Image credit: Small Business Expo

Website Maintenance Services You Need to Know

Keeping a website well maintained and attractive is important to companies big and small in order to engage and retain customers. What is the cause? You need to understand the website maintenance service to get the most specific and smart look.
By Anna Doan | 12 min read
on July 9, 2019
Image credit: Small Business Expo

We would all like to think we can just build a website and walk away from it, but the truth is someone has to take care of it. Once a website is built and launched, it must be maintained to ensure they remain secure and up-to-date. A lot of things can happen or go wrong if it gets neglected. A website that’s not maintained can ruin your reputation and your business. In this article, we’ll discuss website maintenance service and website maintenance plans so that you can have an overview and make the right decision to improve and upgrade your website more and more progressively.

What are website maintenance services?

  • Website maintenance services is the act of regularly checking your website for issues and mistakes and keeping it updated and relevant. This should be done on a consistent basis in order to keep your website healthy, encourage continued traffic growth, and strengthen your SEO and Google rankings.  
  • Keeping a website well maintained and attractive is important to companies big and small in order to engage and retain customers. It’s easy for businesses, especially startups, to cut corners and let a few tasks slide. Website maintenance can easily become one of those things as it doesn’t always present immediate issues. However, just like your health can fall apart if you go too long without a regular check up, so can the health of your website.

What Are Website Maintenance Plans?

  • A website maintenance plan is an ongoing premium service to keep the website up-to-date. This usually includes the website’s WordPress core, plugins, and themes. Plans can also include other services. For example, the website will also need to be tested and improved. Many maintenance plans include backups and site monitoring.
  • A maintenance plan can offer any or all of these services. Since there are so many options, many providers have a range of plans so clients can choose exactly what they want. Often these are tasks that website owners are not skilled with or don’t have time to complete themselves.

Why Is It Important to Do Website Maintenance?

Maintaining a current, healthy, and active website is important for a number of reasons.

1. SEO

  • The whole point to starting a business is to have customers, clients, or an audience. To drive traffic to your website, you’ll need to keep it regularly updated.
  • Google wants to rank websites that have the most relevant and up-to-date information on their search engine results page. They may even de-index your website entirely if it hasn’t been updated recently enough and if they suspect it has been infected by malware. You must keep your website regularly updated with current content, news, keywords, and articles in order to rank well in search results.
  • Regularly website maintenance is invaluable for SEO strategy.

2. Customer Attraction/Engagement

If your website is gaining traction and traffic, it’s important to keep those potential customers. If they aren’t able to find what they are looking for, current information and relevant content, there is a good chance you’ll lose interest quickly. In order for your website to be the useful tool you want, you’ll need to ensure it is free from typos and grammar issues, has any and all information a customer could want, and looks engaging and consistent.

3. Security

This is the single most important reason to keep website maintenance on your radar, particularly if your website is storing any form of customer information. If you are using a website building platform like WordPress or Wix, you must ensure that you are installing regular software updates and security patches. It can be easy and attractive for hackers to find and target websites that have sat dormant for too long.

4. Corporate Image

It’s becoming more and more simple to create a website that looks well-designed and professional. There is an expectation for a professional website from professional companies. If your website doesn’t deliver on the promise of professionalism, your customers will often go elsewhere.

5. Keep up with Trends in Design and Technology

  • The sleeker your website is, the more you’ll convince potential customers that you are their ultimate choice. If you’re staying on top of your website maintenance, you’ll also have the opportunity to be an early adopter of new website technology that will help the back-end run more smoothly. If you’re installing software updates regularly, you’ll be able to take advantage of new features that install along with the updates.
  • You’ll also be able to tweak your design to stay on top of the latest website looks. It’s far more tempting to employ a company with a polished and modern website than one that looks like it hopped on a time travel device several years ago.

What Should You Include in a Website Maintenance Plan?

Typically, maintenance plans are tiered, allowing developers or site managers to cater to different levels of needs requirements.

  • Updates to WordPress core: WordPress core upgrades release periodically, and even through WP core will eventually update itself on site within time, it’s a good idea to update these core files manually and then check the front end to ensure that the site is still functioning in order.
  • Theme and plugin updates: To ensure compatibility between all site software, themes and plugins should be upgraded when new versions become available.
  • Backups: A website maintenance plan should include some sort of backup plan. These backups (of site files and the database/s) should be executed as often as possible. Automatic backups can be set up using a number of free, freemium or premium plugins, with a cloud storage option used for storing site files. Automatic backups can be set up using UpDraftPlus (free version available), BackupBuddy or VaultPress.
  • Security: Preventing website hacking and attacks is of utmost importance, thus adding site security measures and reporting to a maintenance plan is a great practice. iThemes Security used in conjunction with Wordfence and Sucuri make a great team for site security.

