Once you have a website, a whole new set of problems will need to be considered and addressed. How will you protect your site from software vulnerabilities and server failures? What will you do to ensure your contact, email list sign up, and ecommerce forms are working? Will you know it if your site falls in the search engine results page rankings? Who will make the updates if some of the information on your site changes? Will you even notice that the information needs to be updated?
It’s critical that you develop a website maintenance and update plan that answers these questions.
Your website maintenance plan needs to include all of the steps needed to keep your site operating as it was designed and protected against technical issues. At a minimum, you’ll want to develop a plan that includes the following tasks:
- Creation of database and website file backups: Don’t store them on the same server as the website itself in case of a server failure.
- Update all website software: Most websites are built with a Content Management System (CMS) or some other platform. Install the latest updates for the software, themes, and plugins or modules.
- Check your website for broken links: Use one of the free link checker tools available online.
- Test all of the forms and fields on your site: This includes your contact and email list sign up forms, and site search fields.
- If you have an ecommerce site, check the functionality of the shopping cart and checkout functions.
- Check your search engine results page ranking, and compare it to past months. Don’t panic over minor position changes, but take note of large jumps and the overall trend over time, and get in touch with an internet marketing consultant if you see anything troubling.
A maintenance plan is designed to take care of routine tasks that must be completed on an ongoing basis. It’s a good idea to also have a plan in place for keeping the information on your site fresh, updated, and accurate. As you develop a plan to keep your site updated, make sure it covers the following tasks:
A website maintenance plan needs to include all of the steps needed to keep the site operating as it was designed and protected against technical issues.
Addition of new content: If you have a site that you want people to visit regularly, you will need to add new content, such as blog posts and articles, on a regular basis. In order to do that, you’ll want to set a schedule for posting updates. While it’s usually fine to post updates more frequently than your schedule calls for, the schedule should serve as the maximum time period that may acceptably pass between updates.
Updating existing content: This task will vary depending on the content of your site. Think through the content on your site, and how it might change over time. Do you have a list of company staff on your site? How about company contact email addresses and phone numbers? Do you have pricing for products and services on your website? What about lead times to produce certain items or typical response times? All of these things will change over time. Set a regular time at which someone checks the accuracy of your website content, and updates it as appropriate.
Develop a Maintenance & Updating Plan
It’s not enough to go through the steps of maintaining and updating your website once, and then completing them whenever you happen to think of them. That’s a recipe that will result in months going by between updates and maintenance. Instead, develop a plan that includes each specific task that must be completed, as well as the following parameters for each task:
- What task needs to be completed?
- Who will complete the task?
- When must the task be completed?
- Who will confirm that the task has been completed?
For example, if you want to have a new blog post up at least once a per week the plan might look something like this:
- What: Weekly Blog Post
- Who: To be posted by the Marketing Manager.
- When: Published at 8 AM every Tuesday.
- Confirmed by: Marketing Assistant at 8:30 AM, send a reminder email if not completed.
Develop a plan that covers each maintenance and site updating task. Communicate the plan clearly with everyone who is responsible for completing a task, or confirming a task’s completion. Then each person involved should add reminders to their calendar to prompt them to complete the maintenance or updating task they have been assigned.
A professional website is one of the best tools you can use to attract new business and present a professional image. Don’t let poor maintenance and updating practices interfere with the effectiveness of your site.