What is website maintenance and how does it affect your business? That’s a question that should be on every website admin’s mind.
Today, we’re going to get into the finer details that will help shed some light on why this topic is so important and exactly what can be done to stay on top of it. At Intuitiv, we have many years of experience in the B2B web design niche and are excited to share our expert knowledge with you.
Website maintenance is essential if you want to keep reaching the right people. Here at Intuitiv, we've seen multiple examples of websites that look amazing at first glance. But when you dig a little deeper, you soon start to see the cracks appear. And a large number of those issues could have easily been avoided.
Websites are a fundamental business tool and just like any other, they need to be looked after. Without care and attention, a site begins to run well below capacity and loses its effective edge. Many aspects need careful consideration during website maintenance. These include security software updates, new content, optimising old content, monitoring user satisfaction, checking for errors, updating software, plugins and much more.
Not everything needs constant attention every single day. In fact, interfering too much with the natural evolution of a site can be counterproductive. But it always pays to have a targeted website maintenance plan that includes tasks to complete on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.
The reasons for keeping a website running smoothly are multi-faceted. As we mentioned, it’s essential for standing out in a crowded space and continuing to reach the target audience. But it goes far beyond SERPs and visitor numbers. You might be surprised to know just how impactful your site can be on your business in both a good and bad way.
Some maintenance tasks help to create that all-important first impression. This will either encourage visitors to stick around or run for the hills. Broken links, SSL warnings and faulty plugins will all create an immediate distrust for a brand. And even outdated content can have potential buyers reaching for the ‘back’ button.
One important task that should be performed every week is to assess a site’s analytics. Google Analytics is a fairly simple tool but does take a bit of getting used to. Some of the fundamental areas for consideration are bounce rates, keywords, visitor numbers, conversion tracking and third-party referrals.
Every month, it’s a great idea to walk through a site to ensure that everything is running as required. Check that none of the links are broken, forms are working and that the order process (if applicable) is leading customers to the all-important shopping cart. Check that content is backed up, pages load quickly and keep an eye on how content is performing.
Site content needs time to bed down and get into a rhythm. There’s little point in constantly changing articles or webpage copy unless it’s absolutely necessary. Pages won’t suddenly jump up the rankings because an extra 10 keywords have been stuffed in. Every few months, see what content is delivering the goods by using analysis tools. And then make a longer-term plan to amend as needed.
Most subscriptions run on a yearly basis and it’s always helpful to have them up for renewal at the same time if possible. Web hosting, domain names, analytics software and stock photo packages all need to be ticked off the ‘to do’ list. It’s also a great opportunity to consider any site design amendments that might be in order.
We’ve briefly touched on the subject of why website maintenance is important. Now, it’s time to take a more in-depth look at these key maintenance areas and see exactly how they affect a site. Using this checklist, we’re able to create a plan of action to keep everything running smoothly.
First things first, what exactly is a website backup? Essentially, it is creating a copy of any of the important files that are contained within a site and saved externally. These files may include core files, themes, configuration files, plugins, databases and any others that are integral to the running of a website.
It is the only way you can guarantee restoring a site if any major errors happen. It's possible that a website can crash and sometimes a site admin may also accidentally delete important elements. To avoid disaster, it's possible to back up these files and then access them if necessary.
Another important reason to consider file backups is in the event of a virus taking hold. Malware and viruses make their way around the web and some have the ability to sidestep even the most advanced antivirus software. Using a backup of site files it's possible to restore everything back to a date before a virus took hold.
If you need help with backing up files or any other type of web development in Oxford, then get in touch with our team. We’re always happy to offer advice.
Website security protects not only a business but its customers as well. Attacks against a site are relatively common. And if site owners don't implement security measures, then it won’t take long before the inevitable happens.
Common attacks on public-facing websites include ‘denial of service’ where an enormous amount of traffic is deliberately targeted in one place to overwhelm a site's servers. Even some of the biggest companies in the world have fallen foul of such cyber attacks. But there are ways to help keep site security in the best of health and prevent it from happening.
Keeping an eye on a website's performance needs to be done regularly. If not, it's difficult to assess how things are changing and when you need to take action. Using tools such as Google Analytics, it's easy to see how many potential customers are visiting a site, how long they stay, how many times they move on to other pages within the site, how many sales are made and where customers came from and more.
A couple of key factors to consider when analysing site data are the bounce rates and any fall in conversions. There may be a reason why customers are heading straight back out the door without taking the time to check out the content or complete the sales process.
Website forms are a direct link to the outside world. They may be used to initiate simple queries that could lead to sales further down the line. And it pays dividends to check that web forms are functioning correctly. Missing out on even one sale would be tragic simply because a 2-minute test wasn’t performed each month.
