Ultimate guide to website maintenance - How to attract more leads and generate sales

Why is website maintenance important? Why do you need it? What purpose does it serve? How much should I pay for maintenance? Should I maintain my website myself?  How much time should I invest in website maintenance? Does it make sense to even hire someone? I have a low budget and do not want to spend too much, how do I get my site to work efficiently with minimum cost and maximum return?

If you have been asking any of the above questions this blog is for you. This ultimate guide to website maintenance is for you to understand the what, the why, the when, the how and the which. Which is to say, this blog will answer questions like:
  • What is website maintenance?
  • What to look for in a website maintenance service?
  • Why is website maintenance important? OR is it even important?
  • When should you invest in website maintenance?
  • Which service should you choose for website maintenance?
  • How much should you pay for a website maintenance service? And should you even pay for one? 
  • Where do you find the best website maintenance service or consultants? 
All these question and much much more will be discussed in this blog. If this interests you, let us get started.

What is website maintenance?

Website maintenance is a service where you periodically improve your websites performance to attract prospects, generate leads and convert those leads to customers. Constantly optimizing this life cycle is it's purpose. This includes 2 critical aspects. 
  • Fix bottlenecks - fix glitches and bugs that are causing your website to perform sub-optimally. In any business including your website there are things that are stopping it from performing optimally. This is what we call bottleneck. These include -  Images not loading properly, website not https compliant, website loading too slow, broken links or links that are not working, text too small or too big to read, buttons and page elements not clearly visible, page format not proper, navigation elements are buggy, broken pages, not mobile tablet responsive, etc. Things on your website that causes friction or turns your visitors off is what we call bottlenecks. 
  • Continuous Improvement (Kaizen) - Continuous improvement is when the system is already working well and you need to improve its efficiency, its effectiveness, lower its operating cost, constant fine tuning to improve conversion rate and other variables. In the website world we are talking about the ability to attract new prospects and the ability to convert those prospects to leads and customers. Elements that can help do this are -  add new call to action elements like form fields, phone number, email address, appointment system, add conversion elements like video, photos, testimonials, updating the copy/content on your website, doing A/B or split test, looking at data to make sense of what is going on, updating the layout for better viewing experience and a lot more.
When it comes to website maintenance, there are numerous things you can focus on. Most often than not people only fix their website or focus on it during an emergency. Which is to say most people take care of their website when it either gets hacked, it is time for renewal, it is so buggy it is not usable or all of the above. Our goal is to help you avoid this situation.

Periodic website maintenance will help you in SEO. Which is to say, the more frequently you update your website with new content, it sends a strong signal to search that this website is active. The more activity there is on your website, given all things being equal, search will start to rank your website higher than the rest. Constantly updating and fine tuning your website is a critical ingredient for SEO.   
In a nutshell if someone asked me to explain "Website maintenance" in 2 words, it would be continuous improvement or Kaizen.
Kaizen (改善) is the Sino-Japanese word for "improvement". In business, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers. It also applies to processes, such as purchasing and logistics, that cross organizational boundaries into the supply chain.[1] It has been applied in healthcare,[2] psychotherapy,[3] life coaching, government, and banking. 
Src - Wikipedia

What part of your website should you continuously improve? There are 4 main pillars for continuous improvement on your website. Let us dive in.

The 4 pillars of website maintenance 

Maintaining your website periodically can be overwhelming especially if you do not know what to fix or improve on. To break things down to the simplest of elements, we have divided website maintenance into 4 main categories.


When it come to continuous improvement, you can periodically improve on these four main components of your website. None of these 4 elements have a priority over the other. They all need to be addressed with equal priority. 

Design

Design is the visual element of your website. The look good and feel good. The aesthetics, the color the font size the font family the line height the image or media placements, the appeal of your website and everything and anything related to how it looks.   

What are the key components of design you need to periodically maintain?

