Basic Website Maintenance

We here at perform regular website maintenance on the websites we manage, and so wanted to explain what that means, because it is important. Website maintenance means different things to different customers, but generally speaking it includes the tasks below (not ordered by importance because they are all important). Yes, there are other things to do, but these are the basic ones – I’ll post more as I think of them.

  1. Check for broken links. Both visitors to your website and the search engines too hate broken links. You link to another website, or to some great news article, etc, and the very next week the other website takes the article down, or moves the file. Doh!  There are tools available that will check your site for broken links – and one of the best I’ve found is Xenu’s Links Slueth. Easy to install, very quick, and produces a nice report at the end so you can fix them later.
  2. Spell check the website. This should be automatic when the content is placed on a webpage, but it is amazing as to how often misspelled words work their way into a website.  And like I tell my customers, it is never my fault – I just cut and pasted the text they sent me (smile). Lots of spell checker tools out there on the web.
  3. Freshening the website content. There is some controversy regarding this point, whether anyone cares that you have a website where nothing ever changes – or whether it is better to have new content inserted routinely. Some swear that it helps you in achieving higher search engine results – but then, I keep noticing that there are many websites out there that have been static for years and they are ranked very high. There is no dispute that blogs tend to get higher rankings from Google, probably because they get regular fresh content. Anyways, to “freshen” the site means updating the website content and / or the meta tags as often as once a week.
  4. Backup the website. Personally I wouldn’t count on your host provider to do this step, even though many of them nowadays will do it automatically for you. Just download and zip the web files right off the server, or the ones on your PC if you have the originals. Don’t forget to backup any database files, as usually those are more important.
  5. Check your site in Google Webmaster Tools. This is free to join and will tell you lots of information about your website, and most important, any problems that Google sees with it. I especially like that it tells you of any ‘files not found’ – those pages you moved or deleted on your website that is causing 404 errors to now occur, because someone else is still linking to the missing page. To fix this, you either replace / redirect the content on your site, or politely ask the other website to update their link.
  6. Do a ‘site quality check’. There are lots of free tools out there that will help you maintain your website. One of my favorites is WebCEO, which is a free download, and that does a quality check on your site producing a nice report at the end. Another is iBP, though you have to subscribe to their service.
  7. Review your website statistics. How come? You should know if your website traffic is going up or down. You should know what web pages of your site are being looked at, and which ones aren’t. You should know what your conversion rate is, whether it is going up or down since last month. Etc.  You can review your web logs and find out some of this info (contact your web host for access), you can place Google Analytics on your site, or you can purchase a professional service like the one I provide.
  8. Update your sitemap files. This will assist Google in getting any new web pages indexed. Google looks for a file named sitemap.xml on every website it visits, while Yahoo looks for a file named urllist.txt.

There is lots more you can do to keep your website running smooth, and these eight tasks here will get you well along the way.

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