There’s this thing call “website rotting” – I call it cyber rot. Websites decay over time due to neglect, tech advances, and other changes that occur over time online. Links stop working. Plugins go defunct. Grammar hiccups occur, and many more.
The result is that your site (even mine and I’m a web guy) will not function properly, thus costing you possible leads, subscribers, sales, etc.
The key is to have a handy pair of eyes on it regularly, keeping it in tip top shape. Just like maintaining good health or keep your car tuned up, your site needs maintenance.
In this article, I will share with you three of my top maintenance tips you should be doing regularly. Monthly at the least. More often, if you’ve got heavy traffic or are blogging.
1. Backing up regularly
I’ve had ex-clients lose sites because of no backup. I’ve saved websites (years of work) because a backup was made.
Sometimes restoring a site is a breeze, and other times it’s a huge time sink – even for a web guy like me. For non-techies (and even many self-claimed website experts) the process can be a complete nightmare.
My point is that things can get ugly if you’re not insuring yourself against a site breakdown or a loss. And the main way to do that is get backed up regularly. Hands-down, this is priority #1.
Think of it like home insurance. Can you afford to lose your site?
There are many ways to do this, but in a very thorough LinkedIn discussion with my WordPress group (discussion is here warning: very techie) the winning choice of backing up to date is using BackupBuddy.
The best parts are that it’s easy to setup (a little techie), it runs automatically, it backs up as often as daily, it backs up everything (pages, themes, plugins, media files, database), and it can store the backup in a separate location (safer).
2. Update your software
Developers are constantly improving WordPress (or other site building software like Joomla). They are updated to improve functionality, run faster, fix bugs, and protect against malicious people (spammers, hackers).
Plugins and other third-party technology that connect to your site (like shopping cart software, or social media tools) get updated regularly to ensure things are working well.
Thus, you’ll need keep your site current with updates. To apply these updates, you need to confirm you want the updates and test your site to ensure it functions properly (see #4 below).
3. Speed testing
When sites run slow, people hit the road – you lose visitors. And there are many things that can affect your site’s speed.
There are things you can’t control like your like your host company or the visitor’s internet access speed (e.g. ipad user with dial-up access only during travel). And, there are things you can control, like your file sizes and your choice of technology that your site is built on.
To ensure you’re on top of your site speed, use a speed test checker. One fantastic provider is Pingdom. They do automated checks and have an easy interface for setting up a regular test. They offer a basic free service, too.
4. Functional testing
This is rarely done by small business site owners. Functional testing means that you run through your interactive website features as if you’re a user. Things like commenting on a blog or filling out a contact form are two examples.
The hitch is that when people use your site and it fails, they often just leave. Rare is the visitor who will alert you of a tech issue.
So you should be doing some quick functional tests on a regular basis, at least monthly.
One great plugin for WordPress for testing out links is the Broken Link Checker for WordPress.
For much of your site, it will require you (or a VA) to physically click around your site and use it. While technology can capture many issues, hiccups like pages linked to wrong pages can only be caught by a human.
A bunch of other things that could / should be tested regularly, depending on importance to your marketing are the following:
- Spelling / grammar
- RSS feeds
- Email list messages
- Social network connections
- Blog commenting / sharing
- Browser testing
- IPhone / Mobile device testing
- Any sales pages
- Links from other sites to yours that are vital to traffic
- Your site’s appearance in Google listings
In summary, your site needs regular caring for it to effectively serve your visitors and grow your business. Start implementing, a regular maintenance program, even if it’s just 5 minutes of clicking around your site each month.
Let me ask you …
Are you watching out for your site? Are you backing up or testing it out on a regular basis? Have you ever saved your hiney from a major tech problem? Have you had any major website war story?
I’d love to hear from you. Post your comment below.