Performing regular website maintenance is essential for staying relevant online. It will also help your business maximize the ROI of your website for years to come.
However, the work does not stop once you launch your brand new site. Without regular website maintenance, it will slowly decay –along with your brand’s image. For your website to produce results for your business for years to come, you must properly maintain it.
In this post, we’ll discuss essential website maintenance tasks you should focus on. We recommend setting a recurring calendar reminder at least once a quarter to go through the below and keep your website up to date.
Check For Broken Links
As your website ages and your content backlog grows, links are likely to become broken and outdated.
This is especially true if you produce a lot of content, or you have changed your domain name/structure in the past.
When a user clicks on a broken link, they will be redirected to a 404 page. This dead-end on your site can lead to frustrating user experience, so it’s best to put a message that fits your brand along with content or a contact button, so people don’t leave your website.
Fortunately, looking for broken links on your website doesn’t need to be a long and tedious process.
Google Analytics and other tools in the market make it simple to find out how often users on your site encounter the 404 error and what links they are clicking on that are broken.
See here for a step by step process on how to find and fix broken links.
Make Sure Your Forms Still Work
Having forms on your website is what allows you to convert visitors to your website into inbound sales leads. Forms are great because they allow people to get in touch with you quickly.
People generally appreciate them as they make contacting a business an easy process and they don’t need to go digging around the site for your contact info. This increases the number of people that will contact your business just because there is less work for them to do.
It’s best to set your forms up so that when they are filled out, the right members of your team get an email notification so they can follow up with the prospect.
As time goes on, sometimes forms on websites can stop loading or the formatting will start to look weird. With staff changes, overtime the right people may not get added to the form notifications.
Whatever the case may be, it’s vital that you keep your forms up to date and make it a regular part of your website maintenance. Not doing so could cause you to lose out on potential sales and hurt your bottom line.
Regularly Perform Usability Testing
You might think you have the best designed website in your industry. Maybe you do, but do the people that use your website agree?
That’s where usability testing comes in. Also, it’s one of the most crucial website maintenance tasks on this list.
Usability testing allows you to see and evaluate how people use your site. This will enable you to discover issues users may have with your website, such as confusing design and forms that have too many fields.
With usability testing, you can discover problems with your website based on the real-world use of your site’s visitors. From here, you can make changes to your site, such as redesigning the layout or elements on the page to provide a better user experience. This will allow you to keep people on your site longer and ultimately increase the likelihood of them becoming a lead.
If you notice your website as a whole or individual pages have a high bounce rate, usability testing is a must.
To perform usability testing on your website, we recommend the free tool Hotjar. Hotjar allows you to see heat maps on your website indicating where people mouse over, recordings of past sessions, and see where people drop off in the conversion process. You can also run polls directly asking how the experience of your website is.
There are tons of usability testing tools out there, but Hotjar is simple enough for even non-technical people to get much value out of. It’s especially useful if you are working with a freelance web designer and want to communicate design changes you’d like to make.
Stay on Top of Web Design Trends
Trends in web design are always changing. That’s why there are few genuinely good books on web design. By the time one comes out, the information is already outdated.
You must recognize that your website is not a set it and forget it part of your business.
Meaning, it needs to be tweaked continuously to fit with your changing goals, strategy, and competitive landscape. This is why we recommend setting a consistent interval for performing these website maintenance tasks.
Schedule Backups of Your Website
There’s so much work that goes into creating a website; the last thing you would ever want to see happen is for it to go down. Whether it is from a hosting issue or spam or malware attacks from hackers, there are multiple ways this can happen and we’ll cover how to protect your site from this below.
One of the most crucial website maintenance tasks you need to perform is backing up your website. This way, if it ever were to go down, you have all the files necessary to get it back online in no time.
We also recommend regularly scheduling these backups, so you always have the latest version of your site backed up.
Install a Security Plug-in and Keep it Updated
There are many ways hackers can get to your website. From brute force logins to spam and malware, there is a lot that can take down your site. So as the most popular way people learn about your brand, you can’t have that happen.
That’s why we believe it is essential to install a security plug-in on your website.
Know Your Domain and SSL Certificate Expiration Date
Domain names and SSL certificates come with an expiration date. Depending on your hosting plan, they may auto-renew, but they also may not. That’s why we believe it is essential to review your hosting information while you perform these other website maintenance tasks.
If your domain expires, your website will go down. If your SSL certificate expires, your site will have a prominent “not secure” notification greet every visitor.
Neither is a good look for your business, so be sure to stay on top of it.
Stay Up to Date on Privacy Laws
Tech companies have come under scrutiny for the way they’ve handled user data and this has prompted lawmakers to pass increased regulations. Look no further than the EU’s GDPR.
Privacy is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
GDPR has forced companies to be much more transparent with how they are handling user data and using it to track people for marketing purposes. Businesses that fail to comply with these new regulations face the possibility of steep fines.
It would not surprise anyone if similar regulations came to the US. California is currently considering a similar bill that would affect many US companies. That’s why, as part of website maintenance tasks, we recommend staying up to date on data and privacy laws. It doesn’t take much time and can save your business from a hefty fine.
If you have hired a freelancer to create your website or have outside legal counsel, you can rely on them to keep you up to date on any potential changes your site needs to comply with the law.
Regularly Check Google Analytics and Search Console
Regularly checking your analytics data can help inform the website maintenance activities you need to prioritize.
For example, if you see that users don’t spend much time on your site, you will want to check your websites speed, with a tool like GTmetrix to see if you need to make your website faster.
Or, perhaps you are seeing in Google Search Console mobile usability errors for certain pages. That means you need to edit the page so all elements on the page are responsive and look great on mobile and desktop.
Keep Content Relevant
If you are regularly producing content, over time, it will become outdated. Trends will grow old, dates will need updating, and your industry may have changed so that your content no longer has the correct information.
Whatever the case, reviewing your content and seeing what needs to be updated is a vital website maintenance task. This one can be done once every six months –depending on how fast your industry moves.
Keeping your content updated is good for SEO. It will also ensure your content marketing efforts continue to produce results for your business. Better yet, it allows you to repurpose content for social media.
Update Legal Pages
As a regular part of your website maintenance program, we believe you should review any changes your business has made to its policies. This way, you can see if they need to be included or updated in your company’s legal pages.
Also, go through all legal pages on your site to make sure all dates are correct, and it does comply with the latest laws and regulations. If you’ve yet to add these types of pages to your website, you really should. A plug-in like WP Legal Pages is a great start.
Taking the time to perform these website maintenance tasks is something you should be doing at least once a quarter. It will ensure that your website continues to deliver value to your audience and ultimately produce the business results you are looking for.