Why You Should Hire a Professional to Manage Your Website
Most people don’t perform the necessary maintenance on their own cars. Most people go to a doctor when they are really sick (even though Web MD may at first tempt them…)…so why try and manage your own website when there are professionals for that too?
Written by Rebecca Roberts
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Why You Should Hire a Professional to Manage Your Website
So you just built a website – congratulations! This is a huge project and an exciting step in any business’ journey! Whether you built it yourself or had professionals do it, you are now ready to launch it and show it to the world. Whether you are a small business owner, or you work for a larger corporation or nonprofit, whatever kind of organization, you were a part of launching a website and this is a huge undertaking. What most people don’t realize is that it’s a major responsibility to maintain a website after it’s done being built as well.
While at Bolt Goodly we focus mostly on business and marketing consulting, we concentrate on digital media so we end up building a lot of websites. Websites are the foundation for your digital marketing footprint so it is really important to have it built correctly with all of your analytics and tracking setup. as well as continued maintenance.
If you have a smaller budget, you may be considering saving a couple thousand dollars to get your website built and then manage it yourself. This is becoming more and more common as there are more ways to build websites, such as Wix, Shopify, and WordPress. As professionals, we still strongly recommend hiring someone like us to not only build but to maintain your website after it is launched.
Websites are Like Cars
We like to use a car analogy for those who are not so tech-savvy. If you buy a car, you know from experience that you can’t just drive it off the lot and drive it until it dies 20 to 30 years later. There is plenty of maintenance that has to occur during the life of that car. You’ve got your basic monthly or quarterly maintenance of oil changes, filling up your fluids, washing, waxing, and protecting the paint, tire rotation, etc. Then you have more in-depth maintenance jobs that may occur every couple of years or so such as new brake pads, new brakes, new tires, replace filters, and the list goes on.
One thing we all know about cars is that if you don’t take care of it, it will eventually break down and maybe even die. When that happens, who are you going to be mad at? Most likely you’ll be mad at yourself because you knew better and knew that you should have taken care of your car. You most likely would not go back to the dealership where you bought the car and yell at the sales guy, who may not even work there anymore, because you didn’t change the oil in your car for 20 years.
Changing the “Oil” in Your Website
A website is very similar, at least in the way you would maintain it. Once a website is launched and all the analytics are set up properly, which is quite a large undertaking in and of itself, there are specific weekly maintenance jobs that we complete. There are also monthly, quarterly, and even annual updates you might look at for your websites, such as redesign, new content, and any other revamping that might be required due to major search engine algorithm changes, changes in the culture or economy or your industry, and just changes in your individual business.
So if you want to build your own website, or have someone like us build it for you and then manage it yourself, we want you to understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. You should be prepared to take care of your website effectively so that it can do what it is supposed to do – help you grow your business.
Now we fully believe that some people have the capability to learn what it takes to take care of a website, but honestly, most people have no interest in doing that because they’d rather focus on their business. We’ve also found that when most people learn the ins-and-outs of everything that it takes to keep a website up to snuff, they pretty much just pay us to do it so they don’t have to worry about it!
So let’s dig into some of these regularly required maintenance recommendations for a website to see if you have what it takes, or if you need our help:
There are a lot of tasks that we complete on a weekly basis when it comes to a website because this world is ever-changing and always moving. There always seems to be a new plug-in or some kind of update that might conflict with your theme or a backup is always necessary, etc. so let’s dig in a little to these weekly maintenance tasks.
Plug-in, Theme, and WordPress Updates
No matter what type of theme and plugins you are using, you need to update them regularly. When you do this may depend on how often you update your website. If you are in there daily updating content, loading blogs, etc. you should update your plugins daily. If you are not in your website that often, usually a weekly update will suffice.
The security of your website is of paramount importance, especially if you store any customer or client information. Even if you don’t, the integrity of your content and business as a whole should always be protected. Here are some of the things we look at when digging into security on a weekly basis:
- Make sure there haven’t been any suspicious activity, such as any code changes, suspicious login attempts, blacklist review, any changes made to the site, such as plugin or content update, etc.
