When I was heading off to college, my parents purchased a used Pontiac for me to drive to school and work.
“Here,” my father said, handing me the keys, “this car is now your responsibility.”
My dad showed me how to pump my own gas, how to check the air in the tires, and even how to jumpstart a car’s battery safely. What he forgot to teach me, however, was the importance of general maintenance, such as routine oil changes and tire rotation.
It wasn’t until a friend pointed out my bald tires that I drove to a service station and timidly asked about maintenance. Fortunately, the mechanic simply handed me a list of things that needed routine maintenance on my old car; he didn’t try to sell me new brakes and a muffler in the bargain!
Once I understood the importance of routine maintenance on my vehicle, I was a bit fanatical about it and never missed an oil change, lube, or tire rotation. Perhaps that is why I clocked over 130,000 miles on that old Pontiac and today drive a 14-year-old car in excellent condition except for the slightly dented bumper. (Blame the dented bumper on a post that jumped out at me in a parking lot.)
Like automobiles, websites need routine maintenance, too. They are never ‘set it and forget it.’ Unfortunately, many business owners, like the young driver I once was, just don’t know this fact. They build a website and pay their hosting bills and never check “under the hood.”
What’s “Under the Hood” of Your Website?
Websites consist of a domain name (the URL), the platform that hosts the files, and the actual files themselves that contain the images, text, and other components of the website.
If your website is built in WordPress, the ‘gold standard’ of websites today and what Dashboard Internet Marketing uses almost exclusively to build websites, you may be running special sets of computer codes called plugins on your site. Plugins are often third-party applications that perform specific tasks on a website. Some provide unique image features, such as creating a slideshow of images, while others help your site run faster.
Like all computer software, the platform hosting your site, any attendant plugins or added code, and any third-party software is updated periodically. These updates aren’t just for show. Often, they are in response to known security faults in the software reported to the developers. The updates close these loopholes or help your site run more smoothly.
No Maintenance Spells Trouble
This is where many site owners get into serious trouble. If they ‘set it and forget it’ with their website, they may find that:
- Parts of the website are outdated, such as the theme or plugins, leaving a possible security breach
- Google’s search engine crawlers cannot access pages properly, resulting in delisting pages (and possibly the whole site)
- Over time, the site’s search engine rank drops because Google and other search engines perceive the site as abandoned
Frequently updating the site’s content, tweaking text, and ensuring that all components of a site are properly updated can help prevent many problems. Some updates may be easily undertaken by the site owner, but many require a professional’s touch to ensure that the update does not jeopardize the site’s search engine potential.
Possible SEO Roadblocks from Poor Site Maintenance
Site owners often do not understand that you cannot simply delete a web page, for example, without potentially experiencing some SEO consequences.
Deleting a webpage isn’t just like removing a book from a library shelf. The gap left in the shelf, so to speak, signals the search engine crawlers that something is wrong with the site. If the message sent by the website back to the search engine crawler is incorrect, the crawler may move off and ignore the site. And that means your site’s rank and traffic, and possible leads and sales, drop too!
The Importance of Professional Website Creation and Maintenance
This is why we often stress the importance of professional website development and maintenance to our customers. We have seen many times how a neglected site becomes infected with viruses or malware or drops in search engine rank. Trying to fix a long-neglected site often leads to frustration and may even reach a point of no return. It is like trying to change the oil in a car whose engine has seized from dirty motor oil. If you neglect oil changes for years at a time, just doing one oil change won’t fix the seized engine. The car may need a whole new engine.
Old code can often reach the point where updating it is impossible because the interim updates to bring it from version 1 to 17 (or whatever version it’s on) are no longer available. Or there may simply be too many updates to run without compromising the site’s appearance or functionality.
Regular maintenance on a website includes such things as updating code, checking for broken links and missing pages, and so on.
It’s time consuming, but as we’ve mentioned, well worth it for your site. A well-maintained site runs smoothly and loads quickly, which search engines love. It returns the appropriate messages to the search engine bots, so it communicates in the language that the bots understand. And, perhaps most importantly, it has the latest patches against security breaches, keeping you and your customers safer.
Dashboard Interactive may be able to help if your website hasn’t been maintained in years. We don’t judge or criticize. We assess and will do all that we can to assist you with your digital marketing initiatives. Give us a call to discuss your website challenges: 763-242-2454.