Seven Reasons Your Small Business Website Needs Maintenance

Seven Reasons Your Small Business Website Needs Maintenance

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Does your small business have a website? That’s great! While we won’t flatter ourselves with the belief that you took the advice in our blog post – “Why Your Small Business Needs a Website” – we do hope you’ll take the advice that follows. Because now that your small business has a website, it needs regular maintenance to keep it a valuable asset that will help bring customers through your doors – or order your goods or services, if your enterprise is strictly e-commerce.

As our blog post – “Why Website Maintenance Is Important” – points out, “Just like a car in need of repair won’t get you where you want to go, a website that’s behind on needed updates and adjustments won’t get you the leads and business you want – and can even cost you existing customers!”

As we’re also fond of saying, your website isn’t the Mona Lisa – a work of art to stand back from and admire once it’s built. It should be a dynamic environment that adapts to changing conditions. In the words of Mailchimp, “Website maintenance is the process of keeping a website up-to-date and running smoothly as well as performing optimally. Website maintenance includes tasks like ensuring all the links on your site are working, regularly updating content, and fixing any broken links. It also involves more general housekeeping tasks like backing up your site regularly and monitoring your site’s performance.”

With that so aptly said, here are seven reasons why your small business website needs maintenance.

1. Software Updates – Although most content management system (CMS) websites are easy to edit, they’re actually complex software applications. Just like the operating system on your computer, they need to be kept up to date for security and performance reasons. As SeeThrough Web notes, “In WordPress websites, this means regularly updating the core software as well as any plugins and themes (there is generally at least one official WordPress update every month). When doing so, always perform a backup first. That way, if there’s a hiccup, you can roll back to a working site version.”

2. Security Updates – As Siteimprove so succinctly puts it, “Outdated security patches and software are a hacker’s best friend.” For CMS websites, it’s critical that you run the most up-to-date version of your CMS to maintain a secure website. This ensures the latest security patches, plugins, and scripts are installed on your site in a timely manner and prevents your website from becoming an easy target for cyberattacks.

Keep in mind that you lose more than user data if your website is hacked – you also lose your company’s reputation and credibility while exposing users to identity theft and other types of cybercrime that can negatively impact them for many years.

3. Site Speed – This refers to the page speed for a sample of page views on a website. It is different from page speed – also known as page load time (the time it takes to fully display the content of a page) – or time to first byte (how long it takes a browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server). Why is this important? Because Google may be measuring time to first byte when it considers page speed – and, in turn, your website’s page rankings. Google has indicated that site speed is one of the signals its algorithm uses to rank pages.

Even more relevant is the finding that the average visitor will only tolerate a load time of up to two seconds before moving on to another site. Google’s engineers have found that potential customers will visit a site less often if it’s slower than that of a close competitor’s by more than 250 milliseconds. Among their other discoveries: even 400 milliseconds – literally the blink of an eye – is too long for website visitors to wait for a page to load! So perform the necessary fine-tuning of your website’s speed on a regular basis, or expect to fall behind. Our blog post – “Why Your Website Needs to Be Up-to-Speed” – covers this topic in detail.

4. Fix Broken Links – According to Siteimprove, “One of the biggest barriers to a positive customer experience is running into a broken link – especially on a top-level page. Besides interrupting the user journey, broken links can also hurt your SEO rankings, so it’s important to identify them as soon as possible. Broken link finders locate dead-ends across your site, helping you to fix them before visitors notice.”

5. Regular SEO Monitoring – This action is important to make sure that your website is visible in search engines. According to Mailchimp, “This includes tracking your site’s ranking, backlinks, and website traffic. SEO monitoring can help you identify potential problems and take steps to fix them. It can also help you track your progress over time and measure your success.”

Moreover, organic search best practices constantly evolve, and Google’s algorithm updates are frequent. For example, Google’s increasingly complex algorithms now search based on natural language or questions that users enter, rather than single keywords. This favors entering queries such as – “What do I look for in a quality widget?” – rather than “widget.” Regular website maintenance ensures that your pages – both new and old – align with ever-evolving organic search best practices and algorithm changes and climb up the search rankings.

6. Content Updates – You may not think about adding new content to your website as maintenance, but search engines consider it an indicator of an active website, and “reward” it with higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). That means people who are looking for what you’re selling will find your business faster! Truth be told, most people don’t continue their search beyond the first page of results.

So what kind of content makes search engines happy? Having a blog and posting to it on a regular basis – at least monthly – is an easy way to let Google know your website is alive and healthy! Our blog post – “Why Your Website Needs A Blog” – covers this topic in detail. Another way to add quality content is to update your website’s product/services descriptions – as well as your About Us and Team pages as needed – and remove outdated content (including the staff bio of the sales manager who left five years ago). “Outdated content can make your site look unprofessional and can turn away potential customers,” Mailchimp notes.

7. Full Website Backups and Disaster Recovery – You never know when or why disaster will strike, so be prepared for the worst-case scenario – such as losing everything on your website and having to rebuild from scratch. Making regular code backups helps to reduce the risk of data loss caused by domain issues, cyberattacks, natural disasters, or accidental deletion of content. Backing up all your files can be done manually, or through an automated service.

The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion

Establishing a website maintenance schedule and sticking to it will not only ensure your website is running at peak performance, but will give it every advantage of being a lean, mean lead generation machine – or a fast, efficient means of driving traffic to your brick-and-mortar location! And now that you know a blog is a very important element, you might be interested, but don’t have the time, inclination or wordsmithing ability to confidently do it yourself.

If you’d rather leave this sort of work to the pros, that’s what we’re here for! Virtual Stacks Systems offers website design, website redesign, content writing and regular maintenance – as well as many other services. Contact us to learn more.

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