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Why is Website Maintenance so important and how to do it

88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience with it.

And what does a bad experience look like?

  • Slow load times
  • Broken funnels
  • Buttons that don’t work
  • Images that won’t load
  • Outdated or inaccurate content
  • Error pages after clicking a link
  • Glitching forms

The list goes on.

And most of the mishaps above are a result of a neglected website.

If you want your website to generate uninterrupted conversions, you need to maintain it regularly.

“But where do I start?” you ask…

Read on to learn how to keep your website updated and fully functional, so your visitors always have a great user experience. 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

What Is Website Maintenance and Why Is It So Important?

  • Keeping Your Site Secure
  • Growing Your Site’s Traffic
  • Improving Your Visitor Experience

 

Monthly Maintenance

1. Make Sure Your Pages and Posts Load Properly

2. Test All Your Contact and Opt-in Forms

3. Create a Backup for Your Site

4. Update Your Plugins

5. Test Your Online Store or Checkout Flow

6. Review Your Website’s Performance

Traffic
Leads
Site Speed

 

Quarterly Maintenance

1. Add New Content to Your Blog

2. Update and Optimize Existing Sales and Lead Generation Pages

3. Answer Your Comments and Delete Any Spam

 

Yearly Maintenance

1. Renew Your Annual Subscriptions

2. Review Site Content for Accuracy

3. Give Your Website a New Look

 

 

What Is Website Maintenance and Why Is It So Important?

Website maintenance is the practice of regularly checking your website for issues and errors, as well as keeping it up-to-date and relevant.

You should monitor your website regularly in order to maintain its health, grow your traffic, and strengthen your search engine rankings.

 

Regular website maintenance includes:

  • Keeping Your Site Secure

Hackers target websites that have vulnerabilities or security gaps. These vulnerabilities tend to come in the form of outdated plugins and software.

An outdated website also becomes a problem when you want to update something. For example, if you update a plugin that requires your server to be recently updated, but the last time you updated your server was three years ago… a fatal error could occur and your website might crash.

Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress release regular software updates and patches to keep your website up-to-date and secure. It’s important to make sure your website has the most recent version of these updates activated.

  • Growing Your Site’s Traffic

Search engines tend to prioritize websites in their rankings that are updated regularly. 

Updating your website includes:

  • Fixing broken links
  • Deleting duplicate pages
  • Adding new, valuable content to your blog
  • Removing pages for products you don’t offer anymore

Regular web maintenance can boost your site’s visibility, in turn attracting more visitors to your site.

Now, these tasks depend on the kind of website you have. So, if your site isn’t content-heavy, there’s no need to focus on adding blog posts on a regular basis. Focus on doing what’s best for your website so you can keep your visitors engaged and interested in your business.

 

  • Improving Your Visitor Experience

Regularly updating your site with engaging content such as blog posts, upcoming events, image galleries, and videos encourages your visitors to engage with your content. It also gives them a reason to return to your site regularly and purchase your products.

Maintaining your website regularly also improves site performance and provides your visitors with a safe environment to browse and engage with you in.

A well-maintained website helps you build a brand your customers can trust. It creates a great impression for your site visitors; encouraging them to return and take action.

To make that happen, though, you need to know what to update when. 

To help you manage your site upkeep, we put together the following checklist for you — broken down into three maintenance frequencies: 

  • Monthly Tasks
  • Quarterly Tasks
  • Yearly Tasks

NOTE: Not every task in the following checklist will apply to your website, and there’s no problem with that. Focus on what is relevant to keeping your website updated, safe, and secure.

 

Monthly Maintenance

Perform the following maintenance tasks on a monthly basis.

This list is very important for newly-published websites. As you get used to managing your website, you can modify the frequency of these tasks from monthly to bi-monthly or quarterly as needed.

1. Make Sure Your Pages and Posts Load Properly

First, check how your most important pages (e.g. homepage, sales pages, shop page, most popular blog posts, etc.) load on different devices — on at least 1 desktop device and 1 mobile device minimum. 

NOTE: If you don’t physically possess multiple devices to run such display checks, you can use Google Chrome’s Device Toolbar to do this instead.

Next, you should use PageSpeed Insights to check the load performance scores on these critical pages for both mobile and desktop devices:

Testing page load performance with PageSpeed Insights.

Try to address any poor performance issues discovered to boost your scores as much as is feasible. 

