You.com owner's manual
Building a website isn't a one-time deal. Your website is an asset, so you've got to look after it. Just like your vehicles and your buildings, your website needs service and maintenance.
It is not unusual for a business to buy their own vehicles - sometimes lots of them. But it is unusual for those businesses to employ full-time mechanics to maintain them - everybody knows: car maintenance is a specialist skill which is generally outsourced. Again, businesses buy buildings and real estate, but (apart from an estate manger) it's very unusual for them to engage their own building contractors.
And yet, even after paying a consultant to build their website for them, it's common for companies to try to handle their own website maintenance. In fact, maintaining a website can account for 90% of the cost of ownership - sometimes much more if the DIY-website mechanic isn't up to the job!
This short guide can help you plan your website maintenance, and to highlight some of the alternatives to doing-it-yourself. Welcome to the "You.com Owner's Manual".
Service Intervals summary:
Everybody has heard of unfortunate souls whose life's work was wiped out by a fire or a computer failure. You need to protect yourself, so that when your crisis happens it doesn't become a disaster. And the best way to protect your business is: take regular back-ups.
What should you back up?
These are just suggestions to get you started. Look at your own operation, and make a list of the data you use and generate. And then work out - how long could you last if you lost it?
How often should you back-up?
As often as you need! You will write your website just once, so you only need to back that up one time. But if you're regularly updating your content, probably you'll need to back-up those parts more frequently. If you lose a week's worth of content you'll be able to reconstruct it fairly easily, so weekly backups are adequate. But current data like emails is different. Losing a week's worth of emails could be very serious, so, you'll need to back those up at least every day. And you'll probably want to make duplicate copies of every financial transaction at the same time as they're made - you wouldn't want to lose a single one of those!
Managing your backups.
There's no doubt, backing-up is a chore! Somebody must remember to do it, and you've got to make sure that all your data is stored securely and then removed from the site (you wouldn't want your back-ups to go up in the same smoke as your original data, would you?)
Every time somebody visits your website, every time somebody reads a page, there's a note made in the logfiles. And that record, that "paper" trail, is a mine of information - if you know how to read it!
Hackers find their way into your computers by testing, probing, and pushing to find a weakness. Every time they do that, there will be a fault recorded in your logfile. Certain kinds of fault just shout "Hacker" - and if you know someone is trying to get in, you'll know exactly how to protect your system.
You should check for hacker activity daily. Or let us check for you.
The logfiles record not just who visited your site, but what they looked at and how they moved from page to page. They even record how they reached your site - what search engines they were using, and which search terms.
This kind of information is solid gold to your Content Maintenance team! Are there pages which your visitors don't understand? Are there products that they're particularly interested in? Is there some new way of promoting your offers which you hadn't though of?
You should be checking your logfiles weekly, if only to see whether the number visitors you're getting is rising or falling. But you should certainly use your logfiles as part of your content generation policy - what do you need to add? What do you need to clarify? What has passed it's sell-by date?
Few visitors will respond to you on the first visit - there's too many distractions on the Internet. So most visits to your site will be useless to you - no matter how much traffic you get, nothing will happen unless you can induce your first-timers to return, over and over again.
In order to become someone's favourite you'll need to keep supplying new content. Just like a magazine which needs to fill a new issue every month, to secure your visitors' loyalty you'll need to keep delivering new things to do, new things to read, or new things to buy.
You have three core content management tasks:
How frequently should you provide this new content? It depends on your business, of course - but usually either weekly or monthly is about right. More frequently than once a week is likely to be interpreted as pestering (unless it's bang-up-to-the-moment information like stock prices). Less than once a month, and your visitors will have forgotten about you.
Here at The Webgineers, we regard content maintenance as an integral part of your web presence. We'll design your website so it's easy for you to install new content. But that's only the start; we'll build-in the mechanisms to keep your visitors updated, and we can even support you in sourcing or originating new content.
Your website doesn't exist in isolation. It's part of the enormous ecosystem that is the World Wide Web. And your connection to that ecosystem is links. Specifically, inbound links - that is, the links that other people place on their sites pointing their visitors towards you..
Inbound links are important for two reasons:
Every month or so, you should survey what links are pointing towards your site.
To help with your marketing and SEO efforts, The Webgineers can provide you with a regular report, detailing all your inbound links, analysing the changes month-by-month, and providing specific recommendations to improve your search rankings and your marketing results.