Website Maintenance 101

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Having a website is a lot like owning a car.

When you first buy a car, it works great! The gas tank is full, you’re not even close to needing an oil change, and your winter tires are already on. But what happens when the gas tank is flashing on empty? Or spring comes around and it’s time to switch your tires? You can’t just drive it forever and hope that nothing breaks down.

Websites work in a similar way. Everything will run smoothly at first. But like a car, it needs ongoing maintenance to improve performance and to keep it functioning. It’s always easier to prevent something from happening instead of fixing a complicated problem and potentially creating even more problems in the meantime. Websites live in an ever-changing environment and maintenance is comprised of many different aspects in order to keep up with the rest of the world wide web.

What does web maintenance look like?

Freshening up your content

Taking a look at your content every so often can be extremely useful. Your content could be old or even outdated, making your site less relevant to users. This can hurt your SEO rankings and deter visitors from landing on your page. To combat old content, make sure your content is clear, relevant, and newsworthy. Get rid of any duplicate pages or blog posts and keep the focus on recent content. It’s also helpful to sort through comments, posts, or any weird links on your site that might be marked as spam. Check for broken links as well.

If you have any tags or categories, now would be a good time to filter them out. Do you really need 208 tags on your site? Clean through tags with spelling errors or try grouping similar ones together and get rid of anything labeled ‘uncategorized’.

Related: What is Content Marketing?

General updates

This is the housekeeping list. General updates could include anything on your content management system’s end. For example, WordPress, one of the most popular CMS, is constantly updating their version to stay current and make sure they are providing you with optimal performance. It’s important to download the latest version of whichever CMS you choose to get all of their new features to help with productivity and keep it running up to speed. More importantly, new versions of software also offer you the newest security features, which are your safe guards.

During these updates, sometimes plugins need to be restored to work with the latest version. Plugins can also sometimes disrupt each other if they are running an old version. Make sure you update any plugins you might have installed, and go through to delete any broken or unused ones.

During your CMS update, check for any security updates. This is one of the best prevention methods to ensure your site is safe before something unfortunate happens.

More info: The Secret to Keeping your WordPress Site Secure

Browser and device compatibility

Not only is your server and your CMS always changing, but internet browsers are also guilty of this. Always make sure that your site at least works on the most popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera. When you check your site in these browsers, make sure they are up to date in the current version as well to make sure any new features aren’t affecting your site. Don’t forget to check your site on mobile devices,tablets,  and different screen resolutions.

More: How does your Website Look on Tablets & Smartphones?

Code validation

This can come in many forms. Just to scratch the surface though, it’s important to have clean code to optimize your site’s speed and load times. Get rid of any duplicate or unused code to make sure everything is running smoothly without any excess baggage weighing it down. Test and validate your HTML, CSS, and Javascript if possible.

Enhance SEO

SEO is an ongoing project by itself, but there is maintenance you can perform to revamp your rankings. Updating your links, adding new blog posts, polishing your meta descriptions, and creating or updating your content so it’s the most relevant to your users can help immensely with SEO for your site.

Related: What is SEO and Why is Everyone Talking About It?

Get (and use) feedback

Your site’s visitors are your best source of feedback since they’re the ones using it! Check your comments and see what users are saying about your site. Test it out for a while and encourage people to send you as much feedback as possible. Ask some friends to visit your site and give them a task to complete. Ask them how long it took and if your site had a clear path to follow. Once you get enough responses, actually incorporate the feedback that makes the most sense to your site.

This step can also include putting your Google Analytics data to good use. Check where people are visiting on your site and where visitors tend to leave and focus on any trouble areas.

Maintenance keeps your site relevant

Website maintenance can prevent problems from occurring, helps to keep your site secure, can promote SEO, and makes your site much less likely to break down.

Dont let your site become a digital ghost town. Feel free to comment below, or get in touch with us if you have any questions about what you can do to maintain your site so it’s functioning at its best.

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