What is Website Maintenance?
Simply put, website maintenance is the act of keeping your website updated and operating smoothly. Just as cars and computers need maintenance and updates, so do websites.
In this article, we’ll cover the following points:
- What website maintenance should include.
- Why it’s important to have a property maintained website.
- How to pick a website maintenance provider.
- How much you should expect to spend.
Why Is Website Maintenance Important?
A properly maintained website will provide a good user experience, free of errors, slowdowns and other problems, and contain only accurate and up to date content.
While developers tend to focus on the technical, at the end of the day, the purpose of your website is to provide an enjoyable, hassle-free experience for your users, so that they continue to browse your site and/or purchase your products or services.
As a source of free customer leads, search engine rankings are extremely valuable in this day and age.
One of the best ways to take advantage of the revenue generator that is your ranking is to keep your website properly maintained. Obviously, your website has to be up and running for search engines to recognize and link to it, but did you know that the following items can also affect your rankings?
- Site speed. Google has stated publicly that they do factor site speed into their rankings. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your rankings. A fast site will make both your customers and Google happy.
- Content integrity. Search engines look at obvious signs of neglect, such as broken links, malware infection and other errors, as negative factors when calculating your rankings.
- Frequency of content updates. Not only will keeping your content up to date give your customers confidence that you are still as active as ever, search engines consider it in their rankings for the same reason.
Malware has been a consistent problem, but in recent years, web based malware has really gotten out of hand. Don’t wait until you have a problem to start looking for solutions to an infected web site. Our proactive website maintenance services include regular software updates and other monitoring to help us nip malware problems in the bud, before they become an issue for your users. Often, all it takes is a proper software update schedule to keep malware out of your site.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
What does Website Maintenance Entail?
While requirement will differ per site, these are the basic things you should expect to get out of a website maintenance plan.
Web sites become stale. Search engine rankings begin to drop off. It’s important that you keep your website fresh with new content to keep up the appearance of activity and keep your readers engaged.
Uptime & Performance Monitoring
We monitor your web site for a number of issues. We’ll watch your web site to make sure it is up and running, loading fast, and free of broken links, malware and spam.
Going down entirely isn’t the only thing that can make your site inaccessible. Slowdowns can harm your traffic and search engine rankings. According to studies, 40% of users will leave a web site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
Things will break – that’s just a fact of life. Software becomes outdated, bugs are discovered, malware can even begin to creep in and cause problems. Our expert technical team specializes in maintaining web site software, to keep you up and running smoothly.
Error Diagnosis & Repair
It’s important that your site remain error and malware free. Even minor errors can tarnish your image and turn away customers. A proper website maintenance plan will include diagnosis and repair of any errors that may come up.
As you can see, there’s more that goes into keeping a website in good operating condition than simply throwing it online and paying for a hosting account.
How Much Does All of This Cost?
The cost of website maintenance can vary depending on the type of website you’re operating and the provider you choose.
For basic websites, maintained by a reliable and professional provider, you should expect to pay around $250 per month. While you can go cheaper, this will cover a more comprehensive service, giving you additional peace of mind.
For very busy or advanced websites requiring custom server setups, the cost can vary quite a bit. In most cases, you should expect to pay $500-1,000 per month, depending on complexity and frequency of updates required.
Some providers offer services as low as $50 per month. While these plans may be appropriate for light users, we recommend that businesses go for something higher end. These providers often use overseas support and tend not to be proactive, instead relying on you to do most of the leg work, and only making updates as specifically requested.
How to Choose a Provider
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an individual or company to handle your website maintenance needs.
There is no one size fits all solution. There are different kinds of providers out there, and based on the type of site you have and the level of service you require.
For a simple personal website, a local freelancer or cheaper company may be sufficient. If you’re running a busy e-commerce site, a site that generates high value leads for your business, or a custom application, you’ll probably want to go with an established firm with a track record of reliability and the technical ability to repair or upgrade your site when you need it most.
While having a local provider is not required, it is ideal, if circumstances allow it. A local provider is more accountable and many will be willing to meet with you to review your site and answer questions or provide other help.
Note that we do not recommend using offshore website maintenance providers. Language barriers, timezone differences and differing expectations are often issues with offshore providers.
We recommend taking a middle of the road approach on price. If you’re a small business, it’s probably not cost effective for you to spend thousands of dollars a month having your website managed. On the other hand, going too cheap has its own set of problems.
As with most things, we recommend buying for quality over price, as long as price is in the range of reasonable.