Does your company need website maintenance? To be blunt, yes. It really does.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you don’t have anything in place. That’s bad. But the good news is it’s never too late.
Success online is maintained, not achieved. If you’re ranking number one with search engines right now, you have to constantly fight to keep that position and keep earning it.
And if your e-commerce store is converting lots of sales, you need regular website maintenance to keep things that way and ensure the faucet doesn’t suddenly shut off.
Don’t listen to anyone who will have you believe that your website is a “set it and forget it” type of thing. You need to be constantly auditing, measuring and changing things to make sure everything is copacetic.
Here is a breakdown of what exactly website maintenance includes, why your business needs it, and why it’s overdue if you don’t have it now.
What Is Website Maintenance?
Simply put, it’s hiring a digital agency to look after your website, and give it the ongoing TLC it requires to serve your needs and your customers’ needs.
This may include things like:
- Graphic and content editing
- The creation of new pages
- Link management
- SEO suggestions
- Web hosting
- Meta tag management
- Customer support
Why do you need it?
Search Engines Keep Evolving
Every month, Google announces it’s doing something different for businesses. No matter what it is, it’s a change that can help your business if you’re on top of things. Or it, it can help the “Other Guys,” if you’re not on top of things.
Heck, even the experts have a tough time keeping up. SearchEngineLand’s Julie Joyce recently confessed, “Even the most seasoned of SEO professionals know that simply keeping up with best practices is very time-consuming.”
She added, “I live and breathe SEO, but as someone with a primary focus on link building, there are many times when I refer something out because it’s too far outside of my knowledge.”
So the playbook of SEO best practices is pretty much rewritten every month, and constant website maintenance is the only way to make sure your site isn’t being held back by SEO tactics that are, “So 2016.”
Some of the common SEO tactics people swore by for years are now out-dated, and can now actually hurt your site. For example:
- Over-optimized anchor links: Stop using “Best Pizza Chicago” and use something more organic
- Keyword density: Google no longer cares if your keyword makes up 2.5% of your text. So you don’t have to care either
- Link Farms: Irrelevant links at unrelated sites are no longer any good to you. We’ll get more into that later
Regular website maintenance ensures you’re not using yesterday’s tactics to win today’s SEO war. You need a team that eats and sleeps SEO tactics, so you can focus on what you do best.
Prevention Is the Best Medicine
Did you know that you can save 12-18% by investing in preventive instead of reactive maintenance? And that’s just the average. You can save a lot more when something big happens.
For example, let’s take the Google Penguin update that happened a few months ago. Basically, Google cracked down on “spammy” links. For example, exact match keywords on unrelated sites, or the use of link farms.
While not ideal, these two practices above were pretty common link building tricks that a lot of companies were using to build their SEO.
So what happened when the Penguin update started filtering these old links? A lot of companies suffered and didn’t know why. They simply saw their keyword ranking drop across the board.
However, companies that saw the changes coming were able to take preventative steps to make sure they weren’t hurt by the update. This included auditing all of their links and making sure their link building strategy was up to date.
These proactive companies not only saw no punishment from Google, they also gained a very fast advantage over the companies who still had spammy links; at little to no cost.
Meanwhile, the companies who were having to react to the change were losing the SEO war. By losing this ground, they were basically sending web traffic directly to the people who were doing things the right way.
Regular website maintenance keeps you ahead of these changes. This gives you a huge advantage over more complacent companies that are playing catch-up as the rules and best practices change.
… Or companies with proactive website maintenance can have an advantage over you. The choice is yours.
Cyber Thieves Don’t Rest
Regular website maintenance is also the only true way to properly protect your website from hackers and other attacks.
Your anti-virus software isn’t enough to protect you these days. Hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to infiltrate your network and do a whole lot of damage once they’re there.
Here are some stats that should scare you into taking cyber security seriously:
- In the third Q of 2016 alone, 18 million new malware samples were captured
- 78% of workers say they know the phishing risks of unknown links in emails… but went ahead and clicked the link anyways
- 52% of organizations that suffered attacks in 2016 aren’t making any changes to their security in 2017 (Seriously?!)
- Of those companies, 45% expect their security budget to stay the same and 7% expect the budget to decrease
- More than 4,000 ransomware attacks happen every day… and they’ve happened every day since 2016
If you’re not familiar with ransomware yet, it is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a type of software that blocks your access to a computer system until you pay a sum of money to unlock things.
A solid website maintenance plan will make sure you’re doing your best to stay on top of the latest malicious tactics while protecting your customers’ private information and your company’s reputation.
