5 Reasons for Regular Website Maintenance
Many years ago I did a rebuild for a local pizzeria whose website had been originally built about three years prior. Initially, the client wanted me to go in and update his prices and make other simple edits to his site, as his “web guy had gone MIA” (a story I hear all too often). We were doing this work in preparation for integrating his website with an online ordering system.
What I found when I got into his administrative back end was that his website had not been updated since it had been built. With each new version of WordPress that he wasn’t getting, his website was left more and more vulnerable to hackers. And something was seriously off with his website, as I could not upload images or even see what was in his media library. I also could not customize his theme. I tried to upload my favorite plugin for performing backups, and that would not work. As his “web guy” was nowhere to be found, I did not have access to the cpanel to do a backup there. So, without the ability to back the site up, I was not about to try to update WordPress or the nine plugins that were also outdated.
I went back to the client and told him that there were a number of problems in this website, quite possibly caused in part by the lack of maintenance since it had been built. He could hire a developer to hunt down the problems and possibly fix them, or he could hire me to do a quick rebuild and ensure that everything on his website worked and was updated. He wanted everything new, so he asked me to start the rebuild.
I explained to him that once the website was rebuilt, he would need to hire someone to maintain it so the same (or worse) problems would not arise later.
He never did, and a few years later, it crashed irreparably.
If the possibility of a completely dysfunctional website doesn’t motivate you to sign up for a maintenance plan (or learn how to do it yourself), here are five excellent reasons you should practice regular maintenance on your website:
1. Your website ages before it is even launched.
Like your smartphone that is the latest and greatest until about 5 seconds after you buy it, your website, no matter how expertly built, cannot withstand the test of time on its own. The Internet is constantly changing. Developers of all the pieces of your website–its content management system, themes, templates, plugins, etc.–are constantly updating their scripts, and if you don’t do the updates they recommend, you are letting your website fall out of date.
2. Google can tell if your website has been recently updated.
Aside from crawling for new, fresh content, Google (and other search engines) can also tell if your platform and plugins are up-to-date. As they slide out of date, your website slides out of favor with the search engines. Think about it this way–the major search engines want their users to find content that is fresh, relevant and reliable. So, of course, they are going to rank well maintained websites higher than ones that are collecting cyberdust. Help out your SEO and keep your website maintained.
3. You could lose customers because of a buggy site.
Have you ever visited a site that has broken links, missing images, or parts that just don’t work? Things like this can happen if your website is not getting the regular updates it needs. Would you buy products or services from a site like this? Of course not.
4. Your website is only as strong as its weakest link.
Its weakest link is usually the most out-of-date component.
Hackers are constantly running scripts to search for “back doors” to websites, which in many cases is an outdated theme or plugin that you aren’t using anyway. Make sure that you or the person you designate to maintain your website is removing any themes or plugins that are no longer being used on the site.
5. You laid out a sizable amount of money to have your website built.
Why wouldn’t you take care of your investment?
As most of our clients are entrepreneurs, their websites are their primary lead generators and moneymakers. As their websites quite literally take care of them, they understand it is vital to take care of their websites. Keeping their websites maintained in smaller increments as necessary updates arise will also enhance the longevity of their website, making the necessity of a complete rebuild (as in the case of my client above) much less likely.
Content and style updates are another topic I would like to cover at a later date, but they are no less important. Basically, you want your website to be as fresh and polished as you and your business are. Keeping it maintained inside and out is a given if you want to attract your ideal clients.