Website Maintenance Guide: Importance, Steps, and Costs
Website maintenance is the practice of consistently keeping a website up-to-date and operationally sound in coherence with the client's business standards.
Regardless of the type of business, web maintenance is essential to maintaining a professional online presence and ensuring that a website continues to accomplish the overall business purpose. A website is often the first point of contact for potential customers or site visitors.
Having a well-maintained website can make a solid first impression to establish credibility, build trust, engage, and produce repeat customers. Having a slow, outdated, and poor site performance can promptly turn site visitors away and harm a business's reputation.
To avoid frequent outages and ensure high availability of the website's uptime, a strategic web maintenance plan should be developed, which should comprise different maintenance tasks, including site performance monitoring, server maintenance, website speed optimization, hosting service, and content management system monitoring, and various website updates to help minimize the risk of getting hack and secure website.
Understanding what's included in your website maintenance package can help you determine the website's maintenance costs to plan your website project's budget.
How much budget is needed to spend for your website maintenance cost may vary on the type of website. For e-commerce businesses, web maintenance is essential as it helps ensure that transactions are processed securely and smoothly, protecting the company and its customers.
This requires a high monthly maintenance cost compared to other types of websites. Implementation of the website maintenance plan should prioritize objectives based on the client's vision, goals, and external factors that could affect the entire website operation.
As web developers, the main goal is to produce high-quality, up-to-date, innovative websites that meet your client's business needs. While it's satisfying when a website is finally launched, and the client is pleased with the initial result, finishing a website for the business never means you are done with your work.
Websites must be continuously monitored and maintained with updates, backups, and security measures. Websites can be vulnerable to security threats and system failure, which requires extreme attention to protect the website assets and its users.
In addition, website builders and professionals need to consider how changes in technology, design trends, and user behavior can impact a website's performance and usability. The website's user experience can quickly become outdated if it is not regularly updated and optimized. This can include ongoing testing and code and design updates to ensure that a website performs well at a professional level after launch.
A website maintenance plan can allow web professionals to keep in contact with existing clients. However, consistently implementing the process of a strategic maintenance plan is needed if you want to ensure that the client's website is running smoothly and is at high website's performance at all times.
Website owners should be updated on the website maintenance services you are providing and inform them about the factors they did not know that are affecting their day-to-day or future website operations such as server monitoring, page load time optimization, security issues, or any website maintenance tasks that need to take place keep the client's website functioning properly and up to date. Frequent maintenance helps to ensure a positive user experience, retains customers, and maintains the website's ranking.
What is website maintenance?
Website maintenance is the practice or activity of consistently keeping a website up-to-date and operationally sound in coherence with the client's business standards regardless of type, whether a personal website or business, to ensure website security, maximize traffic growth, enhance website performance, provide a better user experience, improve search engine optimization, and gain better search engine results for specific target keywords.
Several website maintenance tasks can include updating the website's content, fixing broken links, addressing security vulnerabilities, monitoring hosting provider outages, and updating codes, plugins, and integrated software. In a nutshell, it is about doing everything necessary to ensure that your website functions correctly and according to its intended purpose.
Everyday site maintenance tasks include:
- Adding new website content, updating existing content, and removing outdated content.
- Updating essential codes, plugins, integrations, or software, such as its content management system, to ensure compatibility and security.
- Monitoring the website for security threats and promptly fixing vulnerabilities when they occur.
- Checking web hosting providers for possible outages.
- Optimizing the website's loading speed and site's performance.
- Improving the website's usability, accessibility, and overall user experience.
- Optimizing the website's content and structure to improve ranking on search engines.
Factors That Make Web Maintenance Essential
Web maintenance is an essential part of every business, regardless of size. It can impact every single element of your business efforts, whether it's functionality, sales, security, or SEO. No matter how big or small your business is, if your website needs to be fixed or updated, you may miss out on essential opportunities, including gaining potential customers and leads.
Website maintenance can be helpful on the following factors:
First Impression. Data research shows that 94% of users' first impressions are related to website design. An outdated website can create a negative first impression on your brand and overall business.
Brand Reputation. A well-maintained website can reinforce your brand reputation and help you establish trust with your target audience.
Security. More frequent maintenance helps protect against security threats, such as hacking attempts and malware infections. This is crucial if you collect sensitive information from your visitors or customers.
Performance. A regularly updated website is anticipated to run smoothly at absolute capacity. This can enhance the user experience and lower the likelihood of users growing frustrated and leaving your site.
