Maintaining a website for a small business is probably the most overlooked component of having an online presence.
This continues to surprise me given how important it is to keep your technology up to date and secure. There’s so much that can go wrong if you don’t invest the time and effort to keep things like plugins, frameworks and core CMS versions up to date.
Think of it this way: have you ever invested in a purchasing a car and neglected to maintain it? I bet the answer for all of us at some point is yes.
What happened to that car? Over time, you probably had things start to go awry. Perhaps you started to notice a decrease in fuel efficiency. Next you started to hear some strange knocks, squeals, or squeaks.
Finally, you decide it’s time to take it into the shop only to find out that you’ve done some significant damage to some expensive components, and the cost of repairs is shockingly high…
Technology is no different.
If left neglected, you’re likely to face significant costs to fix your tech.
Just about every WordPress website I’ve come in contact with that has been built on some WYSIWYG builder like Divy, Beaver Builder or even Elementor has been neglected to the point that if you were to press the “update” button, the entire site would have a critical error. Whoops, I hope you’ve got a backed up version!
It’s far less costly to keep up with the maintenance of your small business websites than it is to fix a bunch of issues that have been piling up over months or even years.
The issues you avoid are:
- Security vulnerabilities with core versions of your CMS, plugins and frameworks – Read: the opportunity for a bad actor to inject some code that you probably don’t want on the website for your small business…probably NSFW to boot.
- Functionality problems with things like forms, chats, tracking scripts, CRM integrations, banners, etc. – If you rely on your website for lead gen, this can have massive implications.
- Going beyond the point of repair – I have come in contact with some websites that require so much work to fix them, it’s not even worth the cost and I’ve recommended a complete rebuild. $$$$
- Decreased SEO performance – Search engines have been pushing for a faster and more secure web for years now. If the website for your website is suffering from decreased speeds and has security vulnerabilities, you can bet that your SEO performance is going to suffer right along with them.
- Advertising violations – If you’re running any kind of advertising on any platform and your website has been hacked, your advertisements are likely to be stopped until the issues are fixed.
What is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance can mean many different things to different agencies. Some of the common types of website maintenance that you should look for with any company are:
CMS, plugin, and software companies regularly release security patches that address security vulnerabilities. These patches are released at all types of different cadences, so you want to update your website at least once a month in order to benefit from these security updates.
Have you ever gone to publish a great new page of content on your website only to encounter “there’s been a fatal error on your website?” Fewer things will give you a buzzkill faster than that. Make sure you or your agency keeps daily backups of your website. It’s better to have these and not need them than it is to need them and not have them.
Plugin & Theme Updates
If you’re on WordPress, then you’re using plugins. If you’ve built your site yourself, you’re probably using A LOT of plugins. Maintaining your website means keeping these plugins up to date. If you’ve gone a long time between updates, you may face a fatal error when updating a plugin. It’s much easier to keep your room clean, then it is to let it go for months before dealing with it. Same thing applies with your plugins and website themes.
Website Uptime Monitoring
There are a few ways you can make sure your website is live on the internet.
- You can manually check – but be careful with this. You could be cached.
- You can use a site like isitdownrightnow.com – more manual effort
- You can subscribe to a tool like pingdom.com
- A good website maintenance company probably has a tool that they use to make sure your site is 200 OK
Adding Users/User Management
Adding users and making sure they have the necessary level of access to your website is vital to security (and making sure you they don’t have access to break the entire website). Chances are, the folks that maintain your website have a vested interested in making sure things like that don’t happen. Therefore, it’s usually included in a maintenance package.
Contact Form Testing
If your website is up but your contact form doesn’t work, you’re small business is losing leads. Maintaining your website also means making sure your contact forms are operating as expected. Bonus points if your maintenance provider knows what an SPF record, DKIM record, DMARC policy are. Even better if they can work with your IT company to set up an SMTP.
Website hosting plays a very important role in maintaining a website. Cheaper hosts can have an impact on all aspects of your website. Premium website hosting give you the tools to make sure things are running optimally.
If you’re not sure how to manage your domain’s records and you find a company who can, that’s incredibly valuable. I’ve trained dozens of people on the complexities of DNS and how to properly manage DNS and it’s stuck with one of them. It’s complicated and publishing the wrong record can bring down your website as well as your email. Yikes!
Vulnerability Plugin Monitoring
There are so many plugins out there, especially for WordPress websites. You may accidentally install a plugin without much research that isn’t supported very well, or worse yet, that is malicious to begin with. Having a blacklist of plugins that you shouldn’t install in the first place is an important step to maintaining a healthy website.
Website Maintenance FAQS:
How much does a maintenance plan cost?
This varies depending on the services included, the size of the website and the industry. We’ve heard pricing ranging anywhere from $50 – $1000s of dollars every month.
Does maintaining a website include content?
Generally not. Some plans may include a limited amount, however, this is hard to put into a box.
How much is ElevAmp’s website maintenance plan?
We charge $245/month and include security updates, plugin/framework/theme updates, plugin vulnerability monitoring, DNS management, premium hosting, contact form testing, user management, Website uptime monitoring, and daily website backups.
If I break my website, does a maintenance plan include fixing it?
It depends. If it can be fixed by restoring a backup, then it generally will. If you’re trying to retain a bunch of changes/content updates between the last backup and the break, generally it won’t be included.
How often should plugins, frameworks and your CMS be updated?
At least monthly. If it’s a patch to a known security issue, then it should be updated immediately. Be careful with how often you update your core CMS. Sometimes new cores a released before they are tested for stability. This can become a problem and you should only update to the current, most stable version of the CMS. Don’t be the guinea pig!
Can I maintain my own website?
Only you can answer that for yourself! It’s often better to hire a professional to take care of this for you and your small business. However, if you have more time than money and you’re tech savvy, chances are you can do it too!
My website has been hacked, can I sign up for a maintenance plan and you fix it?
No. The entire point of a maintenance plan is to avoid these types of things in the first place. In order to get on a maintenance plan, your site may require additional services to get it to a point where it can be maintained.