Everyone loves the fun and exciting process of launching a new website for their business or organization. The anticipation, the mystery, the suspense, and then finally one day, the big reveal.

You get a lot of congratulations on your new website that everyone’s loving, including yourself. Customers and clients are happy and proud to say that the business they work with is so modern and sleek.

But about a month after launch, things start to get real. You now have to move from the launch phase to the maintenance phase. Starting out well is great, but being able to keep the pace over the long haul is even more crucial.

The Internet is littered with websites that have been abandoned, pages that no longer load, domains that have been held ransom and businesses that have lost thousands of cedis due to having a poorly maintained website.

To help you avoid that, we’ve written this guide on 25 key activities regarding your website maintenance.

Renew your domain name in advance

One of the first things people mistake, forget or overlook is the renewal date on their domain name.

Domain names, as we’ve mentioned previously here cannot be bought outright. They can only be rented. When you buy your domain name, what you’ve done is to basically rent the domain for a year.

If you make the mistake of not renewing your domain name, you could end up losing it forever because someone else will be able to purchase it since you didn’t.

Expired Domain names

A lot of companies suffer great loss due to the fact that they are not in charge of their domains or they hand it over completely to a firm or designer. If you choose to do that, we recommend renewing your domain in advance for a few years.

You can purchase (or more accurately rent) your domain for up to 10 years in advance. That way, you know you don’t have to worry about your domain expiring for the next decade.

Domain purchase allowing you to purchase a domain for 10 years

Another thing you can do is to check on your domain’s expiry. All you have to do is go to https://whois.com/whois or https://who.is and enter your domain name.

Whois.com website allows you to search on the registration details of a domain name

The results that pop up will show you useful information including when your domain is set to expire.

Whois.com shows that Google.com will expire in September 2028

If that date is close approaching, make sure to renew your domain before it arrives.

Update website platform and server technologies

The world, and technology are moving full speed ahead every single day! What was impressive yesterday is totally common place today.

It wasn’t too long ago that the original iPhone was hailed as an engineering miracle. A decade later and it would be almost unusable to most people.

It came with 4GB storage, a 2 megapixel camera, couldn’t record video, had no selfie camera, had no GPS or radio, and ran on a 2G network.

First iPhone launched in 2007 is now very obsolete
First iPhone launched in 2007

Obsolescence doesn’t happen only with consumer goods and electronics, but also with security. Every single day, bad people and hackers, are trying to break into your website and online accounts.

And everyday, good people are improving technology and security to ensure that no one can compromise your website or your accounts.

But for you to enjoy the benefits of new features and improved security, you need to update your website and your server.

The vast majority of websites around the world today use an open source platform like WordPress. (Other open source platforms include Joomla, Drupal, Prestashop, etc.) There are also closed or proprietary platforms like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace and others.

Popular Sitebuilders

All these platforms have serious teams and engineers improving security and fixing bugs every day and those updates need to be applied to your website.

For closed or proprietary platforms, this is usually done automatically behind the scenes. But with open source platforms for example, you have to make sure that you have applied the latest update to your website if you want to keep it maintained and secure.

With WordPress though, it is possible to switch on automatic platform updates. If switched on, your website will automatically upgrade to the latest version when released.

(Disclaimer: you have to watch and monitor these updates as they may break a feature or existing function on your website and you’ll have to have that resolved just to get your site back online.)

There have been approximately 2 to 3 WordPress core updates each month on average since it’s creation in 2003.

DisplayWP.com

Many WordPress core updates are bug fixes and security patches so not having your site updated is a significant security risk.

Do note that whilst many people may remember to update their WordPress platform (especially because this can usually be done automatically), they do forget to update their hosting or server.

For example, the majority of website content management systems run on a technology called PHP. Every version of PHP is actively supported for only 2 years.

Currently supported versions of PHP and their end of life dates
Currently supported versions of PHP and their end of life dates

If your hosting server or company doesn’t automatically update your PHP version (which many don’t), your site might be running an outdated and insecure version of PHP.

