Why you should have a website maintenance plan

You probably know this already, but it bears repeating. Your website requires constant attention and upkeep to enable it to do it’s job. A website is not a “set and forget” entity. A website is an active sales and marketing tool that’s working for you 24/7 to attract visitors, generate leads and convert those leads into loyal customers.

You should have a website maintenance plan, no matter which platform it’s built on.

Why? Because your website needs to perform flawlessly to deliver the best value and ROI for your business. At the same time, it’s up against a constant barrage of challenges that threaten it’s ability to do it’s job.

Consider the following:

  • Search engines are always crawling and indexing your website so it can be found for relevant search terms.
  • Directories and local business listings and other websites are linking back to your website.
  • Your website is vulnerable to attack from hackers who want to hijack your domain to spew spam to the world.
  • Visitors will abandon your website if it’s sluggish (pages slow to load) or if they can’t view it on a smart phone.
  • Your website should deliver a steady stream of relevant content to visitors and search engines.
  • Your visitors expect your website links to work and its forms to deliver information.
  • You expect your website to deliver qualified leads and sales.

Your website is the heart of your business and the nerve center of your online success. It’s not a novelty or an add-on to your marketing strategy. Because it’s so important, RE recommends that you implement a website maintenance and upkeep plan as part of your web design and web development agreement.

Why you need a website maintenance and upkeep plan.

Much like a car, all of the moving parts that make up a website require upkeep and maintenance. You can perform this work on your website yourselves, or you can partner with your favorite web professional to do some or all of your website maintenance work for you.

If you choose to DIY on your website maintenance, just remember that this is a daily (or near-daily, depending on the size and scope of your website) task. Although some tasks can be automated, a majority of website maintenance and upkeep work is hands-on and requires administrative log-in to the back end of your website to perform the updates and maintenance, as well as to ensure it all goes smoothly and doesn’t ‘break’ anything, especially if something breaks during your busiest revenue-generating season.

And speaking of breaking things, you’ll also need to know what to look for as potential issues after there’s been a core WP update or plugin update. If you or your team is ready to tackle all of that, then kudos to you! Let this article serve as a reminder about how important it is for you to have an internal website maintenance and update plan in place.

What happens if you don’t have a website maintenance and upkeep plan?

What is the potential negative outcome if you don’t implement a website maintenance and upkeep plan for your website?

There are many variables involved of course, but you can think of it as being similar to not getting routine maintenance such as regular oil changes on your car. But in many ways your website is more complex, more vulnerable, and more important than your car to the success of your business. Your website’s security, functionality and SEO are just a few items that could be negatively affected if you’re not doing regular website maintenance.

The primary areas of concern are:

Website security could be compromised.

Without regular website maintenance and updates, the security of your website can be compromised, letting hackers have their way with you (this is not good). A solid maintenance plan for your website includes some of the following tasks performed on a regular basis to protect your website.

Update WP core

WordPress powers 30% of the world’s top websites, which means hackers are gunning every day to get their claws into more and more WordPress powered websites. Thankfully, WordPress is equipped with hundreds of expert developers who work hard every day to cut off potential hackers at the pass. As a result, WordPress offers timely platform updates (called core updates) that address any bugs or security holes that could potentially let hackers in. It’s essential to apply WP core updates as soon as they are available to ensure the highest level of protection for your website.

Related: Learn how an SSL certificate protects your website visitors

Update WP plugins and themes

Your website needs a security system in place that protects it from invaders who can take over your domain, steal private data, and worse. One of the primary pathways for hackers to get in to your website is through plugins that haven’t been updated.

Plugins and themes are essential to your WP site functionality. RE works with the best themes and selects only the most essential plugins for our clients’ WordPress websites. All themes and most plugins we use for our own website as well as our client websites are “premium” plugins, which means they aren’t free.

Theme and plugin developers are motivated to keeping their code as hack proof as possible. They actively fix bugs and security holes that hackers might use to access your site without permission. They keep up with the latest security threats and they’re proactive about issuing regular security updates for their products. When they issue plugin updates, it’s important that they’re implemented as soon as possible to ensure maximum security against hackers.

RE monitors our clients’ websites for required updates so we can be proactive and timely with routine updates and website maintenance.

Website functionality could be compromised

Most of the time, thanks to a kick-ass developer community and strict WordPress core standards, a well developed WordPress website runs smoothly through transitions like plugin and WP core updates. However, things can sometimes go wrong. For example, there may be times when themes or third-party plugins miss a bug or implement some new code that may not be compatible with your host.

Technology changes fast, and it’s our job at RE to keep up with all of that on your behalf. We troubleshoot any issues and test everything regularly to ensure your website is working properly and it continues to do a great job for your business.

See a list of routine maintenance tasks included in RE website care plans

SEO could be compromised

RE builds WordPress websites for our clients with solid technical and on-page SEO best practices. Timely maintenance and updates help support and enhance these SEO efforts by:

  1. Increasing security so hackers can’t damage your website’s page ranking. » How this happens
  2. Maintaining/improving page load speeds, which is a key factor in maintaining good search engine rankings for your website

What happens when you do have a website maintenance and upkeep plan?

RE offers website care plans so our clients can focus on working on their business instead of their website, and so they can sleep a little easier at night knowing their website is secure and running at optimum functionality at all times.

Security and a protected brand reputation

A website without regular maintenance and upkeep is likely to eventually suffer a security breach before anything else. This can affect not only your website but your business’ reputation. If a security breach like that happens, it can take months or even years for your website and your business to recover. For this reason alone, you should have a maintenance and upkeep plan in place for your website.

Taking this on internally can be time consuming for you and your team, and it can be tricky if your core competency isn’t web development. Doing your own website maintenance can also take your time away from performing tasks that better serve the day-to-day operation of your business.

RE performs routine website maintenance tasks for our clients websites first on a staging site to ensure all is well before putting the changes live on their domain. This way, if there are any issues, your visitors are never aware of them and your actual website is never compromised.

Top performance and page load speed for better SEO

RE builds your website with page speed optimization in mind, and as part of our website care plan, we will continue to regularly monitor your website for performance in regard to page load speed. One of the tools we use is Google Pagespeed Insights. Go ahead and put your website URL in there to see your website’s performance score.

According to Moz, “Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. And research has shown that Google might be specifically measuring time to first byte as when it considers page speed. In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation.”

“Page speed is also important to user experience. Pages with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page. Longer load times have also been shown to negatively affect conversions.”

(Source)

A list of some items RE includes in our website care plans*:

  • Daily full website and database backups with offsite cloud storage
  • Daily security monitoring and updates
  • WP core updates immediately upon authorized release by WP
  • Weekly WP theme and plugin updates + any necessary after-update troubleshooting
  • Twice monthly performance audit and page load speed optimization, includes site-wide image optimization
  • Spam comments filter setup and monitoring + weekly deletion of any non-published or published spam comments
  • Website uptime monitoring and reporting
  • 2 hours/month to use for RE to perform website work or consultation services (Pro package only)

*RE service and maintenance plans are available only for WordPress websites built and hosted by RE.

If you’re interested in learning more about RE website care plans, contact us today to schedule a call.

RE combines a passion for great design with the power of my 20+ years of professional career marketing experience and puts it all to work for my clients using the latest digital and web technologies. It’s my goal at RE to create interesting brand experiences that effectively communicate your message and elicit real human interaction with your brand through spectacular design.