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What is Website Maintenance, and Why is it Necessary?

We all know how important it is for any business to establish an online presence with a professional, well-structured website. However, the "set it and forget it" approach will not work once your website is created. Just like any technology, websites require maintenance to function properly. Regular maintenance not only prevents your site from becoming outdated, slow, and vulnerable to security threats but also ensures it fulfills its goals, offers a positive user experience, and increases visitor retention. 

But what exactly is website maintenance? What task do you need to perform, and how often? Below, we will define website maintenance and discuss its importance in keeping your website running smoothly. We'll also outline the various types of web maintenance tasks, how frequently they should be performed, and offer some tips on their effective management.

What is website maintenance?

Website maintenance is the process of regularly checking your website for possible issues, fixing them, and ensuring your site stays functional, secure, and relevant. This process encompasses a variety of tasks, the main of which are:

  • Performance Monitoring: Ensuring the site loads quickly and functions smoothly for an optimal user experience.

  • Security Updates: Installing updates and patches to protect against cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

  • Checking for Errors: Identifying and fixing broken links, missing images, and other technical issues.

  • Backup and Recovery: Regularly backing up website data to prevent loss and facilitate quick recovery in case of issues.

  • Updating Content: Regularly refreshing website content to keep it current and engaging for visitors.

Why Website Maintenance Is Important

Website maintenance helps your website function properly. However, there are other reasons to regularly maintain your website, each playing its essential role in the overall success and efficiency of your online presence:

Enhanced User Experience

A well-maintained website provides fast loading speed and smooth navigation, positively impacting users' experience. Regular updates and reviews help prevent problems such as broken links and outdated information, which can frustrate users and lead to a negative user experience.

SEO Optimization

Search engines prioritize websites that are error-free and updated on a regular basis. Engaging, fresh content not only improves your site's SEO, driving organic traffic and making it more accessible to new visitors, but it also increases audience engagement and conversions.

Security Improvement

Regular website maintenance is a crucial first line of defense against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. It involves updating security measures and patching vulnerabilities.

Brand Image

Regular maintenance not only ensures your website operates smoothly but also maintains its aesthetics and professional image, reflecting positively on your brand and demonstrating its reliability and commitment to quality.

Cost Efficiency

By identifying and correcting problems during a routine inspection, you avoid the need for emergency repairs, which can be significantly more costly and damage your brand's reputation. Thus, website maintenance can be viewed as an investment rather than an expense.

Website Maintenance Frequency, Tasks, and Tools for Execution

The frequency of website maintenance depends on your website's size and complexity. 

Besides, some maintenance tasks, in their essence, require more or less frequent execution, can be automated with the right tools, or have to be done manually. Choosing the right tools and services for maintenance tasks, from automation tools that handle regular backups and security scans to platforms that facilitate content management and SEO 

optimization can significantly streamline your maintenance efforts.

To ensure your website's ongoing performance and efficiency, it is advisable to establish a maintenance schedule that reflects your website's specific needs, goals, activities to be done, who is responsible for their execution, and the required resources. A regular schedule that breaks down tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks helps you systematically tackle various aspects of your website, from content updates to security checks, thereby preventing potential issues from becoming major problems. 

Here is a sample of such a schedule:

Daily Tasks for immediate issues that could affect website functionality and user experience:

Backup Checks: Verify that automatic backups are functioning correctly to ensure data integrity. Cloud backup solutions like UpdraftPlus and Solid Backups provide automated services to ensure that data is backed up regularly and easily retrievable in case of data loss or a security breach.

Security Scans: Utilize tools like Web Application Firewalls (WAF) and SSL encryption to protect against potential breaches and enhance user trust. Conduct automated daily security checks to detect and mitigate potential threats, keeping the website safe from vulnerabilities. Tools such as Acunetix scan for vulnerabilities, offering detailed reports and actionable insights to enhance security measures. It supports a variety of scanning methods, including DAST and IAST, which help identify real-time threats and ensure robust security against cyber attacks.

Uptime monitoring: Automate uptime monitoring to ensure your site is available when people try to access it. The goal is to keep your site up and running at almost 100%. If your site goes down, you need instant alerts so you can take immediate action and restore functionality. Tools like UptimeRobot or StatusCake can help you handle it. 

Weekly Tasks for operational continuity and content relevance:

Software, Themes, and Plugin Updates: Plugins and themes help extend your website's functionality. But like any software, they need regular updates to stay compatible with the latest web browsers and security patches. Enable auto-updates on your CMS in configuration settings, regularly update plugins and themes to protect against new vulnerabilities, and keep your website running smoothly. 

Link and Form Checks: Review all site links to ensure all pages and forms load correctly and prevent user frustration from broken links or non-functioning forms, which could impact lead generation. Use tools like Screaming Frog to conduct a thorough audit for broken links or other issues such as duplicate content.

User Management: If your website has users, managing their accounts includes creating and deleting user accounts, resetting passwords, and managing permissions. User management also includes removing bot spam accounts and comments and approving relevant users and comments. Use tools like hCaptcha to prevent automated bots from registering fake accounts or submitting forms and tools like Akismet to manage bot comments.