We recommend checking and updating your server to run the very latest version of PHP as soon as possible.

Update Themes and Plugins

All websites have the ability to be extended and improved using various themes, plugins, modules, extensions, templates, etc. (Different platforms have different names for them.)

Sadly, these extensions and 3rd party plugins are also one of the ways that the security of a website is compromised.

That is why it’s recommended you only use themes and plugins that are purchased or downloaded from reputable sources.

A plugin that is working perfectly today can stop working tomorrow all because the developer refused to maintain it and keep it updated.

In a case like that, you’re going to have to deactivate and delete such an extension and replace it with one that is well maintained and updated.

If the plugin or theme you have is one that is paid for, it likely comes with a licence. This licence may need to be renewed on a regular basis in order to continue to have access to updates, support and the latest version of the plugin or theme.

WordPress plugin requiring licence activation in order to update

Optimize database

Most websites out there that use a Content Management System (CMS) store the website’s data in a database. A site’s database is terrifically important for the smooth operating of that site.

If for any reason your website isn’t able to communicate with it’s database, your website will be rendered inaccessible. It represents the brain of your website, keeping all the information on your posts, pages, comments, products and much more.

Error Establishing Database Connection

So it’s a problem when your database isn’t loading properly thus you need to maintain and optimize it to ensure it continues to serve you well.

The more your website grows (and isn’t maintained), the more outdated data is stored in your database. And that leads to it running slower and slower and being prone to more errors and corruption.

Spam comments, post revisions, expired transients, data from deleted plugins, data on previous content, site analytics and a whole lot more can end up filling your database and should be deleted regularly.

Aside that, the database can also be optimized, arranged in a format that allows it to retrieve information much faster.

There are a number of plugins that will help you optimize your database, or alternatively, this can be done from your website’s control panel or PHPMyAdmin interface.

Snapshot of WordPress Plugins for optimizing your database

Note: You should always have a website and database backup before performing any operations that might affect your website.

Clear your cache

If your website loads fast, it’s likely because it uses a cache. Caching is a method by which important information and files on your website are immediately served to your visitors to prevent your website’s server from having to think too much.

Without caching, your site will usually load a lot slower. It’s also why the first thing that is recommended if you get in trouble with your shared hosting provider is to implement a good caching system.

There are different types of caches, although they mainly fall under website caching and server caching. They include:

  • Browser caching
  • Page caching
  • Database caching
  • Object caching
  • CDN caching
  • Reverse proxy caching

An important maintenance task is to not only make sure that your caches are working as you intended them to, but to also clear them when necessary.

Whilst many caches can be set to purge themselves automatically, checking on this process regularly is useful.

That’s because computer systems encounter errors every now and then, or you updated a page and somehow the cache wasn’t updated, or a CDN provider requires an explicit instruction to purge their edge servers, etc.

So to keep your website running smoothly, make sure to check on your website caches and ensure they’re doing their job properly.

Scan for malware and viruses

Most computers around the world use an anti-virus of some sort. Avast, Kaspersky, Norton, McAfee are just a few of the popular ones.

We use anti-virus software because whilst we want to achieve something important and productive with our computers, bad people out there want to do the opposite and harm us with malware and viruses.

In protecting our laptops and desktops, some people forget that the server their website runs on is also a computer. And just like any computer, it can be attacked by malware and viruses.

That’s why you need to ensure that you are constantly scanning and protecting your website from such security issues.

There are some types of malware that are blocked by your hosting provider, especially if your website is on a managed hosting platform.

But the control your host gives you that allows you to upload files and do good things on your server is the same control that would allow for malicious files to do bad things on your server.

Many times, if you get hacked or your website is infected by malware, your web hosting provider will have the right to suspend your entire hosting account and even terminate it if they believe that is required.

