Website support and maintenance
When you create a business website, start a blog or build an online shopping cart or product catalog, there are a number of associated responsibilities that go with the territory. Simply uploading content and then ignoring it is not going to draw interest or visitors. Remember the reason you started your website or blog? It may not have been to make money, but it was more than likely intended to be an ongoing project. And like the purpose of the website, regular maintenance, security updates, content creation, improvements to product descriptions and service pages and unique offers and benefits are a must if you want to avoid problems.
We have put together a few points which maybe of interest in your ongoing maintenance and support strategy.
The Importance of Website Maintenance!
There are a number of maintenance issues that have to be performed on a website, and as the owner you have two choices: you can do the work yourself or hire in a company to do it for you. One will cost you time, the other will cost you money. But if you spend neither the time nor the money, then your website will eventually become more of a problem than a solution for profitability.
“Who do you turn to when your website is hacked? Is your site backed up regularly? “
One of the reasons to maintain your website software is one of the most talked about issues on the Internet – security and hackers. Security software is regularly updated, sometimes bi-weekly. Ignoring this aspect of your website or blog is almost certain to eventually cause you more than a few headaches.
Having hackers steal customer or company data is enough of a problem, but there are other problems that can occur if you neglect regular maintenance. Malware can slow down the operation of your website, creating frustrated visitors and very likely a loss of sales and revenue. Depending on the nature of your website or blog, disagreeable or disgruntled hackers may use your security-challenged website to alter content or digitally deface your site. Any problems you have to fix due to hackers or digital vandalism will cost you money out of your pocket to fix. Read what Google says about Malware and How to get reviewed if your site has been flagged by Google.
The solution is to keep all system software, plugins and themes up to date with the latest updates. A good quality hosting platform is a must have and regular site backups should be stored in several locations to be safe.
Websites owners who store user data such as personal information could also be liable if this information is used by hackers. Don’t use simple passwords and make sure that your website has an SSL certificate installed as an added measure. Simple passwords are one of the easiest ways to hack your website and deface it.
General Website Maintenance
Areas like checking for broken links are a common website problem that, if left ignored, will result in unhappy visitors, unhappy search engines and a loss in revenue if your system drops in the rankings due to poor maintenance. You can schedule a link check to be performed to ensure every link on your website is active and accurate.
There is the other issue of web page content that is old, outdated, or simply poorly presented. Internet users return to web pages and web sites that offer new and fresh content on a regular basis. The objective of growth is not only to have new visitors access your website and web pages, but also to keep existing customers and readers coming back for more.
Website Maintenance Tasks That Are Performed Regularly
Let’s begin by talking about some regular maintenance that should be done on a periodic basis – usually monthly.
Backing Up Your Website
In the early days of network computing, the adage was, “Backup early, backup often.” Today, advances in technology have automated much of the backup tedium. But that does not mean you can afford to neglect scheduling a regular backup of all your data. Even if you hire a company to perform this task for you, they will not be aware of every change you make during a normal workday. A lost change to a critical piece of data can spell disaster for the integrity of your system. For most companies, a single day involves hundreds and thousands of transactions that may or may not be backed up in real time. You are the one who has the responsibility for the system, and should your system be hacked for any reason, you could find yourself trying to recreate data that no longer exists.
Regardless of the size of your business, recent research has shown that many of the critical updates for operating system software had not been performed by at least 30 percent of system administrators. Many of the updates are security related, and if technology news is any indication, more than a few companies have lost customers and have had to foot the bill for repairing and restoring hacked company data.
When it comes to applications, two popular blogging packages, WordPress and Joomla, are constantly being updated. Like operating system software, the updates contain security updates, but also have improved features and bug fixes that are crucial to many daily operations. While you may not need or want every new feature that comes along, read the summary that comes with the updates to be sure security fixes are not part of the package before ignoring it.
There is an abundance of software and web software, much of it free, that will generate a wealth of data and statistics about your website, everything from speed to performance to search engine results/SEO data. Most require little or no effort on your part to set up and collect information 24/7. Sales generation and website traffic are two of the most important pieces of information that can be gathered. One very popular tool to use to measure website traffic data is Google Analytics. It collects data such as the amount of time a visitor spends on your site, the bounce rate, and keywords or key phrases that were used to find your website. All this is very useful information that can be analysed and used to improve your website and increase traffic and sales.
It is important to realise that while there are some very excellent website data gathering tools available, it is up to you to take the time to do the in-depth analysis and apply it where needed. If you are able to hire someone to do the analysis for you, be sure they are qualified with significant experience. Remember, the bottom line of website maintenance is that you will either be spending time or money to ensure your website is secure and is running as optimally as possible.
Looking In The Mirror
Finally, investigate the benefits of Google Alerts. If you spent any amount of time creating and building a viable business, your brand, company name, and reputation are all valuable assets that you have to keep an eye on. By entering in your website address, Google Alerts will tell you who is linking to you, who is using your content (obviously not with your permission), and who on the Internet is talking about you – good and bad.
So start now to create and maintain a website maintenance plan. (Yes, maintenance plans need to be maintained too.) It has both short term and long term value, and will result in increased sales and traffic, while building your brand on the Internet, especially on social media. Whether you choose to spend time or money for the process, it will be realised as an investment.
Regular maintenance is a must if you want to avoid problems with website security and keeping your site fresh with new content will keep customers coming back for more. At RCS Websites we offer website care packages to help with all ongoing tasks, please take a look and ask any questions on the contact page form.