Websites these days are complicated with many moving parts. This does make them powerful – but it also means there are a lot of places where something can go wrong. This simple checklist, modeled off of our website maintenance services, is intended to give you a starting point.
Ongoing / Automated Tasks
- Uptime Monitoring
Presumably, you want your website to work, first and foremost. If customers can’t visit you, well, this is all kind of pointless isn’t it? We use an uptime monitoring service to automatically monitor all of our web sites 24/7/365 with no human effort required. We recommend UptimeRobot. It’s free for up to 50 website monitors checked every 5 minutes.
- Automated Backups
It’s important to keep backups. Server hard drives do crash and lose data, web hosting providers are hacked and lose customer files and backups. While it’s rare, the consequences are severe if it does happen.
The process of implementing automatic backups can vary quite a bit depending on your website and server platform, but if you’re using a standard platform like WordPress, consider using a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus to automate the process.
Frequent Tasks (Weekly or Monthly)
- Test Your Contact Forms
It’s quite frustrating to realize after days, weeks or even months that the contact form on your website is broken. In addition to the hassle of diagnosing and fixing the problem, there’s usually no way to recover the contacts you missed. If you’re running a business, this could mean serious lost revenue. Test these often!
- Check for Broken Links
While broken links aren’t an emergency, they are harmful. They’re frustrating to your users, they give the impression that you’re not actively maintaing your website, and they can hurt your search engine rankings. Make sure your links work! Luckily, there are automated tools that can help you with this, like brokenlinkcheck.com.
- Check for Spam Comments and Posts
Spammers are everywhere these days. If you leave your site unattended, they may find a way to post spam to your site. If you’re running WordPress for instance, you may have open comments sections that aren’t being monitored. Once spammers realize there’s an opening, they usually flood in. We’ve seen WordPress sites with hundreds of thousands of spam comments on them, accumulated over months or even years. Keep an eye on any area where you allow users to post comments or anything else!
- Run a Performance Test
It’s important that your website loads quickly. Your users will appreciate it, and it is good for your search engine rankings. We recommend that you test the performance of your website often, just to make sure it’s not getting bogged down. GTMetrix is a good tool to do this. Aim for an A or B.
- Run a Malware Scan
If you do get malware, the earlier you catch it, the better off you’ll be. Use a tool like Sucuri SiteCheck to scan your site on a regular basis.
- Post New Content and Update Old Content
Users and search engines alike love to see new content. It helps to establish that you are active, and keeps users engaged. We recommend posting a new article on your blog as much as possible – at least once per month at a minimum. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, as long as it’s useful, a little goes a long way!
We also recommend you skim over your old articles to see if there’s anything that could be updated or revised.
- Review Your Traffic Statistics
Keep a close eye on your traffic. A big boost in traffic is usually good news, and may indicate that there’s an opportunity to grab ahold of (although in rare cases it could be malware related). A sharp drop in traffic means you could have a technical issue causing users not to visit your website, or your search engine rankings have declined.
- Double Check Your Backups
Nothing is worse than realizing you’ve lost some data and need a backup, only to find that your backup solution hasn’t been working. Always double check to make sure your backups are being generated as necessary.
Infrequent Tasks (Yearly or More)
- Review Your Design and Navigation
Has anything changed that your website needs to reflect? Maybe your business is finding a niche. Maybe you’re phasing out some old products and services. It’s important to keep your website’s layout and navigation in line with your business goals.
- Review Your Search Engine Rankings
Assuming you have an interest in acquiring new customers, keep an eye on your search engine rankings for both your company name and other common terms that are known to bring customers to your website. It takes time to gain rankings, so if your ranking on any terms is lower than you’d like, the sooner you know the better off you’ll be.
- Test Your Site on Multiple Devices
Browsers and coding standards are constantly changing. It’s important to check your website from as many devices as possible on a regular basis to ensure that your website remains compatible with common browsing devices.
As always, your priorities are dependent on your website goals and structure, but these standard checks should be considered in the vast majority of cases.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!