So to prevent a situation from escalating, it’s ideal to ensure your website is scanned and protected from malware right from day one.

Take regular website backups

Backups! Backups!! Backups!!! Something almost everyone knows to do but most people forget to.

A healthy backup can be the difference between keeping your business website online and having to pay money all over again to create a brand new one.

When it comes to any manner of data that is important to you, it should be backed up 2 or even 3 times (ideally in different locations and in different formats as well.)

cPanel Backups

The key to your house is important, that’s why you’ve got a spare, sometimes even more than just a single spare key.

Similarly with important papers, IDs, passports, registration documents, certificates etc, you probably have a photocopy available with the original stored safely somewhere.

It’s no different with digital information. You shouldn’t just have a single website backup, you should have a website backup program!

You should have your website backed up monthly, weekly or even daily. And if your website is immensely important to your business, you can opt in for almost real-time website backups.

WordPress Backup Plugins

The reasons why backups are important is because at the end of the day, whilst people think whoever is hosting their website is responsible for taking site backups, they’re actually not.

We mentioned in our article on the cost of websites in Ghana that when you sign up with a hosting company, their terms and conditions state that whilst they’ll use their best effort, they are not responsible for any loss of data or unavailability of a backup.

They explicitly state that you are responsible for backing up your website.

Hostgator Terms of Service on Backups

For all the clients whose websites we host, the least frequent backup schedule is a monthly. At almost any time if necessary, we have the ability to restore up to 12 or more versions of our client’s sites over the past year.

In the 21st century when everything is going digital, criminals have already gotten with the program and so they make their bread and butter by hacking and breaking things.

If your website got hacked today:

  • Would you have a very recent backup of your site available?
  • Would you be able to access or retrieve that backup immediately?
  • Would the backup be in perfect working condition?
  • Would you be able to restore the backup quickly?
  • Do you or anyone on your team know how to restore your website?

Quick tip, make sure you do not store the backup of your website on the same server as your website. That is a mistake we pray you never have to regret.

It sometimes happens that your entire server, or the entire hosting company gets hit. When that happens, both your live site and your backups on the same server become inaccessible.

This recently happened to WP Rocket and they recount their story. We appreciate their transparency and honesty on the issue that we all get to learn from for free.

The only advice I can give is very basic yet it is truly what makes the difference. You need to have backups to an external location and perform regular integrity checks. Take some time, even if it’s just once a month for example, to manually check that everything is working as it is supposed to.

Jean-Baptiste Marchand-Arvier, co-founder and CEO of WP Rocket

Update the design of your website

Blessedly, this particular maintenance task isn’t something you have to do every day, but when your website is the introduction point for many potential customers to your business and brand, the design of your website is important.

Sadly though, almost nothing lasts forever. The amazing, beautiful, wonderful, exceptional, terrific, mind-blowing website you had created and launched just about 2 or 3 years ago has now started to feel a little dated.

Facebook's website in 2004
This is what the first version of Facebook looked like. It’s been updated and refreshed many times since then.

Not only that, your competitors in the same industry have redesigned or launched newer websites that have new features, load faster and look way nicer than what you currently have.

If that’s the case, it may be time to refresh the design of your website. Maintenance of a website that nobody wants to use might be a bit like missing the forest for the trees.

So depending on your budget and goals for the year, you may want to take your time to look for a website designer or firm that is doing some great work in order to have your website refreshed and updated.

Optimize your website’s speed and performance

Just like every tool or system that exists, your website has the tendency to become slow over time. A tell-tale sign you need some significant maintenance work is if your website doesn’t load as fast as it used to.

The speed at which your website loads was already important because customers don’t like slow sites. But it’s gotten even more important as Google has been using website speed as a ranking factor in search results.

There are various tools you can use to check your website’s speed, including:

  • Pingdom Tools
  • GT Metrix
  • Google Pagespeed Insights
  • WebPage Test
  • Dareboost

They can help you identify what might be slowing your website down and even provide you with some very valuable recommendations.

