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The Importance Of Website Maintenance.

By Neil Kilgallon on Friday, 1 October 2021

Why is it important to maintain your website?

Website maintenance can be described as the regular checking, updating and preservation of your live website. Your website might be attracting a record number of visitors, and your bounce rate is at an all-time low with unprecedented sales. You still need to look after and maintain your website. One issue can take down your site with catastrophic consequences. A simple example could be your WordPress installation is out of date and not updated, allowing your site to be hacked with all your customer's private information and passwords revealed.

What Website maintenance can I do?

The answer to this question will depend on the type of website you have, its size and its functionality. For example, Nike would have their own internal maintenance team comprising of IT specialists taking care of all maintenance behind the scenes. A sole trader with an eCommerce website and no IT experience would need to find outside help for more complex maintenance issues.

Depending upon your time schedule, someone with limited experience should be capable of completing the following tasks:

  • Checking that content is still relevant and up to date.
  • Using a third-party application such as Screaming Frog to check for broken links. This is as simple as downloading their software and adding the URL you want to check.
  • Reviewing your website on core browsers such as Chrome, Edge, Safari using different devices (iPad, Android, iPhone, PC etc.) to check that your website is displaying properly.

Tasks that you might require external help for could include:

  • A simple marketing website with just a few pages containing mostly images and text can usually be maintained using a content management system such as WordPress or ProcessWire. If you have minimal or no website experience, even understanding how to correct a broken link might be too difficult a task to perform.
  • If your website has been badly built with ‘messy’ and unorganised code. This can make it very difficult to maintain and update.
  • Software updates. Installing updates/patches incorrectly can have serious consequences for your website and must be implemented correctly.
  • Browser compatibility issues can be quite complicated to rectify, often it will involve any of the following:
    • HTML/CSS issues
    • JavaScript problems
    • Problems with the back-end code
    • Issues with 3rd party plugins
  • Improving your search engine rankings. A lot of this information you can find on the web, such as improving incoming links, keyword optimised text and internal linking… The main issue with SEO is the amount of time it takes if you want it done properly.

Ultimately, outsourcing the upkeep and maintenance of your website depends upon your time constraints, skill levels and available funds to pay a reputable web design agency.

How often should I maintain my website?

There is no exact answer. On average, it would be prudent to carry out maintenance on your website at least on a monthly basis. There are many different factors that will determine the amount of maintenance a website requires. A simple marketing website that has no CMS and provides just basic information will need a lot less maintenance than an eCommerce website built with WordPress that you might want to check at least every week.

Common signs and issues associated with lack of maintenance

Snowballing bounce rate – If your bounce rate keeps increasing, it could be a sign that there are issues with your website. If your visitors cannot achieve their objectives due to site problems, they are going to leave.

Broken links – Not only are broken links annoying and irritating, but they are also completely avoidable. External links change or disappear over time. Broken links are such an easily avoidable scenario. Just search ‘broken link checker’ in Google, help is free and everywhere. 

Out-of-date information – Again, this is completely preventable and looks unprofessional. It just says to your visitors, I do not care about my website and cannot be bothered to update or even check it. Businesses change over time and so does the external environment, creating information that becomes incorrect or completely wrong.

Not aligned to your business goals – This is another consequence of outdated information. Using ID Studio as an example, one of our core search terms is ‘web design London’, previously, it could have been ‘Flash web development' that is now completely redundant. Text, images, descriptions and links all need to be aligned to what you are currently targeting and promoting.

Slow website speed – A slow-running website is not necessarily due to neglect, it can also be due to the way it has been built/designed. If you use a top London web design agency such as ID Studio, this will never be an issue :-) Maintenance issues for a slow-running website could include:

  • Poor hosting setup
  • Too many plugins
  • Your website has been hacked
  • Not checking analytics resulting in too much traffic for your current setup
  • Outdated CMS that uses older less efficient versions
  • Using software/plugins that are no longer supported

Outdated security – Software security that is out of date can result in potential cyber-attacks due to known flaws that have not been ‘patched’ and exploited.

Out-of-date plugins – Often, you will receive notification that an updated version of the software is available, this is especially true for WordPress. By not updating your plugins you risk the following issues:

  • Retaining bugs in the software that could otherwise be corrected
  • Your website is more likely to be hacked
  • Your plugins will stop working as they are no longer supported
  • The speed of your website can reduce dramatically, resulting in UX issues
  • Your website will stop working altogether

Technologies no longer supported – A good example is Flash, not only have web browsers stopped supporting it, but so has Adobe! Good maintenance will make sure old and redundant technologies are removed.

No website backups – A well-maintained website will have numerous recent backups and some of these will be held securely off the business premises. 

Automated website checking

Automated website testing is using software to check the status of your site. Manual checking is performed by humans, going through a checklist or sections of a site. There are many automation tools available to help test the health of your website, luckily, a lot of them are free. At ID Studio, we have found it best to test the site manually as well as using several automated tools. Below is a list of a few that we use:

  • Google speed test
  • Ahrefs
  • Keyword density
  • Mobile-friendly test
  • Screaming frog

Who is checking your web host?

An area of crucial importance that is often neglected is website hosting. When is the last time you checked the following?

  • What is your average website downtime?
  • How many other websites are sharing your server?
  • Is SSL security provided?
  • What security are they offering?
  • Where is your website hosted?
  • Are they providing adequate backups for your website?
  • Can they scale with your website needs?
  • Are there better alternatives available?

All of the above can have an impact on the performance of your website and what you pay. 

Website maintenance business benefits

SEO – Search engine algorithms change, if you do not keep up with them you are likely to see negative results with search engine results. Business conditions also change and by maintaining your website on a regular basis, you can keep targeting the latest trends and market demands.

Security – You will have the latest patches and upgrades protecting your website against known vulnerabilities. Hackers are constantly looking to exploit potential weak points, by staying up to date with the latest updates you are helping to protect your site. This does not mean your website cannot be hacked…

Business image – As stated above, poorly maintained websites can be slow, contain old information, look outdated and worst-case scenario, not work at all. By actively maintaining your website, you present a fresh, modern, user-friendly experience that will impress and retain site visitors.

Keeps it fresh – If content does not change then people will stop visiting, give them something interesting and new to read. Provide them with a reason to come back with the latest trends, product information, surveys etc.

Improved UX – By keeping your website up to date, there should be few usability issues with a fantastic user experience. 

Include modern technologies – Website technologies change rapidly, by staying up to date with the latest trends you can impress your customer base and improve the overall website experience.

Quicker loading website – Having the latest software, patches and optimisation will result in improved website loading times.

Website maintenance should not be seen as a chore, it is a preventative measure, neglecting it can lead to a loss of business revenue, harm to your brand and reputation, or even business failure.