Over the course of this month, we will explore a number of risks that have the potential to damage your business, like website maintenance and accessibility. We have seen these vulnerabilities impact our small business clients in real and damaging ways, and we would like to help you avoid similar problems.
Our first item is accessibility. To be honest, this is a topic we have been obsessing over in recent months. We recently covered the topic as it pertains to websites, so we will only lightly touch on it here. What is website accessibility, you ask? Basically, it is creating a website with the proper colors, tools, and coding so that anyone, regardless of any auditory, cognitive, neurological, speech, or visual difficulties, can not only visit the site but also navigate it and process the information contained.
Website accessibility is becoming increasingly important, even being firmly on the radar of the all-mighty Google. However, if your business gets behind the eight-ball on accessibility, you are opening yourself up to the real risk of having it completely inaccessible to anyone. To more fully understand the subject, check out our article discussing why you should care about website accessibility.
In this article, we are going to hammer home the absolute necessity of keeping your website well maintained. Because if you don’t maintain it, it will break down. Think about it like this…What would happen to your car if you drove it around for years on end, never changing the oil, letting the air filters get clogged up, and running the tire treads right into the ground? Would you be surprised if one day your car sputtered to a stop and refused to start again?
Didn’t think so.
That’s because we all know that we have to maintain our vehicles in order to keep them running smoothly. Like other expensive, purposeful assets, websites need to be maintained, too.
Your website is far more than just a pretty place to visit. It is a frontline tool to generate leads, increase visibility, and convert inquiries into revenue. Are you willing to risk losing even one of those leads, one set of eyeballs, or one closed sale due to poor maintenance practices?
Didn’t think so on this one, either.
At Spring Insight, we fully understand what your business stands to lose if someone visits your website and finds it painfully slow, outdated, clunky when it comes to conversion, or shut down completely. You lose leads, impressions, and ultimately, dollars in the bank.
On top of that, your website is at real risk for infiltration when it is not properly maintained. We have seen this happen with our own small business clients. Something as seemingly innocuous as an outdated plugin can leave your website open to hackers. We’ve seen it happen many times before.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Read on to learn what you can do to minimize website maintenance-related risks.
Website Maintenance Steps Every Small Business Owner Should Perform
Website maintenance is a BIG deal, but here’s the thing: keeping it maintained can be simple, easy, and straightforward. Here are some basic maintenance steps:
Update your software, themes, and plug-ins.
We get it. It can be super annoying to log in to your computer and see an update notification. You’re late for a Zoom meeting already and you don’t have time to wait for that “update and restart situation” right this minute. So you snooze it.
And you do that again and again until your computer starts lagging, dragging, and glitching. Your small business website is NO different. So, you have got to keep those updates happening regularly, especially since fast website speeds affect how you show up in search engine results.
How regularly? Monthly is ideal. Put a reminder on your calendar for this website maintenance task and run those updates in the same cadence. If that seems like too much, shoot for quarterly or twice annually at an absolute minimum.
2. Monitor for malware and viruses.
You may not believe that your business website is a target for a cyber attack, but that mode of thinking is outdated. Cyber crime is on the rise in a major way, across the private and public sectors, including a sharp increase of such attacks seen in education.
These hackers are not hooded programming nerds guzzling sodas and seeing how far they can venture into a highly secured network run by the government. These are bots that can infiltrate unsuspecting websites in record speed and attach malware that has devastating outcomes.
And your website is vulnerable whether you like it or not.
The only way to make sure your website is not infected is to routinely and regularly monitor your site for malware. Just like software, theme, and plug-in updates, we recommend running malware scans at least once a week.
3. Backup and store a previous version of your website.
The best way to mitigate the risk of losing important data or components to your website is to back it up and keep it stored in a safe, accessible location. This is a necessary protection even if you stay on top of updates and regularly check for malware or viruses.
This website maintenance task is essential because your website can still crash and the best way to get it up and running in the shortest time possible is to have a back up. A previous version of your website can be stored in the cloud or on a local device. Better yet, you can back up both ways!
Back ups can be scheduled and handled automatically through your hosting service, making this risk mitigation process seamless and easy to implement. Of course, you will want to make sure the backup automation is working properly. If your website is set up to back up on a daily basis, check the local files and cloud location once a month to ensure it’s happening as scheduled.
Who Should Take Care of Website Maintenance?
We’ve already viewed website maintenance through a car metaphor. Let’s look at this important responsibility through another lens. Imagine that you are walking by a building that has beautifully maintained grounds. You note the closely trimmed edges, you see how green and lush the grass looks, and you breathe in the fragrance of flowers that are in bloom.
Someone went to a tremendous amount of effort and expense to plant those beds and lay out that lush green grass. This wasn’t left to chance. Grounds like that take work, and your website is the same.
The day you launch your website, it looks AMAZING, it is safe and secure, and it fits your business like a glove. Time changes that. How do you make sure your website stays impressive, orderly, and admirable? By making sure that someone is assigned to maintain and update it on a regular basis.
Don’t have time for that? That is where Spring Insight comes in. Our clients can focus on taking care of their business because they count on us to take care of their website. Learn more about our website maintenance care plans here.
Stay tuned! The next article in our series on website risks will be about privacy. We will share all you need to know to tighten your website’s privacy protocols to protect this valuable asset.