Design is subjective and it is a vast topic. There are a few key ingredients to design that almost all of us can agree on. Especially, when it does not look right.
  • Text too small or big
  • Foreground and background color are not contrasting - white text on a light background - not readable. Vice-versa is also true. Need contrast
  • Are clickable elements visible and obvious
  • Links not working
  • Image or media elements not placed right. Image placed over text, covering the text or text placed over images without proper alignment, etc
  • Navigation bar is fixed to the top of the page when you scroll and the bars height is too big. Obtrusive. Minimizes the content space. Uncomfortable to navigate your website
  • Font family not readable. Or does not go well with the over all design
  • Too colorful. No color or brand consistency
  • Logo too big. Keep the logo simple and visible.
  • Web page not mobile/tablet/desktop responsive
  • Buggy CSS or design code
There are many things in design, but the above are the sure low hanging fruits you can fix. Design is just one aspect of your website maintenance needs. The next is development. 

Development

When it comes to fixing the design or taking care of many critical aspects of your website, it boils down to the software and code. 
  •  Website not HTTPS compliant or not secure
  • Website too slow. Does not load fast
  • Website gets hacked easily
  • CSS fine-tuning
  • HTML fine tuning
  • JavaScript fine tuning
  • Database issues
  • Server code needs optimization - php, python, etc
Development is all about software. There are platforms out there that can help you update your website without knowing a single piece of code. But that is a delusion. To make your website high performing in the long run a bit of software help will be necessary. Either the platform host would need to fix it, or you would need to do it your self. 

A website powered by clean, optimum code will always out rank and perform a website that is sub-optimally built. The core part of website maintenance is taking care and fixing the code that powers your website. Design and development go hand in hand. If you are fixing design elements on your website, you may need development expertise too.

The next part is content. This is where you need to engage with your visitors or prospects using words or media.

Content

A good looking website, performing optimally with good software is half the battle. The other half is content. What is your website saying? Who is it talking to? What is the tone of the page? Content has two roles.
  • Sales pitch - when you write content with the purpose of selling, the term is called copy-writing or copy. 
  • Education - Writing content with the sole purpose of educating with the aim of asking the users to take some form of valuable action such as writing down a comment, subscribing to your blog or website, sending them to your sales page, or asking them to share the article. 
Content will help you in SEO. Whether you are writing content to sell or content to educate both types of content will help you in SEO. Constantly thrive to maintain your website using 

Data/Analysis

Blindly making changes or thinking you are improving without any feedback is a sure way to fail. You need to constantly look at the data, make sense of it and then continuously improve on the feedback. This is the critical step towards maintaining your website the right way. Plug your website with the right analytical tools and start monitoring your website performance. 

How much should you pay? 

With any service you always want to know how much does it cost. And should you even invest in a service like this. The answer depends. What is your budget, how well do you want your website to perform, are you in need of someone to take care of it periodically so that you can be stress free, are you wanting to get more leads from your website? The answer to these question will help you decide if a website maintenance service is for you. 

How does a website maintenance service work?

When you plan to recruit a website maintenance service, there are few things you should plan out. Make a list of things you need fixed on your website. Clearly explain what the current problem is and the result you expect with similar examples. Something like:

- Currently no testimonials are displayed on the home page. I want to add a testimonial section below xyz section and above the ___ section. I want it to look like this.. and insert a picture example. 

What this does, it allows the service team to get an idea of the effort. IT allows of easier budgeting. So, list down all your issues in  a detailed manner. Once you have your list, it is not time to see how much it costs.

The 4 ways of being served

Before diving into the cost structure, I want to share with you typically 4 ways in which you can be charged. Depending on how the work is billed will give you a better idea on how to budget for maintenance.
  • Per hour - Per hour billing, which is a really old way of billing someone is still in effect in most agencies. They charge you by the hour. Why is this ineffective? Because no one know what can be done in an hour. For one agency for the above task might take 5 hours and for another 10 hours and for some it might just take 1 hour. It depends on the skill of the person/team and various other factors. Which also means the more unskilled the team is you might end up paying  ore compared to someone who is skilled.  
  • Per task - This is how we charge at ANTSAND. Per task. This is way more transparent and it just makes more sense to me. Why? Because it does not depend on how long it takes, but rather if the task is completed as requested. Which is to say, the faster we complete the task everyone wins. You are not charged by the hour.  Budget around $49/task. This is what we charge. If you are running a small business and you want to keep costs low, this is a great option.
  • Monthly - If you want someone to constantly take care of your website be it security, manual updates and what not then having a monthly plan is a great idea. It will help you live stress free without any website headache. You know if something goes wrong with your website there is some out there to help you out. 
  • Free - And if you are on a very tight budget, perhaps doing it your self is the only option. You will be trading in a lot of time to get it fixed. Especially if this is not your expertise. 
Know how your agency is going to charge you. Accordingly you can plan things out.