Going above and beyond, you could increase the level of value for your client extending to another tier or greater package. Here, you could offer the following:

  • Support: Depending on the client, you may find yourself receiving more emails than you’d like. Adding a dedicated time for support into a maintenance plan will allow you to tend to a client’s support queries and get paid for your time.
  • Site health checks: If you’re interested in working a bit closer to your client, consider offering general site health check, including scanning for 404-page errors or broken links, and suggesting fixes. These can be assessed and reported by using Google Search Console.
  • Content management: If your clients are fond of contacting you to request minor changes to their content, you could add a few hours per month into a maintenance plan to address their needs. These content requests can range from either updating rates or prices, adding new staff members, entering workshop/event/promotion details or even adding a new blog post or two per month.
  • Consulting: If you’re not just interested in building websites, but are invested in growing businesses through online marketing, you can include a set amount of hours dedicated to consulting. Here, you can set aside time to chat with your clients about ways in which you can grow their online presence together. These consulting check-ins can be weekly or monthly, they could be face-to-face, over the phone, or via Skype. Here, you could discuss plenty of ways in which you could assist them in reaching their business goals, refining their websites user journey, planning product launches or campaigns and much more.
  • Data tracking and reporting: If you’re a fan of stats and graphs, you can easily add reporting to your maintenance plans. From email to social to site traffic tracking tools (Google Analytics and Search Console), you could easily set up automatic reports for your clients, or, you could add a personal touch – possibly with some strategic recommendations based on trends and patterns in the correlated data – for an extra fee.

Average Website Maintenance Costs

Small Blog Website Maintenance Cost: $5 to $25 per month

A small 'hobby site' blog (fewer than 100 monthly visitors) is usually very cheap to maintain. On average, a small blog will cost between $5 and $25 per month, with the majority of that money going towards paying hosting costs and domain registration costs. Since the website owner typically does all of the setup and maintenance of the site themselves, as well as writes their own content and takes their own photographs, these sites cost almost nothing to create and maintain. Basic hosting packages will offer all of the functionality that a small blog needs at a low price, which also helps keep maintenance costs down. To help cut costs on your small blog, try to limit yourself to free tools, templates, and photography. Since most free tools will still provide all of the basic functionality needed to run a small blog, it usually isn't worth it to pay extra for features you're unlikely to use.

Small Blog Maintenance Cost Breakdown:

  • Domain registration cost: $10-$20 annually, $1-$2 per month.
  • Hosting costs: $0-20 per month.
  • Website design costs: $0 per month.
  • Technical website maintenance: $0 per month.
  • Additional plugins and tools:$0-10 per month.
  • Cost of SSL license: $0 (if included with hosting) to $10 per month

Medium Blog Maintenance Cost: $20 to $60 per month

A medium (100-1000 monthly visitors) sized blog that isn't engaging in much (or any) paid advertising or marketing efforts will typically cost about $20 - $60 per month in maintenance costs. Medium-sized blogs may spend a little more in platform or hosting costs to unlock additional functionalities, or on plugins like anti-spam tools. Since the majority of the content is typically created by either the site's creator or through content partnerships with other blogs, content costs tend to be low. Since most photography is either done by the site owner or sourced from free photography websites, these costs tend to be minimal as well. The technical maintenance and setup are often done by the site owner, although they may occasionally need to hire a freelancer on a per-project basis. To help cut costs on these sites, try to use free templates, focus on content partnerships and social media rather than paid advertisements, and use free tools wherever possible.

Medium Blog Maintenance Cost Breakdown:

  • Domain registration cost: $10-$20 annually, $1-$2 per month.
  • Hosting costs: $0-20 per month.
  • Website design costs:$0 per month.
  • Technical website maintenance: $0-20 per month.
  • Additional plugins and tools:$0-$10 per month.
  • Cost of SSL license: $0 (if included with hosting) to $10 per month.

Large or Growth-Focused Blog Maintenance Cost: $50 to $300 per month

A large blog (more than 1K monthly visitors) or a blog investing in growing their audience will likely spend more money per month in website maintenance. The costs of marketing and advertising is likely to be the largest expenditure, with the monthly costs depending entirely on the budget of the website owner and how much they're willing to spend. Content creation and photography costs are also likely to increase, as these sites may pay for licensed photography or hire freelancers/employees for content creation. Monthly maintenance costs are likely to increase as well - since many tools offer pricing plans based on the number of monthly visitors to a site or uses of the tool, larger blogs will likely need to pay for the premium or paid versions of tools that smaller blogs can get for free. Such is the price for success!

Large Blog Maintenance Cost Breakdown:

  • Domain registration Cost: $10-$20 annually, $1-$2 per month.
  • Hosting costs: $0-20 per month.
  • Website design costs:$0-100 per month.
  • Technical website maintenance: $0-100 per month.
  • Additional plugins and tools:$0-50 per month.
  • Cost of SSL license: $0 (if included with hosting) to $10 per month.

Conclusion:

If your business or organization does not have a comprehensive website maintenance plan, it’s never too late to start. All you have to do is contact a reliable web design agency and they will provide you with an initial assessment and consultation. During your consultation, they will explain the nuts and bolts of website maintenance step by step. You will sleep better knowing that if anything should go wrong with your business website you have professional website support.

We have experienced with a lot of small business owners across industries have a hard time keeping their online presence visible. One of our clients told us that their website does not generate any value to their business. After a discovery session with them, we realized there is a resource constraint and a bunch of business activities would distract them from keeping up with the operation of the online brand. Now, they have a dedicated online manager to oversee all activities of online brand, including content updates, performance tracking, improvements and technical support so they can stay focused on business.

If you need help with online presence management for your business, you can check out our subscription plans for small business owners to get a dedicated site manager.

This article is also credited to executionists and Brenda Barron

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