Finally, confirm that all your links on these critical pages are working properly. You can use the URL Inspection Tool or the Screaming Frog Spider Crawler to help identify broken links. Don’t forget to test the links in your site’s headers, footers, and sidebars, too.

2. Test All Your Contact and Opt-in Forms

Consider the following when testing the functionality of a contact or opt-in form:

  • Does the form appear on the right pages?
  • Do any error messages appear when filling a form in?
  • Do your conditional questions appear at the correct time?
  • Does the form display a confirmation message, or redirect to the proper Thank You Page when submitted?

If you’ve integrated any 3rd-party tools or services to your forms (like your email marketing platform), make sure to test each connection for proper performance too.

For example, if an automatic email is meant to be sent out directly after a form is submitted, make sure this actually occurs during your test.

Finally, ensure that all form entries are appearing correctly in the destination database.

3. Create a Backup for Your Site

Few things sound scarier than losing ALL your website data. Imagine having to build your website all over again from scratch!

That’s why you need to backup your website regularly.

That way, should your website ever crash unexpectedly, you can easily restore it. The more recent the backup, the better because it means you’ll be able to restore the most up-to-date version of your site.

The easiest backup strategy is to use the one provided by your hosting platform. Most popular hosting services offer a daily automatic backup feature, so avoid those that don’t.

Alternatively, you can use a plugin to backup your site. But, for safety reasons, make sure you use a plugin that has a high number of installs and positive reviews like JetPack or BackUp Buddy.

You can use a plugin like Updraft Plus, JetPack or BackUp Buddy to backup your website daily.

4. Update Your Plugins

Plugins are found in the WordPress Admin dashboard for your website. If a plugin needs to be updated, you’ll see a white number inside a red circle on the “Updates” tab, indicating the number of plugins waiting to be updated. It looks like this:

Update alert in WP-Admin dashboard.

Don’t ignore this alert.

An outdated plugin can cause serious problems for your website – potentially even crashing it.

Save yourself the time – and headache – by updating your plugins on a regular basis.

Updates should always be done manually, followed by thorough site testing to make sure that everything is working as expected.

And before you update your plugins, make sure there’s a recent, working back-up of your website to revert to if needed. Your hosting provider should have a restore function you can activate in one click.

Updating your plugins in the WordPress Admin Dashboard

And don’t forget to update your site’s WordPress theme when available — of course the same backup and test advice applies to your theme too! 

5. Test Your Online Store or Checkout Flow

First, ensure that your customer log-in is working correctly by creating a test user account.

Next, make sure that your product pages are showing the right products, descriptions, and prices. Try adding different products to your cart to ensure they get added correctly.

Lastly, test your order process. 

You can learn how to do this here if you use any of the following tools:

WooCommerce

ThriveCart

SendOwl

Digistore24

StudioCart

Tip: If you use a different checkout tool that is not listed here, simply go to the “Resources” section on their website. This is where you’ll find documentation on how to test your order process.

Don’t forget to also test any 3rd-party apps integrated with your store.

For example, if you send automated emails triggered by customer actions in your store (e.g. leaving items in the cart, creating an account, purchasing for the first time, etc.), then you should test these triggers are working correctly too.

Nothing’s worse than having a site visitor trying to buy, but can’t because your store is broken, so make sure to check your checkout flows on the regular!

 

6. Review Your Website’s Performance

Using Google Analytics is a great option. Refer to this guide to learn how to set up Google Analytics tracking on your website.

Home dashboard view in Google Analytics.

To get started with site analytics, we recommend monitoring the following types of data: Traffic, Leads and Site Speed.

Traffic

Most analytics tools will provide you with key insights on your website traffic, including:

  • How long visitors stay on your site and the actions they take within a certain time period (sessions)
  • The referring channel that directed visitors to your website (e.g. organic, email, referral, etc.) as well as the source (e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
  • If  visitors are new or returning

Google Analytics will also show your site’s bounce rate. This is the percentage rate of visitors who land on your site and leave without taking action (e.g. clicking links, filling in a form, purchasing a product, etc.).

Bounce rates are relative, as they depend on the industry you’re in and what kind of business you run. But if you have a bounce rate of over 50% — especially on your sales and lead generation pages — then you need to focus on improving this metric.

Leads

For most online businesses, a lead is anyone who signs up to your mailing list or fills out and submits one of your contact forms. You’ll need to monitor the following lead analytics for your business:

  • Lead Quality
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

First, the quality of your leads is often determined by the percentage of new subscribers who actually become customers — plus how long it took them to convert (e.g. buy a product). 

