As a business owner you know that your website is important, but it’s a bit of a mystery, isn’t it?
Just like any “well-oiled machine” you know that it needs routine maintenance, but what does that really entail?
What should you, as a business owner, be doing on a regular basis to ensure that your website performs at an optimal level, so it actually does its job, which is to generate new customers for your business?
If you are like most successful business owners, you maintain your health, house, car, and of course your business, but you let your website fall to the wayside because it’s “too technical” or you “don’t have time” to update it.
At Killer Shark, we know this is a struggle for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of business owners around the world. We’ve worked personally with thousands of them and found the website woes are a significant stumbling block when it comes to marketing their business online.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “That sounds just like me,” then keep reading. In this detailed blog post, we are going to address the housekeeping items you must take care of each and every month to keep your website operating efficiently and effectively.
Now you may be thinking, “That’s great, but I don’t have time to do it myself, and I certainly can’t afford to hire an employee to do all of these things.”
No problem. We’ve got you covered. We have an affordable, completely-done-for-you VIP service that we’ll talk about at the end of this post, if you qualify.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
1 Backup all of your important files and data offsite.
You don’t want to see what we’ve seen.
Truly heartbreaking stories of business owners who have put their heart and soul into maintaining and updating a successful website, only to have it wiped out by some gutless hacker.
It happens. But it doesn’t have to happen to you.
The reason you want to backup your database and website files offsite is simple— in case something goes wrong with your website, you want to be able to restore everything and avoid catastrophe.
It’s not rocket science; just common sense, really.
The problem is that many do-it-yourself business owners who also handle their own website think that a strong password is all that is needed to keep a security breach from happening, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Adding another layer of protection in the form of backing up and storing your website files and database in a secure cloud environment is essential to protecting your business, and ensuring that you aren’t an easy target for high-level hackers.
2 Update content management system including plugin & software updates.
Wordpress is the most common content management system on the planet today. It’s used by everyone from startup bloggers to fortune 500 companies, and is lauded because of its functionality and flexibility to handle just about any website project.
Sounds great, right?
While WordPress is a powerful CMS platform (it’s what we use to build our websites), it also gets updated all the time. In fact, since launching in 2003, WordPress has released 130 versions, which means 130 chances for something to go wrong with your website.
In fact, the screenshot below shows 10 updates already in 2015, and at the time of writing this post, we are only in August:
Every time WordPress releases an update (which happens over a dozen times each year), some plugins or pieces of code that are being used on your website can become incompatible and either no longer work, or not display properly.
It also means that older versions of WordPress, as well as the plugins and other backend mechanisms that go along with your website, may no longer be supported, and thus are more vulnerable to a cyber attack.
One of the most embarrassing things we’ve seen for a business owner is when a new version of a plugin is released and the old version doesn’t work correctly.
In fact, just recently we examined a website where the Google Maps plugin they were using was outdated, and people were not able to view their business location from the website.
Guess what happens when your website doesn’t make it easy for people to find your business? They don’t bother, and they go to a competitor’s website.
With regular software and plugin updates, a problem like this can easily be prevented.
3 Check for domain expiration.
This is an obvious one, but it’s something that is overlooked by business owners all too often. You should routinely check your domain name expiration date.
Recently, we had a client (a multi-million dollar business in the medical field) that ignored the notification emails from their domain provider, and as such, forgot to renew their domain name.
We receive a call saying that their website has a big, fat “this domain name has expired” message on the homepage, courtesy of GoDaddy. That will make your business look unprofessional in a heartbeat.
We get it. You get busy, forget to check those sometimes pesky emails from your domain and hosting provider(s), and before you know it, you are dealing with a crisis.
If you want to avoid this ever happening to you, this is what you need to do.
Head over to www.whois.net. We are going to perform a “who is search” on our own domain, and get the exact date for when it is set to expire (note: if you want to avoid this problem on a yearly basis, pay a little more money and renew your domain name for 5 years instead of 1 or 2).
Take a look at the screenshot below:
Right in the middle, you’ll see where it shows the “domain expiration date.” You should renew your domain at least 2 weeks before this date, just to be safe. Since our domain expires on January 27th of 2016, we would want to renew it around the middle of January.
This is important. You don’t want to lose a domain that has already built up trust and authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Not only will you lose your domain, but if you have to start over on a new domain, your website traffic will likely decline significantly.
4 Check all contact forms and tracking numbers to ensure they are working properly
Even though this is a monthly checklist, these tasks should be performed weekly at a minimum (for tracking numbers, we suggest you test them daily).
