Fix Problems Before They Happen With Website Maintenance

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In this fast-paced era of technological growth, it is more important than ever to keep your website running at peak performance. You have invested significant time and cost in building a great website. Keeping your website up to date will give it the longevity that protects your investment.

Good website maintenance isn’t just about applying updates: the goal is to ensure your site serves your customers and your marketing needs with as little interruption as possible. Things like visible error messages, injected malware, and missing or broken SSL certificates – all of which can be inadvertently introduced to your site over time – can result in messages that scare your visitors away, or worse, disqualify ad campaigns or lower organic search rank.

While it is nearly impossible to mitigate all potential errors, there are steps you can take to greatly reduce those that do arise.

Website Maintenance Basics

Modern websites require a highly integrated stack of technologies working in conjunction to operate efficiently. At Scheffey, the majority of the websites we build and maintain rely on the WordPress platform, which sits near the top of this stack of these integrated technologies.

We choose WordPress for many reasons: it is a well-known platform, it has a vibrant development community, and its continuous development means features are always being added and improved. Some of the benefits from these advances are automatically applied, while others must be manually updated.

Our website maintenance principles are designed to take advantage of these advancements while we also keep your website running smoothly, ensure that it is free from errors, and provide the technology for search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to succeed. Our approach is built on eight key elements:

  1. WordPress core updates
  2. Third-party vendor WordPress plugin updates
  3. Broken link check
  4. Sitemap check
  5. Integrated site search check
  6. Google search console monitoring
  7. Form submission testing
  8. Security monitoring

WordPress Core Updates

WordPress is the content management system that powers the “back end” of your website. It is under constant development by a team of dedicated developers. While this is a net positive effect, constant development can introduce changes that cause breaks or errors on your website. Applied updates should be immediately and professionally reviewed to ensure that your website continues to function as expected. Your website developer can also perform critical technical steps, such as creating a database backup, prior to applying the upgrade.

Keeping the WordPress core up to date is one of the simplest ways to keep your website free from known vulnerabilities. Nobody wants to wake up to discover their website began selling handbags, knockoff shoes, or male enhancement products overnight.

Third-Party Vendor WordPress Plugin Updates

Third-party vendor plugins extend the functionality of the WordPress core. They also lower the cost of website development by providing free or low-cost solutions to your most common needs. For example, you can use a third-party plugin to add eCommerce capabilities to your website without requiring your developer to create custom code in WordPress for the same function. Other third-party plugins could include form builders, SEO plugins, image optimization tools, or a vast number of other functions.

Just like the WordPress core, many of these plugins receive regular updates to add new features and make them more stable and secure. These updates should be applied by your website developer to ensure that the process completes smoothly and the rest of your website continues to function as expected.

Broken Link Check

Sometimes updating content, adding and removing pages, and making other simple edits can introduce changes that are not reflected everywhere on the website. Checking for broken links helps catch these errors so they can be fixed. Fixing a broken link before Google or another website crawler discovers it means that content will not be accidentally removed from a search index, harming your website’s SEO and creating a negative experience for your potential customers. Broken links can also function as early indicators of larger technical problems where content is dynamically generated.

Sitemap Check

Your website automatically provides a public, but hidden, listing of all pages found in the content management system. The sitemap file is designed to help search engines index and discover all of the available pages on your website quickly. Because this file is automatically generated, it sometimes includes content you do not want search engines to index, such as form submission confirmation pages, landing pages that are not linked from the main navigation, or other content that should only be reached by following a specific path. The sitemap check verifies that the sitemap exists and only shows the content that should be publicly available.

Integrated Site Search Check

Your website may contain a search box on one or more pages. Search is a built-in feature of WordPress. By default, this search box provides function to broadly search all content within your site. Much like the sitemap, this can often reveal pages you do not want your site visitors to find directly. Performing searches with a set of standard test cases can reveal these results for additional tuning.

Google Search Console Monitoring

Google provides a service that regularly crawls your site to look for broken links and other potential indexing problems. These items are then reported in a dashboard, where a developer can view the details and perform any necessary maintenance. This function overlaps slightly with broken link checking but also provides additional insights that may not be available from other sources. Google provides technically opinionated suggestions ranging from overall site speed to the physical proximity of interface elements.

Form Submission Testing

Website forms are one of the most critical pieces of your website. If a form breaks down, you may lose one of your primary communication channels to your customers. Forms often require a delicate connection of resources and services. If even one of the many components creating your form is changed or malfunctions, it can prevent the entire form from working properly. Testing forms at regular intervals ensures that you never miss a critical chance to connect with your leads or current clients and customers.

Security Monitoring

Every public-facing website is, at one time or another, exposed to a number of attempted threats or penetration tests. Though the majority of these threats fail, the attempts themselves use valuable system resources that would otherwise be diverted to legitimate web traffic from average users. These attacks can be mitigated with additional site monitoring. This monitoring logs the number of attempts to log in to known administrative backends of a website, the user names used in login attempts, and other hits to known vulnerabilities or resources. As a result, a developer can analyze these logs and blacklist invalid user names, offending IP addresses, entire networks, or entire countries or groups from accessing the web server entirely.

Choose Maintenance Over Repair

Just like maintaining your home, car, or other major investments, website maintenance is a crucial service. Not only is maintenance important, it can save you time, money, and unnecessary trouble in the future. It is often easier to prevent a problem than it is to fix it while you lose site visitors and credibility.

Our website maintenance plan is designed to keep your website operating at peak performance. Pair regular maintenance with content and marketing updates, and your website will retain users, provide useful resources, and position your business for success in search rankings. Maintaining a website is constant, detailed, and technical work. We focus on the technology so you can focus on what matters most to you – your business.

To get started on a website maintenance plan, drop us a line or give us a call. We’d love to talk with you.