Website maintenance is one of the most ignored subjects in digital marketing. It also happens to be one of the most important tasks that all business owners should understand, particularly when your website is running through WordPress.
Website maintenance is the act of regularly checking your website for issues and keeping it up to date. This process needs to be carried out regularly in order to keep your WordPress website secure and optimised.
Keeping your website well maintained is important for all business, no matter your size. It’s easy for businesses, particularly small businesses and start-ups, to put website maintenance to one side until it eventually presents a substantial problem.
Maintenance should be viewed like servicing your car, it’s not something you necessarily want to pay for, but you know that in order to keep it running smoothly, you need to do it.
To help you understand if maintenance is needed on your WordPress site, you must ask yourself these questions:
- How valuable is your website?
- Do I need my website up and running all the time?
- Do I need my website monitored?
- Is my hosting making a daily backup that is being stored offsite?
- Am I paying for digital advertising?
The value of your website can be determined by monetary value, or by asking “will your business keep running without the website?” If your business needs your website in order to run smoothly then you need to look after your site. This is particularly important for eCommerce sites, as they are often the main source of money coming into the business, and they tend to store large amounts of data.
You also need to ask yourself: If your website was hacked, what data could be taken? And how could this affect your business?
Budget hosting and buying off-the-shelf WordPress themes are very popular among small businesses and website start-ups, while these may have its cost benefits, we would always recommend that you spend the additional money having your website maintained regularly to prevent any major problems.
When you buy an off-the-shelf WordPress theme there is a lot of functionality that you may not be using. Whilst you may not be using them, they still need updating and servicing every so often otherwise they will become out of date. This can happen within 7 days of launching the site and can quickly become a security risk to your business. The longer you let it go without having them checked, the more that risk increases. Popular WordPress themes and plugins can also become targets by hackers. Hackers don’t usually target websites, but they do target plugins and themes, exposing your site to greater risk. Couple this with cheap hosting then the risk gets higher and higher.
Most budget hosting sites don’t create backups of your site, and if they do, they are often stored on the same server, which will not help if this server crashes. Our advice would be to ensure your hosting creates a daily backup that is being stored offsite, that way if their server goes down your backup won’t be affected. Another important thing to note when considering using budget hosting is the environment your website is sharing. With budget hosting, you will be sharing the server with many other websites. This means that your website is only as secure as the other sites that share the server with you. If any of the sites on that server get hacked, there is a high chance your site will get hacked too.
If you’re paying for digital advertising then we would always recommend having your website maintained. There have been a high number of instances where websites get banned by search engines, such as Google, after being hacked or spammed. Once your Google account has been suspended (either temporarily or permanently), it can be extremely difficult to get it back.
In some instances, when a website has been hacked, they have injected malicious content into their paid advertisements on Google. This content alerts Google of something suspicious and will result in the account being suspending to protect its visitors.
These things are extremely relevant if you pay for digital advertising. You are risking spending money to bring potential customers to your website, only for those customers to be lost through a poor experience.
What should you expect?
There are several benefits to having your website maintained, from simply updating your licenses, to the complications of improving the security on your site.
Website maintenance will typically include:
- Keeping WordPress plugin licenses up to date
- Uptime monitoring – this makes sure the site is still up and running. If your site goes down you’ll want to know quickly
- Updating anti-spam filters, ensuring that your site draws in genuine leads
- Check & block malicious IPs
- Ensuring the site is kept secure and running over HTTPS
- Optimising the sites performance and load speeds, such as minimising images, script files, etc.
- Optimising the site database
How will these benefit your business?
Improve visitor experience
Your website should mirror your company’s image. Often, because of the increase in research prior to purchase, your website is the first thing your potential clients will see of your brand. Therefore, it is important that your website is of a high standard and meets your client’s expectations.
Should your website not be functioning properly, including slow page loading or old software that does not work, this will put off not only potential new clients, but existing customers, and will likely send them elsewhere. By ensuring that your software and WordPress plug-ins are all up to date and that the website is performing as it should, you can keep your customers happy.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to maintain your website is security. Hackers are very clever at finding vulnerabilities in code on websites and will almost always take advantage of this. This is particularly important if you run paid advertisements or store any information on the back end of the website.
Regularly updating and maintaining your WordPress site can prevent hackers from finding these vulnerabilities by keeping your website software, WordPress plug-ins and hosting software updated. This will not protect your website fully from hackers, but it can help to prevent it. Should your website be hacked anyway, you will be in a much better position to reverse the issues that were caused if you have your website regularly maintained.
Encourages site backups
All websites need to be backed up offsite. This means being backed up somewhere other than the service your website sits on. The reason you should back up your website is in case something happens which requires the site needing to be rebuilt or reinstated.
If you do not back up your site, it is likely going to be high-cost and time-consuming to rebuild it. Some cheaper hosting platforms may also make you pay for your back-up, so make sure you are aware of this early on.
Search engines like Google do not like sites that are slow or full of old content. They like to index fresh, error-free content that will engage their searchers. Whenever you update your website content and performance, you will be giving Google a reason to rank you higher for your keywords. Just remember that website updates must be relevant and optimised for search engines.
It is obvious that having your website regularly maintained beneficial to most, if not all businesses. Not every business will do it, but it’s like insurance. You don’t really want it until you need it.