Fantastic, you have collaborated with your appointed web designer (possibly even us), created your content and your site has gone live and is viewable by the public. What happens now?
The next steps will depend on what services you paid your web designer (or another third party) to carry out on your behalf but the one safe assumption that is true for every site out there is…..your website is never truly ‘done’.
Woahhhhh! What do you mean my website will never be ‘done’ ?
A reputable web designer will have built your site for you to an agreed specification, carried out basic search engine optimisation for you and fully backed your site up before sending it live. Not only that but they will have backups of your old site and created you a basic manual about how to edit your site and publish new content.
From this point forward you take a much larger part in the success of your website. Your web designer has done the best he/she/they can with what you have given them, they have optimised the site for both your customers and the search engines and they have launched your site for you but now the real work starts.
Search engines like Google like websites which are fresh. What we mean by that is a website which has content added frequently. Google also likes it when good quality and trusted websites link to yours. In order for your website to be a success or maintain its position in the search engines you are going to have to get busy doing the following:
- Routinely updating and adding content
- Routinely posting quality information to social media that links back to your website
- Generate links from trusted sites to yours
- List your website in trusted directories
- Continually optimise your website to keep it running smoothly
- Ensure that your site continues loads quickly
- Ensure that it is kept up to date when software patches are released
- Maintain backups of your site so that you can recover your site if you break it or it gets hacked or compromised
So I have to keep putting time into my website forever?
You have a website, but unless you tell people about it and continue to add new and engaging content quite simply your website won’t get found. Any initial success you have had in the search engines will slowly subside and your position in the search engine results pages will slowly drop.
If any significant part of your new business or physical sales are generated by your website it doesnt take long to realise the cost to you in terms of lost business if you dont keep your site maintained and updated.
If you are in a saturated marketplace where a lot of companies are competing locally to you, keeping your website up to date and fresh is even more important as more websites are competing to be found for the same keywords that people search with when they are looking for your service online.
The other and probably the most significant reason for keeping your site up to date with some kind of website care plan is to keep it secure. Modern content management systems are fantastic in as much as they make it easy for almost anyone to publish and update content on their website. They are, however, complicated and contain tens of thousands (and more) lines of code. As and when errors are found in that code the company that publishes the software releases an update for it. Without installing those updates your website could be left vulnerable to attack and if your site is an e-commerce site you could make your customer details vulnerable or even lose sales if your website is broken by hackers.
So, is there an easy solution I hear you ask?
Yes, in fact keeping a website up to date with new content is surprisingly easy. Website maintenance is a bit more troublesome however and as such we recommend those that have a WordPress (or any content management system for that matter) website to have an ongoing monthly care plan.
Many companies offer care plans on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and typically carry out the following tasks on your behalf:
- Setup of Google Analytics accounts to record statistics for your website
- Site failure and downtime monitoring
- In-site support forms so you can email a support staff member direct from your website
- Frequent off-site backups of your website files and database
- Frequent content management software and plugin updates
- Testing of updates to software prior to installing on your live website
- Security/firewall plugin installation and frequent scanning of your website
- Frequent database optimisation
- Frequent scanning and repair of broken links
How frequently you choose to update your website may not be immediately obvious and a general rule of thumb is, the more your site is responsible for your income, the more your reputation would be damaged by your site failing, the more frequently you update it. We discuss the frequency of website care in more depth here.
Please do feel free to ask questions and we will try and incorporate the answers here where appropriate.