For a variety of reasons (that are often tied to new versions of software and plugins), tracking numbers can fail and contact forms can malfunction. It happens. The key is monitoring these issues so that when it does happen, you can fix it quickly.
In addition, if you build your website on a solid foundation and keep it updated as we mentioned earlier, these things are far less likely to happen to you.
It’s also important to mention that in some cases, your contact form may be working just fine, but the designated recipient’s email address of those contact forms may not be functioning correctly. So, it’s important to test all of the cogs in the wheel to ensure customers are able to contact you, and that you’re able to track everything correctly, if you so choose.
5 Ensure all pages are loading without errors. If 404 errors or broken links are present, find and set up 301 redirects to appropriate pages.
If you have no idea what those numbers mean, we’ll explain.
You see, oftentimes URLs change, pages get moved, and other things happen, which result in webpages displaying a 404 error. This means that the content that was on that page has either been removed or moved to another page.
Essentially, a 404 error (which is the http code for “file not found”) is telling your website visitors, “Hey, this page is dead or has been moved, but it isn’t here. Sorry.”
While these pages won’t really hurt your search engine rankings, they will do something even worse— give your customers a poor user experience on your website.
404 errors happen. The biggest websites in the world have 404 errors because sometimes content becomes outdated and needs to be taken down. The real problem is not the removal or deletion of content…it’s how it is handled.
In order to avoid giving your website visitors (potential customers) a poor user experience with 404 errors, you need to setup what is called a 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect essentially tells search engines, “Hey, we deleted or moved this page on our website, but don’t show a 404 error. Instead, show people this new page of content when they land on the old page.”
For example, let’s say you are a dentist and wrote a blog post titled, “The Best New Dental Technology of 2014.” Great article, but by the time 2015 rolls around, it would be outdated.
So, you publish a new article titled, “The Best Dental Technology of 2015.” Since users who land on the 2014 article would actually be better served reading the 2015 article (since the older one is out of date and no longer relevant), you would use a 301 redirect to display the updated article to visitors who land on the old article.
It may seem complicated at first, but it isn’t. The bottom line is that limiting 404 errors and correctly setting up 301 redirects will give your website visitors a better user experience, which will result in higher conversion rates.
6 Test your website to ensure it displays correctly across all browsers and devices.
Does your website display correctly on an iPhone 6? How about the latest Android phone? What if someone still has an iPhone 4 or 5?
What about an iPad mini with an older operating system? Or an Amazon Kindle?
What about a PC with an older version of Windows running Internet Explorer, or a new MacBook using the latest version of Safari?
I think you get the point.
If you were to take all of the device/browser combinations that people are using when viewing your website, you’d have hundreds (if not thousands) of different combinations.
The real kicker is that, just because your website displays great on one or two devices or browsers, doesn’t mean it looks right to everyone. You could be alienating a significant percentage of your target market with poor mobile optimization and not even know it.
At Killer Shark, we use a variety of device and cross browser testing protocols to ensure your website displays correctly to potential customers who are viewing it.
We stay abreast of the latest mobile optimization technology and coding updates to ensure your website looks the way it should to everyone who visits it.
I’m sure you’ve come across a website before that didn’t display correctly, and as a result, you left the website, never to return. It happens on millions of websites every day, and can be a revenue leak for any business. Don’t let it happen to you.
7 Perform manual and automated security scans and review results regularly.
As we mentioned earlier when discussing offsite file and database storage, the security of your website is critically important. If files or databases are lost, it can spell disaster for your business.
At Killer Shark, we recommend that you invest in an automated security scan program that will alert you if any hacking attempts are made on your website.
We also tell business owners to perform manual scans on their websites as well, from time to time, just to ensure someone hasn’t hacked into your website, changed your content, or added unnecessary pages to your website that have nothing to do with your business (trust me, it happens…we’ve seen it before).
You can’t be too careful when it comes to website security. In fact, at Killer Shark we run programs that monitor website security 24/7 for our clients, thwarting off hundreds of hacking attempts per day in some cases.
If you’re living in a bubble thinking that hacking won’t happen to you, think again. Prepare yourself so that when it does happen, you’ll be ready.
8 Add new content that will help you reach your target market and attract new customers (promos, announcements, case studies, articles, etc).
What’s the whole point of having a website?
If you’re like most business owners, the whole point is to attract new customers and increase brand awareness. If your website isn’t helping you accomplish these business objectives, what good is it?