Pingdom Tools Test

Be warned though, speeding up your website is surely technical work with its own lingo and jargons so you might need to contact your developer for help.

In one of our longest articles ever, 25 Common Website Problems and Solutions, we have a section dedicated to slow websites which will certainly help in maintaining your website. Some of the points to consider include:

  • Poor network
  • Web server location
  • Site performance and architecture
  • No caching systems
  • Excessive traffic
  • Low quality hosting
  • Server misconfigurations
  • Huge images and videos added to website
  • Outdated technology and software

Going through each of the points above will certainly help to keep your website as fast as possible.

Track your website’s rankings in Google

One of the greatest benefits of having a website for your business is for it to rank in Google and bring you free traffic or free advertising.

If you sell shoes and every time someone is looking for shoes, your website pops up leading to new customers and sales, your website will be a tremendously valuable asset.

If you track your website’s rankings in Google, you will have access to very useful data. You might find out that many people find your website not only when looking for shoes, but also for shoe accessories.

Perhaps an article you wrote on the difference between high heels and pumps has been ranking on Google bringing you so many of your best customers.

But sadly, not all things last forever, especially when not maintained.

Your competitors who are tracking their websites in Google discover that you’re ranking ahead of them. So they start improving their websites and creating brand new content.

Or your website develops a technical issue somewhere that is difficult to detect, although your website loads just as before. Meanwhile the technical issue is making Google very unhappy.

Maybe your competitors all optimize their website for Google’s Core Web Vitals so they load exceptionally fast whilst your website is still loading quite slowly.

Before you know it, your website falls off the top spot and even off page one and is in no-man’s-land where you can’t be found.

And sadly, it didn’t happen for just one or two important keywords, but for every keyword your website was ranking for and even those you were rising for.

A website whose organic traffic and search rankings are in decline
A website whose organic traffic and search rankings are in decline

Without the ability to track your website’s rankings in Google, you won’t be able to catch the issue before it starts impacting your bottom-line significantly.

So what’s the solution? To use tools or a service that helps track how well your website is doing in search for different keywords. Your website designer or SEO firm will surely be able to give you a few software options or services to consider like:

  • Serpstats
  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush
  • ProRankTracker
  • SE Ranking

and a whole lot more.

These SEO services and tools aren’t always cheap, but being able to rank high in Google, and be alerted to trends pointing to a loss of traffic before it happens is very useful.

Disavow bad backlinks to your website

Did you know that Google rewards you every time a respectable website somewhere on the Internet links back to your website?

Maybe you wrote a great article that helps people solve a particular problem. In return, they write about you and your solution and link back to your website.

Google likes that! It tells them that you have good and useful information that people need and for that reason, they’ll usually let you rank higher in their search results.

But the flip side is also true. If shady and questionable websites on the Internet are linking to you, Google starts to question whether you aren’t also a shady website yourself.

When that happens, Google will start to drop your website in their search results and you end up losing a lot of traffic and customers.

The tiny problem in all this is the fact that, no one announces to you when they link to your website. You never even asked any shady website to link to you, but they went ahead and linked anyway, dragging you down with them.

And that can be quite sad!

The good news is that there’s something you can do about this. As one of your maintenance tasks, you have to find and then disavow any links to your website that are coming from shady websites on the Internet.

How do you know a link to your website is a bad link? That’s a great question and it doesn’t have the easiest of answers. Whilst the link itself may come from a page that seems harmless, the entire website might be dangerous.

Using tools like:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMRush
  • MOZ
  • SERanking
  • Link Assistant

and others can help find all the people linking to you and even provide a profile on which links may be harmful to your website so you can assess those and disavow them if necessary.

A website with a poor backlink profile, 49% of its links being toxic will never rank on the first page of Google
A website with a poor backlink profile, 49% of its links being toxic will never rank on the first page of Google

They will analyse the link, its anchor text, the IP address of the website and many, many other factors before informing you if the link is useful, or potentially toxic.

