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Why Website Maintenance Matters

For the vast majority of businesses, website maintenance is essential. This is true because websites, themselves, are critical centerpieces for digital marketing, sales, service, and recruitment activities. 

To serve these purposes, websites need to be on and working properly at all times.

When a website isn’t available, businesses lose money. In fact, a study by Ponemon Institute found that website downtime costs businesses an average of $9,000 per minute. 

What is the cost of missing out on a lead or a sale because your site loaded too slowly?

This number includes online retailers, for whom the losses are obvious and easy to calculate. But, while it may be more difficult to determine downtime losses for a mid-sized business services company, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a real financial impact.

And, downtime isn’t the only thing that costs money. 

A poor website experience can cause a business to lose money or opportunities in an endless number of ways. To protect against these losses, businesses should consider investing in a website maintenance program.

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What Is Website Maintenance?

Website maintenance is an ongoing process dedicated to keeping a website updated, secure, and working at an optimal level. A basic website maintenance plan usually includes a combination of technical updates, backups, and monitoring. In many cases, it also includes site updates and troubleshooting support.

More advanced website maintenance programs add strategic audits, improvements, and analysis. At Olive & Company, we refer to these as website continuous improvement programs.

Website Maintenance vs. Website Governance

Although website maintenance and website governance are related, they are two distinct concepts. While web maintenance refers to the work of keeping a website healthy, website governance refers to the people, tools, processes, and policies that go into managing a website. In other words, website maintenance is a component of website governance.

By defining and organizing the elements of a website governance strategy, businesses enable maintenance efforts to be consistent and successful.

Why Is Website Maintenance Important?

What is the cost of missing out on a lead or a sale because your site loaded too slowly? What if a potential customer developed a negative view of your brand because they encountered typos or a broken contact form on your website? How much will it cost your business if your site gets hacked?

Website visitors expect an optimal experience, and they expect it immediately.

Website maintenance works to ensure your website is up and running. But, it also helps shore up the experience your site provides to users.

Preserving Brand Perceptions

Did you know that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience (e.g., encountering broken links, typos, error messages, etc.)? And, over half of all website visitors spend less than fifteen seconds on a website. 

Website visitors expect an optimal experience, and they expect it immediately. When that’s not what they get, they form a negative view of your website and brand, and they move on to your competitors. 

No site is perfect. Through a website maintenance program, though, companies can work to provide an experience that welcomes and engages visitors rather than turning them away with a bad experience and a negative impression of your brand.

Optimizing Website Performance

When we talk about website performance, we’re referring to a website’s ability to achieve its goals. Speed always plays a significant role in this effort.

According to a study from RSR, 90% of people will leave a website if it takes too long to load. Research from Aberdeen Group also found that a one-second delay in page loading time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

Just as website users expect an optimal, error-free experience, they also expect to access that experience without waiting. 

Page load speed is a complicated variable of website performance. Unfortunately, the tools that measure site speed often produce flawed results. With that said, it’s still an important measure of how site visitors—and search engines—experience your site. 

Website maintenance efforts help to identify fixable page speed issues, which can then be improved through updates and refinements.

Protecting Website Security

Hackers attack the average website 172 times per day, according to a report from SiteLock. And, they don’t limit their attacks to large businesses or high-profile brands. In fact, 43% of small businesses have experienced a website hack. 

No matter what type of business you are, a hack will result in website repair costs, lost revenue, and reputation damage. 

To avoid these situations, businesses should consistently scan their websites to ensure they remain safe and secure. Security scans can identify code irregularities, perform blocklist checks, and flag any website software or plugins that may have vulnerabilities. 

Every website is a potential target. But, staying on top of potential threats through regular website maintenance security scans will help businesses avoid costly consequences.

Website Disaster Recovery

When it comes to website security, it’s always best to be proactive in looking for threats and vulnerabilities before something bad happens. If disaster does hit, though, you need a recovery plan to get your site back up and running as quickly as possible.

No matter what type of business you are, a hack will result in website repair costs, lost revenue, and reputation damage.

A responsible website maintenance program should always include regular website backups. Ideally, this precautionary measure should include daily local backups with your primary web host, and periodic secondary backups stored at an offsite location. 

With these backups, you’ll be able to minimize the damage of a significant issue. Whether it comes from a cyberattack or anything else.

Improving Search Engine Optimization

Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm to determine where it should place your website’s content in search engine rankings. 

These factors include content quality and relevancy, keyword optimization, user experience, website structure, and much more. They also include things we’ve discussed in this article, like page load speed and website security (e.g., Google rewards sites that have an SSL certification). 

