March 9, 2020

A Necessary Evil – Website Maintenance Plans

Website Down, Red Alert

We know this topic is NOT going to be the most popular for most businesses, but if you’ve ever had an issue with your website – you’ll know why it’s so important. 

We’re talking about….ongoing website maintenance and security. (I can hear the groans now). 

It’s not as fun to spend your budget on website maintenance compared to search marketing, broadcast, sales collateral, re-branding – we get it. But here’s why it’s so important: 

  1. Monthly Software Updates. Whether it’s plugins, WordPress core, browsers like Chrome and Firefox, or even the PHP versions, the technology world around your website is constantly evolving and it will take effort to keep your website up to date in perfect working order. Your site was built with specific guidelines in place at the time of launch, and if something major changes it has the potential to cause your site to crash. Regular software updates ensure that as the internet around you continues to evolve, your site is accessible, compliant, and running just as well as the day it was launched.
  2. Backups. Have you ever made a serious flub on your website, lost data due to hardware, software, or human error and wish you could roll back time? With regular backups, that’s a real possibility. We maintain frequent (generally daily) back-ups along with a duplicate staging site so that you can test changes out in a safe, private environment before rolling out on your live production site.
  3. Security. Our team installs and reviews reporting from security plugins to help defend your website from bad actors. We can block IP addresses, require two-factor authentication, and limit login attempts, among other strategies to help keep your website safe.
  4. SSL Certification. If you are accepting any kind of data on your website, meaning you have any sort of contact form or e-commerce, you are going to want to make sure you have an up to date SSL certificate installed on your website. Even if you don’t accept data, Google’s ranking algorithm gives sites with SSL a boost. You don’t want to see “Page Not Secure” next to your site in a browser.
  5. Avoid downtime. A variety of different issues can cause a site to go down, and when it does, you want to know about it before your clients do. Our team receives alerts the moment it happens, and can address any issues with the hosting provider on your behalf.
  6. Keep a web developer actively engaged with your site. A large part of what inspired us to offer maintenance plans was our clients coming back to us 2-3 years post-launch with a host of updates that needed to be made, some of which had been unknowingly causing them problems for months, and realizing they needed a lot of work just to get the site to a place where we could make those updates. The internet is going to change, and change rapidly. WordPress, web browsers, operating systems, and cyber threats that we address in an initial launch will all continue to evolve and advance, and having a monthly touch point with your website allows us to respond to problems much more quickly, if not prevent them entirely.
  7. Continuous Improvement. One of the options available on our maintenance plans is Google Analytics reporting and insights. Our team builds a simple performance dashboard that tracks your most important KPIs, and provides insights and recommendations on how to improve your site’s performance and a better experience for your users. Are visitors spending a lot of time on certain pages, but not converting? Maybe it’s time to review your CTA’s and page content to ensure you’re giving them the information they need. Are people trying to click on things that aren’t clickable? Clearly they’re searching for more information about something, and your site just doesn’t have that depth. Did your organic leads just stop coming in? Perhaps Google rolled out an algorithm update that dropped you from the first page, and we need to restructure our SEO plan to respond to those changes. Not sure which calls are coming from your digital ads, compared to organic search? Let’s install call tracking from CallRail to track ROI from your paid search specifically. There are always opportunities to improve your user’s experience, drive more leads, and communicate more efficiently based on real-time data…as long as you’re looking. 

Think of a website maintenance plan as insurance, with the positive return of the stock market – it’s there to cover you in case something bad were to happen, but pays dividends when you find an opportunity to make proactive changes. In today’s world, small and mid-sized businesses are increasingly becoming the primary targets of cyber attacks – so it’s less a matter of if, and more a question of when.You just invested time and money into the launch of an amazing new website, and ongoing maintenance isn’t the most fun way to spend your marketing budget. But the real question is – does it make sense NOT to at least update your software, secure your data, look for new opportunities, and protect your investment, once a month?