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People often look at a website as a simple one-off investment, something you launch and then never need to think about it again. Well, sorry to disappoint you folks, but that’s not the case.

A website is for life, not just for Christmas (or whenever else you decide to launch). And just like any other aspect of your business (or indeed your personal life), regular maintenance is key if you want everything working smoothly all year round.

Check your website regularly

Checking your website routinely is a key part of having a reliable online presence.

Think of your website as like a garden or vegetable patch – the work isn’t over after you’ve dug the ground and sowed the seeds, now you’ve got to tend to it regularly to ensure it stays healthy, grows and ultimately bares fruit!

Visit your website on a regular basis on both desktop and mobile. Click through numerous pages to replicate a typical customer journey. Does everything look as it should? Could anything be improved? If your site is an e-commerce store, try adding different combinations of products and place a test order.

Pay the bills

Many people set up their website and then forget about it. Then one day they notice they haven’t had any leads in a while. They had forgotten to pay the hosting bill, and now their site is down! You’d be surprised how often this happens.

If you want your website to stay up and running, then you should ensure you always pay your hosting bill. A good host should give you a warning email (or 10) before taking down your site, but sometimes these can get lost in spam or buried amidst promotional emails.

My advice is to pay annually and set a reminder in your calendar to ensure the payment goes through, even if your card details have changed or expired (set up a backup payment method if possible).

The same principle goes for your domain name and any premium plugins or services you use for your website.

Choose your hosting wisely!

Check out my Managed WordPress Hosting plans for a more personal service. I’d never take down a website without speaking with you first!

Test your forms

Not received any messages in a while? Make sure that your contact form is still working.

Updates to contact form plugins can sometimes cause forms to break, so make sure you do a test each time there’s a new release.

Also, be sure to check your junk mail folder for messages sent via WordPress regularly – they can have a habit of ending up there.

Prevention is better than a cure – check my post on how to avoid WordPress emails going to spam today!

Check for broken links

Broken links can be frustrating for visitors and result in Google downgrading your website in the search results. It’s important therefore to check that they stay valid.

If you have a small website without many pages or content you could check links manually by simply clicking through every link on every page.

In most cases, however, it’s going to be more practical to check for broken links automatically.

To check for broken links in WordPress using Google Search Console, you will need to have your website added and verified in Search Console.

Make Regular Backups

You should definitely back up your data. You wouldn’t want to lose it all after investing so much time and energy into building your website. Good hosting companies will keep automatic daily backups, but it’s worthwhile keeping extra copies yourself just in case they go bust or get attacked by Godzilla.

There are many different ways to back up your website, but probably the easiest is with a plugin.

I personally would recommend Updraft Plus.

This plugin allows you to automate backups on a schedule of your choosing, and save them to a variety of cloud storage facilities such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Personally, as I’m super paranoid I’d keep a copy locally on your hardrive too. It’s very unlikely that both your hosting and Google Drive would get obliterated at the same time, but maybe Kong and Zilla are really going for it!

Optimise images

Images are an important part of your website and should be optimised for the screen size, device and file size. The images you use on a website can also impact the speed that it loads.

There are many reasons why images should be optimised:

  • Speed – A slow loading site can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. If people can’t see what they’re looking for on your site quickly, they will leave and go elsewhere.
  • SEO – Google is getting better at reading image content but it still needs help from time to time. Images with text in them will increase your chances of being found by searchers who don’t want to read long-form content or click through multiple pages just to find out what you do or sell online.

But what does this have to do with maintenance you might ask? Surely you should optimise the images when you upload them?

Well, in an ideal world, yes you should, but it’s easy to forget… Or perhaps you have minions producing content for you and they forgot. In any case, it’s good to do an audit once in a while.

Again, there are plugins for that of course. There are many out there, but currently, I’m favouring Lite Speed Cache for an all-in-one site speed solution. This plugin will automatically optimise new uploads as they are added. There’s a monthly limit on the free version, but probably enough for most websites.

Update plugins and themes

It’s crucial to ensure you keep all of your plugins (and your theme) up to date for 3 main reasons:

  • Security: Keeping your site up-to-date will help ensure that you’re not vulnerable to hackers or other security threats, who might take advantage of an old version of software in order to steal personal information from customers or damage the reputation of your brand.
  • Performance: Some plugins and themes can slow down websites over time as they become bloated with code or introduce unnecessary features. Updating regularly helps make sure that this doesn’t happen on your site!
  • Bug fixes: With thousands of lines of code being written every day, bugs inevitably pop up somewhere along the way. A good developer will always fix these issues quickly by releasing new versions that contain fixes for any problems found in previous versions.

Check my detailed guide to keeping WordPress Plugins updated without breaking your site here.

Update your information

Did you change your phone number? Add a new product or service? Increase your prices? Move to Bolivia?

Don’t forget to update this information on your website!

Speaking from personal experience, it’s very frustrating as a customer when the website says “Open till 18.00 every day”, but when you arrive there’s a sign on the door saying “Closed for the holidays”.

The great thing about WordPress is that updating these things is very easy. Or at least it should be.

If someone else is building your website for you, make sure that they do it in such a way that makes it easy for you to keep such things current.

Add new content frequently

The best way to make sure your website is engaging and interesting is to post new and original content regularly.

If you have a blog, you can use it as a place for your visitors to come back to and share with others. If you have a business website, you can use it as another channel through which to interact with your customers.

Regularly-updated content keeps your site fresh in the minds of visitors and shows them that they can rely on the information they find there.

Posting new and original content also helps improve SEO (search engine optimization) and keeps Google from penalizing your pages for duplicate or outdated information.

Exactly how often will depend on your niche and your time budget. If possible stick to a regular schedule. It’s better to post once a month for example, than to post 10 times in January, then nothing for the next 6 months.

If you don’t have time to create your own content, consider hiring someone like me to write it for you!

Is your website in line with current design trends?

Digital trends move pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss them…

This isn’t to say that you should be constantly changing the look of your website to try and ride every new design trend that emerges. It is worthwhile, however, to be be open to updating your website and always looking for ways in which it can be improved.

Don’t just make changes blindly, however. Make sure your site is connected to a Google Analytics account so you can monitor changes in acquisition, retention and conversions, and consider doing some A/B testing with any new features you try.

Digital trends move pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss them…


A website is for life, not just for Christmas

A website is a powerful tool that can help you grow your business, connect with customers and get results. But it’s also an investment that needs to be managed over time. So when the holiday season comes around, what can you do to keep your site fresh and engaging throughout the year?

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