Cost structure and pricing

If you run a business, allocate a budget for website maintenance. Budget anywhere from $15 to 1000 dollars for basic maintenance. I would keep a budget of $375/mo on average.

Let us see what you can typically pay for when you use a website maintenance service.    

Per task -  site maintenance scope 
Features Per task Included Cost
Basic SEO $249/task
Update Template/theme $49+/task
SSL and Security installation $49+/task
Wordpress Development $49+/task
Database Management $49+/task
Website Evaluation $49+/task
Administrative updates and optimization $49+/task
Social media maintenance $49+/task
Install analytics and other tools  $49+/task
For a complete list of task, visit our maintenance portal here at antsand.com

 There are 2 main reason why per task billing is better for both the client and service provider.  
1. It forces the client to be specific and know what changes they precisely want. This saves time, energy and cost in the long run.   
2. It prevents scope creep and the client cannot abuse the service provider with additional work. Since each additional work would be scooped as a task. This makes everyone mindful of each ones time.

Another way of billing is using a monthly maintenance service.  

monthly -  site maintenance scope 
Features Per task Included Cost
  • Updating images, fonts, headings, text, descriptions and icons
  • Help in adding new pages (posts) to the website
  • Security maintenance and updates
  • Providing technical documentation to report how the changes have been made
  • Help in interpreting Google analytics beyond page hits/views to improve website search performance
  • 10 task or 5 hours worth of work included 
$375/month
This includes all of the above Plus BASIC SEO
  • Install Google website tools and monitor the data
  • Add Rich snippet to enhance search appearance
  • Periodically add testimonial to website to build trust.
  • Make sure all social media branding is in sync with branding
  • Quarterly one page report  
$750/month

How to select the best website maintenance service?

To select a website maintenance service that can really deliver and fulfill your promise there are few things you can lookout for:
  • Client testimonial and reviews
  • Turnaround time
  • Availability / easy access to developer 
  • software skill
  • technical knowledge
  • Cost
  • Ongoing support
  • Having direct contact with a particular developer

Why and how to budget for website maintenance

As mentioned above, having a website is an asset. You need to continuously improve it. The more traffic you get to your website the bigger is its value. You want your visitors to find you and you want to retain them. In order to retain them you need give them an experience that will want them to come back for more. The least you can do is have a site that is functioning smoothly. No one likes to visit a website that is buggy, unpleasant and not easy to navigate. Don't let that be your website.

Budget a good $500 to $1000 a year. You may not need to spend all of it, but allocating that as an expense is like you changing oil and filling up gas for your car periodically. 

If you do not want to spend any money then allocate time. Allocate a good 2 hours a week or 10 hours a month to fine tune your website. It will pay dividends in the long run. 

With all the maintenance and constant fine tuning, I have listed 7 critical benefits you will start to see. 

7 critical benefit of periodic website maintenance or Continuous improvement

  • Ranking high on search
  • Better conversion from prospects to leads and leads to customers
  • Better branding
  • Build brand awareness
  • Shareable on social media
  • Builds trust, authority, likability and influence 
  • Relieves the headache your website causes. You are stress free. If something goes wrong you know someone is there to take care of it. 

Putting it all together

This blog is all about website maintenance. Why you need and what it can do for your. How to budget for your maintenance work and what exactly should you fix periodically to get your website up and running smoothly. If you are considering to run a profitable and thriving business start taking care of your online presence. It will give you an R.O.I for months and years to come.  

Conclusion

Please comment below if you have questions, ideas or how you can apply it. At ANTSAND, we apply everything we preach and teach. What we put out is based on our experience, our failures and success. We love to be transparent, as it really brings out the best in us. We will soon be creating a $5/day monthly marketing package for our readers. You can pay us for one cup of coffee every month, and in turn we give you strategies, ideas, tactics, mindsets and exercises, you can apply in your business immediately. If you want to know more about it, just type in the comments below, "Coffee with ANTSAND". We would love to hear your feedback. If you want to read other blogs that might interest you, have a look below.

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