Your website is acting as your best employee, online 24/7. The employee that’s advertising your business to the world. The employee that’s attracting new prospects. The employee that’s converting those prospects into customers. The employee that’s selling products to your customers. If you had one employee doing all this, you’d want to look after them, right? So it makes sense to look after your website, writes Dave Graham.
Because your website is built on software, and because all software needs maintenance, you need to ensure the software your website is built on is also maintained. Failure to do so could result in devastating consequences to your business.
Many vegan bloggers and small business owners often make the fatal mistake of ignoring maintenance when it comes to their website. They maintain their cars by getting them serviced regularly. But for some reason they tend to think that once their website is live, that’s it.
Here are a few risks of ignoring maintenance on your website:
Plummeting search engine rankings
Google is constantly changing its algorithms for how it ranks search engine results. We’ll never know the inner workings, but we do know they penalize slow websites (as well as websites that aren’t mobile friendly). In order to keep your website performing well, it needs to be maintained.
Your prospects lose patience
You prospective customers won’t hang around waiting for your slow website to load. They’ll soon be off to your competitors’ sites.
Damaged brand image
Your website is the face of your business. It reflects you, your business and your brand. If your website was unavailable for two weeks, what would your potential customers think? Or even worse, if your website was hacked and was re-directing visitors to your competitors (or an adult site), it could be disastrous.
Bye bye website!
Hackers are always ready with their malware to try and attack your website. If they succeed and gain access, delete all the content and replace it with their own, unless you have a backup that works, you’ve lost your site and will need to rebuild it all from scratch.
Website maintenance tips
Keep software updated
Software is updated daily. We update it on our smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers because we don’t want to risk our devices getting infected by viruses or malware and to keep them running smoothly.
The same is true for your website software. WordPress, which powers more than 23% of the world’s websites, now has the ability to keep itself updated.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be careful if enabling automatic updates as you may find incompatibilities between plugins which can mess up your site. It’s always best to take a copy of your site, update the software and test before doing it on your live site.
Backups are like insurance. Hopefully you never need them, but when you do, you want to know they’ll work. That means you need to be assured that you can restore from your backups in such an event. Having a working backup means you can re-create your website on a different host within 24 hours.
Make sure your backups exist somewhere other than your website hosting server, just in case that server crashes or has been compromised.
RECOMMENDATION: We recommend using GoogleDrive, or AmazonS3 as a low-cost secure solution for storing backups.
Ensure your website is regularly scanned and monitored for malware, and always choose a hosting provider that protects its servers accordingly.
RECOMMENDATION: Choose a hosting provider that isolates your account from other vulnerable accounts, and applies critical patches on your site for you. This type of hosting costs a little more, but it’s certainly worth it.
Protect your access
Choose strong passwords, and if you’re running WordPress, don’t use the username of ‘admin’ as this is a common way hackers can gain access to your site, since they only need to guess the password, not the username as well.
RECOMMENDATION: If you’re using WordPress, add the Limit Login Attempts plugin to prevent hackers trying to guess your credentials.
Though it may seem to you that one or two broken links here and there isn’t a big deal but you never know where your visitors may click and end up disappointed. Even worse, Google starts to penalize you for out-of-date content in its search results.
RECOMMENDATION: Check your website on W3C Validator for broken links.
Nobody likes a slow website. Our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter and this is particularly true for people browsing the web on mobile devices. Your prospects will likely give up waiting for your site to load and go elsewhere.
Also, Google may penalize your search engine results if your site is slow. Run your site through one of the online speed testing tools and fix the items it reports.
RECOMMENDATION : Run a speed test of your site on Pingdom Tools.
If you’re not maintaining your website regularly, some of this may seem overwhelming. But it’s important to address these issues now, rather than wait for a catastrophe to happen.