Compatibility. New technologies and integrations can break your website if not given enough attention. Implementing website maintenance services can help ensure that your site remains accessible and is compatible across multiple technology channels.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Popular search engines such as Google and Bing have continuously evolving algorithms, and a website that needs to be regularly updated may fall behind in search engine results pages. Performing regular website maintenance to your website content and keeping everything up-to-date can help improve its SEO and attract more organic traffic.
Types of Website Maintenance
Website deployment doesn't mean the end of the project cycle. Websites need routine maintenance to prevent any security, server outages, or performance issues to ensure that the site's performance produces high-quality metrics and visibility on search engines at all times.
A post-launch website maintenance plan can consist of challenging tasks that are essential to ensure that the website runs smoothly 24/7. Having said that, there are different types of website maintenance that you need to be aware of to understand better the maintenance services and workflow that needs to be implemented:
This can include creating and storing backups of the website's data and files for future recovery and updating the website's software, plugins, and other technical components. In addition, checking for possible outages on hosting providers and renewing name records can also be a part of regular updates.
Security is an integral part of the daily maintenance tasks as it addresses vulnerabilities and the potential external threat that could break the entire website operation. This can include installing patches or updates and checking for compatibility issues when they occur.
Monitoring and optimizing website performance can ensure that the website is in its best state and running as expected. Performance optimization can help improve a website's speed, responsiveness, and overall website's SEO. Tasks may include minifying HTML, CSS, and JS files, optimizing images for faster loading, and removing web elements that can disrupt the website's loading state.
Website content must be kept up-to-date and relevant in order to be effective. This is an essential maintenance plan factor, reflecting your website's relevancy for a specific time or season. This includes adding fresh content or updating text, images, or other media and removing outdated content on the website. In addition, it may also involve refreshing the website's visual design, layout, and branding to make your website look modern and professional to attract more visitors and potential customers.
Average Costs of Web Maintenance Services
The website maintenance costs can vary depending on several factors included in a website package, such as its size and complexity. Maintaining a large and complex website can make the website maintenance cost higher than usual. This may also depend on the type of maintenance required and the level of expertise needed, as every professional and service has a different maintenance package and maintenance cost.
When dealing with maintenance costs, several factors can affect the average pricing per service, which include:
A complex website with advanced features and functionalities makes it challenging to maintain. An e-commerce website with multiple product pages and payment processing requires more maintenance than a simple personal website.
Different types of maintenance require different levels of skills, expertise, and service. Security updates and technical updates may be more complex and time-consuming than content updates.
As part of the regular website maintenance plan, more frequent maintenance, such as daily or weekly updates, will generally cost more than those that only require monthly or quarterly updates.
Size of the website
The larger the website, the more time and effort it takes to maintain. Maintaining an extensive and popular website with hundreds of pages, blog posts, and complex features will require more time and maintenance than a smaller site.
A website with multiple integrations, custom coding, and plugins will generally take more time and skills to maintain than smaller websites.
The service provider's location also affects the overall website maintenance cost. Choosing a service provider in your own country can help you save money without sacrificing features or performance.
However, cheap service providers sometimes mean the best, so you must carefully consider both the server location and your target audience location, as it may also affect the website's uptimes and downtimes.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
A service defines the level of service or agreement between the service provider and the customer. A higher level of SLA may come with a higher cost.
According to Hostinger, website maintenance may range from $5–$5,000/month to $60-$60,000/year, depending on the type of website.
Below is a brief breakdown of the average monthly website maintenance costs depending on the type of website.
Importance of Site Maintenance
A website maintenance plan is a vital asset required to keep your website running and up to date. Proper web maintenance can ensure website security, traffic boost, and customer retention. On the other hand, poor web maintenance can lead to several security vulnerabilities and poor performance, which can destroy the business's reputation and overall brand image.
Below are some of the reasons why website maintenance is essential to every business's day-to-day website operation:
Keeping the site up-to-date
Website maintenance can ensure that your online business meets the needs of its users and remains relevant in a constantly changing digital landscape. By constantly updating or refreshing website content, such as adding and updating a blog post, page, image, or other forms of media, can keep the website fresh and engaging for users. Website maintenance can retain and attract returning customers.
Website maintenance can improve your website's overall security by scanning and addressing potential threats and vulnerabilities that compromise the security of a website, mainly if your database contains several sensitive pieces of information, such as client profiles and credit card information. By updating codebases, integrations, plugins, software, and other components, website maintenance can ensure that your website is up-to-date and not vulnerable to any known security threats.
In addition, website maintenance can involve backing up website data and files regularly to have a future restoration point in case of a security breach and managing user access and permissions to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive data or functionality.
Improving overall website performance. One essential benefit of regular website maintenance is enhancing overall website performance. By regularly optimizing several website components such as codes, files, images, and other media, web maintenance can reduce the website's core size and speed up the website's page speed.
