All Articles 7 Critical Website Support and Maintenance Services By Hans Harris Not all website support services provide a return on investment. And some services include updating bulky plugins that are actually slowing your website down. The real question is, what kind of support does your website really need? You’ve put an enormous amount of time, money, and effort into creating a website you’re proud to call your own. Now, with companies relying on digital more than ever –not just to showcase their brands, but to run their businesses– it’s time to ensure your website keeps running and facilitates revenue growth. Here are 7 critical website support and maintenance services you should be looking into right now. 1. Improve your website speed You know from your own experience how frustrating it can be waiting for a website to load. Your customers will feel that same frustration if your site lags, and may even decide to go to one of your competitors if they can’t find the information they need quickly. Receiving a “good” score on Google now requires your website’s main content to load in less than 3 seconds. Google also considers page load speed (including mobile speed) a major ranking factor – so website speed is now also a crucial component of good SEO. Did you know pages with a slower load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average time on page than faster ones? Both these factors can lower your rankings in search engines. Read more about page speed and ranking factors. PAGE SPEED RANKING FACTOR WEBSITE SPEED, SCORING & OPTIMIZATION – A MARKETER’S GUIDE 2. Audit your site with Google Lighthouse Lighthouse is a free tool provided by Google that helps developers and website owners identify errors that might be affecting their SEO. As of May 2021, Google Page Experience Update will weight Lighthouse performance factors as part of its ranking algorithm. A competent website support services team will audit your site and execute the needed code changes to optimize pages. Lighthouse checks a number of these factors during an audit, including: Performance Accessibility Best Practices SEO Progressive Web App / PWA (your site displays well on different devices, and is capable of being viewed on both older and newer (progressive) browsers and browser versions) In addition to pointing out where you have errors, your Lighthouse report will also provide actionable advice on where and how to improve. Beyond page speed performance, this report provides website support developers with actionable steps to improve your site for indexing, ranking, and ultimately customer conversion results. Find out how to use Google Lighthouse here. 3. Check Design Consistency Across Browsers & Devices Browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari release quality and security updates often, and sometimes that can mean your site doesn’t display the way it should on the latest version of the browser your visitor is using. This is where responsive web design becomes crucial, especially if your site is several years old. Over time, small bugs in your original coding can cause visual errors on your site, or worse, make entire sections unusable. If you suspect this might be happening, it’s time to invest in professional website maintenance services to bring your site up to date. It’s also vital that your site renders well in mobile – remember that Google’s mobile-first indexing means that Google primarily uses the mobile version of the webpage for ranking purposes. Read Google’s latest announcement on mobile-first indexing for the whole web here. 4. Fix HTML errors HTML errors are minor or major mistakes in a website’s coding that cause things to behave in ways they shouldn’t. If you’ve ever seen one of those ‘404 Not Found’, ‘400 Bad Request’, or the mildly panic-inducing ‘403 Forbidden’ messages, an HTML error is likely the cause. Even very small coding mistakes can make your pages display in weird ways, or make certain content inaccessible to the user. And again, Google’s not fond of them, because they make for a poor user experience. A site with lots of HTML errors on it will have a harder time ranking well in SERPs than one without errors. Finding those errors is one thing, actually fixing them is another. If in doubt, rather use a professional website support service than try and fix complex coding on your own, as you could easily make things worse if you’re not careful. 5. Update your website software An average website can easily have 20-30 plugins installed – each requiring regular updating to optimize performance and to reduce vulnerabilities. While it is tempting to set everything to update automatically, not every update interacts seamlessly with existing software. Why does this matter? Software updates typically address vulnerabilities that could leave your site open to hacking and bot attacks, and your customers at risk of fraud and identity theft. Plugins are particularly susceptible, with 98% of WordPress vulnerabilities related to them. Around 30,000 websites are attacked every single day – most of them belonging to small businesses. But all-inclusive, low-cost “managed services” are the subject of many complaints since the automatic updates can break WordPress themes and plugins. Like finding a trustworthy mechanic, having regular website support maintenance can save hours of unnecessary website headaches and keep your focus on growing your business. 6. Back up your website files Imagine if all those hundreds of hours of work you put into designing your website just… disappeared. Servers break down, human error happens, and before you know it you’re having to build your website from scratch all over again. Okay, this is an extreme scenario, as in most cases there will be some automated backup somewhere – but it still means potentially having to redo months of work. Just as you would back up your crucial work and personal documents, having a regular backup monitoring of your website files is a step too many small businesses (and even some very big ones) overlook. A go-to support services team will have this one covered. 7. Add Key Website Integrations Consumers expect a little more from websites these days. They don’t just want information – online now means interactive and immediate. Website additions providing chat functionality online appointment setting offer the immediacy customers want. Email, coupon, and newsletter sign-ups capture first-party and enable direct communication with prospects and customers. Implemented correctly, these website integrations can make your site a much richer and rewarding experience for your potential customers. Some of the most popular include: Chat widgets: allow your prospects to engage with you in real-time without having to pick up the phone. Email sign-up integrations: Collect valuable 1st party data to turbocharge your marketing efforts. Payment platforms: Allow your customers to pay for products or services from the comfort of home in this new “post-pandemic” environment. Automated scheduling/bookings: Free up your and your customers’ time (and reduce your admin costs) by allowing clients to make their online bookings easily. In addition to keeping your website fast, secure, and up to date, following the steps outlined above will also improve your customer experience and help keep you ahead of the competition. Remember, your website is the face of your company, and first impressions matter. Ready to put your best digital foot forward? Firetoss offers timely website support and website maintenance services for service-based, b2b and ecommerce brands that want to deliver a superior online experience and wow potential customers. Website support services offer one of the highest returns on investment since the heavy lifting of building your website has already been completed. To better understand how your website can monetize key website upgrades or to receive a website security evaluation, get in touch today.