With the unique way Killer Shark builds websites, adding content has never been easier. Everything is developed on the WordPress platform, which makes our websites extremely flexible.
While that may or may not matter much to you, what it means for your business is that updating your website with new articles, promotion materials, announcements, case studies, testimonials, et cetera on a routine, monthly basis is cost effective.
The days of paying a web developer $300 to add something or take something off of your website are over when you work with us.
That’s why we are able to give our customers up to 10 website updates per month for an affordable monthly fee. You let us know what you want to add, and we’ll have it on your website within 48 hours. It’s just that simple.
In fact, at Killer Shark our goal is to, not only build and maintain a beautiful website for you, but to help you grow your brand and get more new customers.
We’ll even equip you with actionable ideas about what kinds of content you can create that will help you get more qualified, targeted website traffic (your ideal customers) visiting your website.
Maintaining an up-to-date web presence and putting your best foot forward each and every day for your customers is simple and hassle-free with the Killer Shark team.
9 Manually check your page load speed with Google PageSpeed Insights.
Many business owners massively underestimate the value of a fast-loading website. While the benefits of a fast website are numerous, here are the two biggest for you:
A. Potential customers take only 5-8 seconds to get a first impression of your website. It’s not a stretch to say that a slow-loading website could be costing your business thousands of dollars in lost revenue every month.
B. One of Google’s primary ranking factors is website speed. They know what their users like, and they don’t like slow websites.
Having a fast website is so important that Google has released their own tool that business owners can use to measure the speed of their website. If it isn’t up to par, Google will even hand you suggestions that show exactly what you need to change.
Using the tool is simple. All you need to do is head over to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/, and enter either your domain name or a specific URL (such as one of your webpages) into the box, and hit analyze.
If you find that your website is running slow, and need some help implementing the suggestions Google has given to you, we may be able to help. We take care of slow website issues for clients.
Whatever you do, don’t let a slow website slow down your business!
! Bonus items!
This wouldn’t be a Killer Shark post without helpful bonuses, now would it?
While this post is dedicated primarily to maintaining your actual website, if you really want your business to thrive online, there are a few more things you need to be doing on a monthly basis.
Maintaining your website is like your “ticket to entry” with internet marketing. However, if you really want to get in the game and play with the big boys, you need more than just a ticket…you need skills.
Here are a few things you can do to make your business stand out from the crowd:
! Be sure Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube know who you are.
Don’t be a stranger to getting content published across these networks because, when used correctly, they can bring you a steady stream of targeted website traffic.
At Killer Shark, we recently created a “triple threat” social media application that allows the business owner (with the touch of a button) to snap a picture, press a button, and publish content on Facebook, Instagram, and their own website.
We get it…you’re busy running your business and don’t have time to fiddle around on social media all day, which is why we created this application in the first place. Now, even the busiest of business owners and their team members can be active on social media. No excuses.
! Check your directory listings
As crazy as it sounds, your NAP (name, address, and phone number) can change on internet directories without your knowledge or consent. It’s a good idea to check your directory listings at least once per month to ensure nothing has accidentally changed.
Here are a few of the main directories to keep an eye on:
• Google Plus
• Facebook (not a directory per se, but an important website to keep an eye on)
• Best of the Web (BOTW)
Checking your directory listings monthly to ensure you have no duplicate listings, and that your information is correct, can save you a lot of headache down the road.
? So what’s your next step?
We’ve provided you with a lot of valuable information that will help your website run like a well-oiled machine. So the real question is…what are you going to do now?
The way we see it, you really have three choices:
• First, you can say, “Nice article,” and not do anything.
• Second, you can try to do it yourself, but what business owner has the time to take care of these things? Maybe you could hire an employee, but you would need an IT person and marketing manager to do it correctly, and those guys and gals don’t come cheap.
• Lastly, you could talk to us. At Killer Shark, we build beautiful, high-converting, optimized websites designed to increase traffic and conversions with no upfront cost.
That’s right…a free website. Now, we aren’t talking about a crappy template website…far from it. These are custom websites built and designed to make your business better.
After that, you pay us only $499/month to maintain it, including up to 10 updates per month. It’s a turnkey business-building solution that only Killer Shark can offer.
The best part? You’ll have peace of mind and confidence knowing that your website is working for you. So what are you waiting for? Jump in the shark tank by giving us a call at 404-323-6140 today!
We know how to build a website that will work for you, and our expertise is valuable. If you want to work with an expert team, we’d love to hear from you.