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When I was 16, I inherited my mom's blue mustang. I loved driving that car, and I put a LOT of miles on it chauffeuring my friends around. I loved that car all the way up until the day the engine abruptly seized...stranding me on the side of a highway.
Unfortunately, at the time, I didn't have the slightest idea that cars actually require regular oil changes. Either no one ever taught me that lesson, or I didn't listen well when they did (...probably this one).
You may have already guessed from the title of this post that I'm drawing a parallel here.... Your website is no different than a car engine or any other machine. It needs regular attention to keep it running and performing at its best.
Yes...Website Maintenance is Just Like Changing the Oil in Your Blue Mustang
Your website is a crucial part of your business. It generates leads, customers and revenue (or at least it should). It’s a channel through which customers, suppliers, potential new staff and partners find you and engage with you, and it's fundamental to the success of your business.
As your "online lead generation machine", your website needs proper attention not only to keep it secure, but also to maximize what it does for your business. A website is no longer a "set it and forget it" part of your business.
Let's take a look at some of the big benefits that come from keeping your website software and content up-to-date.
Out-of-date software is the #1 cause of malware infections.
1. Improve Website Security & Prevent Hacks by Running the Latest Software Versions
It's critical to keep software up-to-date for your website to run like a finely tuned machine. All website software is vulnerable to attacks, but diligent, responsible software authors (like those at WordPress) are always patching up vulnerabilities in new releases.
The Latest Version of Software has the Latest Security Patches
If you've ever used antivirus software on your computer, you are probably familiar with the concept of keeping the 'virus definitions' updated by downloading the latest ones. If you don't keep the virus definitions updated, the antivirus software can't do its job because it's operating using old information. You can think of website software updates in the same way. Keeping the software updated to the latest version ensures you have the latest vulnerability patches in place greatly reducing the risk of being hacked.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure.
Preventing an attack is by far the least expensive approach for dealing with malware. By avoiding hacks in the first place, you can avoid landing your website on a blacklist, site downtime, damage to your site's reputation and the expense of cleaning it up.
Once a website has been hacked, clean up options are:
- Restore from Backup: Restore to a previous back up of the site prior to the hack (assuming you have one). If you don't have a recent back up, you may lose content that has only recently been added to your site. You need to be sure you are going far enough back to before the site was hacked.
- Hire a Malware Removal Service: Hire a malware removal service such as Sucuri to clean up the infection and request removal from blacklists.
- DIY: Clean it up yourself - We don't recommend doing this. We know what to look for and we still rely on scanning tools and services to help clean up infections.
A recent critical WordPress vulnerability demonstrates the importance of regular updates to any website software (not just WordPress). So, if your WordPress admin area looks like this...
...then it's time for an update.*
*Before logging in to your admin and clicking away on Update buttons, you need to make sure you have a full backup of your site (both site files and database). See # 5 below.
2. Avoid Looking Stale and Outdated with Regular Blog Posts
To really make the most of your website investment, it pays to keep your website content fresh with a business blog. For a B2B business, by the time a client initiates contact with you, they are already 57% through the purchasing decision (Source: CEB). Make the most of this opportunity by having useful content that showcases your expertise available on your site.
Look Like an Expert, Not Like You're Out of Business
The state of a business' website says a lot about the business, whether intended or not. When you browse the web researching a product or service you need, if you come across a website that looks a little dated, or where the latest blog post displayed on the home page is from 2012, you make assumptions.
You might assume that the business doesn't keep up with the latest information in its field, or perhaps even that they are no longer in business.
When prospects look at your site, are they seeing a recent blog post on the home page?
3. Protect & Improve Search Engine Rankings with Frequently Updated Content
Taking care to regularly update your site with new content does more than show visitors that your business is well-versed in the latest industry news.
As you add new content to your site, the search engine rankings for the topics discussed in the content will have the opportunity to improve. More high-quality indexed pages and posts on your website will improve your search engine credibility. Over time will boost your ranking in search engine results. In fact, this type of content marketing is a cornerstone of advanced SEO techniques we use.
While the number of indexed pages of a website is not a direct factor in search engine rankings, having more pages gives you more opportunities to rank. Focus on publishing helpful, relevant, high-quality content that helps your prospects know, like and trust you.
4. Updated Features & Functionality
With each new software release comes shiny new features and functionality. Take advantage of the latest and greatest WordPress has to offer.
5. Recover Quickly from Disasters with Regular Backups
A good WordPress maintenance and care plan must include regular backups of your website. In the event of a hack or other disastrous loss of data, having a recent full backup of your website can allow you to get your site back online very quickly.
Sometimes during the WordPress update process, an interruption in the connection can cause data to be corrupted resulting in an error. With a full backup handy and the proper software tools, it takes only minutes to restore a website to the previous day's version.