The route that a customer takes from inception through to making that all-important sale needs to be carefully considered. It is always best to check with a site design expert to make sure everything will run smoothly from the start. Anyone looking for web design in Oxford can always pick our brains and give a new site the best chance of success.
Once the process is up and running, it needs to be checked regularly. Simply follow the steps that customers make and make sure that it all runs smoothly from time to time.
From a customer's point of view, there's nothing worse than landing on a website to find the old ‘404’ error. Visitors can be extremely unforgiving and if they've seen one page that does not work, they may just assume the worst. They might give an otherwise perfectly good site the brush off based on this one oversight. Free site analysis tools from companies such as Ahrefs can give regular updates about broken links.
One of the main reasons why visitors leave a website quickly is because it takes too long to load. Our attention spans are growing smaller and smaller by the day and any unnecessary lag will leave a site destined for failure. It's easy to check thanks to insights from Google. Any issues that are spotted need to be fixed right away.
Every few months, it’s always a top idea to check the site content for important changes and outdated info. But not everything needs a rejig though. Some pages that have obtained high authority with the SERPS may be based on info that never changes. Although in the majority of cases, it doesn’t hurt to tidy things up and add helpful info that could enhance existing content.
A well-maintained website has many benefits for a business. Ultimately, it will lead to retaining more customers and encouraging new ones to make their way through the sales process. Even if sales are not the ultimate goal for a site, it is still important to provide the very best user experience.
There are many different devices available for users to access websites. But not everything appears exactly the same across all devices and platforms. While testing a site, it's definitely a good idea to run tests across various browsers including Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and others.
No matter how much testing is performed or how many run-throughs site administrators perform, there's always room for improvement. And speaking to the people that use a product is often the best way to source key information. Encourage suggestions from visitors to help keep them part of the process and ultimately improve the UX.
A website that runs quickly and loads swiftly across all devices will always be a hit with visitors. Take the time to run necessary checks as mentioned above to ensure that potential customers aren't waiting around longer than they need to. Nobody likes delays, especially not those who are looking to spend their hard-earned cash.
Keep security first class and there is a far better chance that visitors will keep coming back to a site. Even the slightest hint that customer data is not carefully looked after can produce a torrent of bad press.
Fresh content is one of the most important factors for attracting visitors to a site. Out-of-date information does nothing for a company's reputation and will also hurt placement on the SERPs as well.
Keeping everything backed up may seem like an added headache that website administrators could do without. However, it's perfectly possible that the day will come when a website backup could save the company from disaster.
How much does website maintenance cost? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive at Intuitiv. The short answer is that it can vary greatly depending on the requirements. But to offer a better idea and give a rough outline of prices, here are some of the key areas for consideration.
Domain names often come with an attractive sales tag at the beginning. It's not unusual to pay less than £1 for a domain name in the first year. But that doesn't mean that it will always remain the same. Find out what the regular cost will be for the following few years and shop around a little. It may be worthwhile taking a web address for 10 years as it could end up cheaper than an initial discount with inflated prices year on year. The domain name can run into tens of thousands of pounds if somebody has already bought it. But unless a domain is in huge demand, prices between £1 and £30 per year are quite normal.
One of the largest website maintenance costs is incurred through website hosting. But it will all depend on the size of a website and how much traffic is expected. Host servers have to take the strain and they will charge extra if hundreds of pages are in use and are taking up valuable file space. Basic hosting starts from just £3 or £4 per month for a small site. This can easily exceed £500 a month for brands with large e-commerce sites and videos etc.
Small websites or blogs can easily take advantage of basic SSL certificates for around £15 per year. Extended Validation (EV) certificates will provide more advanced encryption for larger companies and can cost up to £300 per year.
SEO support is often something that comes as part of an overall package of web developer services. To give a brand the best chance of maintaining both on-site and off-site SEO, a steady investment will need to be made. It's possible to pay £1,000 to £1500 per month for this kind of service.
Creating content that both engages visitors and helps a page rank more highly is something that many small business owners will attempt themselves. However, it soon becomes apparent that this time-consuming task isn't something that they planned for. It's possible to outsource content creation to agencies or to freelancers to save time but it comes at a cost. Prices can vary from 2p per word all the way up to £1 per word, depending on the type of content.
There are many reasons why website maintenance is important. It’s brushed over by small business owners at their peril but can drastically improve the user experience if done properly.
To recap, here are some of the key areas that need to be considered by all website administrators.
For further help with any of the above topics, simply contact the team at Intuitiv and we’ll help find the right solution for any website.
Give us a call on 01844 888 777
or contact us.
2 Bridge Road