The Truth About Website Maintenance
Many business owners build their sites and leave it alone for months, if not years. They believe that if the site was built properly, they can just let it run.
Or if they do consider maintenance, it’s an afterthought. Something to be taken care of when there’s time.
But that’s a mistake that could cost you in more ways than one. Even if you think you are maintaining your website, you might be missing some critical things.
The truth is website maintenance is more than just updating your operating system or content.
To do it properly, you need a maintenance plan. In the way the manufacturer of your car gives you a maintenance schedule, it’s a good idea to have one for your website.
Why? So you can….
Use the Latest Security and Software Updates
Have you ever noticed how often your phone prompts you to install the latest version of its software? Or the apps notify you they need to be updated?
It seems like every week one of them has a new release.
There’s a reason for this.
The developers of phone apps are constantly fighting against security vulnerabilities, and many updates include better protection for users. If your phone’s operating system gets an upgrade, the apps will need one, too. And the developers are constantly adding new features and enhancements, many of them requested by users.
Because of these reasons, the app developers constantly churn out new updates.
For the same reason, the operating system, apps, and plugins on your website require updates.
But why bother, you might ask. If the site is working fine, why mess with it?
Consider the following:
- Google (and other search engines) often change the way they crawl the web. If your site is using outdated software, new versions of search engine software may not recognize your site, which could impact your placement in search results.
- The browsers that people use to search the web also get updated. This affects how your website is perceived by the browsers, which can also affect your rankings. With nearly 93% of people saying their first online experience with a company begins with a search, you can’t afford to let your ranking slip because you didn’t maintain your site.
- The company that hosts your website will update their servers and software. At first, this might not make much of a difference to your site’s operation. But over time these updates can cause major problems. For example, if the server hosting your site moves to PHP 7.4, but your website can only handle PHP 4.0, your site could end up broken. And useless to potential customers.
- New releases of plugins will be more compatible with later versions of operating software and have safeguards against newly discovered security vulnerabilities. Updating plugins is a critical but often overlooked means of preventing hackers from accessing your website.
- Running outdated software will impact operating speed.
- Updates provide you with the latest security features to guard you against the increasingly clever attacks of hackers, protecting both the operation of your site and your vital business data.
Security is especially important if you receive payments or collect credit card information. If you don’t secure your customers’ private data properly, you open yourself up to all kinds of potential trouble, including lawsuits.
Ensure Your Website Performance is Optimized
The fastest way to irritate a potential customer is to make it hard for them to get the answers they need. A poorly maintained site won’t load quickly, and people will give up and visit your competitor’s site.
As more and more people are using their phones to surf the web, it’s increasingly vital that your site is optimized for mobile. If it takes your site more than ten seconds to load, many potential customers will give up and look elsewhere.
Optimal website performance builds trust and credibility. If your site loads slowly or crashes, most people will wonder if they should do business with you.
They might think that if you’re not careful with your site, then your product or service will be equally sloppy. And if they get an error message when trying to navigate through your site, you can be sure they won’t wait around for you to fix it. They’ll be shopping somewhere else.
Periodically Check, Update, and Refresh Content
One way a website helps you grow your business is by keeping customers engaged with you. If your customers don’t gain any value from visiting your site, they’re less likely to come back, and even less likely to buy from you.
A good maintenance plan will include checking the accuracy of contact information, business hours, and other information customers will want to know. The plan will also make sure your content is fresh and relevant.
And if you receive payments on your site, you’ll want to make sure your SSL certificate that secures the eCommerce portion of your site is up to date. These certificates need to be properly installed and periodically renewed.
Devise a Data Recovery Plan
It’s a fact of life that websites do come down. Whether it’s because of hackers, a crashed server, or an internal error, data can be lost and your business disrupted. Part of good website maintenance is having a data recovery plan which includes scheduled backups.
If you have a plan, it can take as little as five minutes to recover your data. If you don’t, recovery will take days, weeks, or even months. Can you afford to be without your customer data that long?
Provide a Good User Experience to Your Customers
Keeping up with your website’s maintenance is really the best way to ensure your website provides a good user experience to your customers. If your site functions well, it will help convert leads into customers. That means more income for you.
It’s the same with car maintenance. No one enjoys driving a car that constantly gets flat tires, overheats, or has squeaky brakes. Routine maintenance can prevent these problems, catch any other issues before they become problems, and make sure the car is running smoothly, making driving more pleasurable.
In the same way, you want your site to run smoothly so users can find the information they want or make a transaction easily and without problems. Routine maintenance will make sure your site loads quickly, displays correctly on all devices, whether mobile or not, and works and functions properly.
If you don’t do these things, you risk frustrating your customers and potentially losing them….and their business.
The days when people could do a lot of their own car maintenance are gone. Now it takes special training to be able to navigate the electronic systems used in recent models. Sure, you could pull out a wrench and do a few simple things. But you might cause problems without realizing it.
You wouldn’t just put your head under the hood and start disconnecting things without understanding how all the systems work together.
Just as proper car maintenance is complex, so is website maintenance. This is why you need a professional to maintain your site. That way, all of its parts, both the pages visible to users and the software that runs them, are up to date and operate problem-free.
January 26, 2021
January 18, 2021