Top 10 Best Practices for Website Maintenance and Upkeep

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Creating a website for your business or service takes time, patience, and a good deal of marketing savvy.  Best left to professional web developers, the design, build-out, then deployment of a great-looking, user friendly, easily navigable website requires a solid background in web technology, software, marketing, visual design, JavaScript, html, content creation, SEO, and, well, the list goes on and on.

Website developers appreciate the complexity and skills necessary to build a great website.  They also understand that websites need to be regularly refreshed, upgraded, optimized, and given a complete “health check-up” several times each year.

Care & Maintenance of Your Website

Much like you would visit your doctor to receive a regular check-up once or twice a year, your website also needs a thorough check-up at least once a year, preferably twice per year. Maintaining your website’s health means checking to ensure everything is working as its intended. It allows you to identify any concerning issues in order to make repairs, add improvements or download updates before any issue becomes a severe problem.

If you are a small business owner or operator, you know how important your website is when it comes to your overall success.  Potential customers or clients can spend literally hours online searching for a product or service that fits their needs.  Websites that don’t show up in a search or have broken links to in-depth information can cost you money.  That’s why website maintenance is essential for keeping your site running smoothly and glitch-free.

Here are just a few of the most important practices you should incorporate into your annual and semi-annual “to do” list to make sure your website maintained well and is working up to par.

1. Evaluate the Overall Website Performance

Evaluate website performance as it relates to how it functions for users who, by the way, are all potential customers.  Does it keep them on your site for a good length of time?  Is it easily navigable?  Does it present your product or service effectively?  

There are five basic ways for you to evaluate how your website performance level could be improved.  Take a look at your website with “fresh eyes” to determine if all of these points are functioning optimally.  Be critical and judgmental…your users will be, so you need to be too.

  • Good, eye-catching design
  • A clear call to action
  • Engaging content that tells a story
  • Organic search rankings
  • Mobile-Optimization
  • SEO rankings

Best practice?  A good-looking, highly functioning, fully maintained website is a major key to your success.

2. Perform User Testing

Get your friends and family to browse your website as test users. Does it function quickly and easily?  Are the links working?  Do the photos load quickly?  Is the content easy to understand?  Is the call to action strong enough?  

Once you get their feedback, you should have a list of issues that might need to be tweaked to bring your website up to optimum performance.  Friends and family provide another set of “fresh eyes” and can be very helpful in the process of evaluating how good (or bad) your website looks.  They can let you know if your site adequately and clearly provides the product or service information you are offering and they can highlight any issues with how the site functions between pages or links.  

Best practice?  Put your test user’s insights into action as soon as possible.

3. Domain Name Ownership

Check your domain name renewal status.  This sound obvious, doesn’t it?  But you would not believe the number of businesspeople who forget to renew their domain name registration and then end up losing access to their own website for days at a time.  When a domain name expires, it becomes inactive immediately and all the services attached to it cease to function. You can’t make any updates or changes to the domain while it is expired.  And you certainly can’t do any business.

Imagine wasting all the hard work and the success you’ve accomplished building your website’s authority and rankings. Imagine nurturing your company’s brand and then not being able to give users access your website.  You’ll have 30 days after your registration expires to renew your domain.  But, even if your website is down for a few hours or a few days, it can severely hurt your reputation.  And it will definitely hurt your sales.

Best practice?  Set up an automatic domain contract renewal.  It’s easy and will save you future headaches.

4. Performance Metric Maintenance

Here’s a checklist of things to consider when determining your website’s effectiveness:

  • Overall traffic numbers
  • Organic traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Average length of time spent on your website
  • Average page views per visit
  • Views to sales conversions
  • Keyword rankings
  • Website speed
  • Broken links
  • Backlinks
  • Any repairs needed
  • Software updates
  • Mobile-Optimization
  • SEO
  • Tracking and analytics
  • Functionality, relevance, and accuracy

Best practice?  Mark your calendar for a twice a year checkup so you don’t forget to perform these necessary actions.

5. Update Your Header, Footer, and Legal Policies

Your website header most likely displays your logo, your address, phone number and hours of business.  It could also contain the menu for your website or taglines under your company name.  Keeping the header up to date is very important.  

You want your website users to immediately recognize your business by the name and logo posted there, get a feeling for what you do, and stop by while you’re open for business.  The header is also a great place to highlight the categories or “sub-titles” of the business you’re in.  Headers need to be reviewed for accurate information, so you don’t lose reputation and revenue.

