You've probably spent lots of time and money on your website in the last few years. You've invested countless hours making sure the content is up-to-date, your user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) is on point, and that you're tracking the right goals in Google Analytics. But when was the last time you did any maintenance on your website?
It's not uncommon for us to get access to a website's content management system (CMS) so that we can update content or functionality, only to find out that everything is out of date or worse, not secure, simply because the website hasn't been maintained. A website is not unlike a car or bike... if you want to make sure you don't break down on the side of road, you should get it looked after on a regular basis. The small investment you make in a website maintenance package can save you thousands of dollars if something bad happens down the road.
Website Maintenance: What's Involved?
The two most important aspects of website maintenance are security and performance. Security refers to making sure your website is protected to reduce the likelihood that it gets hacked or compromised in any way that would expose your website traffic (and data) to third parties. Hackers are always trying to exploit any weakness they can to get access to websites. One way they will do this is by exploiting vulnerabilities in your website's code. Whenever exploits are discovered, developers will issue a patch and require you to perform an update to ensure you're running the latest, and most secure, version. You are probably familiar with updating your computer or your phone's operating system, and your website is pretty much the same except those updates don't happen automatically, or with the touch of a few buttons. You (or somebody who is maintaining your website) needs to check for and run any updates to website's code.
At the same time, you should have an SSL certificate for your site and you should be doing regular checks to make sure your SSL certificate doesn't expire.
Website performance refers to how quickly your website loads for visitors. According to Akamai, if your website takes longer than three second to load, you could be losing nearly half of your visitors. Page load speeds are also connected to poor conversions rates and unhappy visitors. Google has also indicated the speed of a website or pages is also a ranking factor, so a slow site could be negatively impacting your search rankings.
Don't Forget to Back Up!
It's a good idea to time regular backups of your website with routine maintenance. When we do website maintenance, we always start by backing up the website in case something goes wrong with an update. It's not uncommon for a plug-in or module to fail during an update and if this happens, it's easy to restore the website from a backup. That said, backing-up your website frequently is a good thing to do under any circumstance. If you run into a problem with hosting, it makes it easier to move your site to a new host and get it up and running again quickly. Don't have backup? Then you're stuck rebuilding a site under a very short timeline...
Do You Need a Web Developer?
If you feel that you can restore your website from a backup, then you can probably do your own maintenance but it's probably best left to a developer. In most instances, maintenance should run smoothly but the problem is that when things go wrong, they can go really wrong. Your website could be brought down and unless you act quickly, it could stay down for a while. As such, website maintenance is best left to a web developer.
Like many things about digital marketing and websites, website maintenance isn't very exciting or high profile but it's an important element in keeping our website performing its best. Like anyone who depends on their car or bike to get around, you need to make sure it's being looked after on a regular basis. So, the next time you log into your website's CMS and notice a bunch of security or update notices, get a web developer involved to do a back up and maintenance of your website.