Website Maintenance: the Least You Can Get Away With

At a meeting once I was talking casually with a businesswoman. She told me, as people often do, that her website just didn’t do anything at all for her. I’ve never seen her website, but she told me that she had access to it — that is, she could update it herself.

“Updating it regularly could really make a difference,” I said. “Keeping your content fresh encourages people to come visit you more often. Since you have a CMS, you can maintain it in about 15 minutes.”

“I don’t have 15 minutes,” she shot back grimly. Her nostrils flared. She spoke very fast for a Southerner. Her eyes had a far-away yet steely gaze, as though she were thinking about all the reasons she didn’t have 15 minutes.

I didn’t press it. In fact, I think I refreshed her drink for her and left her in peace.

Obviously, she’s not a client of mine. But maybe you aren’t either, and maybe you sometimes feel the way that woman did — or the way the runner in the picture does. At times like that, keeping your website up to date may be the last thing on your mind.

Why you need to maintain your website

Here’s the thing: your customers are going to go to your website. Even if they heard about you on the radio and are going to walk into your place of business, they’re going to look at your website first.

If your website is in a mess, it says something about your business. It says, “We’re not detail oriented.” “We’re not up to date.” “We don’t really care what you think of us.” “Maybe we’ve gone out of business, leaving our website here like the Mary Celeste. Don’t bother coming to see us.”

Take the 15 minutes.

What you must do to maintain your website

Here’s the least you can do and still have your website presenting a good face to the world:

  • Make sure it’s up and running. I used to be surprised when people called to discuss how badly their websites performed and I had to tell them, “Um… it’s not online. That’s part of the problem.” I’m not surprised any more, because it happens a lot.
  • Check your analytics. Whatever you have in the way of site stats, glance at them occasionally to see whether you’re getting a steady increase in targeted traffic, and to find out what your visitors seem to be looking for.
  • Make sure your basic information is correct. That outdated phone number or list of staff members who no longer work for you is a problem. Change those things on your website when they change in the physical world. If that’s impossible, then at least look for outdated info on your regular visits to your website. (You do make regular visits, right?)
  • Check your links. It’s helpful to provide links to your visitors, and it can even lead people to use your website as a portal to other places they want to go on the web. Having dead links defeats that purpose and makes it look as though no one lives there any more.
  • Update the things that are most important in your particular industry. If you’re a web designer, then your website has to be cutting-edge fresh inside and out. If you’re a musician, your sound clips better be good and accessible at all times. If you’re a restaurant, keep that menu current. Let other things slide, but the most important items for your brand have to be right.
  • Update your WordPress version, theme, and plugins. Doing this regularly will keep you from having to replace your website in a year or two. It won’t last forever, but it will last longer if you stay on top of those updates.

If you’ll do these things every week or so, you can otherwise let your website do its job on its own for quite a while before you need to pay it any special attention.

If you want more than the least

Those essential tasks are just that: essential. That’s not all you need to do to make sure that you continue to get more traffic and conversions. Your website really needs regular, fresh content on a regular basis.

Have a look at two websites we tested: FreshPlans got regular blogging, social media, and li nkbuilding, with people paying attention to the analytics and making strategic decisions. In its sixth month online, it had 8,123 visitors.

AlmostOutside got launched and then ignored. In its sixth month, it got 6 visitors.

If you want steady improvement at your website, if you want it to make you proud, you have to do more than the least you can do. Contact us to discuss your goals and see how we can help.






2 responses to “Website Maintenance: the Least You Can Get Away With”

  1. Site Update Avatar
    Site Update

    The real value of web site maintenance is to keep your web site updated with the latest trends in designs–and functionality–and seo performance.

  2. Rebecca Haden Avatar
    Rebecca Haden

    Wouldn't that be nice? While design updates are good, and even necessary every few years, most small businesses don't need them on a regular basis.

    Content updates like the ones I've described are practical and affordable for all businesses.

    Now, my web designer clients and the big companies with IT and art depts certainly do update their designs routinely, and it's great. I love it. I just don't think it's a realistic goal for people in most industries.

    For small businesses with limited tech skill, getting a highly functional and well-optimized design and keeping the content up to date is probably the most practical approach.

    As for SEO, naturally I think it's all about content. The designers I work with might disagree… Seriously, a combination of the two is ideal.

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