What is a website maintenance contract?
Basically it involves things like keeping plugins up to date, ensuring that the CMS code (usually WordPress) is up to date and patched to prevent future security issues, and the performance of regular tests to make sure the site continues to operate as intended.
How often should you update your website?
In this context, we are not talking about the design of your website but the upkeep of its software, which is vital to its security and function. You may have updated your website months back and thought, “Job Done”, not realising that it needs to be done regularly. We recommend at least once a week. It is not a once a year job like servicing your motor car.
Most business owners do not devote regular time to their websites. However, that can prove costly for your business if you are one of them. These days, many consumers check out the official website of any brands/business/company/product before making that buying decision. If you haven’t updated your site recently, it may lose ranking and be marked as suspicious or dangerous by the search engines and security software. This will, of course, make it difficult for you to find prospective customers.
Even if it has not been compromised it may contain broken links or non-functioning elements on its pages. This is a red flag to many shoppers who are these days getting very security conscious and it will very likely cause them to “run away” from your website.
Obviously, with your day to day business activities taking up most of your time, it is difficult to keep your website up-to-date even if you know how to do this without causing further issues yourself. If this is you, let me tell you that you have options. Instead of doing it yourself, you can opt for a website maintenance contract either with your website’s designer, or if you prefer, bring in another designer to do it for you. They will take care of all of of your updates and may even handle other website-related actions, e.g. editing, promotion and social media.
Before you make up your mind, go through some of the reasons why the website maintenance contract is a necessity these days. This is not an exhaustive list and you may also have your own reasons for going for a website maintenance contract.
1. Better Website Security:
One of the crucial tasks to complete from time to time is to update your content management system. Not only that, plug-ins and other such software also need updates from time to time. Every update of content management systems like WordPress and the plugins (even if they are inactive) offers quite a few things like:
- Sealing security loopholes that have been discovered recently
- New features that may provide useful function
- Efficient utilisation of resources
- Enhanced security features
Without these features, your website is vulnerable. Before you think that it will not happen with your website, let’s share an interesting stat with you.
According to Hiscox, hackers successfully attack one UK business every 19 seconds. That is over 4000 successful hacks in a day. Check out these two year old stats here. As you can imagine, it is worse now.
The best way to deal with this problem is to let a professional company handle the security of your website. By opting for a website maintenance contract, they will take care of the backups, content management system updates, plug-in updates, and so on. You will not have to worry about it and can get on with the running of your business.
Better security is one of the primary reasons why you should outsource your website maintenance.
2. Improves User Experience:
Have you inspected your website for broken images or links to non-existent pages or non-functioning software?
Is your website displaying errors on any page?
All these things deteriorate the user experience and as we know Google is all about user experience these days more than ever before. If the user experience is not optimum Google will not rank your website and users will not want to visit your website even if it does rank. In that case, your website traffic will go down month on month. It will start impacting your bottom line before very long.
Most companies offering website maintenance conduct a regular audit of your website. The audit lets them know about the broken elements and problems with your website that you may not be aware of. They will ensure that various aspects of your website work appropriately. Among other things these audits will include these basic elements:
- Image galleries
- Contact us forms
- Social media icons
- Newsletter signup forms
With these aspects of your website working properly, you can grow visitor numbers rather than lose them. The better user experience also provides you with an opportunity to gain social shares and backlinks. These, in turn, increase the visibility of your website further.
Better user experience also leads to a higher conversion rate. Consequently, the effect of a better user experience percolates down to your bottom line. This effect makes this maintenance necessary.
3. Increased Search Engine Traffic:
Google and other similar search engines prefer sites that regularly update or add content. So, if you have not kept your website’s software up to date and occasionally added some content, Google will notice and may assume that your website has been abandoned and an abandoned website is not something that they want to show in their search results.
When was the last time you added some content to your website?
As a business owner, you might simply not have the time to add content to your website. We understand that. However, some companies handle not only your corporate website but also its blog. They can update content regularly on your blog as well as on the business pages of your website. The regular rotation or addition of content certainly provides you with an edge over your competitors.
With this regular addition of content, you can get traffic from longtail keywords. That, in turn, will gain new customers. It is one way in which outsourcing website maintenance can help you get high search engine traffic.
However, there is another way.