Each of these variables contributes to the data analyzed by Google and other search engines when evaluating your website, and each should be considered as part of your SEO strategy.

While some things—like domain age and history—may be beyond your control, you can optimize the vast majority of ranking factors to improve a site’s rankings. 

Automated audits can identify the SEO issues which may be limiting your site’s performance. Through ongoing website maintenance, these issues can then be remedied, and your site can start reaping the benefits of increased organic search traffic.

Elevating User Experience

A well-crafted UX helps ensure that users have a positive experience on your site. It provides the fast-loading, user-friendly experience users expect. It helps boost search rankings. And, it eliminates issues and streamlines performance. 

It’s no surprise, then, that user experience fixes and improvements are critical to website maintenance efforts. 

Web page errors must be corrected. Updates must be tested. Platforms must be backed up. All to ensure that the website provides the kind of experience expected by users.

To be truly optimal, a website’s user experience should also be fully accessible. That’s why website maintenance programs should include periodic audits to identify and repair any issues that may limit website accessibility.

Maintaining Business Alignment

The most basic part of a website maintenance program is the simple content update. But, just because something is simple doesn’t mean it isn’t vital. 

Every business evolves. Products and services change. Processes adapt. Team members come and go.

As these changes occur, websites need to keep pace by regularly updating site content. If they don’t, websites become outdated, confusing, and, in some cases, damaging to businesses.

From a website maintenance standpoint, some of these updates may only require small edits to existing pages. In other cases, site administrators may need to publish new pages and incorporate them into a site’s architecture. 

Whatever variation is required, a website maintenance program will help ensure that updates are addressed in a timely manner without causing any additional issues.

Website Maintenance Tasks

As we mentioned earlier, basic website maintenance usually consists of technical updates, backups, and monitoring, along with some level of site updates and troubleshooting. More advanced programs stretch the definition of “maintenance” a bit to include ongoing continuous improvement efforts.

But, what’s actually included in these different categories? 

Technical Updates, Backups, and Monitoring

To keep a website up and running, and performing at an optimal level, teams need to complete a monthly website maintenance checklist of proactive technical tasks, including the following:

  • Uptime monitoring
  • Regular security scans
  • Content management system updates
  • Website plugin updates
  • Post-update site testing
  • Daily site backups
  • Secondary site backups

Site Updates and Troubleshooting

When content needs to be updated or the site isn’t working properly, website maintenance efforts shift into reactive mode. There’s an endless list of things that could be addressed through this work, but common tasks include the following:

  • Fixing broken links
  • Correcting typos
  • Connecting forms
  • Addressing SEO issues
  • Optimizing page load speed factors
  • Replacing outdated content
  • Disaster recovery

Strategic Auditing, Improvement, and Analysis

To truly optimize a website, maintenance programs should go beyond the basics and embrace a continuous improvement model. Within this type of agile approach, teams will review your website focusing on key performance factors like SEO, UX, and content, make strategic updates, and then analyze and refine. Basic continuous improvement tasks include the following:

  • Prioritized site audits 
  • Page and functionality additions
  • UX and accessibility improvements
  • Tracking updates
  • Technology integrations
  • A/B testing
  • Website analysis configuration and reporting

Website Maintenance Costs

Given the variability of website size, complexity, and objectives, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that it’s difficult to estimate a website maintenance services cost for a business without learning more about their situation. 

As a general rule, though, if you’re looking to outsource website maintenance, you should probably plan for an annual investment of around 10-20% of what you paid to redesign and develop your website. 

So, if you paid $100K for your website, you should budget $10-20K per year for basic website maintenance service. If you’re also including ongoing continuous improvement services, those percentages will likely need to increase.

While you may be able to find vendors who will offer website maintenance services for less, make sure you pay close attention to what’s included in their plan. Are they a vendor, or a strategic website partner?

What Is the Cost of Inaction?

Ultimately, when deciding whether or not it makes sense to invest in a website maintenance package, businesses should always consider the potential costs associated with inaction. 

Whatever your specific website goals may be, protection and optimization are worth the investment.

We’ve established that businesses lose money when their website isn’t available. We know users will make snap decisions about your site if they encounter anything that hinders their experience. We also know websites are constantly under threat of cyberattacks. 

All of these things result in lost money and lost opportunities for businesses. 

The good news is that a well-constructed website maintenance program can help diminish these risks while improving your website. Whatever your specific website goals may be, protection and optimization are worth the investment.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today.

Erik Norsted

Erik has spent his entire career immersed in every aspect of marketing and branding. His expertise around current digital trends, content strategy, and technical best-practices proves invaluable as he guides clients through the dynamic Modern Marketing landscape.