Written by Tony Pease
6 Essential Components for Maintaining Your Website
It’s always a challenge to explain to non-technical people the need for ongoing website maintenance. The assumption is that once a site is built, it should be good to go for at least a year or more. If your business is very specific or straightforward, this may be true. Still, most likely, you will be in an industry that needs to continuously adapt messaging and strategy to stay competitive.
The buying process for most products and services is digital-first, meaning your website is the first impression for prospective clients. The impact of COVID-19 on businesses amplifies the digital-first approach and the need for quicker evolution.
Large businesses, even B2B, require ongoing maintenance and improvement to their websites. Listed below are some factors you should consider for your business.
Ways to Improve Your Website
- Your messaging and strategy changes. Even slight pivots like vertical alignment must be clear for a reader who needs to serve the big picture in 30 seconds or less.
- You are updating your enterprise tools – HR Portals, ESG and investor relations programs, sales tools, and other CTA platforms.
- Regulation Requirements – Websites are required to comply with changing security and privacy standards. Updates and changes to these requirements, including ADA compliance, will mean website updates.
- Calls to Action – Improving call to action effectiveness, developing new calls to action.
- Performance & Security – Plugins require regular updates and patching to ensure that site performance and security meet corporate standards. Remember, poor site performance can negatively increase your search ranking.
- SEO & Content – It’s critical to provide content updates and monitor SEO performance as part of an ongoing effort to be competitive and relevant in your industry. It’s not only about clients; it’s about investors and future employees as well.
There are various options for managing and maintaining your corporate website including outsourcing to a strategic partner or having a full-time dedicated team support your site internally. We are biased, but we recommend using an external team that specializes in website maintenance. We think this represents the best overall value. Either way, there are six essential components to maintaining your website we will discuss.
1. Monitoring Tools
You can’t fix what you can’t measure. A good base of monitoring tools is essential in identifying security, uptime, and performance—some of our favorite web monitoring tools.
- Google Analytics – Analytics can be cumbersome to use, but there are some great (and free) features within the Google Analytics suite to help monitor your website traffic. From the built-in dashboard view, you can see traffic sources, Geographies, and Trends. There are advanced features like behavioral flows.
- Uptime tool – Nothing is worse than having a client tell you your website isn’t working or a page is not functioning correctly. An uptime monitoring tool is cheap or free. The monitoring tools will let you know the minute your site goes down via text or email. We recommend providing uptime monitoring for every page of your site. Uptime Robot
- Security tool – One of the constant battles for maintaining a website is protecting yourself from vulnerabilities in the dependencies used to build the site. There are several great tools to scan and alert you to any such issues. For WordPress sites, we recommend using ManageWP. They monitor WordPress plugins for any vulnerabilities and will alert you if any arise on your site. For other websites, we use Dependabot · GitHub. This tool integrates with your code repository and will put in pull requests for any vulnerabilities. ManageWP.
2. Google Lighthouse
Lighthouse is also free and can be used from your Chrome browser. Lighthouse runs a series of checks on your site to help see how the web crawlers view your site. You can find this in the dev tools of your Chrome browser.
3. Disaster Recovery
This is a part most people miss, but a good provider will make this turnkey. To begin with, you should always have a “Staging” and “Production” environment. You will build and test in Staging, and after Deployment, Staging will serve as your backup. Carimus recommends nightly backups and creating a separate backup of any significant releases if your provider has an extended outage.
4. Integration Maintenance and Support
From CRM, HIRMS, Maps API, and Forms, websites are becoming complex and have a growing number of integrations and API Calls. These APIs and Integrations will change over time, and your site can be unexpectedly unstable. The security concerts for these integrations are much less than a non-Jamstack site but it still can
5. Content Creation
Website crawlers are constantly analyzing content to provide more relevant search results to their users. You need to continuously update your content continuously, and we recommend doing this in two key ways.
- Core content – Blogs about your best practices, corporate developments, accomplishments, people, and customer success stories. Using WordPress as a backend will make this easy if your site was built on a suitable template. A strong content partner can help you provide better, more relevant information to target your qualified leads. A development partner may be required to help improve the usability of forms and CTAs for AB testing the best outcome.
- Landing Pages – Landing pages are critical. Landing page templates can be used to A/B Test and provide industry-specific views of common content. For example, “Web Development” will have different requirements and CTAs for Energy and Utilities vs. Aerospace and Defense. It’s essential to have a collection of templates to vary the visual experience and test multiple calls to action.
6. SEO Optimization
If you have a good content strategy, you will need to watch your SEO performance. In addition to things changing from your business, SEO rules change. Most estimates say that Google changes its SEO algorithm between 500 – 600 times per year. Of course, that’s an impossible number to keep up with, but you will want to pay careful attention to the negative SEO items, meaning things that will hurt your SEO reputation. We typically focus on the Google SEO results, and the Google Search Central Blog is a great way to keep up with the fundamental changes. We use Hubspot to ensure our client’s pages stay in compliance, which unfortunately isn’t free. However, there are plenty of good low-cost tools out there like Moz and SEMRush.
There are many companies capable of supporting all or some of these components with internal staff. However, as a provider of managed services, web development, and web hosting, we recommend that you have a partner handle these items for you. Simple hosting, backup, and monitoring can cost as little as a few hundred dollars per month for US-based organizations. It’s well worth the peace of mind to have a dependable web maintenance partner familiar with your business and your site goals to help you out in a pinch.