Whether your website has just launched or it’s been running for years, properly maintaining and updating your site is crucial to making sure everything runs smoothly.
Websites aren’t something you can ‘set it and then forget it.’ They require regular maintenance because they work best when they are frequently updated to ensure performance and security. Think about it for a second. You maintain your health, your car, and even your hair. You apply software and security updates to your phone and computer – all so they stay secure and continue to function efficiently.
Your business’s website is no different. While the initial website project is central to creating a sturdy foundation, the ongoing maintenance, upkeep, and changes are where you’ll begin to see your site grow.
Plus, that is where you’ll begin to maximize the return on your investment. Here’s why.
Always Give Off the Right Impression for Your Business
Like meeting someone, first impressions are just as important within the digital space.
If a prospect or customer visits your site, it is the equivalent of having a guest over in your home. What are they going to see and subsequently judge you on?
Has it been over two years since you posted a blog, making your site look old and dated? Are there broken elements to your site, or even worse, do your site’s pages take a longer-than-average time to load?
If so, you are conveying the message that you do not care about your website’s ‘guest’ and their experience. Conversely, you show that your company can stay on top of things when all your information is fresh, and everything is up-to-date.
Boost Your Ranking in Search Engines to Drive More Traffic
Search engines look for fresh, updated content. So, the more often you update your website, the more search engines will know what frequency in which to crawl your website. This gives you the opportunity for higher, more frequent rankings.
The reverse is true as well. If you haven’t updated your site in a while or your site has become a security risk, the search engines will crawl less frequently or even penalize you in their search rankings.
Moz has a great post on how fresh content can influence your rankings.
Ensure Your Site is Secure to Protect from Hackers
We’ve saved the most important section for last. Whether you are using a CMS (content management software like WordPress) or any web-based software, it is vital to keep it updated with the latest security patches and bug fixes.
Hackers are looking to break into a website and upload Trojan and malware for use in their other attack schemes. It doesn’t matter if you have an e-commerce site or a simple 3-page site, hackers will take advantage of you if you make it easy for them.
One of the primary ways hackers can gain access is through outdated software. The last thing you want is for your prospects or customers to get infected by software downloaded from your site. Plus if Google detects malware, they will delist your site until the issues are fixed (which is not a fun process).
Protecting Your Business’s Website 101
So, what can you do to help protect your site? We recommend the following:
1. Backup, Backup, Backup
Always backup your system (or have a web company or plugin help if you don’t know how). If something breaks in the update process or if you are hacked, your backup will become your best friend – or your worst nightmare if you failed to backup your site.
2. Keep Up with the Latest Security Updates
Keeping your site secure with the latest security patches is essential. Always test after updates as well to ensure the updates are applied correctly and the site is still functioning.
3. Log Out of Your Admin Console
Just because you exit a browser window does not mean you’ve logged out of your admin console. Always be sure to log out of your session before closing your browser window to help prevent hackers from being able to track you.
4. Use Secure Login Credentials
Don’t use ‘admin’ for a username and ‘password1’ for your password. Having secure login credentials will help prevent hackers from being able to take advantage of these easy to guess security risks. (ProTip: Use a password manager like LastPass to create and keep track of secure passwords).
5. Remove Unused Extensions, Plugins, and Users.
It happens from time to time. You will install an extension to test it, but you never go back to uninstall it when you are done with your testing. Hackers love to target inactive extensions and plugins because they usually are vulnerable and not up-to-date with the latest security patches.
The bottom line goal? Don’t be a hacker’s ‘low-hanging fruit!’
Adding new content to your website and making certain your website maintenance is properly carried out will consistently improve its performance and increase your return on your investment.
If you aren’t technically oriented, we recommend you engage in a maintenance agreement with a web development agency with the proper skills and understanding to keep your system up-to-date, backed up, and secure.
At HeadsUp Marketing, we offer website maintenance services and would be happy to discuss with you how we can help you get the most out of your site and investment.