This article is written by our friends at GoDaddy.
Managing your website is an ongoing process. And it’s this ongoing work that makes your website valuable and effective.
So let’s talk about it.
In this article we’ll cover the five major aspects of maintaining an existing site. We’ll look at:
- Website performance monitoring so you can see how your site is doing
- Software backups and updates to keep things running smoothly
- Publishing fresh content for marketing, sales, and supporting customers
- Growing your website traffic with email marketing, advertising, and PR
- Creating reports and follow-up tasks to keep improving your site
Sound good? Let’s dig in.
Website performance monitoring
Your website is like an employee. It can do great work to support your business, but it needs your attention and guidance to point it in the right direction.
How much do you know about your website? And by that I don’t mean how it was built, who built it, or the design. How much do you *really *know about what your website is up to on a daily basis?
What pages are your visitors looking at? Where are they coming from? How much time are they spending on your site?
Data like this helps you understand how your site is used. Google Analytics is by far the most popular tool for gathering this type of data.
Google Analytics is free to use, and because it’s from Google, it integrates nicely with their advertising products (more on that in a bit…)
- Read our introduction to website analytics
Technical performance, like page speed, makes a big impact on how people use your site.
People are notoriously impatient. They’re not going to wait for your website to load. And if your site goes down, people will just go somewhere else.
You can use a tool like GTmetrix (https://gtmetrix.com/) to test your site’s speed. It’ll also give you recommendations for improving page load times.
To deal with site downtime, use a website monitoring service like UptimeRobot (free) or Pingdom (paid).
If your site goes down, these services will send you an alert to let you know. Depending on the service, you’ll also have access to logs of your site’s uptime/downtime history.
Depending on the software used to build and host your website, you might be exposed to a variety of threats from nefarious 3rd parties looking to compromise your site.
There are services for that, too. Website security monitoring services, like those from Sucuri, will proactively audit your site for signs of malware infection.
Depending on the service, they may offer additional levels of protection and support, including blocking access from known sources (firewall) or eliminating the hack (malware removal) on your behalf.
- Add Google Analytics to your website
- Add your website to an uptime/downtime monitoring service
- Add your website to a security monitoring service
Website backups and software updates
If you’re using a tool like Squarespace, Wix or GoDaddy’s Website Builder, you won’t have to deal with software updates or website backups. It’s all handled by the service.
But if you’re one of the millions of businesses using WordPress, updates and backups are your responsibility.
Keeping WordPress up-to-date is one of the easiest ways to secure your site and protect your site visitors. This includes updating the WordPress core software, plugins, and themes.
Website backups are an easy way for recovering your site if something breaks. What if your site gets hacked? Or a WordPress update goes very, very wrong?
Sadly, people tend to ignore website backups until they need them. But they’re easy to do.
You can run website backups through your hosting plan (e.g. cPanel backups) or through a WordPress plugin (e.g. UpdraftPlus or BackWPup).
Managed WordPress hosting plans—a type of web hosting created specifically for WordPress—make backups even easier. The best WordPress hosting plans include automatic backups and software updates, so you don’t have to worry about running updates yourself.
With all that in mind, a couple action items for WordPress sites:
- Set up automatic backups through your web host or with a plugin
- Run routine software updates (WordPress core + plugins + themes)
Publish new content
Your website’s content is why your website exists. Your content tells potential customers why they should hire you, and it tells your existing customers why they should keep doing business with you.
But why should you regularly publish new content?
Publishing new content on a regular basis shows that you’re an active business; it sets you apart from your competition; and it creates new opportunities for people to find you through Google search and social media.
What content should you create?
Regardless of your business size or industry, you’ll want content that:
- Raises awareness of your business to reach new customers.
- Builds your credibility by answering questions and sharing useful information.
- Helps potential customers understand your products and services.
- Helps new and existing customers use your products or services.
- Keeps you in touch with your customers over time.
- Showcases and celebrates your customers and clients(it’s about them, afterall)
- Encourages word-of-mouth referrals(it’s also about you!)
A few big things to keep in mind:
Content that raises awareness of your business shows up wherever your potential customers already spend their time. So, it could be an advertisement on Facebook or Google.
Content that builds your credibility lives on your website. FAQs, tutorials, and professional advice are all good for this. It’s the sort of content that attracts search traffic. If your website has a blog, you can publish this content as blog posts.
Content that helps potential customers understand your products and services serves two purposes: it helps them decide whether to do business with you, and it sets expectations in advance. If they get in touch with you after seeing this information, you can jump straight to discussing the specifics of what they need.
Content that helps existing customers makes it easier to support new customers.** **What are some common questions your customers have when they’re just starting out? Answer those questions in a Help section on your website.
Content that keeps you in touch with customers gives them a reason to check in with you. It could be monthly, quarterly, seasonal, or annually, depending on your business. Publish the content to your website, then reach out through email to let your customers know about it.
Content that showcases and celebrates your customers gives you another reason to get in touch with them. Inspiring customer stories and case studies put them in the spotlight, but they also act as evidence that you’re great at what you do.