Better user experience increases the time that users spend on your website. It decreases the bounce rate. The bounce rate denotes the percentage of visitors who close your website after going through just a single page of your website. It often happens when the website features are broken, or the site hasn’t been updated for some time. Regular updates decrease the bounce rate and increase the time which visitors spend on your website. It means the bounce rate would go down.
In general, websites with lower bounce rates rank higher in search engines. Therefore, once again, you will receive more visitors from search engines like Google.
4. Keeps Content Up-To-Date:
Most businesses launch new products or add new articles or offer something new from time to time. The problem is if you do not update your website, your prospective customers will not know about them.
These days, whenever a prospective customer hears about your business, they are highly likely to visit your website before engaging with your business in any other way. If your site is not updated, they might not be able to find what they’re looking for. In that case, they are unlikely to go ahead with their purchase decision.
There is no point in having 2015 details on your website in 2020. That will just cost you visitors and conversions. (Also,
after five years, your website is well overdue a complete redesign anyway) With updated content, your visitors will know about your new products and offerings. If you have an e-commerce page, the customers can directly buy the products as well.
The company that handles your website maintenance for you can do all of that for you. You need not devote your own time for the same. The latest content will undoubtedly benefit your business in the longer run.
5. Regular Backups?
What will you do if your website gets hacked TODAY ?
Do you have a recent backup of your website?
Most business owners do not even devote the time to create regular backups for their website. In case of data loss or a successful hacking attempt, they need to rebuild their website from scratch.
Can your business afford that if it happens today? Not just the cost of the replacement website, but the lost revenue dues to your website be closed until the new one can be launched. We are not even calculating the loss of reputation.
You can avoid this by just taking regular backups of your website. Since you aren’t able to devote the time to this, it is another thing that your website maintenance company will do for you. They can take regular backups for you and store them in your Dropbox account. It means that in the unfortunate event that there is a data loss or your website gets hacked, the restoration process will be quick and easy.
No need to wait for the new website or a big outlay to get your web designer to drop everything and rebuild your website for you. The cost of a website maintenance contract is much more affordable than the cost of a new website. Also, if your backup is recent and there have not been any changes since, you can may be up and running again as if nothing happened within minutes.
The negligible downtime also means that your search engine rankings will not dip. This cost-saving alone makes it economically viable to outsource website maintenance.
6. Much More Affordable Than Hiring an Employee:
Think about it for a minute! What choice you have?
You might have to hire an employee whose sole job is to look after your website. The salary of this an employee will be in tens of thousands of euros annually. Moreover, you will have to provide him/her with computer access and office space. Even if you let them work from home, the salary will still be a huge cost for your business.
On the other hand, hiring a professional website maintenance company frees you from all of that. Paying a fixed monthly fee to the company will free you from all these worries. You need not worry about dealing with an additional employee or training the employee or monitoring the employee. You can instead devote time to your business. Thus, even when you look at the alternatives, website maintenance outsourcing makes perfect sense.
As you can see from the highlighted above, the advantages of outsourcing website maintenance are undeniable. In fact, if you want your business website to remain online with a minimum of glitches, maintenance is a necessity. It will free you up from looking after your website.
Hiring a professional web designer to maintain your website can have numerous benefits. Here are some of them:
Expertise and Experience: A web designer has the expertise and experience to handle all aspects of website maintenance, from security updates to design changes. They have a deep understanding of web design principles, website architecture, and user experience. They can use their expertise to ensure that your website is running optimally and is attractive to your target audience.
Time Savings: Maintaining a website can be time-consuming and requires technical knowledge. By hiring a web designer, you can free up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. A web designer can handle all aspects of website maintenance, leaving you free to focus on your core business activities.
Customization: A web designer can customize your website to meet your specific needs. They can create a unique design that reflects your brand, optimize your website for search engines, and create custom features that enhance your website’s functionality. This customization can help to differentiate your website from your competitors and improve your brand image.
Responsive Design: With the rise of mobile devices, it is essential that your website is optimized for all screen sizes. A web designer can ensure that your website is responsive, meaning it can adapt to different screen sizes and devices. This ensures that your website is accessible to all users, regardless of the device they are using. Updates can sometimes interfere with the responsiveness of your website. A professional web designer can deal with these issues as they arise while updating your website.
