Congrats! After all of the building and preparation, you have finally got your website up and running! *Sigh* Now, you can just relax and watch the sales, leads, and business inquires roll in.
Ha! If only that were the case.
Now, you have to make sure your website continues to perform and function well. Many business owners are unaware of the fact that it takes some additional work and money to keep their site up and running. It is not enough to just launch your website and let it do its thing. Websites require consistent maintenance and regular upkeep to run smoothly.
But what kind of tasks should you complete in order to maintain the status of your site? How often should you complete them? What maintenance costs should you be on the lookout for? Today, we’ll go over what website maintenance is, why it is important, and the various costs associated with sustaining a healthy website.
Website Maintenance in Simple Terms
At its core, website maintenance is the act of inspecting your website and keeping an eye out for issues that may negatively impact the user experience. Web maintenance should be done on a regular basis in order to ensure that a site is healthy and properly functioning. It’s not just a one-time thing! It involves tasks such as regularly checking for security issues, encouraging traffic growth, and making sure that your design is up-to-date.
Website Maintenance is Crucial: Here’s Why
Think you can get by without an effective web maintenance plan? Well, let’s go over a few reasons why proper maintenance is crucial and what can happen if you do not complete it regularly.
Customers want to find (and give their money to) businesses that they can trust. Because your website is the main foundation of your business’s online presence, you want to make sure that it leaves a good impression. Over 90% of first impressions are based on your site’s web design. When your website is cluttered, filled with outdated content, and maxed out with broken links, customers can’t justify trusting your business. Proper web maintenance allows you to keep your website looking professional and reliable, whilst encouraging customers to keep coming back.
Have you ever landed on a webpage that spammed you with pop-ups, crowded your screen with random animations, or took entirely too long to load? You probably left that site as soon as you could in order to find another website that could solve your problem (and NOT give your computer a virus). This example shows the importance of creating a polished user experience, and consistent website maintenance can help you do just that.
In 2021, once you lose a website viewer due to a poorly functioning website, it is very unlikely that you will see them again. Almost 90% of users will visit competitor sites after a poor user experience. Websites that disregard UX have higher bounce rates, and because of this, they rank poorly on Google. Remember that, customers want to visit sites that are attractive, responsive, and easy to navigate. If your site fails to meet these criteria, customers will search for value elsewhere.
Did you know that there is a hacker attack approximately every 39 seconds? Of those constant attacks, 43% are targeted towards small businesses. Without proper web maintenance, your website is incredibly susceptible to these attacks, leaving your business’s and customer’s sensitive information vulnerable. By keeping your security systems in check and your software up-to-date, you are able to make certain that your website stays safe. Plus, you’ll make a hacker out there upset, which is cool too.
As stated previously, a site that has a high bounce rate ranks poorly on Google, i.e., Google will determine that a site is not relevant, and the browser will show it to fewer people. If visitors tend to leave your site after a short period of time because of technical or structural issues, your search engine optimization will suffer.
That’s why it is vital to incorporate web maintenance into your SEO strategy. By keeping web pages updated with fresh content, having a beautiful and responsive design, and keeping technical issues at bay, customers will stay on your site for longer, signifying to Google that your site is relevant and providing value.
Typical Website Maintenance Costs
Now that you have a basic idea about the importance of website maintenance, it’s time to break down some of the typical costs that you might run into when maintaining your site. The amount that you can expect to pay for web maintenance services will differ based on the kind of website you are running.
Costs for Different Kinds of Sites
- Personal Website, Portfolio, or Blog (~$5-$25 per month): For personal websites such as portfolios, blogs, or hobby sites, maintenance costs are typically quite low.
- Small Business Website (~$35-$300 per month): It is still quite affordable to keep a small business website running smoothly. However, there are costs to consider such as marketing, design, backups, and content, just to name a few.
- E-Commerce Website or Online Store (~$150-$2500 per month): E-commerce websites require a bit more funds to maintain due to costs such as web developer fees, code customization, and customer data management fees.
- Corporate Website (~$200-$3500 per month): To maintain a corporate-level business’s website, one can also expect to pay a larger amount of money.
Although maintenance costs will be different for each different type of website, below are a few typical costs that most business website owners will need to take into consideration.
Hosting your website is a maintenance cost that every site owner will run into, no matter the type of website they have. A hosting provider allows visitors to access your site on the Internet by providing your website with space on its servers. Average monthly costs for hosting a website can range between $10-$99+ depending on if you choose shared, dedicated, or managed hosting providers for your site.
Renewing your website’s domain is another ongoing maintenance cost. A domain name is essentially the address of your website. You must pay annually to renew the domain name that you chose for your site when it was first created. The cost to renew a domain is very cheap, ranging from $10-$20 per year depending on your hosting provider. It is important to remember that, although the cost is not necessarily something to stress over, it is essential to pay for your domain when the time comes every year to ensure that it is not taken by someone else.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
CMS platforms such as WordPress, Wix, and Shopify, are software applications that enable users to build and manage websites without having to code them themselves. With a plethora of templates, themes, and plugins to choose from, most CMS systems make it extremely simple to create stunning websites without too much headache. The cost to build and maintain your website on platforms such as these is pretty affordable, ranging from $60-$180 per year.
Common practices associated with website security include spam prevention, uptime monitoring, and regular security scans. You can complete tasks such as these on your own depending on your level of expertise, or you can hire outside help which can range in cost. Depending on how your site is built, you can also purchase security plugins that can take most of these tasks off of your plate. Plugins such as these typically range from $50 to $100 per year.