This also involves other maintenance tasks such as database optimization to ensure that all presented information and functionalities are current and working efficiently, fixing broken links to improve SEO, and mobile-first optimization to ensure that the website is responsive and web content is easy to read and navigate on mobile devices.
Increase user retention and engagement.
Website maintenance keeps your website up-to-date and relevant to deliver a great user experience. By continually making updates and maintaining the website's functionalities working properly and user-friendly can enhance user engagement and produce repeat customers or visitors.
Implementing a regular maintenance plan that includes interactive and actionable elements such as a user feedback form, polls, newsletters, social media widgets, and another user engagement-focused task can provide your visitors with the best possible user experience.
Steps in Website Maintenance
Websites need web maintenance to ensure they continue functioning at all times after launch. It's essential to note a few main web maintenance tasks and required services to help you organize these tasks and how often you should perform them: yearly, quarterly, monthly, or weekly.
What are the steps in website maintenance?
The steps required in website maintenance consist of smaller and more complex tasks, from basic content updates to sophisticated services such as database backup and malware scans. This requires setting aside time to methodically and thoroughly review all aspects of websites from front-end, back-end, and even databases which need consistent attention to ensure that your website is running smoothly, providing a positive user experience, and supporting your business goals.
Before you perform any website maintenance tasks, it is crucial to prepare the necessary things required for the whole maintenance process. This can include identifying or making a list of the maintenance tasks that need to be performed, determining the frequency of maintenance tasks (whether the task should be implemented daily, monthly, quarterly, and so on), creating a maintenance schedule that outlines the tasks per frequency, creating a user notification timetable when performing web maintenance and lastly, gathering all the necessary resources, such as backup services, software updates, security patches, content updates, and other assets that will be needed during the maintenance process.
2. Regular Updates
Regular updates involve recurrent maintenance tasks that must be performed frequently to ensure that the website remains up-to-date, secure, and optimally functioning. This can include checking for hosting status, uptime monitoring, doing backup tasks on the website's data and files for future recovery, and updating the website's software, themes, plugins, integration, and other technical components that are essential to keep the website always up to date.
3. Performance Optimization
Optimizing a website is one of the most essential tasks of website maintenance. This covers all necessary factors in making the website fast and efficient at all times. Performing website optimization can include monitoring, testing, and analyzing website performance metrics, identifying website speed issues using various speed-testing tools, minimizing HTTP requests, and optimizing and minifying images, codebase, and media files. In addition, it can include using content delivery network (CDN) to deliver load codebase files to users from the server closest to their location and removing excessive and unnecessary plugins or integration to make the website load faster and increase uptime.
4. Content Updates
Content is still king and will always be king. Performing regular content updates helps ensures that your website is continuously relevant and engaging. This can include basic text content updates to reflect any changes in your products, services, or business, adding fresh content such as pages or blog posts to the website to help improve website content and search engine visibility, and refreshing images and other media forms to improve your website's visual appeal to visitors.
Furthermore, tasks may include updating call-to-action (CTA) elements, checking for broken links, updating metadata, keyword optimization, and performing content strategy to ensure that your website content aligns with your business goals and target audience.
5. Security Checks
Safeguarding websites from technical errors, vulnerabilities, cyber-attacks, or computer hackers is now more crucial than ever. Big or small, companies are now more vulnerable to external threats, malicious programs, and security breaches. This is why performing security checks must include in your website maintenance plan.
This can involve malware scanning, regular updates on software, plugins, integration, and codebases, including security patches and bug fixes that can help prevent security vulnerabilities.
In terms of website functionalities, the website should always integrate two-factor authentication, form sanitation, and HTTPS encryption to protect user data upon data transmission. Additionally, regularly using a firewall can prevent unauthorized access against attacks such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Ultimately, performing backups of your website's files and databases can ensure that you have a point of restoration in case of data breaches or hacking.
Don’t Neglect Website Maintenance!
Website maintenance can be daunting, complex, and time-consuming, especially for big companies and sophisticated websites. Sometimes it can require the attention and service of a professional to handle the task for you. But mostly, some tasks are repetitive and can be done quickly if carefully planned.
If a website is not regularly maintained, it can harm both the website and the business, including:
- Security vulnerabilities
- Poor website performance
- Low user engagement
- Negative website credibility
- Search engine penalties
- Loss of business revenue
How frequently you need to perform website maintenance can depend on the website's size, complexity, and underlying needs. In general, website maintenance provides many benefits and ensures that your website is always up and running smoothly and efficiently at all times.
Updated: Mar 15, 2023