Step 1 – Choose a Good Content Management System (CMS)A CMS is the easiest and simplest way to manage the basic functions of your website, and the team who designs your site will usually recommend one. Using a CMS, you can create and implement a content plan as part of your marketing strategy, sending out blogs and articles to keep your website fresh and your visitors clicking in. It’s also a good way for simplifying many basic website management tasks, which can get quite technical if IT is not your speciality. Our website design team recommends WordPress because it can run simple as well as complex websites, is user-friendly and intuitive even if you don’t have a web design background, offers plenty of plugins to add functionality to the site, has some great keyword tools, and good customer support. Oh, and it’s completely free.
Step 2 – Daily BackupsIf your website is affected by a cybersecurity issue, natural disaster, or manmade event, you need to be able to restore it as quickly as possible. This means having an up-to-date version of your website that you can quickly roll back to. The more current your backup is, the less data you’ll lose, and the less downtime and consumer confusion you’ll have to deal with. Because it is so important, this should be one of the daily tasks your website management team performs.It’s easy to think that no one is going to attack a small and medium-sized business, but the reality is that cybercriminals are increasingly targeting these businesses, with 4,500 successful attacks per day in the UK alone, precisely because their defences are often so low. In fact, the biggest cyberattack of 2021 (perpetuated by REvil in July) affected up to 1,500 smaller businesses around the world, including grocery stores and schools. Those victims with current backups of their systems refused to pay the ransom and managed to restore their business.
Step 3 – Monitor UptimeTo bring home the bacon, your website needs to be up and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through the holidays. But how do you know when it’s gone down? Rather than waiting for an irate or frustrated customer to call to complain, your website management process should include an uptime monitoring tool like UptimeRobot, Updown, StatusCake, or Monitis. This will report stats on your website’s uptime as well as alert you when and if it goes down, and should be one of your team’s daily tasks.Downtime is a serious issue in today’s digital age, and not just because it frustrates clients and customers – it affects your reputation and bottom line too. A study by Smallbiztrends showed that, on average, websites went down for 3 hours a month. While no two businesses are the same, it makes sense that when your website isn’t working, your online customers aren’t buying during that time and they’re going straight to your competitor instead. Just to give you an interesting statistic, website downtime in 2016 cost Amazon US$3.75 billion in just 20 minutes!
Step 4 – Daily Security Reporting and EncryptionEven if you have a good backup system in place, you need to monitor all aspects of your website’s security daily to lower your risk of attack as well as encrypting all information that flows through the site and limiting the damage an attack can accomplish. Partnering with a good hosting service should help you secure your website properly, but there are additional tools you can use to increase security. This is a good idea if your website has e-commerce functionality, if you are storing any client data, or operate in a more sensitive industry with high-value information.Services like Let’s Encrypt deliver that all-important SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification for your website (browsers and search algorithms also give preference to these sites in search results), Cloudflare creates a web application firewall (WAF) to analyse incoming traffic on your website for attacks and blocks suspicious activity, and Duo Security implements two-factor authentication for site access, stopping brute-force attacks in their tracks. Most systems offer some level of automation where, once they are set up, they will automatically alert you if any suspicious activity occurs.
Step 5 – Check for and Install Updates and PatchesConstant software updates are an unfortunate and slightly annoying reality in the IT world, but they‘re there for good reason. While they may add some useful functionality on some occasions, the main reason for the updates is security. As fast as hackers try to find vulnerabilities in software and systems, software developers have to work faster to block them out. Remember the massive WannaCry attack in May 2017 that took out 200,000 computers around the world, including hitting the NHS and costing the UK £92 million? That was due to a vulnerability on outdated Windows systems that hadn’t been updated with the latest security patches.Updating your content management system is just as critical as updating your computer and network software, so we recommend checking in for WordPress, Theme and Plugin updates once per week as part of your maintenance schedule.
Step 6 – Add Fresh Weekly ContentWebsites that have regular content updates rank better than those that don’t, as it’s a significant signal to search engines and helps draw in new visitors. The easiest way to do that is to use your CMS to add a blog to your website (WordPress offers this automatically) and to start publishing articles to your website. However, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds, as the content needs to be:
- High-quality – Well-written, with good grammar and spelling. Keep it human as well as in line with your brand personality and consumer expectations.
- Informative – The content needs to be relevant and engaging to your audience, and not repetitive or plagiarised from other online content.
- Regular – The best impacts seen on SEO come from articles published once a week or slightly more often.