If, after a month, few to none of your new leads become paying customers, you must review your funnel strategies to identify what’s not working.

Perhaps you need to adjust where your new leads are coming from. For example, are you driving paid traffic to your website, but don’t see them subscribe or buy? Then you may be targeting the wrong audiences or need to test new angles on your lead generation and sales pages. If you start showing your ads to the right people and conversion optimize your landing pages, you’ll see your lead quality improve dramatically.

Site Speed

Even with a stunning website displaying killer copy, if your pages take forever to load, most of your visitors will bounce before seeing a thing. 

And although site speed is usually referring to keeping the search engine algorithms happy, your primary focus should always be to optimize for real humans. There are many factors to consider when improving your website’s load speeds — from optimizing your images to using a quality hosting service.

Quarterly Maintenance

Perform the following tasks on a quarterly basis.

After three months, your website will definitely need some fresh content. This applies to your blog, sales pages, and lead generation pages.

  1. Add New Content to Your Blog

If you maintain a blog, plan your new content over a three month window. A frequently updated blog is an asset to your business because you’re giving your audience fresh content to take in and engage with.

Use engagement data from your previous quarter to identify the parts of your content strategy that are working — as well as the areas that need improvement.

For example, if one of your online courses is making strong sales, you should identify 2 or 3 related blog posts you can publish over the coming quarter to drive more organic traffic to that course.

The new content you plan should be directed towards helping your business meet its goals. These goals can include growing your:

  • Brand awareness
  • Leads and sales
  • Customer retention
  • Etc.

Note to Bloggers

Consider adding video or audio content to your blog posts, to make them more engaging. More engaging organic content usually translates into higher traffic and ultimately more sales.

2. Update and Optimize Existing Sales and Lead Generation Pages

First, read through your landing pages to update any outdated or poor performing copy.

Make sure to keep your lead magnet offers up-to-date and accurate too.

Retire any pages that are no longer relevant. For example, if you’ve stopped offering a certain service, then you’ll want to ensure any landing pages related to promoting that service are retired.

If you’ve added new products to your business, check that the appropriate parts of your funnels have been updated to reflect the new offers. This includes modifying any popups, opt-in forms, and calls-to-action on all your pages.

Note to Content Creators

If you update any headlines or body content in your blog articles, make sure to review the SEO meta titles and descriptions for each post so that the correct info appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

3. Answer Your Comments and Delete Any Spam

Unanswered comments or an overload of spam comments can negatively affect your search engine rankings, discourage new readers from commenting, and even compromise the security of your website.

So first, make sure to engage with your legitimate commenters by replying to them as quickly as possible after you first publish content. After your posts and pages age a few weeks, check them on a monthly basis to answer any new comments that appear over time.

Fortunately, your WP-Admin Dashboard makes managing spam comments easy.

Simply head to Settings > Discussion and scroll down until you see the options for accepting and moderating comments. Adjust them as you need to help filter out the spam:

You can set what happens before a comment appears, in your WordPress Admin Dashboard.

 

Yearly Maintenance

Perform the following tasks on an annual basis.

1. Renew Your Annual Subscriptions

Most website hosting subscriptions renew automatically each year, and send you a heads up at least one month before your card on file is debited. 

However, it’s good practice to always be aware when your next payment is due because you never want your income-generating website to go down unexpectedly. 

The same goes for your domain name, SSL certificate, and premium plugin or tool subscriptions you rely on. Knowing when each service payment is due also helps your business budget its expenses astutely.

2. Review Site Content for Accuracy

A new year means it’s time to update any “date” references with page and post titles. For example, in 2023 you’ll need to update any “Best of 2022” articles to “Best of 2023” in order to maintain relevance.

The same goes for the content in your sales and lead generation pages. If you have any new opt-in offers or products, make sure you’ve updated the respective funnels for each.

Also, don’t forget to retire any pages for products or services you no longer offer.

Note to Content Creators

You can largely put this yearly date update task on autopilot by using the Dynamic Text feature inside Thrive Architect’s visual editor to automatically update dates shown in post/page headings and text. 

However, you’ll still need to manually update any dates included in the post/page titles of your WordPress backend.

3. Give Your Website a New Look

Want a new design in the new year? Make it happen!

 

The original article was published by Chipo at ThriveThemes: How to Maintain Your Website Like an Online Business Pro

⇒ If you don’t want to do this by yourself check out my Online Business Continuity Plans.

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