Your website footer probably includes your website’s security certification, any copyright information, and links to other pages within your site. You want to keep these up to date as well.  Many companies put “About Us” or “Contact Us” or “Directions” links on the footer.  

Your Privacy Policy or Terms of Service may need to be updated as laws are different in every state and can frequently change.  This is your chance to catch any outdated legalese and refresh it before dated or invalid information gives the wrong message.

Best practice?  Proof-read and update headers and footers.  Run your service and privacy policies by your lawyer.  Better safe than sorry.

6. Test Links to Any Forms

When online website forms are filled out and returned by users, they help to generate leads for your business or service.  Leads can be converted to sales. If you have any contact forms so that visitors can reach out to you, if you have forms for users to get more detailed information or that request a free quote on a particular product or service, or ask for a digital brochure to be sent, you want to be sure your forms work properly.

Best practice?  Try filling out a form on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to make sure the form works on all devices. Also, check to make sure the form gets to the person it’s supposed to go to and doesn’t get lost in the Internet.

7. ecommerce testing

If your website features an eCommerce function, you’d better be sure that the sale can be completed with ease.  Test purchase an item or two on all types of digital devices and on several different browsers to be sure that the transaction can be completed.  You can lose money if you don’t catch, and then quickly fix a problem in your purchasing function. 

Your website has been created to showcase your business, market your brand, and to convert user views to sales.  Don’t lose the opportunity because you haven’t maintained your eCommerce functions properly.

Best practice?  Find and fix eCommerce problems quickly.  Optimize your product imagery and provide accurate product information.  Make it easy to choose, price, and then purchase whatever the user has placed into their shopping cart.

8. Fix Broken Links

Over time, every website develops issues.  That’s just the way it is.  Cars need tune-ups, teeth need fillings, websites need maintenance and upkeep.  Broken links on your website, click-thrus that don’t work, these make your business look unprofessional.  Anything not working on your website leads users away from your homepage.  

The best way to keep your potential customers engaged and perusing your sales offerings is to perform website maintenance on a regular basis.  Broken links can be easily found, then fixed or replaced with ones that work efficiently.  Links should be updated every few months anyway to keep them fresh and up to date.  There’s nothing worse than a link that’s old, outdated, and probably has been replaced with newer recommendations or other professional information that adds credence to your content.

Best practice?  Maintain and update your links. Don’t send a user or potential customer to content that is outdated.  Keep your links fresh, in good working order, and make sure they support your call to action.

9. Don’t Forget Security Updates

One of the top practices necessary to website maintenance is a complete and in-depth checkup on its security.  You want your website to be secure for its users.  Free from malware, viruses, and other security breaches that can wreak havoc on your site and be transferred to their devices.

Securing your website and keeping it safe and secure must be a priority for anyone doing business via a website today.  Passing along viruses, tempting hackers onto your site, dealing with customers private information and credit card numbers, your website’s security not only affects your business but it also affects those who do business with you as well.

Consistent security software updating, checking security on all your platforms, links, plug-ins, and scripts should be number one on your maintenance and upkeep checklist.

Beat practice?  Be sure to install any newly released updates or patches to your website security programs.  Check for any vulnerabilities on a monthly basis.  Do whatever it takes to keep your website and its users safe.

10. Website Backup

Three words: backup, backup, backup.  We’ve all lost spreadsheets or pages of content because we goofed and hit the wrong button on our computer.  The same thing happens with websites. Entire sites can be backed up and saved for all time….or lost with just one click or one hacker wiping you out.  And putting it all back together again is not only time consuming and costly, but it can also turn customers and potential sales away from your website forever.

Part of maintaining and keeping up best website practices is making sure you safeguard you and your business from losing all of your precious work.  There are many website backup solutions on the market today. Some are automatic and take no thought at all.  Others require you to manually backup your website.  Either way, backing up your website, saving all your hard work and your customer information should be another entry on your calendar, and it should be done at least once a month or even once a week.

Best practice?  Backup.  Backup.  Backup. 

Bottom Line

You’ve built and launched a company website to achieve a purpose.  To drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar business, to provide online eCommerce availability for your products or services, to build your company brand and reputation.  For visibility and for successful business transactions.

By regularly checking, updating, and maintaining your website, you can ensure that your site is running at full capacity.  No broken links.  No glitches.  No out-of-date content.  

Website maintenance is crucial to ensure your site’s security, increase the overall number of users and the time they spend on your site, to boost returning traffic, and of course, to create sales.  Website maintenance is one of the most important keys to your success.

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