Website Maintenance – Why Bother?

By January 14, 2013Websites
Website Maintenance“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” This is a well know message which goes out every year. The serious advice this slogan is trying to convey is that a puppy will still require lots of love, care and attention once the initial novelty has worn off. This kind of applies to a website too.

Many people take the advice of having a website setup and then once the design has been completed and the developer long gone, they just leave it online and wonder why it hasn’t become the answer to their dreams. If you’re spending money monthly on website hosting, then you owe it to yourself or your business to make sure that your website is looked after. Here’s how..

Content

Chances are, the audience your website is intended for search for information online just like many people do; on Google. Why is this important as part of website maintenance? Well; every time you add or modify content on your site, Google makes a note of it and calculates how “fresh” your content is. Depending on what kind of changes, how big, how often, your site may be seen as more relevant in search results and appear higher up the list – that’s a good thing.

Also, a site where the “Latest News” article is from 2008 doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Visitors will be more likely to trust your website if the content is current or frequently updated. If the content is topical, it may even encourage people to share what they find, and more shares can mean more new visitors. If you really want to delve deeper into this subject, SEOMoz has a great article here.

Availability

404 error pageWe’ve all spent time searching for something online or been sent a link only to find that the website is down or the page can’t be found. Most people don’t hang around for long when they get one of these errors, so that could cost you a potential client or customer.

A lot of making sure your website stays up and running is down to your webhost, but there are ways to increase the reliability and performance of your site.  Funnily enough, website performance is another area Google looks at when determining page rank. If your website loads faster for example, then that can be regarded as offering a better user experience and therefore get you featured higher.

Security

red padlockMuch like availability, security is another area that your webhost will contribute to. However, you too can take steps to ensure that your website is secure as possible and that any updates or changes to it are only made by persons authorised to do so. If someone manages to take advantage of a security exploit on your site, they could make changes to the pictures and content or take your website down all together. Even if someone else hacks in to your website, you may still find yourself liable for any mischief they get up to.

Secure passwords are always a good start when it comes to security (see our article ‘How To Create A Secure and Memorable Password’ for more tips on this), but if your website relies on third party systems to make it work, then these will likely be updated from time to time and some of those updates are for security.  If you or someone else isn’t keeping an eye on them, it may only be a matter of time before you find your website falls prey to someone with ill intentions.

Sounds Like A Plan

If you haven’t got the time or skills to maintain your website yourself, then there are many individuals and companies offering website maintenance plans and packages. You can usually pay for ad-hoc work charged as a one-off fee or by the hour, or  more likely opt for a monthly or yearly plan. A typical monthly website maintenance plan will include a number of hours per month that a web developer will be available to work on your site.  This could be in the form of making changes to the content by adding or removing text and graphics, changing the structure of the site, adding or removing entire pages and anything else you might need done. There is a huge variation of features between different plans so it is important that you choose a plan that covers all the areas you need help with. For example, some plans only offer updates to content which you provide, whereas others will even help you to create the content from scratch. Of course, that level of support comes at a price, but if you’re struggling to continually find fresh, new content for your website, then at least there are options available.

Unless you’ve created the website yourself, more than likely your web developer will offer maintenance or be able to recommend someone who can. Alternatively, you can always connect with us to discuss your requirements and we’d be more than happy to help.