We get it – building a new responsive website for your company is a large investment.
Often times business owners will invest in a new website and be glad when it’s over – thinking that they won’t have to worry about their website for another few years. On top of that, after a few months of a successful digital marketing strategy, they might think that it’s smooth sailing onwards.
This train of thought usually leads to the business owner believing that it’s in their best interest to cut ties with the agency.
When it comes to your digital presence, it is more important now than it has ever been before to ensure that things are maintained. A website is a part of your business that you need to continually monitor, update, and maintain and yes, this includes certain SEO activity as well.
Although not as large of an investment as the initial build, ongoing website maintenance and SEO is critically important to include in your monthly expenses. No business owner likes to waste money, but I can guarantee that addressing the following on a monthly basis will save you a lot of money when compared to waiting for something big, unexpected, and expensive to occur.
Let’s explore some common items that ongoing web maintenance can help you stay on top of. We will cover website maintenance in general, functionality, user experience, and search engine optimization. Although all undeniably linked together, this will provide an easy way to compartmentalize the different topics.
Content Management System Updates
If you are using a content management system such as WordPress, there are updates to the core and plugins that you must maintain on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, you risk losing plugin functionality and even worse, your site breaking.
On top of that, new vulnerabilities are identified all of the time. These updates are important to keep up with to ensure effective WordPress security.
Depending on the web hosting service you are paying for, automated backups of your website may be offered. Most web hosts do not offer this automation. This means that if your website goes down you have no backup copy.
By creating this backup copy of your site on a regular basis you have the peace of mind knowing that you can have a site up in minutes while you solve the issue at hand.
Promotional Offers & Deals
If you are running an eCommerce website, you are probably cycling through different promotional offers and deals on a regular basis. It’s important that you keep these updated on your site for your customers so they are not misled by old promotional offers that are still lingering on a product page.
Test Checkout Process Regularly
This one is a big pain if it goes unnoticed. You can sacrifice a lot of sales if for some reason your checkout process functionality is failing.
Testing your checkout process should be done regularly to ensure that customers can complete a transaction.
Optimizing your checkout process is important to test as well. By using analytics data, if you notice a lot of users are dropping off at a certain point in the conversion funnel, it is worth examining that page and seeing if there is anything you can do to engage the user and have them continue on.
Having users get in contact with you is a valuable conversion on a website. This could be a lead generation form or someone simply inquiring about holiday hours. Ensuring that these forms are always working is quite important.
Ongoing web maintenance should address these forms because if a user finds one not working this could mean the loss of a potential customer.
This could be caused by an update needing to be made in a plugin you are using for the contact form. On the same note, always test your forms and plugins after updates are made.
Another common thing that can happen is the captcha service failing. This can leave contact forms, maps, and such, unavailable.
Image errors and broken links
Broken links are a common thing that can go unnoticed. SEO auditing tools pick up on these as well as manually going through your site if it isn’t too big.
This, of course, can leave visitors frustrated and it can harm organic ranking. Having image errors or broken links will devalue your site and if something like this gets out of hand it can severely affect your organic ranking with search engines like Google.
Broken links can be caused by many things, for example:
- With links, sometimes it is a simple mistake like not setting up redirects when a page no longer exists. Always ensure that you set up 301 redirects when you move a page, this will maintain page rank.
- Sometimes a plugin is disabled for whatever reason and ends up leaving a broken link in your content.
- If you link out to external sites, you never know when that page might go down. If the page or site no longer exist you certainly will need to replace that link or get rid of it.
Site loading speed
Your site’s loading speed is critical for user experience. As claimed by Google, “53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load.”
This can be addressed with the initial build, such as using responsive web design to increase load time for mobile users.
As part of your maintenance and ongoing efforts, you can look for new opportunities to decrease your pages load time and catch anything, like a new plugin or image, that all of a sudden creates slower load times.
We explained all about the importance of responsive web design in this previous blog post, 6 Reasons You Should Have A Responsive Web Design.
Responsiveness is something that you need to monitor on an ongoing basis because as plugins update, script libraries change, and different devices and browsers are used, you want to ensure that your display is rendering correctly. Keeping on top of this will ensure your users always have a great experience.
Search Engine Optimization
On the topic of website maintenance, it is important to bring up ongoing search engine optimization. Implementing SEO efforts will ensure that your site can always be found organically as people search the web.
Review Google Search Console/Bing Webmaster
In our SEO news last year we described the importance of creating a sitemap and submitting it to Search Engines, whether that be to Google via Google Search Console or Bing via Bing Webmaster.
Although search engines will eventually find and index your site, this will ensure they index it faster and if you are updating your site regularly you can use these platforms to notify Google to crawl and reindex your site.
Reviewing Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster regularly gives you many advantages. You will be notified if there are any errors on your site and it gives you the time to solve the issue before it becomes disastrous – like Google deindexing your site.
The issues that can be uncovered range from being notified of a 404 error to pages being blocked from crawling to certain mobile specific usability issues (amongst many others).
It’s very valuable to monitor these free tools on an ongoing basis in your web maintenance routine or hire an agency or freelance SEO professional to do so if it feels overwhelming.
Google Analytics, a free tool, can be used to track your web traffic analytics. This is a great tool that can be used in a basic way or used deeper to uncover insights and direct optimization efforts on an ongoing basis as part of your website maintenance.
By monitoring analytics on an ongoing basis you can dive deep into the data and uncover various insights, which include:
- Identifying problems as well as opportunities,
- Determining traffic trends,
- Directing online marketing initiatives – which avenues are creating the most value for your business?
- Discovering decreases in traffic which may indicate an SEO problem.
- You can also follow paths your users take to see where they are falling out of the conversion funnel. This can be used to identify areas of improvement for user experience to keep users on the site.
- Use analytics data to discover what type of content, products, services that your users are most interested in.
Perform weekly/monthly SEO Audits
The technical side of SEO is what is most directly linked to ongoing website maintenance. By performing regular site audits, you gain the opportunity to discover technical errors, issues, and warnings with your site that may affect your search engine ranking.
We use SEMRush as our go-to tool, although there are many industry-approved tools that all have similar capabilities.
All this is to say, after the initial investment of a website build, don’t fall into the train of thought that many business owners fall into. That being, that all is done and you won’t need to think about your website any longer for a number of years.
Just like any complex system, say a car, you need to constantly perform maintenance to keep it operating correctly.
Everything from general website maintenance to plugin functionality to user experience to search engine optimization need to be monitored on a regular basis to ensure your primary online marketing tool is working optimally.
It’s better to pay to maintain these things regularly than wait for something huge and expensive to happen, trust us, we’ve seen it all!