How Lethargic Website Maintenance Can Ruin Your E-commerce Business
Like many parts of your business, websites need to be maintained to remain effective and efficient. While your website may bring in a large amount of traffic early on thanks to your launch campaign and relevant SEO, you may find that its performance drops off over time. As you bring in less traffic, you’re likely to find that your sales decrease, too. Doing regular website maintenance will help prevent this. Here are several issues you’re likely to notice if you’re lethargic in your website maintenance and what you can do to prevent them.
Broken Links and Other Errors Can Lead to Lost Sales
One of the basic parts of your website maintenance process should be to check that all of your pages still exist and are linked correctly. A page may get renamed or even removed without other pages being updated. When this occurs, your visitors will see 404 page not found errors. If a minor page is missing, it may not impact much. However, if one of your main categories, services, or product pages is no longer linked to, it can lead to a loss of revenue and damage your reputation. If your online shopping cart is down, you’ll lose all sales until it’s fixed. These errors can also cause your website to load slowly, which can be a significant turnoff to customers.
In addition to checking your page links, you also need to make sure all your content appears correctly. Again, photos, videos, and other content files can get renamed, moved, or accidentally deleted. When that happens, broken image boxes and other errors appear to users, and this can make it difficult for them to learn about your company and your products. An E-commerce website with several missing photos and other content may come across as less than legitimate, which again can lead to missed sales.
Your Brand Reputation Suffers
Missing pages and broken content will hurt your brand, but those aren’t the only ways lethargic website maintenance can hurt your business. Customers often visit websites looking for specific information, and if that information is missing or outdated, it will make a negative impression on them. If your website doesn’t have your current address or phone number, customers may decide to go to a competitor once they find that they can’t easily contact you.
Some people take an outdated website as a sign that the company doesn’t care. It may seem like you don’t put the time and effort into your online storefront. This can lead your visitors to wonder if you’ve failed to pay attention or maintain other aspects of your business. Keeping your website updated shows that you want to keep your customers up-to-date and are dedicated to investing in your business, and it helps them see that they can trust your brand and rely on you.
Regular maintenance creates an overall better user experience. Visitors will be able to easily learn about your products and services as well as your business. Keeping your “About Us” page updated allows you to talk about your growth and your team’s accomplishments. Maintaining your online portfolio and blog is an excellent way to share news and teach your customers about you, your products, and your industry.
An Outdated Website Can Affect Your Position in Search Results
Search engines use special programs called crawlers to check how reputable a website is. If a website has multiple broken links, missing images, and other errors, these crawlers will give it a lower reputation score. This is similar to driving by a house and seeing boarded-up windows, no lights, and no car in the garage. You assume that house is abandoned, and search engines do the same. If your website gives the impression that no one has touched it for years, it’s going to end up ranked far below more active, updated sites.
If you have backlinks from other websites and they do an audit of their links, they may decide to remove their connection to your website if they see your site hasn’t been updated it years. Search engines do look at backlinks as part of their reputation algorithm. Search engines may lower a website’s reputation ranking if many of its backlinks are to sites with low ratings. An E-commerce business may decide to pull links to your site if you don’t keep it maintained, so they avoid taking a hit in their ranking.
Poor Website Maintenance Will Damage Your SEO
You need more than a functional website to rank well on searches, though. SEO is vital for your website traffic, and it helps returning and new customers find your E-commerce site. However, SEO trends change, and Google and other search engines continually reevaluate their search algorithms and make changes to how they rank websites. The SEO methods you used when you launched your website may have been perfect for that time, but they may no longer be effective. In fact, some of them may have now been classified as black hat, which means Google actively penalizes websites that use those tactics.
You’re relying on keyword research done months or years ago by delaying or entirely ignoring website maintenance. It’s very likely that your site is no longer performing as well as it could be. By simply taking the time to check your analytics and making changes to your keywords based on that data, you may double or triple your website traffic.
You’re Putting Your Data at Risk
Websites that aren’t updated may be lacking specific website security patches and other protections, and this can put your website and your customers at risk. For example, if you’ve ignored WordPress maintenance, your WordPress installation may be several versions behind. This leaves your website vulnerable to attacks, and it also leaves you without some of the newer tools that could help you more easily create website content. Updating WordPress, your plugins, and any other tools used on your website should be one of your first priorities when you do website maintenance.
Another critical part of website maintenance is user access. If your website was designed by someone you hired, then updated by an employee who has left, and then worked on by someone else, all of those people may still have access to your site’s backend. This means they could go in at any time and change whatever they like, and their logins could also get hacked. It’s vital that you update user access regularly to ensure hackers and malware can’t take advantage of old users.
Doing Regular Website Maintenance Saves You Money
Putting off website maintenance is like putting off mowing your lawn. The grass doesn’t get shorter or stop growing, and your website’s issues don’t just fix themselves or go away. The list of things you need to do to get your website back up to full efficiency is going to be relatively long and complex if you put it off for months or years.
Of course, time is money, and the more work you need done, the more time and money it’s going to take. If you do all of this work in-house, it’s likely to pull your IT and marketing teams away from whatever they’re working on. It can disrupt your entire company, especially if the issues that need to be addressed are complex and lead to a complete website redesign. Your website may also have to go offline for a period of time. Unfortunately, even a short time offline can result in the loss of customers and revenue.
By doing small maintenance updates, you’ll be able to avoid these more costly periods of major downtime. It’s much more cost-effective to perform regular, smaller maintenance periods than it is to do maintenance once every year or six months. You can take care of issues before they result in a data breach or take your website down. These regular maintenance periods reduce your overall cost, prevent security breaches, improve your search result rankings, and boost your uptime. You’ll see your traffic and your sales or lead generation improve.
How Do You Handle Website Maintenance?
If you’re a small business owner, you may not have the time or the knowledge to handle your website maintenance. You may have designed your website yourself, or you may have paid someone a one-time fee to do so, and it may not have been touched since then. The idea of going in and doing maintenance may seem overwhelming, and you may not know where to even start.
Even if you are comfortable doing website maintenance yourself, there’s still the time factor. You may simply not have the time to regularly go in and work on your SEO or your content. At the same time, as a small business, you may not have the budget to hire a full-time website administrator.
That’s where StateWP comes in. Our team of professionals can do everything from designing your website to optimizing and updating it. We handle website maintenance, analytics, security monitoring, backups, and much more. Our website maintenance services include everything necessary to keep your WordPress website up and running.
Whether you’re ready to create a website from scratch or need help maintaining and updating your current site, StateWP can help. Contact us today to discuss what we can do for you.