third-angle-website-maintenance-checklist

Website Maintenance Checklist & Process for Colorado Small Businesses

8 min read |  Posted May 20, 2021

When your small business’s visibility on search engines is critical to your revenues, proper website maintenance and an easy to adhere to upkeep process is essential to avoid dropping the ball. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of a proper website maintenance routine, let’s clarify what we mean when we refer to “Website Hosting” versus “Website Maintenance.”

What is Website Maintenance? 

While website hosting and website maintenance are sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct services.

Your website host is the “home” of all the content you want shared through your website address or domain. A web hosting service provider, or web host, gives you the technologies, services and infrastructure you need for your website and the individual webpages to be available across the Internet. You upload files filled with code, and the browser downloads them and converts the markup into something that can be seen by each user who pulls up your webpage. There are a couple different types of web hosting services, including shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

Website maintenance, on the other hand, refers to the act of regularly checking your website to fix any problems and keep the software up to date and relevant. While troubleshooting is a key part of website health, maintenance is also useful to encourage continued traffic growth, strengthen your search engine visibility and secure your website against cyber attacks.

What is a Good Website Maintenance Process?

We are firm believers that website upkeep does not have to be an annoyance. We advocate for a straightforward process that can be broken out into weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly maintenance. Below we will describe the items and why they are necessary.

Weekly Website Maintenance Items

Of importance is that all pages on your website are loading without critical user experience errors or breakage and that notifications from your website forms are properly functioning. It’s easy to “set it and forget it” in the hustle and bustle of day to day responsibilities, but find 30 minutes a week to comb through key pages on your website, check website forms, and reply to (or remove) any comments on your blog articles. Run your website through a quick audit tool to check for broken links and 404 errors that need resolved. You can use a (free) tool like ScreamingFrog or DrLinkCheck and resolve any reported errors by fixing links or adding redirects from 404 pages to 301 pages. 

Even if you do not make regular changes to your website pages, sometimes links and features from other sites that you’ve pulled in have display issues. To mitigate this, ensure you have a way to perform weekly, if not daily, backups of your website and store them separately. This gives you a quick “switch” to flip in the event that a large scale break, website virus, or hacking attempt creates issues. It is also important to have a recent site backup on file before you initiate weekly updates of your CMS’s software, theme, and plugins – especially if your site is run on the WordPress CMS.

Part of maintaining a website is also to add “fresh content” regularly. Often small businesses opt to write weekly blog articles that answer customer questions and share insights and valuable information to researchers. This practice of publishing new content weekly will support your efforts to rank better in search engines as well.

Monthly Website Maintenance Items

Each month, you should set aside an additional 30-60 minutes to dig deeper into any website performance and security issues. This should involve reviewing your site security scans and resolving any security issues. We use a premium WordPress plugin called iThemes Security to protect against any malicious activity. With plugins like this, you have access to a dashboard of activity, threats posed, threats thwarted, and security issues to resolve.

Once you’re sure your site is secured, spend time checking page loading speeds on key pages and especially on mobile devices. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights and/or GTMetrix to get a report of improvement to make sitewide and on individual pages. Ideally, your web pages will load in under 3 seconds.

Each month, you should login to your Google Analytics and Google Search Console profiles and review KPIs for your website performance. If you’re tracking anything specific, monitor those analytics changes. Look also at what your most popular and least popular content is and review where the majority of your site visitors are coming from. Then tweak your content and promotions strategy to suit your buyer’s journey best.

If you’re running a Local Citation Cleanup through a service, you should also take 5 minutes to review your local search visibility changes. Services like this run in the background, but it’s always good to keep a pulse on the results you’re getting.

Quarterly Website Maintenance Items

Every three months, we recommend you sit down for a dedicated period of time to review the conversion rates of your website and the accuracy of your business information. Consider the following:

  1. Have your service offerings, products, or service area changed without being properly revised on your website? If so, page content may need revised, entire pages removed and redirected, or entire pages added.
  2. Has your team grown or changed in the last three months? Have you won any awards or been recognized by any industry associations? If anything like this has occurred, you may need to update the “About Us” sections of your website.
  3. Is your contact information the same from address, to phone number, to client portal access points, and more?
  4. Are the website graphics and photos up to date? If they are stock photos, consider when you will be able to coordinate with a photographer to get your own photos.

After evaluating the accuracy of your content, be sure to review the conversion rates of specific features, offerings, and evaluate ways to improve your buyer’s online journey to increase your conversion rate further. Test and tweak your forms and automated messages and evaluate the effectiveness of your website’s integration with your CRM and email marketing system. If anything can be automated reasonably, now is a good time to set those automations in motion and reset expectations with your team about the change in process.

About every three months, it is good to do a pulse check regarding proper “website and data hygiene,” especially if you have multiple people working on the website. Check that your content contributors have properly uploaded the last three months of blogs with search engine friendly meta descriptions and optimized imagery. If the content meta information and/or featured image is missing entirely, be sure to retrain your content contributors on best practices. By checking adherence quarterly, you’re safeguarding yourself from a tedious, mind-numbing cleanup process years later.

To keep your reporting accurate, check that current and any new employees have provided you their IP addresses from any office computers and home networks to filter out of your Google Analytics data. You can also check the box in your Google Analytics that filters out any known bot traffic. Then, do a quick check that any previous employees have have their website permissions revoked to ensure the security of your website.

You should also keep a pulse on your hosting server health quarterly. You can do this by checking the “uptime” logs. If your website’s uptime is less than 99.9%, consult with your website hosting provider to find an amicable solution.

Yearly Website Maintenance Items

Once a year, you should take a high level, strategic look at your website. Review your website strategy to align with your upcoming business goals and consider updating your website (either portions of it or the entire site). Consider if there is any “content drag” on your website and how to clean up underperforming pages and articles so that your website is functioning at its highest potential. Get feedback from your analytics, team, and customers about your website navigation and features. Use your finding to inform potential changes to your menu, website features, site architecture, etc.

Oftentimes your domain name registration, SSL, and any theme and plugin renewals are due annually. Be sure to check your email for these notices if you’re not set up for automatic renewal for any of these technologies. 

Take 2 minutes to update the copyright date in your website footer and any other references. Review your website’s privacy policy and user data collection disclosures to ensure they are up to date with the most recent legal requirements.

Do Websites Need Maintenance?

Well…do cars need maintenance? Do homes need maintenance? Do humans need maintenance? The answer regarding the necessity of website maintenance is the same. YES. Anything worth anything requires maintenance and upkeep.

If you’re hosting your website through a third-party like GoDaddy, SiteGround, Amazon Web Services, BlueHost, HostGator, or any number of other providers, and you do not have a plan that includes these features, the responsibility falls on you and your team to keep up with your website properly. We recommend you create a project in your preferred project management tool with recurring tasks on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis so that 3 years down the road you’re not left wondering how your website degraded so horribly.

Complete Website Maintenance Services

Your website is one of the largest assets to your business. If you’re finding you do not have the bandwidth or knowledge to responsibly maintain your website, consider purchasing a website maintenance plan from a local website company where you’ll personally know the humans who are monitoring your website for you.