- Every 60 days: updated WordPress security keys, disable trackbacks and pingbacks, update WordPress to the latest version, update PHP to latest version, Change default admin user account, Change default database prefix
- Disable the file editor
- Hide error reporting
- Prevent Information Disclosure
- Prevent PHP execution
- Manage Login Duration
- Disable XML-RPC
- Two Factor Authentication: Add an extra layer of security to your WordPress account to ensure that you’re the only person who can log in, even if someone else knows your password.
We also monitor the performance of the website weekly, and sometimes daily, by looking at the following things:
- Remove render-blocking resources
- Sitewide minification (compress, combine and position your assets to dramatically improve your page load speed)
- Minify CSS
- Minify HTML
- Enable compression
- Prioritize visible content
- Optimize images
- Avoid landing page redirects
- Improve server response time
- Leverage browser caching
- Page Caching: store static HTML copies of your pages and posts to reduce the processing load on your server and dramatically speed up your page load time.
- Browser Caching: caching stores temporary data on your visitors’ devices so that they don’t have to download assets twice if they don’t have to.
- Gzip compression: Gzip compresses your web pages and style sheets before sending them over to the browser.
There are a few things to look at regarding uptime for your website:
- How fast can your server respond to requests? Is your website going down? If so, when and how often? You might need to be on a better, higher quality or resource-intensive hosting account. This varies from site to site etc.
- Response Time: Server response time is the amount of time it takes for a web server to respond to a request from a browser. The longer it takes, the longer your visitors wait for the page to start loading.
- Downtime: Uptime monitor will report your site as down when it takes 30+ seconds to load your homepage. Your host may report your site as online, but as far as user experience goes, slow page speeds are bad practice. Consider upgrading your hosting if your site is regularly down.
How often are you backing up the website? We recommend backing up the site to multiple locations/servers. If something happens like a hack or you make a large editing mistake, you can restore to a certain date.
Google Search Console
One of the things that we do when we build a website is creating a sitemap and create accounts with Search Engines so those sitemaps can be submitted. (i.e. GSC [Google Search Console]) Because of this our clients, as well as us, will receive notifications from the search engines when 404 errors, malicious code, mobile first indexing, etc arise. Part of what we do on a regular basis ensures that such notifications never occur, but monitoring a website of said issues and prevent them from occurring in the first place. If for some reason a notification is received we immediately address the issue for example by setting up a URL Redirection to alleviate a 404 error.
We jump into analytics on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis looking at traffic increases week-on-week, month-on-month, and year-on-year. We look at various traffic sources and see what is driving the most traffic. We look at whether the most viewed pages are blog articles or pages, or videos. More importantly than views, we look at conversion rates. Specifically; how many people are filling out forms on the website and where are they coming from? Are they coming from social, organic, direct traffic, or email?
This becomes even more important when you’re doing any form of e-commerce. You’ll want to know what actions are driving the most conversions (the most sales), especially if you are running ads. It’s important to know if you’re getting a positive return on investment. Monitoring activity on your website would be similar to a storefront owner counting the money in the cash drawer at the end of every night. It’s important to keep asking “why” when you look at the numbers on your website so you can continue to shift your actions, whether that be running ad campaigns, writing more blogs, filming more videos, whatever the case may be so that you can make more money.
Just like everything in business or they say I’m trying to say is SEO something that should be like fill in the blank should be started right out the gate like as your building the site not something isn’t that otherwise you probably going to be shooting yourself in the foot this is something that you should be considering As good as we should but which is what we do and if you’re going to be adding additional content to your website hear things that you need to consider so for example:
- H1 Headings
- URL Structure: keywords
- Anchor Tags
- Redundant Anchor Titles
- Uninformative Anchor Text
- Your titles in your meta information are updated appropriately for URL Structure: keyword (having the right keywords in your URL can increase your search click-through rate.)
Can you handle it??
If this got you really excited, you should probably start your own agency because you’re a nerd like we are. If this sounded terrifying, you should probably JUST HIRE US. We’re not trying to scare you, we are just being realistic. There’s a reason that IT work in general is costly, and it’s because of this extensive list you just read that is really just maintenance. This doesn’t include any of the extensive work to build a website, campaigns, etc.
If you have more questions or think you might be ready for a consult, get in touch with us and let’s talk!