6 Common-Sense Tips for Maintaining Your Website’s Health
Keep the Cobwebs Away, Keep the Customers Coming
Have you ever been to a website that is broken or so out-of-date that you’re unsure if the company is even still around? What impression did it have on you?
A website is like having your front door open to the world 24/7, so keeping it accurate, functioning, and secure is extremely important. Don’t leave money on the table by making a bad first impression. Just like a tangible office building, a website is not something your company can afford to build and forget.
There is not necessarily a “one size fits all” plan for website maintenance. However, there are some basic housekeeping items that every website should have from time to time.
Having multiple people review your website (think employees or volunteers) will help ensure issues aren’t overlooked.
1. Keep Website Content Up-to-Date and Accurate
Online company, product, and service information should always be as accurate as possible. Today, customers interested in purchasing a product or looking for a service typically go online for more information, and if they find inaccurate information, selling them anything becomes difficult.
Not only can bad information hurt your company’s credibility, but it can create headaches for both you and your customers in the form of high rates of returned products or disgruntled reviews on Yelp.
Copywriting for websites, especially technical writing, can be time-intensive. If your company doesn’t have the time nor in-house staff to write and maintain your own copy, you should hire an agency with professional copywriting services.
Outdated plugins is a leading cause of CMS websites like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla being hacked.
2. Maintain CMS Platform Updates, Plugins, Themes, Security Patches, and Bug Fixes
If you have a Content Management System (CMS) website, such as WordPress or Joomla, it’s vital that the platform and its third-party plugins and themes are kept as up-to-date as possible. These updates keep websites functioning properly, especially in new browsers and mobile devices.
Most importantly, these updates help prevent website hacking and infection, as most attacks are done through outdated software. Once a website is contaminated, it poses a threat to anyone visiting the website and will usually be flagged by search engines as dangerous. Be proactive here, not reactive.
The routine of maintaining a website’s platform, plugins and themes up-to-date can become tedious, but methods exist for taking it off your monthly to-do list. One way is to use a web hosting company — such as our favorite, SiteGround — that offers free auto-updating services for WordPress and Joomla sites.
Website maintenance can also be outsourced to a third-party company that has experience with WordPress and Joomla maintenance. (Psst, Lime Valley Advertising is one of those companies!)
Stuck on how to grow your site? Brainstorm with co-workers. Look at what your competitors or related-industry websites are doing. Think outside the box!
3. Continue to Grow and Expand your Website
Let customers know you’re actively engaged by adding new content, functionality and features to your website. This develops a relationship with visitors, compelling them to come back to see what’s new and exciting.
Adding new content to your website will also have the added benefit of help improve your website’s search engine rankings. Who doesn’t love that?
Easy recommendations for growing your website:
- Create a blog
- Already have a blog? Don’t forget to utilize it!
- Add a photo and/or video gallery
- Develop a support section (e.g. FAQ’s, manuals & literature downloads, and other helpful resources)
- Install a social media feed
- Expand existing website areas, such as the product catalog or services listings
- Add contact forms (e.g. “Contact Us,” “Request a Quote,” “Applying for a Position”)
- List upcoming events like trade shows and open houses
- Promote seasonal sales or limited time offers
Search engine algorithms and customer trends are constantly changing. Don’t be left in the dust.
4. Re-Evaluate and Update Overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Being found on search engines is one of the most important aspects of web marketing. Staying on top of current search engine trends and best practices – something that changes quite frequently – will help drive traffic to your site. Because of the dizzying pace search engine algorithms change, a website’s SEO strategy should be re-evaluated at least once a year.
Not only will adjusting a website’s SEO methods keep it ranking optimally, but doing so will also open up the opportunity to check how the keywords are doing. Is your site still ranking #1 for the keyword it was originally optimized for? And regardless, is that keyword even still being searched for, or is it now a low-volume search term? What is hot one year is not necessarily still popular the next.
Make sure to also pay close attention to new content. Search engine optimizing a new blog post or product page often gets skipped in order to save time and costs, but if the content is important, it should be optimized like the rest of the site.
A website’s great user experience can be easily undermined by poorly managed and broken links.
5. Check for and Fix Broken Links
Nobody wants to end up on a 404 error page. Broken links create a disjointed user experience with your website and can leave a bad taste in a visitor’s mouth. Scanning for dead links is an easy but critical way to help prevent losing a potential customer.
Broken link checker tools can help automate the process so even behind-the-scenes links can be found and fixed. Frequently WordPress websites are integrated with link checking plugins that automatically email site administrators when bad links are found, allowing them to be fixed as soon as possible.
Keep in mind, broken links also have a negative effect on your website’s SEO!
By having a backup schedule (e.g. first of every month), you can have peace of mind that your website will be okay even if it is hacked.
6. Backup your Website Often
Losing your website files and latest updates could be devastating. Make sure your entire website is backed up at least once a month, or more often if you update frequently. Sometimes technology fails to function, and if that happens, having a backup plan (pun intended) will save the day!
Additionally, hosting with a modern web hosting company that creates automatic daily backs up as part of your hosting package can help cover the gaps between manual backups.
Save Time: Outsource to a Local, Full-Service Agency
Knowing what to do to keep your website healthy and fit is only half the battle. A smart business move to consider is outsourcing: instead of using your valuable time, use somebody else’s. An experienced full-service agency will be able to quickly and professionally handle your graphic design, web programming and development, business copywriting, and search engine optimization needs.
Take action with your website. Don’t let it sit and get dusty. If you provide your online presence with some much deserved TLC, it will provide better visitor experiences, which could translate into higher sales and higher profits.