Even the most beautifully designed site will fall out of favor if it’s not regularly updated and maintained. There are many reasons for this, not necessarily just because visitors stop liking the site. Sometimes, changes to a search algorithm, like Google’s latest update, can mess with SEO rankings. Other changes — like web browser updates or backend server changes — might affect performance, the UI, visual elements, and beyond.
Simply put, if you don’t stay on top of your website, your business and customers may suffer. It can also lead to a decline in traffic, which may or may not affect sales if you have a storefront on your company site.
Regular testing is important, especially as you make changes to the design, content, and other site elements. But there are some critical maintenance steps that you should be prioritizing, in the interest of keeping your company site operational.
Remember, you can always find web developers that will help with many of these tasks, if you or your team cannot do them.
You should also be using tools to monitor your site’s uptime. When your web host’s server goes down you should know right away, and you should have a plan in place for informing your customers. You might need to announce the outage on social media, for example, to let your customers know how long it will last — especially if they were planning to purchase from an on-site store.
If you don’t know how well your site is working, what the load times are, and when it’s going down, you’re going to be in the dark when traffic starts falling off.
The good news is that most modern web applications either include metric and analysis support built-in, or they are compatible with more comprehensive tools. WordPress, for example, shows performance metrics in the admin dashboard, and the platform integrates nicely with Google Analytics, too. You should be reviewing these statistics and information weekly, at the least, and daily, at the best.
Your site should not be going years, or even months without updates. There is always something to improve, something new to add, or something to fix. Adopt that mindset as early as possible, and understand that maintaining your website is a never-ending process.
To draw in new traffic, retain interest, and boost SEO, creating and publishing new content on the regular is also necessary. It doesn’t matter whether you have a blog, traditional news feed, or just offer quick product updates — content is king. Make sure your site is rife with content and keep it updated over time.
Don’t forget to make a backup of your site and its files, photos, and content every time you change something. Also, have your web developers and content creators document their strategies, in case they’re not available or you need to fill in. Back-up strategies, in general, will ensure that your business can continue in the face of adversity and disaster.
Most people will find your site or your business through a web search, using a search engine like Google or Bing. The higher your ranking in search results, the more visible your site, and most likely the higher your incoming traffic. That’s why optimizing your site’s SEO is important. But just as important is maintaining those search-friendly updates and practices.
SEO is not a one-and-done thing. You must continue to monitor, optimize, and revise your site to meet evolving standards. As those search engine algorithms change, and you continue to publish more content on your site, it’s important to maintain the appropriate values. That can also mean training your employees, content creators, and other support staff to ensure they understand the proper SEO tactics, as well. You might even consider hiring an SEO and content marketing team to handle the work.
People are going to get together to discuss your brand, your website, your products or services, and anything to do with your business. They’ll be talking about you on social media, and posting reviews or referrals all over the web, including marketplaces. Harnessing the support of those communities will go a long way towards bolstering your business, and if you can provide them a similar community space on your website you’ll see a continuous stream of traffic.
Most importantly, once that community is created continue to maintain it for your visitors and fans. Offer commenting systems within pages, posts, and beyond. Create an official forum with a bevy of sub-forums and discussion boards. Don’t be afraid to participate in conversations happening on social media, either.
Just remember, maintenance is a critical step in supporting and optimizing your company website. Like a well-oiled and clean piece of equipment, the better your site is cared for, the higher the traffic and engagement levels.
Maintain performance and optimize load times to keep people on the site longer, and to provide a better experience overall. Update it regularly with new content, new visual elements, and continue to assess and improve on-site experiences. Make sure the website is SEO-friendly, and if you have to find outside support to garner higher rankings. Finally, create a community space, and participate with your community members to elevate your website’s value.
If you do all of these things as a regular part of your site maintenance, you’ll see sweeping improvements in traffic, engagement, and customer satisfaction.
Eleanor Hecks is the editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.