never gets done.
Your website was a significant investment for your business, but has it remained a business asset or has it become an administrative burden? After the initial work of your web design is completed, ongoing website maintenance is required to optimise your website performance.
By not properly maintaining your site you expose it to a variety of potential problems, such as increasing the likelihood it’ll be hacked, increasing load speeds, and reducing your search engine rankings.
We predominately use WordPress to design our websites because of the great flexibility and ease of use for the end user as a content management system. However, the WordPress code is constantly being updated for security and functionality reasons. You can be sure every time one of the browsers releases an update, a new mobile phone or device is released, or Windows or Mac updates their OS – WordPress will also have to make updates to allow for new changes. This is also true for the theme of your site and any plugins running on it. Just because a plugin worked on launch doesn't mean it will work 30 days later.
Besides just accommodating device, browser and operating system changes, unfortunately, there are a lot of shady people who are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in websites in order to take advantage of them. Anytime a weakness is reported in code, security patches are made to try to stay ahead of these hackers.
Your business's online credibility can be impacted by outdated content, broken links, security concerns and a myriad of functions the modern consumer has come to expect.
Rigorous updates and proactive maintenance are key to running a successful business-building website. If you want a website that serves your business without draining your important time, it’s best to take proactive measures that not only prevent website breakdowns, but also predict future problems.
Without proactive measures that maintain your website, business owners often experience lost revenue, wasted time, and investments that have done nothing to improve their businesses. However, with website maintenance that provides ongoing solutions and counteracts technological issues before they happen, you’ll lose the worry produced by your website.
Main Website Maintenance Areas To Consider
Backing up your website
Setting up security
Keeping track of website health
Optimizing your database
1) Backing up your website
How often have you needed to rely on your backup? Not often right? That’s why so many people become complacent when it comes to backing up their website. It’s kind of like an insurance policy. We don’t need it very often but the day you do, you’ll thank your lucky stars. Backups are an essential part of ensuring the long-term health of your website. However, they’re one of the most-often neglected parts of the website maintenance process.
It is critical to always have a clean backup of your site because:
a) one of the WordPress theme or plugin updates breaks something on your site or;
b) your site gets hacked.
You need to be able to quickly restore your site to working condition while the other issues are resolved.
With WordPress sites there are two versions of backups:
1. the database that contains all the content (posts, pages, contact form entries, user profiles, etc.) and;
2. the files (images, the styles of the site and any attachments).
At Purple Dog, for the clients on website maintenance packages, we store backups on the cloud so that if your server was to be totally compromised you will still have a safe copy of your site.
2) Installing updates
Keeping WordPress up to date is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your chances of being hacked. Thankfully, WordPress issues regular updates to address any security concerns. So you need to install updates regularly both with the WordPress core along with any themes and plugins you have installed.
These updates need to be applied to your website so it will continue to function properly. Without regularly installing these updates, you run the risk of having code conflicts and elements of your site becoming out-of-date. This leaves your site more open to hackers and it won’t function as efficiently as it could have otherwise.
When you’re installing these updates, make sure you upgrade the WordPress core, your theme and then any plugins, in that order. This will help to avoid any plugin and theme conflicts which can take down your entire website.
3) Processing Comments and Spam
Comment spam usually comes in the form of low-quality comments that are generally posted for no other reason than to build a backlink. These comments are very general, don’t relate to your article and add little, to no value.
The best way to deal with comment spam is to stop it before it strikes. Having anti-spam measures set up will help to prevent a flood of spam comments from ever plaguing your website.
A good plugin is Askimet, or you can disable comments if you have no need for them on your site.
4) Setting up security
You can put in place measures to make your website more secure and less vulnerable to attack.
5) Keeping track of website health
Monitor for page speed and broken links
Common website health problems include excessive site downtime, slow loading pages and broken links. Monitor your metrics to notice any subtle changes in these areas before they become drastic.
Check browser and device compatibility
Regularly make sure your website is working properly on different browsers and devices. If you own multiple devices experiment with how your site functions on each of them
Find and Fix 404 Errors
A 404 error is returned when a browser or bot goes looking for a page and is unable to find it. While it's not necessarily a bad thing from Google’s perspective, it does present a poor user experience, especially if someone has clicked on a link from within your site expecting to be directed to some specific information.
6) Optimizing your database
If you have a busy site with a lot of traffic and tons of content continually being uploaded, your database could probably use a little love. By maintaining your database you’ll be essentially cleaning out your website’s cobwebs, which will help to improve your loading speeds and reduce the frequency of database errors. Cleaning out your database every few months will keep it running smoothly and quickly.
7) Updating content
By keeping your website up to date with company information, news, product details or with promotions makes your business look credible and helps to engage with your customers, ensuring they visit you online time and again.
In addition, search engines such as Google rate websites with changing content more important than those that don't. This directly affects your ranking within Google and has an impact on how potential customers find your site. So having a team that can quickly and efficiently update your website as requested is a key point to keeping you visible to your customers.
Our support and maintenance services include…
- making website improvements
- functionality troubleshooting (Something broken? We can fix it.)
- adding new functionality (online store, blog, gallery, forms, etc.)
- keeping your website or blog updated with fresh content
- maintaining your latest news or events calendar
- upgrading your CMS or plugins and keeping your site secure
- reworking outdated components
- adding new pages or sections to your website