Website Maintenance Helps You Catch Broken Links and Images
Is your website crawling with dead links and broken images?
If it is, that’s bad news when Google is crawling you.
These two things are not just unprofessional, they also hurt your search engine optimization in a big way. Also, broken links and 404 pages often point to a bigger problem you need to be aware of ASAP.
As Google’s Webmaster blog advised, “For example, if some of the pages that 404 are pages you actually care about, you should look into why we’re seeing 404s when we crawl them!”
“If you see a misspelling of a legitimate URL (www.example.com/awsome instead of www.example.com/awesome), it’s likely that someone intended to link to you and simply made a typo.”
For example, do you have any image links embedded from Photobucket? If you do, you now have a big mess to clean up.
Back in June, they changed their subscription tier, meaning millions of images are no longer going to load outside of Photobucket’s own site unless you pony up for a subscription.
As PCMag reported in late June, “Photobucket changed its terms and conditions and removed the 3rd Party Hosting feature from the lower subscription tiers.”
“If you want to continue using that feature, then a Photobucket Plus 500 subscription is required. It costs $39.99 per month or $399 per year.”
And even if you pay for the service, you still have to go back and audit all the old images.
Unless you have a website maintenance plan in place, you could go weeks or even months without knowing this or knowing why it happened.
Photobucket’s change has already cost a lot of businesses a lot of money. Many used their Photobucket in their Amazon and eBay images, and some businesses called the policy change charging a “ransom demand.”
How much business has been lost because of these broken images? And how much do you think you would lose if you went weeks without noticing?
Regular Website Maintenance Means You Can Stay on Top of Web Trends
Web design trends keep changing for a reason. The best web design minds in the world are always striving to find new ways to make our websites load faster, look sexier and work better.
Every year, you can pretty much throw away last year’s playbook. And what happens when you don’t react to design trends? You lose business to the people that do.
Let’s go back to 2009, shall we? It doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was on the big screen and Taylor Swift was the Billboard Music Artist of the Year. Do you remember what websites looked like?
You had to work a lot harder to find what you wanted. Today’s sites present info in an “at a glance” sort of way. Sites quickly became less text-heavy, with more images.
Ok, now let’s go back to 2015. What’s changed since then? Was your site designed prior to then?
According to Entrepreneur.com, “In 2015, websites began to abort the ‘above the fold’ mentality (important content is all placed in the top sections of the page so you don’t have to scroll) and truly became interactive.”
This trend is helping visitors make a purchase (or at the least, purchase decision) in a single visit, and in fewer clicks than it took them 2 years ago.
You want to be on the right side of these trends. And website maintenance is one of the best ways to do so.
User Experience Is an Evolving Science
Like web design, user experience (UX, to those in the know) best practices are written on whiteboards and wiped away faster than most normal people can keep up with. So you need a website maintenance team to keep up for you.
If you’re not investing in your user experience right now, you need to. It’s the science of knowing how your users want to use your website, versus the experience they’re actually having.
Mastering this science can help literally every aspect of your digital footprint, including your:
- E-commerce site
- Product pages
- PPC ads and campaigns
- Social media and blogs
As Karen Clark Cole of Forbes.com recently wrote, “But make no mistake. UX isn’t just the latest fad – it’s revolutionizing business. All business including government, healthcare, and even the finance industries.
“In the last year, two major banks made the commitment to not only focus on UX to make their digital products better, but to transform the entire financial industry by prioritizing UX end-to-end.”
And user experience isn’t something you do right the first time and forget about. Far from it. You need to constantly keep measuring and making changes to optimize your UX.
Where are your users/ buyers clicking the most? Why? Where are they dropping off in the user journey? Why? How do we fix this and guide them to where we need them to be?
The answers to the problems above will constantly keep changing, so you need to keep asking the questions.
Website maintenance Helps You Stay on Top of Local Listings
You would be amazed how many companies have old or outdated contact information on their contact us page. This kills your local SEO, as Google literally doesn’t know where you are anymore.
Google factors in a searcher’s physical location when shoppers are searching for local businesses. That means when people are out and about on their smartphones and looking for you, they will be sent to your competitors’ websites.
Which means you’re pretty much gift-wrapping incredibly qualified leads to the other guys. These searchers are looking for your business, at the exact moment they’re ready to make a purchase or purchase decision. And you’re not there.
Website maintenance makes sure these things are up-to-date. They can also make sure your About Us or Our Team pages don’t have any old or outdated information as well.
As you can see, your website is a living, breathing animal that needs constant care and attention. You’re too busy running your business to give it the attention it needs. So trust website maintenance experts to do it for you. Get in touch!