One of the main costs associated with website security is purchasing an SSL certificate for your site. An SSL certificate protects sensitive data that is received and transferred on your site. Websites that have active SSL certificates are indicated with “https” in the URL as well as a padlock on most browsers. Without an SSL, your website is left vulnerable to hackers and data breaches. The yearly cost for an SSL certificate ranges between $10-$1500, depending on the size of your website.
Keeping your website updated with relevant and valuable content is arguably one of the most important tasks of website maintenance. A well-planned and maintained content strategy will bring traffic to your site.
Depending on the size of your business, you could handle the writing and production of content on your own, thus eliminating this maintenance cost. However, most businesses benefit from hiring freelance writers or in-house copywriters. Freelance writers typically charge on a per piece, per word, or per hour basis. Overall, an effective content strategy can end up costing you $0 to $3,000+ per month.
Regular Website Maintenance Tasks
Now that you have a basic idea about some of the costs you can expect to run into when regularly completing website maintenance, it’s time to discuss what other tasks are involved in making sure your site is working properly. Here are just some of the regular maintenance tasks that should be completed on an annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly basis.
- Domain Renewal: As stated previously, it is crucial to pay for your domain annually in order to secure it for your website and to make sure that it isn’t taken by someone else.
- Website Design Updates: Checking your website’s design annually ensures that does not appear outdated, which could make your business seem out of touch. If, at the end of the year, you find that your website could use some serious updates, consider a redesign.
- Browser Testing: Inspect the functionality of your site on multiple different browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari to ensure that everything is working correctly. This would also be the perfect time to check your site’s mobile compatibility.
- General Review of Website: Every quarter, it is good practice to do a general overview of your site. Be on the lookout for random issues, incorrect information, and make sure to implement any necessary updates.
- Update Website Content: Now is the time to update the content on your website such as graphics, photos, and other information. Additionally, check any blog posts that ranked especially well with search engines and add more valuable knowledge. Finally, check your meta titles and description to ensure that they are perfectly optimized.
- Test Forms, Pop-Ups, and Checkout Pages: Go through the forms, pop-ups, and checkout pages as if you were a customer to make sure that the user experience is polished.
- Tracking and Analytics: It is good practice to track your site’s KPIs and analytics monthly to make certain that you are reaching your goals. Using resources like Google Analytics will help you measure your website’s performance which will help you determine if any changes need to be made.
- Update Software and Plugins: If you are working with a CMS such as WordPress, it is likely that your site has multiple plugins and software applications working on the backend. Make sure that these are updated and running smoothly monthly.
- Analyze Security Scans: Examine your site’s security scans monthly and resolve any issues.
- Check Site Load Time: No one likes waiting for a webpage to load, which is why it is critical for you to check your own website’s load time often. If your website takes longer than 3-5 seconds to load, you might want to speak with your web developer.
- Check for 404 errors: Check your website for 404 errors and fix or 301 redirect them.
- Backups: Backing up your website regularly can save you from major headaches in the future. If your site is enabled with an automatic backup plugin, make sure that it is functioning properly. If not, complete manual backups on your own weekly.
- Blog Posts: Keep your site updated with one to two blog posts per week in order to continue providing your customers with value and to keep them coming back.
- Fix Broken Links: Check your site weekly for random broken links and make sure to fix them in order to keep your site’s bounce rate down.
This list definitely does not cover all of the website maintenance tasks that you can complete, but it gives a rough overview of some of the essential practices necessary in order to keep your site in tip-top shape.
Options for Website Maintenance
There are plenty of options for website owners that are wondering how to go about completing their web maintenance tasks.
DIY Website Maintenance
Obviously, the best option to cut down on website maintenance costs is to handle these tasks on your own. However, although you will save money, you will definitely have to invest more time if you choose to go this route. This is the best option for those running personal blogs and portfolios that do not have many maintenance tasks to complete in the first place.
Hiring different freelancers that specialize in different areas such as content creation, web development, or tech support may be a good option for some. This option is also quite cost-effective, however, it requires plenty of communication, which can be a downside.
Hire a Website Maintenance Company
Hiring a website maintenance company will definitely take plenty of stress off of your shoulders. Companies that offer regular website maintenance services are there to help their clients keep their websites functioning, updated, and secure. Website maintenance companies hire experts that deal with these tasks daily, so you can rest assured that your website will be well taken care of.
Common Website Maintenance Plans
Most website maintenance companies offer monthly, hourly, and after-hour maintenance pricing plans:
- Monthly ($200-$5000/month): Monthly plans are comprehensive packages that help to keep your company’s website safe, responsive, and updated. Typical services included in most monthly plans are security checks, site backups, and plugin updates.
- Hourly ($50-$125/hour): If your website only needs the occasional check-up, an hourly plan is perfect. Hourly plans include most of the services included in monthly plans, but you will be charged by the hour.
- After-hour: For websites that need 24/7 service, an after-hour plan is the best choice. This type of plan provides your website with constant monitoring and support from web professionals.
Maintenance for your WordPress Website
Now that you know what it is, it’s easy for website maintenance to seem like a neverending struggle that has to be dealt with constantly. You’re probably wondering how you are going to keep your WordPress website well maintained when you have other things to worry about.
Although it is true that website maintenance is an ongoing task, it does not have to be so intimidating. Remember that your WordPress website is one of your company’s biggest SEO resources, and it should be treated as such. In order to learn more specifically about WordPress website maintenance, check out this ultimate guide!