When investing in a new website, many people mistakenly believe that designing and launching a site is all the work that is needed to maintain a presence on the Internet. Unfortunately a website is never a finished product because it needs to be constantly evolving in order to keep up with advances in the fast-paced digital world. Visitors will click out of your website disgruntled, if there are broken links, pages load slowly, or content on it is not updated regularly. The lack of proper web management also gives the impression of a business not paying attention to its customer experience. On a security point, hackers too are regularly trying to exploit sites by stealing data. The fallout from a website hack can be huge. The costs of a hacked or broken website far outweigh the investment on regular site management to stay secure within its operating environment. Therefore, websites cannot work flawlessly without regular maintenance to keep everything up-to-date and secure.
Whether you do the tasks yourself or hire out the work for website maintenance, it still needs to get done. To effectively manage your site, you need to consider five key areas:
1. Managing Your Site Content
It is so important to keep creating fresh and relevant content for your site—which can include text, product information, images, videos, free giveaways and more—to draw in new visitors and engage existing customers to read, share and comment. It will benefit you to publish regularly, support content sharing, and manage comments on your site to encourage people to check back often because it will give you a boost in your search engine rankings. To stay on track, decide on a publishing schedule and the types of content to publish. Consider the following types of content for your site-
- Product updates– Announcements for launch or discontinuation of products and price changes. You will need to update navigation and create a new page for the product or remove the pages of discontinued offerings.
- Company News – Update all information about your company and employees, whether it is media mentions, news articles related to your site or products, new staff announcements, etc as social proof to build trust among visitors.
- Feature Addition– Go over your site and make improvements to features as and when necessary, such as adding a blog or buttons/links to social profiles, FAQ section, etc.
- Giveaways – Consider including free downloads, giveaways or running a contest periodically to create buzz around your site.
To get your content noticed by visitors and search engines, you need to get the word out using available tools discussed below.
- Subscription – You can lure subscribers to your site with free offers of downloadable e-book or whitepapers.
- RSS Feeds – Create an RSS feed for your regular readers and use a widget to make subscribing easy.
- Social media – Identify the right social media platforms for your target audience and build your presence on these networks by scheduling regular posts. Use available social media plugins like WP to Twitter, Postcron and Share This to post new content and prompt readers to share it through their own social media accounts.
If you are running a blog or a community site then it is absolutely essential to enable comments so your readers feel more engaged with your content. Even though you want your readers to voice their opinions, you still have to moderate comments before they are published and decide on how to respond to them.
2. Managing Your Site’s Code
None of the content will be displayed in browsers without some code to power your site. All websites, particularly those with databases and built on Content Management Systems, depend on complicated lines of code and specific software on your web host. Third party software, like WordPress and Joomla are always updating their software for bug fixes, security patches or feature enhancements. Your website may quickly become outdated if the code, database tables, or software is not upgraded regularly with the latest patches and security releases. The plugins, extensions and themes on your site should also have code that is efficient, reliable, and compatible.
3. Managing Your Site Performance
For a high-performing site, you have to identify areas of improvement in your website ranging from design, user interface, and content. You have to constantly manage the performance of your site against its specific goals—such as generating more traffic, increasing conversions, etc.—to encourage visitors to return. To maximize your website performance, you also need to manage the following tasks:
- Search Engine Optimization to help your site appear on the first page of the search results for the keywords/phrase your target audience may be using to look for content.
- Conversion optimization to encourage visitors to take action such as consuming your content, joining your community, making a purchase, subscribing, or calling your business.
- Gain a better understanding of your site, stats and conversions, and how people behave on it using plugins such as Google Analytics.
- Track in-site activity like bounce rates, referring sites, geo-location of visitors to your site, etc. through your web hosting account.
Optimize your site through responsive design for all platforms your visitors may use, including mobile and touch devices as well as desktop PCs. Not only should the site’s layout automatically resize on smaller screens, navigation should be easy too. Alternatively use an adaptive theme to ensure responsiveness for layout across platforms, through the use of CSS and also server side techniques with the use of PHP. You also have to ensure fast page load times by testing site speed regularly so that it does not impact traffic adversely.
4. Managing Your Site Back-Up
You can avoid potential headaches by backing up your website regularly. Even if your web host provides backup services for your site on their servers, it is wise to take a few minutes to create and store back-ups as soon as you make changes or edits to your site. Do not rely on doing this job manually. If you do, Murphy’s Law says that you will forget to back-up your site the day before it goes down or is hacked. Rather install and configure a plugin to take regular automatic back-ups of your site and store them securely. Consider the times and days when you do most of the work on your site, and schedule backups accordingly.
5. Managing Your Site Security
People with malicious intent often trawl sites to discover vulnerabilities in code and backdoors to gain access to your site. Therefore, it is vital to manage the security of your server and website software by implementing the latest patches and new security releases. It would be wise to take some additional steps to guard against hackers and spammers on your site, as outlined below:
- Have secure site administration
- Ensure correct configurations for added security
- Use SFTP instead of FTP when editing or loading site files
- Use strong passwords for access to admin directory
- Only use plugins and themes from trusted sources.
- Lock down parts of your site or restrict access by including Restrict access by IP address
If you’re running an e-commerce site or multisite installation, use SSL for added protection to encrypt data between the browser and the server.
Be sure to monitor your site for attacks so you can take action as quickly as possible. Once an exploit has taken place, hackers often leave depository code to continue manipulating your system for their benefits, so you also need to address the source of the hack and fix any damage it has caused, and then upgrade the website code.
Website Management Made Easy
For a high-performing and secure site that engages successfully with its audience, you will have to actively manage the following major tasks on an ongoing basis:
- Creating content to engage with readers
- Keeping your code and software up to date
- Monitoring your site’s performance to improve reliability and page speed
- Improving search engine optimization and conversion optimization to make your site valuable to visitors
- Setting up regular automated back-ups so that you can restore your site anytime and anywhere
- Enhancing your site’s security to protect from hackers and spammers
Your web designer should provide you with a bug & glitch-free, professional website and your web host should ensure a secure and reliable hosting environment with updated software, security patches, and backups of your website. But ultimately it is your responsibility as the site owner to ensure regular attention and maintenance for your website.