Why is Website Maintenance so Important
When companies invest in a website, there’s a misconception that once it’s built, it should be fine forever. However, that’s far from true. Website Maintenance is an essential part of keeping a shiny brand presence in addition to other factors.
Why do I need to Maintain my Website?
Your website requires regular maintenance just like your computer. When you notice that there’s some issues on your computer, the standard reaction is to restart it – Hopefully that takes care of it. the next step is to ensure that all your software is up to date. Your website works much the same way.
The internet is a very dynamic environment where software and their environments are constantly changing. This happens with your hosting provider, WordPress, and the plugins installed on your website. The code used in the back end can become quickly outdated and therefore requires constant care.
Hackers are constantly looking to find new inroads to your website. They aren’t interested in your website specifically, but rather the resources that it holds. For example, Just recently, I was getting spammed up to 200 emails per day. It was ‘undeliverable’ email – just like when you send an email and it bounces back. I discovered that someone hacked into my account and was using the form plugin to spam email addresses. Consequently, they were all bouncing back into my email account. This was an older site that I haven’t gotten around to removing yet, so it wasn’t a big deal. I quickly found the cause and got it stop. If I would have maintained that website, that would not have happened.
Preventative maintenance is always better than dealing with the fallout after the fact.
What Does Website Maintenance Entail?
Updating WordPress & Plugins:
In 2015 WordPress pushed out 25 updates. This year (2016) WordPress pushed out 26 updates so far. Some of the updates are just days apart. That’s an average of more than 2 per month. In addition to that are the plugins used on your website that are constantly being updated to coincide with the WordPress updates as well as security patches that are implemented.
Hackers and blackhat marketers are constantly looking for ways to get backlinks to their website. A strategy often used is to write comments on peoples websites like, “That’s a great post, I would like to see more posts like this” Comments may also show up as a miscellaneous mess of text. These comments are spam of course, but they take up space and add to the mess of your website – even though they may not end up being made public. In the end as the list of spam comments grow, it begins to slow down your website. But this doesn’t mean that the whole idea of backlinking is erroneous & illicit. Backlinks are often used by whitehat companies and ethical hackers to increase the ranking of websites. One may download this great guide to backlinking and perspicuously understand what backlinking is about.
If you look at the website of your hosting provider, changes are they will boast a 99.9% uptime for their servers. That statistic may not really be the truth. There are times when your website may go down and you may not even be aware of it. Your website might go down for a few minutes, a few hours or a few days. Wouldn’t you like know when it happens and how often? A person dedicated to Website Maintenance will keep an eye on your site and if your site does go down, follow up with the hosting company and work to resolve the problem.
Your WordPress website has two parts to it. The first are the files that make up WordPress, and the development of the site. The second is the database that those files access and depend on. Over time, and often, your database accumulates nefarious entries from things like post revisions, and such. I think of it as dust that can clog up the gears. Keeping your database optimized ensures that your website is running cleanly and efficiently.
WordPress Website Security:
I previously mentioned how hackers would love to get into your site to ‘borrow’ it’s resources. Your website needs to ensure that there are proper security measure put in place to reduce the risk of malicious attacks on your site. Just like installing anti-virus software on your computer, your website needs to be scanned on a regular basis to ensure there are no attempts made on your website.
In the example I gave for one of my websites being hacked. the website itself still looked fine and functioned without issue. However, it was still broken into. If I had done regular scans of my site, I would have likely caught the fact someone had planted some code somewhere in my website.
The most important thing anyone with a website can do is to keep it backed up. If you don’t often make changes to your website, backups should happen at a minimum of once per month. If you are making changes more often, such as writing blog posts. I encourage you to backup your site once per week.
I encourage my clients who write their blog posts to first write them in Word, or keep a copy on their computer. If the website is affected in some way and needs to be restored, it’s much easier to copy and paste your blog posts back in then trying to remember what you wrote.
Keeping your site backed up is much cheaper than paying to have your site re-built after some irreparable damage.
Shouldn’t my Hosting Company Take Care of This?
The short answer is No. Your hosting company is responsible for the platform on which their services are built – namely the servers. They maintain their internal networks and the servers that make them up. While hosting companies have policies regarding what is on their servers, they are not responsible for maintaining the software you place on your account (ie. WordPress).
Hosting companies are constantly guarding against being hacked as much as possible. They look to protect their networks but the honest truth is that it’s essentially your account, and are responsible for what and how you use it.
Hosting companies also backup their severs and the files on them. In a sense, they do back up your website. however, if you were to ask them to restore your website, they will tell you that they are unable to restore “just” your website. They will restore your entire account, which will likely affect all of your email as well, and any other setting made to your hosting account. Then they will charge accordingly for it. For hosting companies restoring a backup is NOT a simple process. Restoring your WordPress website can in many cases be done in less than 30 minutes.
What Happens if my Website is Not Maintained?
If you’ve read this far, I think you get the idea of what happens when your website isn’t properly taken care of. In short, your website becomes vulnerable to being hacked, as well as the elements on your site get misaligned both affecting your brand presentation.
How do elements on your website become misaligned? When WordPress or plugins are updated, changes are often made to core files which often has an impact on things are displayed. the coding the website developer used also then needs to be updated as well.
Currently, 27% of all websites on the Internet are using WordPress. This makes WordPress a hungry target for attacks. This is one of the key facts that make your website so vulnerable to being attacked. You can get more from Sandcastle Web Design about their services you could use to improve your website’s ranking.
Who’s Fault is it if my Website Breaks?
It’s nobody’s fault really.
The Web Designer is responsible for delivering a solidly built website that’s properly displays the desired content.
The Hosting Provider is responsible for keeping your website up and running and accessible online.
It’s Your responsibility to ensure that your website is properly maintained and taken care and protected.
How do I Maintain my Website?
As you can see, your website is not a final product that’s forgotten about. It is a dynamic space on the internet that needs to continue functioning in an ever evolving environment. For a website to be successful investment, a website needs to be maintained both on a content level as well as a technical level.
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Randy Dueck | Founder Street Smart Creative