A Beginner’s Guide to Website Maintenance

By Craig Johnston
Web Design 20.08.2021

While every aspect of your business’s online presence is important, the ultimate goal of your online presence is to attract potential customers and sell through your website, making it the foundation of your digital operations. Just as with a physical store, your beautiful website design needs ongoing maintenance to keep it running smoothly and drawing in new customers. Our beginner’s guide will cover all the basics of why website maintenance is necessary, what it should include on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis, and how to get the job done right.

Why Does Website Maintenance Matter?

For a significant and growing number of potential customers, the first place they’ll see your business is online. In fact, the UK is the fourth-largest e-commerce market in the world and the largest in Europe, with 87% of customers doing research online before buying a product or working with a business. A poorly maintained or out of date website is going to give a negative impression of your business and offering, making it likely that potential customers move on to a competitor’s website.

Website maintenance also has a big impact on customer experience, acting in the same way as a talented and engaging salesperson. Without regular maintenance, things start to fall apart, and websites become plagued with broken links, outdated information, and technical issues. A study by PWC showed that 32% of customers will leave a brand they already love if they have a bad experience, and only 1% of users say e-commerce websites are meeting their expectations consistently. 

Good user experience, however, has very impressive returns that no business can afford to ignore, with a return on investment (ROI) as high as $100 for every $1 spent, according to a report by Forrester. Although it’s a US-based report, we can extrapolate similar positive ROI for the UK – especially since 1 in 10 people in the UK made online purchases since lockdown began, and 74% say they’re making online shopping a habit.

Another good reason for website maintenance is that it’s critical for your digital marketing strategy, and especially your SEO (search engine ranking). Google and other search engines constantly monitor bounce rates (how many people leave your website soon after arriving, after taking no further action), page load speed times, conversions, visitor numbers, session duration, and other metrics that show if people are or aren’t spending time on your website. If these have negative readings, the algorithm drops your search engine ranking in results pages. Since Google holds 87.7% of the market share in the UK and hosts 5.6 billion searches worldwide every day, it’s essential that your website has a positive relationship with the search engine.

Finally, regular maintenance services are essential for keeping your website secure and preventing leaks of sensitive business, customer, and financial information. With 46% of businesses and charities experiencing a cyberattack in 2019 at an average cost of £8,170, security must become a priority for every business with an online presence. The losses from recovering from the attack, downtime, and damage to reputation can be considerable, and a properly secured website is the best way to secure your data and customer privacy.

How Much Does Website Maintenance Cost?

Your website maintenance costs will depend largely on whether you are using a digital agency or using your own business resources to manage your site. If you are considering outsourcing this role to a service provider, it’s advisable to shop around and do your research on different digital agencies and their website maintenance packages, looking at the quality of the provider and their reputation as well as the price of the packages on offer. At the same time, it’s a good idea to measure the cost to your business of running website maintenance in-house, which can include new hires, training, time, salaries, and hardware/software investments.

In addition, you will need to include domain name renewal costs (usually a monthly or annual fee), your secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate and website hosting costs. These can all differ from provider to provider and having a clear idea of website maintenance costs will help you budget more efficiently.

Weekly Website Maintenance Tasks

Let’s start with routine website maintenance tasks that should be carried out every week by your IT team or digital agency.

  • Page load errors – Load each page of your website to check for errors including slow load times, images not showing, etc. Perform regular checks for 404 errors and fix or redirect them.
  • Run a backup – We recommend that you backup your website to a secure server at least once a week. For very busy e-commerce websites, we recommend that this is done even more frequently. This will minimise data losses and downtime if the website is compromised.
  • Update plugins and software – Plugin updates and software updates are critical for functionality and strengthening security vulnerabilities. These third-party providers roll out regular security updates as soon as threats emerge or vulnerabilities are uncovered, so it’s essential that they are implemented as quickly as possible.
  • Check forms – Perform regular checks on forms including account sign-ups, logins, and contact forms should be checked to ensure they are working as intended.
  • Blog posts – If you publish blog articles, check for legitimate comments and queries for your team to answer, as a good response time is key to a good customer experience. Remove any spam comments. WordPress has some good software for helping to prevent spam on blog posts, including moderation systems, blacklisting keywords, and restricting comments to registered users.
  • New content updates – Update your website with any changes to your content. Typical content updates include changes to products and services, contact details, and team information. It’s also a good idea to upload fresh blog articles each week, as regular updates are effective for boosting your website SEO.

