In the previous three parts of this series, we discussed the core elements needed to create a marketing-ready website. Unfortunately, your website will need constant attention, upgrades, and monitoring to keep it running efficiently and safely. At Power Marketing, we compare a website to a car (we do this too much). If you buy a new vehicle, it will run perfectly for a while. But, over time, the car will slowly break down if the oil is not changed, tires aren’t maintained, air filter cleaned, etc. A website is similar. It needs scheduled maintenance and monitoring to avoid expensive repairs or, the worst-case scenario, massive failure.
Security Updates and Backups (a.k.a People are Devious)
Hacking. You’ve heard the term thousands of times in the past few years. But, what exactly is it? Hacking takes many different forms, from phishing to malware attacks. For our purposes, we will focus on individuals hacking websites through software that isn’t updated. Although there is no standard term for these types of hackers, it’s one of the most prevalent attacks. Websites use additional software, also known as plugins, for features like search bars, news feeds, and blogging. These plugins are highly vulnerable to attacks if not updated regularly. Of course, you may ask yourself, “who would want to hack my website?” These attacks typically are not directed at individuals or organizations—hackers merely want to hack anything where they can gain access to information, data, etc. In other words, they just want to cause problems.
Regular security updates will not only keep your website secure and protected, but it will keep your information and your customer’s data protected. So, updating your website will diminish your chances of being hacked.
Having your website on a private server is a good start. But, backing up your website every 24 hours also is very helpful. Hacking your website may be inevitable. But, in case of complete failure, there will be a recoverable version from the previous day. Sure there will be items missing, but the missing items will be minimal.
Websites Slow Down
Websites that don’t receive monthly maintenance will most likely have slow load times. Going back to our car comparison, if your new car has been on the road for a few months, the vehicle will pick up baggage, extra passengers, dirt, and maybe a few scratches. After some time, the car will start moving slower. A website is the same. Websites can pick up code, you may add pages and images, and the framework (CMS) may need upgrading. All of these will slow down your website, especially images. With the new Google update coming in May (now pushed back to June), page speeds will have more weight with SEO especially on mobile. Almost half of your potential customers will leave your website if it doesn’t load within three seconds.
Home Builder websites are notoriously slow since most of them contain large images galleries of homes, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Avoid this problem by optimizing images monthly or even using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). These practices will optimize the download times for your website.
Check Your Search Terms
In part two of this series, we discussed setting up your website with onsite and offsite SEO to attract potential customers by identifying the terms they use when looking for your product. Monthly reviews of these search terms can help you see what words potential customers are using to find you and the most popular pages. These reviews will also identify new keywords for the future. SpyFu and UberSuggest are websites where you can get high-level overviews at no charge.
Another benefit of reviewing search terms, you can see if someone has added unwanted content to your website. For example, I was working with a Builder’s Association in the Northeast. Their traffic tripled in six months. A quick review of their top pages revealed someone added a page to the website about hacking an online game. That was their number one page. We found it and removed it.
Monthly Audits / Checking Backlinks
Each month we perform a diagnostic for our clients with SEO or advanced managed services agreements. The software scans websites for toxic backlinks, disconnected pages, or missing SEO elements, among other things.
Backlinks are when another website links to your website as a source of information. These links increase your SEO since another source is citing your website as reputable. The problem is non-reputable websites will also link to your website. These are known as toxic links. Toxic links can come from websites that are not relevant to your business, have security issues, or websites not meeting Google’s standards for websites. These harmful links can damage your SEO or even get you penalized by Google.
Also, pages on websites can disconnect and not work. Disconnections are common and easily fixed. Contacts pages and Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons are most likely to be affected. Typically these pages are your top lead source. So they need to be checked monthly, if not weekly.
Keeping your website safe is an ongoing process. Any reputable company will provide these services for a fee or as part of an SEO, hosting, or website build packages. The important part is to make sure you don’t let your maintenance and security lapse. If it does, have a backup plan.
Power Marketing has been a valued technical partner for homebuilders, contractors, and the home services industries for almost three decades.
Contact us today for a free consultation in regard to your website’s speed, security and maintenance!