We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: Your website is often the first impression a potential customer forms about your business. What does it say about your company if your website loads slowly, operates poorly and/or hasn’t been secured against vulnerabilities? Probably that your business is outdated, or even worse, that you don’t care about the user experience or even cyber safety of your customers. With this in mind, it’s crucial that your website is not only well designed, but also well maintained.
Your website is a reflection of your company’s image, and an interface with weak security and choppy functionality certainly doesn’t showcase your business in the best light. Think about it this way: In a well-manicured neighborhood, it’ll be difficult to sell the house overrun by weeds. For this reason, it’s critically important that regular website maintenance becomes a familiar facet in your company’s routine management.
Here are a few of our favorite tried-and-true website maintenance tips to help get you started:
Update Your Plugins
Outdated plugins serve as a detrimental one-two punch to your website. Not only do they not work as well as their newer versions, but they also open the door for potential cyber threats. Every outdated plugin you leave embedded on your website has the potential to slow down your page speed and interrupt the functionality of newer plugins that they may not be compatible with anymore. This is bad news for your business and your customers, but great news for cyber hackers who can use this outdated technology as a crack to infiltrate your website and extract potentially sensitive or harmful information.
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming plugins will update automatically on their own – it’s up to you to ensure they do. Make it a point to check the backend of your website’s hosting platform monthly to see if there are any plugin updates pending. If an update is brand new, consider waiting a few days so the plugin’s developers can identify and repair any bugs before they have the opportunity to create new issues on your website. Remember to back everything up prior to downloading any plugins to ensure your website is able to be restored to its previous state should something break during the update. On that note…
Backup Your Website
Think about every important file or document you currently have on your computer. If it’s something that would cause problems for you down the line if you were to lose them, there’s a good chance you have it backed up on an external hard drive, in the cloud or on another device. A website backup works the same way: It could cause major issues for your business if your website broke or went down completely, so creating a copy of your data prior to updating it ensures you have a working version to fall back on should something go awry.
The likelihood of a catastrophic crash during a routine update is low, but it certainly isn’t outside of the realm of possibility. There’s no neat and tidy “undo” button should something not go as planned during an update, so it’s better to be safe than very, very sorry when a problem arises.
Check For Broken Links
We’ve all been there: Scrolling on a website, finding a link to a page that interests you, only to be met with a “404 Error” when the page loads. Not only is this frustrating for you as a consumer, but it could also have major implications for that website in terms of SEO. Google loves outbound links, and rewards those websites that link to other websites with related content. If your website contains external links to pages that have since been removed, Google’s web crawlers will take note of it and your search ranking could take a hit.
If you have a small website with very few pages, routinely checking for broken links could be done manually or with a simple Chrome extension. Larger websites, however, will need the help of a tool or software that can identify broken links for you. No matter the method you choose, ensuring that every link on your website is working properly will help to improve both your user experience and your standing with search engines.
Change Your Passwords
It seems like one of the most obvious tips, but it’s also one of the most overlooked: Change your passwords! Website maintenance and security go hand in hand, as one cannot truly maintain the quality and integrity of their brand if it has been compromised by an outside source. Even still, a startling 29.4% of people surveyed by Digital Garden admitted they change their passwords “rarely or never”.
To keep your website safe and secure, strive to change your password at a minimum of one or two times per year. Make sure each new login is unique; if a hacker is able to access your website login, they can access any login of yours with those same credentials. On top of being unique, each new password should be complex – think “P4ssW0rD” instead of “password”.
Check Your Page Speed
As little as a one-second delay in a website’s load time reduces customer satisfaction by 16%. As if that wasn’t concerning enough, 25% of website visitors reportedly abandon a page that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Needless to say, a slow website is bound to be a struggling website. But how do you know what’s slowing down your load times?
Truth be told, there may be a plethora of causes making your website run slowly, and it could be challenging to pinpoint the culprit. Some common causes include everything from caching issues to large media files and too many competing scripts on a page. Some easy troubleshooting could be all it takes to remedy a slow page speed, but you may want to consider outsourcing this to a digital marketing agency with the specific tools to identify the root of the problem should it persist.
Scan For Malware
When it comes to cyberattacks, malware does not discriminate. Hackers aren’t looking for the biggest or most visited websites to infiltrate, they’re simply looking for the easiest websites to infiltrate. Even the most expertly designed and regularly updated websites can fall victim to a cyberattack – all it takes is one vulnerable crack to slip in unnoticed.
No matter how strong you think your website’s security measures might be, run malware scans regularly to be sure. If your scan identifies suspicious-looking files, delete them immediately and run the scan again to ensure they have been removed. Once you receive an “all clear,” backup your website while it is healthy and remind your team of your company’s cybersecurity protocols to lessen the likelihood of malware making its way back into your database again.
Website Maintenance: What’s The Next Step?
Needless to say, website maintenance is a crucial element of your business that you cannot afford to overlook. Neglect to maintain your website regularly, and you’ll be putting your business’ reputation – and potentially your customer’s trust – on the line. One question remains: What’s the next step?
That’s where we come in! Our team of digital marketing pros have helped hundreds of businesses safeguard their site and improve their functionality through routine website maintenance. Reach out to us to learn more about how a maintenance & security plan could be what your business needs to elevate your digital presence and improve your bottom line.