Monthly Website Maintenance

Website maintenance services that should be performed at a set time each month include:

  • Load speed checks – To test the load speed of your website, we recommend using Google’s PageSpeedInsights to check response time. This is one of the most important factors in user experience because just a one-second delay will cause a 4.9% drop in traffic, while a three-second delay in response time causes a 7.9% drop in traffic. Remember to check mobile load speeds too, as decreasing mobile load time by just one-tenth of a second can cause an increase in mobile conversion rates by 8.4-10.1%.
  • Security updates and checks – Review security reports and check for signs that your website may be compromised. This can include alerts from your browser or hosting service, inexplicable slow load times, and even alerts from customers. It’s also a good time to send out information to customers and employees on online security best practices.
  • Performance analysis – Using website analytics, generate monthly performance reports for your website. This will help you track key metrics to evaluate digital marketing campaigns, find out how customers are reaching your website and what they are doing on it, and what content is performing well.

Quarterly Website Maintenance

Each quarter, our digital agency recommends that you perform the following tasks.

  • Website testing – Test your website on different browsers and devices to make sure it is displaying properly and is fully functional.
  • Perform a comprehensive backup – Especially if you have recently expanded or changed your website.
  • Review digital marketing campaigns – Ensure that content is still aligned with your business goals, that content is connecting to the right pages and is in line with what your customers are most responsive to.
  • Content updates – These content updates usually focus on changes to digital marketing best practices, changing keyword research in response to customer needs, etc. If your keywords need to be updated, it’s important to adjust metadata, blog posts, meta descriptions, meta titles, and website content to reflect this.
  • Plan your strategy – Develop strategies and campaigns for the next 3-6 months, including seasonal events, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and calendar events that are relevant to your business and customer base. Create landing pages, digital marketing content, blog posts, and more.

Annual Website Maintenance

Once a year, businesses should perform these essential website maintenance checks.

  • Website design and structure review – Can the aesthetics, structure, or functionality of your website be improved? Introduce tweaks and adjustments like automation, better quality images, and efficiencies. Test popups, forms, and calls to action.
  • Check your details for errors and inaccuracies – Make sure all details on your website are accurate. This includes email addresses, physical addresses, and contact details. Be sure to also check team information, service information, and update your details for the current year.
  • Review content and performance – Look at your top-performing content (blog posts and website pages) to see how you can make it keep working in the year ahead. Eliminate broken links, inaccuracies, bad grammar, and spelling errors.
  • Plan your strategy for the upcoming year – Review the performance of your website over the last year and formulate a strategy for the year ahead, planning for if you need a website design as well as developing your marketing strategies.

Professional Website Management or DIY?

For anyone who is not a website specialist, it can be surprising to realise just how much work needs to go into website maintenance! While you can take the time to shine up your team’s skills and manage your website in-house, there is also the option of outsourcing this to a professional team for a monthly cost on an ad-hoc basis.

Website maintenance packages have several important and useful benefits for businesses of every size. Firstly, it’s easily outsourced to a digital agency that already has the team, experience, and services in place to manage this task. Secondly, it allows you to free up your own resources to drive your business forward, rather than diverting them to routine, time-consuming tasks. Lastly, it allows you to leverage a digital agency’s expensive resources and maintenance team for your own business, using their solutions and skills to access a high-quality service at a predictable, set monthly cost to your business. This can be set on an ad-hoc basis, giving your businesses exceptional flexibility too.

Yellowball is a multi-award-winning digital agency offering end-to-end digital services, from website design to website management, content development, SEO, and much more. If you’d like to chat, give us a call or take a look at our track record. Our maintenance team will be happy to show you how we’ll run your website and make it as effective as possible in this digital world. You can get in touch with us here.

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