Content Updates: Post new blogs regularly or update outdated content. It will boost SEO and keep the website engaging for returning visitors. Update website content at least monthly, but preferably every week. 

User Experience Testing: Conduct tests to ensure the user experience remains intuitive and enjoyable. It can involve checking navigation menus and verifying that the site is mobile-friendly. 

Accessibility Checks: Ensure your website meets accessibility standards (such as WCAG) to provide a good experience for users with disabilities. Some of the widely used tools are  WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool, which provides visual feedback on accessibility issues directly within your web page, highlighting errors and suggesting improvements, and axe Accessibility Checker, an open-source tool that integrates with browsers (Chrome and Firefox) or can be used via browser extensions. It identifies accessibility issues and provides guidance on how to fix them.

Monthly Tasks for long-term performance:

Performance Reviews: Analyze page load speeds using tools like GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. Optimize website performance to improve your site's speed and responsiveness. Key approaches are compressing images with TinyPNG or JPEG Optimizer, minifying CSS and JavaScript code using tools like CSSNano and UglifyJS, and reducing the number of HTTP requests. Additionally, implementing caching solutions and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can significantly improve load times, especially for websites with a worldwide audience. Tools like Cloudflare's CDN services ensure fast content delivery globally, while Dareboost provides insights into factors affecting site speed and security. 

SEO and Content Analysis: Review search engine visibility and content engagement metrics such as website ranking, backlinks, internal linking structures, and traffic to refine SEO strategies and update content. Regularly review and optimize on-page SEO elements, content relevance, and keyword density. Some of the best tools to help you automate complex SEO tasks are Ahrefs and SEMrush. You can check one of our previous blog posts devoted to the best SEO tools. Tools such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite can also help you track your social media activity, engagement metrics, and content performance.

Analytics Review: Regularly review Google Analytics or other analytics platforms to understand user behavior, page views, bounce rates, and other critical metrics. Adjust your strategies based on these insights. Real User Monitoring (RUM) and Synthetic Monitoring tools like Pingdom offer detailed analytics on user interactions and site functionality, helping to proactively address potential issues. 

Competitor Analysis: Review competitor websites to stay updated on industry trends and see how your site compares. While this analysis is done mainly manually by visiting competitors' websites, navigating through their content, observing their features, and noting any relevant trends or strategies they employ, it is also possible to use SEO and social media tools mentioned above that can provide insights into competitors' social media activity, website traffic, keywords, backlinks, and advertising strategies.

Quarterly tasks for big-picture issues.

Web Design Review: Review prevailing web design trends to ensure your website looks modern. Consider refreshing the site design or adding new features to keep the website looking modern and engaging.

Functionality Checks: Use tools designed for functional testing, like Selenium or Cypress., to ensure all your website's interactive components work correctly. These tools automate the testing of user interactions and workflows on web applications, ensuring that buttons, forms, navigation, and other interactive elements function correctly across different browsers and environments. Check our blog post for 5the  best Automation Testing tools.

Annual tasks for basic housekeeping issues:

Renewals: Renew your domain name, SSL certificate and web hosting plan as well as plans for the website tools you subscribe to.

Policy Review: Review your terms of service and privacy policies. Add updates as needed.

Hiring Professional Website Maintenance Services

Website maintenance is time-consuming and may require technical expertise. While you can handle some of the website maintenance tasks, such as content updates, checking for broken links, and managing user comments yourself, hiring a professional is often the smarter choice. 

Choosing the right website maintenance service requires careful consideration of several factors. First, evaluate the specific needs of your website, including the level of security required, frequency of updates, and the need for 24/7 support. Choose a supplier that suits your needs, requirements, and budget. Ensure the chosen provider offers flexible plans to meet the needs of your growing business. Seek providers with extensive experience and a proven track record in your industry, supported by customer reviews and a portfolio of successfully maintained websites. Check the ratings of a potential web maintenance service provider. Here are the top 5 B2B services review platforms to help you with your choice

How much does it cost to maintain a website?

Website maintenance costs depend on the complexity of your website, frequency of required maintenance, and who handles the maintenance (internal team, freelancers, or dedicated service providers). Owners of even the smallest sites should expect to spend about $100 per year for domain name, SSL certificates, and hosting plans. The cost of hiring professional website maintenance services can vary significantly based on the scope of services provided. The average cost of midsize website maintenance services can range from $50 to $100 per month while maintaining an ecommerce or corporate website can range from $100 to thousands of dollars monthly. Freelance experts might charge less, not for a package of services, but for their work per hour, typically between $18 and $20. While it might be tempting to choose less costly options, investing in quality maintenance can prevent expensive issues in the future.

Bottom Line

Website maintenance is indispensable for your online success. Regular maintenance tasks are critical to protecting against security threats, improving productivity, and keeping content up to date. By scheduling tasks like performance monitoring, content updates, and security checks, you can maintain a smooth-running website that enhances user experience, boosts SEO, and protects your brand's reputation. Technology changes quickly, so being proactive and collaborating with experts can make a big difference in your site's long-term effectiveness and growth.

article-author-img

Charlie Lambropoulos

07/10/2024

Business
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