Improved Website Performance: A web designer can optimize your website for speed and performance. This includes compressing images, optimizing code, and minimizing the number of server requests. Improved website performance leads to better user experience, increased engagement, and ultimately increased sales.
Updates can interfere with your website’s performance. This may be because of the new code clashing with existing code or the new code may be badly written and slow the website etc.
Hiring a web designer to maintain your website can as you have seen above have numerous benefits, including expertise and experience, time savings, customization, responsive design, and improved website performance. These benefits can help to ensure that your website is available, running optimally and attractive to your target audience.
What does a Website Maintenance Contract/Agreement usually include?
Software Updates: Extensive care is given to updating all software components of the website, including the CMS (Content Management System) and any installed plugins or scripts. This is crucial not only for ensuring the website’s functionality but also for security purposes. Software updates often include patches for known vulnerabilities, which are critical in protecting the site from new threats. Additionally, these updates can bring new features or improvements to the website, enhancing its overall performance and user experience. The process involves careful planning to ensure compatibility with existing website elements and thorough testing post-update to identify and troubleshoot any issues that arise. This proactive approach helps in maintaining a robust and up-to-date website.
Security Checks: Security is a paramount concern for any website, and regular security checks are vital in maintaining a secure online presence. This includes comprehensive scanning for vulnerabilities, timely application of necessary security patches, and constant monitoring for signs of unauthorized access or potential security threats. In addition to these reactive measures, a proactive approach to security might involve implementing advanced security protocols and practices, such as firewalls, SSL certificates, and secure coding practices. Regular security audits are also part of this process, ensuring that the website’s defenses are always up to the mark and capable of withstanding new and evolving cyber threats. This continuous vigilance helps in safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining the trust of website visitors.
Backup Services: Regular backups form an essential part of website maintenance, safeguarding against data loss and ensuring quick recovery in case of technical issues. The process involves creating and storing multiple copies of the website’s data at regular intervals. This not only includes the website’s files and databases but also encompasses email data, user information, and other critical data. The backup process is carefully structured to ensure minimal impact on website performance and is typically automated for efficiency. Regular testing of the backup restore process is also crucial to ensure that, in the event of a failure, the website can be quickly and fully restored to its latest state. Effective backup strategies provide peace of mind, knowing that the website’s data is secure and recoverable.
Content Management: Content is the heart of any website, and regular management is key to keeping a website dynamic and engaging. Content management in a maintenance contract covers a wide array of tasks, including updating existing content, adding new pages or posts, and managing multimedia elements like images and videos. This process involves not only the addition of fresh, relevant content but also the revision or removal of outdated or inaccurate content. Good content management practices ensure that the website remains relevant, informative, and appealing to visitors, which is essential for retaining and growing the website’s audience. Additionally, regularly updated content is a key factor in SEO, helping improve the website’s visibility in search engine results.
SEO Maintenance: Effective SEO maintenance is crucial for enhancing and sustaining a website’s visibility in search engine rankings. This involves a comprehensive approach, including regular analysis and optimization of keywords, ensuring the website’s content aligns with current SEO best practices. It also includes monitoring the website’s performance in search engine results, analyzing competitor SEO strategies, and adapting to changes in search engine algorithms. Regular updates to meta tags, descriptions, and titles, as well as optimizing website structure and link-building strategies, are part of this process. This continuous attention to SEO ensures that the website remains competitive in search rankings, attracting more organic traffic and potential customers.
Technical Support: Comprehensive technical support is an integral part of a website maintenance contract. This includes prompt assistance for any technical issues that arise, ranging from simple queries to complex problem-solving. Technical support encompasses various aspects such as troubleshooting website errors, resolving hosting-related issues, and updating website features or functionalities. A dedicated support team ensures that any technical glitches are addressed quickly, minimizing downtime and ensuring the website operates smoothly. This support is often available through multiple channels, including email, phone, and live chat, providing easy access for website owners.
Reporting and Analytics: Detailed reporting and analytics are vital for understanding and enhancing the website’s performance. This includes regular analysis of traffic data, user engagement metrics, conversion rates, and other key performance indicators. Reports provide valuable insights into visitor behavior, content popularity, and the overall effectiveness of the website. This data is crucial for making informed decisions about content strategy, marketing efforts, and website improvements. Regular analytics reporting helps in identifying trends, tracking progress towards goals, and adjusting strategies for better results.