This segues into the final step: encouraging word-of-mouth referrals. When you’re creating content for your existing customers, look for tasteful opportunities where you can ask for a review on Google, or a testimonial for your website.
Collectively, all this content helps potential customers discover you; nudges the right customers towards a purchase; helps new customers stay with you as happy customers; and encourages your happy customers to tell others about your great work.
How often should you publish new content?
That depends on your business. Are you more focused on raising awareness and finding new customers? Or are you more concerned about getting additional business out of your existing customers?
Start with a monthly update and work your way from there.
A couple action items to get started:
- Make lists of content you could create for each use case above.
- Try adding a new piece of content each week. It could be a new Help article, a new blog post, or updated information about the products and services you sell.
Grow your website traffic
I’ve seen far too many professionals wonder why they weren’t getting more sales leads after launching a new website. But having a new website isn’t enough by itself.
Your potential customers will come to your site from somewhere else.
It isn’t an overnight process. It takes consistent effort over time across multiple channels, like email marketing, SEO, social media, advertising, PR, and partnerships.
Email marketing: If you haven’t built an email list, you should do that first. A monthly newsletter is an easy starting point—use it to keep your customers updated, and share the content you’re publishing to your site. Email service providers, like GoDaddy Email Marketing, do most of the heavy lifting for you. Sign up for the service, follow their instructions, and add the email signup form to your site.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization. It’s slow, but it’s sustainable. Ensure your site is optimized for search; publish new, high quality content on a regular basis; and promote that content through outreach, social media, and your email newsletter.
Social media: Use a tool like Buffer to schedule and share useful content. Not just your own—share things from other sources, too. But don’t stop there. Look for people asking questions that you can answer. Search Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Facebook groups, and other community sites. Jump in and offer help or advice. Make sure your user profile links back to your site.
Advertise: Pay to promote your website. Promote your blog posts to raise awareness of your business and expertise. Promote your product and service content to attract potential customers. Whatever you promote, make sure your advertisements match the content of the page they’re pointed at.
Tip: If you want to advertise through Google Ads, you can adjust your Google Analytics settings to improve your campaign performance using your website’s data.
PR: Public speaking, leading workshops, attending conferences, hosting meetups, guest blogging. These are all chances for you to get in front of an audience, share your expertise, and build your authority.
Partnerships: If you’re working with other businesses, link to each other. Add a “Partners” section to your site, and have your partners do the same. Share each others’ content. Invite your partners to contribute a guest post to your blog, and do the same for them.
Some of these channels will work better than others for your business. You’ll need to test them all out, learn from what you’ve done, and try again. The more you test and learn and iterate, the better you’ll do.
The big takeaway action item:
- Create a marketing plan that points people to your website.
Review reports and create follow-up tasks
What isn’t measured isn’t managed. Someone said that once. I’m not sure who. I’ve seen the quote attributed to a bunch of different names. But that doesn’t matter. Point is, it’s a smart piece of advice. You need to measure your site’s performance over time.
One of the first action items in this guide was to install Google Analytics on your site. Here’s the catch: by itself, Google Analytics doesn’t do anything for you. It’s only when you dig into the data that you’ll start getting value out of it.
Now, there’s a lot of data buried in Google Analytics, and you can spend a lot of time trawling through every tidbit of info. But I doubt that’s a good use of your time.
Instead, look at the top-level stats: How many people are visiting your site? How many are new? Where are they coming from? What are they looking at? What are they searching for? What are your top-performing pages?
You don’t need to log into Google Analytics to see this data, by the way. You can create a custom dashboard in Google Analytics and have that dashboard automatically sent to you every day, week, or month. Here’s how. (https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1068218?hl=en)
There’s another service from Google called Search Console. It’s how Google reports on your site’s search engine performance. It’s also how Google communicates with you as a site owner. Sign up for Search Console and follow their prompts to verify your ownership.
A few action items
- Create automated dashboard reports from Google Analytics
- Add your site to Google Search Console
- Use an app like Trello or To-Do track your follow-up tasks
Too much to do? Prioritize and delegate.
As you might’ve gathered by now, there is a lot to do with your website after it’s built. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and you have options.
Prioritize. You don’t need to do everything all at once. Chip away at your tasks bit by bit. Set time aside to knock out your tasks in batches.
Hire someone local. Bring someone in to handle some of the tasks for you. Look for a writer to turn your thoughts into eloquent blog posts. Look for a local web developer to help you with site maintenance.
Hire someone remote. You can outsource tasks to other professionals working abroad. Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and 99 Designs put you in touch with freelance contractors around the world.
Use a service. All-in-one service providers can act like an extension of your business. It’s like using Bench to manage your bookkeeping. GoDaddy Social, for example, can manage your social media presence, while GoDaddy WP Premium Support manages your WordPress site.
Getting your website up and running is a big milestone. But it’s just the beginning. Managing and maintaining your website is another part of running your business, just like your bookkeeping and accounting.
And, just as Bench is here to help with your bookkeeping and accounting, GoDaddy is here to help with your online presence, whether you want to build and manage your own site with a website builder or do something more advanced with WordPress.
Whatever your next best move is—you’ve got this.