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Website maintenance is essential if you want your site to run efficiently and reliably. Unfortunately, website upkeep usually takes a backseat priority to the hundreds of other things a small business operator has to fit into their day.

It becomes even more difficult if there’s no-one in the business doesn’t with the necessary knowledge or access to appropriate tools to undertake website care effectively.

That’s why we’ve put together this simple website maintenance checklist to make sure you don’t forget any of the important things you need to do to keep your website in top shape. We’ve also put it into priority order, so you can concentrate on the top items, and then when do you get some available time, try the other things we suggest further down the article.

Of course, if you’d like a professional to manage your website maintenance, then contact us. We aren’t expensive. Honest!

Top Priority: Update software to stay safe

Not well understood and easily deferred for ‘more important’ activity, updating your website’s software is the primary activity to reduce the risk of being hacked. This is because many updates are to fix ‘exploits’ or software loopholes. These can be used as secret doorways that hackers can use to gain illegal access to your website.

Google will shut down your sales leads. 

Once a hacker has gained access to your website, they can use it in several nefarious ways. The major impact on your business will be Google is likely to detect that your website has been hacked and so display a notice in search results to dissuade prospective clients from visiting it. So your website stops generating sales leads.
Worst, once you remove the website hack, Google may take its time to remove the hacked warning. Also, when your website is restored, it might also lose some organic performance as a result of the hack attack.    

You might infect website visitors too.

Other possible hack outcomes are that your website visitors will have viruses silently loaded into their PC or mobile phone. While it hasn’t been tested in law to my knowledge, you are probably liable for damages those people incur as a result of visiting your hacked website.

Timeliness Matters

Because hacks are publicised online, hackers have immediate access to newly discovered exploit details. They can then add this information into their hack bots and start probing websites to the new exploit almost straight away.
A strategy to perform updates regularly, say monthly, isn’t going to protect your website effectively.  It’s increasingly important to apply updates and patches almost immediately after a new exploit is discovered and published

Web server updates too

As well as the software in your WordPress or Joomla website, you should also be aware that software updates may be required for your web server. The most obvious web server software update is for PHP. We detailed this in a recent post here 

Increase your web maintenance productivity with intelligent tools

Because productivity matters so much in the small business world, we suggest using smart tools to help you get more done in less time. Here’s my favourite web update tools:

WordFence Central

This tool could easily be dismissed as just a good website internal firewall, but it’s far far more than that. The team at WordFence have created a cracking security product, with even the free plugin version delivers some fabulous functionality. In essence, it automatically incepts and neutralises hack attempts, but this product has so much more. Website Visitors behaving like hackers are automatically locked out to keep your website safe from them. The subscription version provides more timely exploit blocking and is strongly recommended.

The WordFence portal, or “WordFence Central takes this up a level. Central synchronises with the WordFence plugin in your website, providing alerts on numerous ‘hack risk’ related conditions such as out-of-date plugin updates, redundant plugins and a host of other useful security information and alerts.

WordFence Central also scales to support you when you have more than one website. It’s a top-shelf product!

So using this product, your receive near-real-time updates on system software updates required to minimise the risk of being hacked. 

Top Priority: Backup Your Website

Make a copy of your website so that if you need to, you can restore it back to working.

The ‘experts’ will say you don’t need to do it, but if you lose your website they can’t reinstate it for you unless you do have a backup.

Websites are just bits of software running on computers and are no different to your PC or phone. Things go wrong. Software gets corrupt. Even entire web servers fail from time to time. A backup is like a website disaster insurance policy – only cheaper.  

It’s not hard, it’s not painful. There’s free plugins that do a great job of doing regular backups. My personal favourite backup type is one that stores a working copy on storage separate from where your website runs. Then if your web server crashes you can recreate your site on another one. Also consider running backups regularly and create multiple backup copies.  

If like many businesses, your website is WordPress or Joomla then you’ll also need to backup its database. If you don’t, your restored backup wont be able to recreate a fully functional copy of your website.   

Read more about backups here: WordPress Maintenance Service | Website Concierge

 

Top Priority: Domain Renewal

Domains are ‘leased’, not owned. If you forget to renew the domain, typically after 2 years, then it gets released back into the domain pool for others to be able to access. There are a couple of outcomes here, none of which are good for your business:

Your website stops generating leads.

As soon as your domain is no longer available, your clients won’t be able to visit the website, so a visiting sales prospect will get an error message and wonder if you are still in business. Your competitors start picking up sales leads that would have otherwise been yours.  If you are paying for online advertising, the ads will stop.

Your emails stop.

Yep. Your emails stop working when your domain is not available. This is a serious issue for any business, as emails are the default way to communicate with Clients and Suppliers. You won’t be able to send out email invoices. Enquiries and orders won’t arrive into your inbox. Your business starts grinding to a halt.  I think you get the picture: email underpins most small businesses’ communications these days, so take it away, and your business starts to crumble away under you.

You might lose your domain.

Domain stalkers who use ‘drop catch’ systems to be alerted when a domain has recently fallen out of its ‘lease’ and so greedily jump onto these immediately.  You might be able to persuade them to hand back your domain, but it won’t come cheap, and in the meantime, your website & emails are offline the entire time.

Loose Google performance

While your website is offline, you immediately start loosing your site’s ‘Google equity’. If you have paid for SEO services, you’ll understand how much that is costing you.

I hope you are now convinced that allowing your domain to expire is extremely damaging to your business.

Top Priority: Check Google Reviews

OK so it’s not a website maintenance thing, but checking your online reviews is extremely important for a modern business.

Negative Reviews

If you’ve received a negative review you need to decide what to do about it.  Does the review uncover an issue in your business or is unfairly negative or even comment spam. Decide what you need to do to act on it. Remember that reviews feature prominently, so other prospective clients will see this review and your response and make a judgement about how you handled it.

Positive Reviews 

If you get a positive review, then bathe in the glory for just a minute, then respond to thank the reviewer.

Identify and Repair Broken Links

If visitors can’t find what they want in your website, they are less likely to become Customers. Apart from clumsy layout and/or navigation, people can’t find what they are looking for because when they click on a link, it doesn’t work. These ‘broken links’ can easily occur as you work with website edits etc

Fortunately, there are some great WordPress plugins available that monitor and alert you to ‘broken links’. Alternatively, you could try the Broken Link Check website.

Prevent bad customer experiences on your website by ensuring you minimise broken links. 

 

Peter Cornish
Peter Cornish

An online marketer with deep experience in Sales & Marketing as well as technical skills accumulated over the many years of working in this industry. He has been knee-deep in websites and online marketing since the mid 80’s.
Peter is a lateral thinker who sees solutions where many don’t.

Website Concierge is a reincarnate of Succinct Ideas, providing quality website support and online marketing for small businesses.

If you found something in my site useful, I’d really appreciate if you could link to the page and maybe Google will help other people who need the same info find the page as well 😉