What website maintenance is and why you should do it
Having a website is not like listing your business in the yellow pages (if there is still such a thing). It’s more synonymous to launching a new branch of your business, but this time, in the digital spaces rather than a physical location.
Modern technology allows businesses to explore entirely new marketing channels through the digital medium. Now a business image lies in their footprint in the world wide web. Both potential and existing customers and clients depend on the internet to search for products and services. They compare offers, prices and even reviews from other customers. With a simple click of a button, a customer can decide whether they like your brand or not and will often times make a decision within 8 seconds of viewing your webites.
For these reasons, maintaining an updated website is critical for you to be seen as relevant. Creating your online footprint does not start and end with launching a website. Just like opening a new branch of a store, you need a dedicated staff, a regular supply of stocks and up-to-date product designs.
Website maintenance in a nutshell
Okay. So, website maintenance sounds like an important thing to do. But what exactly is it?
Website maintenance is a continuous process of ensuring that all aspects of a website functions properly and runs smoothly, as well as regularly updating information, content, software and security.
What makes a good website
Each website is different- as they should be. A website can be a personal blog, a company profile and portfolio, a source of news and other information, a selling platform, a place for users to interact and so on. But no matter what specific purpose you intend for your website, a good website caters to your target market by promoting awareness and engagement with your brand.
Popular and top ranking websites share a few things in common:
An old website doesn’t have to mean an old looking website. Trends in website design and structure constantly change and if you want your website to look up-to-date, you should invest in regularly updating your website’s interface.
Admittedly, a modern looking website is the norm and would therefore not necessarily stand out, which, in this case, is not a bad thing. What people will definitely notice is if your site is a throwback to the early 2000s- filled with glittery icons, wordart and using comic sans.
If you want people to visit your website, you should give them ample reason to do so. Posting regular, relevant and updated content such as articles and blog posts can drive a lot of traffic to your site. This also includes quality graphics, images and even videos that relate your ability to solve a customers problem.
However, uploading content is not enough. To get the most out of each and every thing you post on your site, it must be optimized for search engines through strategic titles, keyword use, meta descriptions and tags. The better your SEO game is, the higher your website’s rankings will be on search engines. Think of your website like a brand new car off the dealers lot. It’s shiny, it’s new, but does it have the juice to be found where people are looking for it? Many businesses with a website don’t understand the importance of keeping up appearances, or adding fuel to the tank, particularly SEO.
Call to Action
Driving people to your website is a feat that must be continually calibrated. Once a user is onsite, what do you want them to do next?
- Learn More?
- Respond by email?
- Respond by phone?
- Walk in?
You need to make clear what you want the next step to be in the form of a Call to Action (CTA) button.
As the name implies, a CTA makes the user do something else within your site, like reading a related article, browsing your products and services, subscribing to your email newsletter, liking your Facebook page and so on. Leading users into taking the steps through tools like CTA is called a funnel which leads to a desired outcome for you and this too must be maintained for relevance and aligned with a product or service.
What goes on in website maintenance
Maintaining a website isn’t something you reserve for when you have nothing else on your to do list, nor is it something you procrastinate on doing. Many of the elements that go into designing and maintaining a website are time sensitive and need to be addressed promptly.
Aside from regularly enhancing the website’s design, uploading relevant content and creating CTA’s- all of which are things you can do yourself, especially if you are using a CMS block builder like Wix and Weebly.
When talking about functionality, we mean two things:
- All buttons, forms and links are working properly
Whenever a user clicks anything on the website, they should be directed exactly where they need to go. Forms should be submittable and links should not be broken or displaying a 404 error, images should be present and your website should not have any access or general errors.
- The website has a Responsive Design
This means that each page on the website loads visually as you expect it to, but also is easy to find links in your layout, navigate on any browser and device, whether it’s on Google Chrome via desktop or a mobile version on an iPhone using Safari browser.
- Let’s test this. Go to your website and slowly shrink the screen. Is it constantly resizing? If not your website is not responsive and needs an update.
This also includes all pop-ups and plugins. All these aspects should be checked and fixed if necessary, at least once every quarter.
Additionally, the website should have a fast loading speed. This is highly dependent on the file sizes of any media uploaded, such as images, graphics and videos. The longer your site takes to load, the lesser chances that a user will wait to see what’s on the site. Run your website through a speed checker like GTmetrix for performance issues.
Everything that is on your website should be relevant- otherwise, it’s just taking up valuable space and can lower your rankings on search engines, as well as deter users from visiting and navigating through your site.
This means ensuring that your contact information is up-to-date, all expired marketing and ad campaigns are removed, archived, or stopped from being promoted and all pages and posts are updated for accuracy and new available information. [It is very common to forget to change your business address when moving from location to location.]
Take for example, an online shopper browsing your store, but is unable to click “add to cart” or is under the impression that her sizes are out of stock simply because someone forgot to update the backend.
Another example is someone searching for the best restaurants in a certain area and your site is displaying an article updated years ago, with most of the restaurants featured already permanently closed or relocated.
These issues, as well as poor grammar and typographical errors, drive users away from the site. Search engines also prevent future users from visiting your site by ranking it low on search results if they think that your content is outdated and irrelevant.
Backup and Security
Websites, apps, software and other data in the cloud crash every now and then. It is inevitable. Sometimes, this is due to a programming error and sometimes, done by a hacker.
To prevent this, invest in a quality and regularly updated security system if you use WordPress consider iThemes. This protects your website from unwanted elements like hackers looking to spread viruses or steal customer information and web bots that post spam comments, irrelevant information and malware.
Furthermore, it is important to keep an offsite backup version of your website, no different than saving a document you are working on every few minutes. This is so that in the event that your website does crash or get hacked, you can easily and quickly restore it.
This is especially important for websites carrying time sensitive information, or hosting a real time business. The longer your site is offline, the more money you are losing from customers not being able to access your site.
Finally, make sure that your domain name is up-to-date and your payments to use your domain are also updated and set to recurring. You definitely don’t want a website that cannot be found, or worse, someone else purchasing your domain name because your late on a payment.
A highly skilled website maintenance team monitors and analyzes your website’s statistics on performance and usability based on the factors above and more. Consider taking advantage of free analytics tools like Google Analytics or Clicky.
This includes how effective your keywords and phrases are, how much engagement you get from users who visit your site, the channels that these users are coming from and the demographics of these users.
All these things help you improve your website and target your ideal niche market more effectively by providing them with user-friendly and relevant content in a well-designed platform.
Why you should hire a professional team
As you probably feel by now, website maintenance can be a complex series of ongoing tasks that involve a wide variety of factors, where one false step can make or break your brand’s online footprint and how you are perceived.
When deciding whether to do your own website maintenance or hire a digital marketing firm to do it for you, take these factors into consideration:
- Are you running a website purely for personal or recreational use? Or does the website serve a commercial function?
- Are you adequately versed in the language of website development?
- Do you have ample time to dedicate to maintaining your website? Or will other areas of your business benefit more from your attention?
Click Leads can customize a strategy to earn your way to the first page of search engines and keep your website optimized for years to come. Contact us now for a FREE consultation on how to improve your website.