Google has an explanation on some of the factors that make a link toxic to your website. Some of them are:

  • Paying for do follow links
  • Enticing someone with a thing of value for a link
  • Excessive link exchanges
  • Using automated programs or services to create links
  • Press releases or articles with optimized anchor text links
  • Links from low quality directories
  • Links in comments or forums with optimized anchor text
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Links from questionable pages or domains

and more.

Once you’ve found the list of links you want to disavow, in order to tell Google you do not endorse their linking to you, you can use Google’s Search Console tool to inform Google of these links.

One thing to note is that as important as this task is, Google does give you significant warning that you should know what you’re doing first because using the tool incorrectly can impact your site’s rankings.

Google Warning on disavowing links

Check for broken links

Life by nature is a bit messy. We’re moving up and down, doing one thing today, another thing tomorrow, forgetting an appointment here, etc.

The same thing happens to our websites. You write an article on your website today, but on second thoughts, you delete it tomorrow. You place a link on your website to a different website but sadly, it goes offline later on, etc.

When someone clicks on a link on your website and it doesn’t go to the desired destination, this provides an unsatisfactory experience for your user and is referred to as a broken link.

Google notices this and doesn’t like it so they end up penalizing websites that have various broken links.

A link can end up being broken for multiple reasons:

  • You should have added the protocol (http:// or  https://) and forgot to
  • There’s a typo in the link making it irrelevant
  • The webpage you linked to has changed or been moved
  • Links from your website to the target website have been blocked
  • The website is no longer online
Amzon.com Down

To perform solid website maintenance, it’s your job to constantly check every single link on every single page to make sure that they’re all working correctly and going to the right places.

A website of any appreciable size can have between 100 and 10,000 links easily. Clicking on every link individually can surely be a task no one wants to undertake, much less do regularly.

Blessedly, there are maintenance services you can sign up for which will check all the links on your website to make sure that none are broken. If one is, they’ll be able to report that to you or have it fixed for you.

Optimize images and videos

A website can be designed for many different reasons, to entertain, to educate, to manage information, etc.

This information is usually conveyed in the form of text, images, videos and other elements.

Most websites and web pages around the world would be lightening fast and smooth to use if only the websites were made up of text only, but that isn’t the case.

For the past few decades, the average size of a web page has continued to go up and up because we’re using more and more images and videos, and not just more and more, but larger and larger ones.

Increase in the average size of web pages according to Key CDN
Increase in the average size of web pages according to Key CDN

There was a time when we were comfortable with videos on VCD (at a resolution of about 480p). But then we moved up to DVD quality at 720p. Bluray brought 1080p and now we’re streaming at 4k resolutions.

Same with pictures. We were happy with simple phone camera pictures a while back but now phones are taking such high quality pictures that a single image may be 20mb in size or more.

If these images and videos are uploaded directly to a website, they’re going to be WAY TOO LARGE for their purpose. Images and videos transmitted over the Internet have the ability to be compressed and reduced in size without a significant loss in quality.

An image that might be 5mb from your phone camera can be displayed on your website within 50Kb with no loss of information.

Resize and compress images

In maintaining your website, it is important to check on whether you’ve added any images or videos that are unnecessarily large, and optimize these images to keep your website loading fast.

The easiest way to do this is to have a plugin or extension that automatically resizes and compresses images uploaded to your website. You might want to look at:

  • Smush
  • EWWW Image Optimizer
  • ShortPixel
  • WP Rocket
  • Optimole

For videos also, hosting your videos with a service like YouTube or Vimeo and embedding that in your site can ensure people whose Internet connections are slow can view a lower quality version of the video whilst those who have a high speed connection can watch at a higher quality.

Refresh website content, dates, etc

One task that must be undertaken regularly is content updating.

If you’ve got content on your website that has a date, for example, if your website doesn’t automatically update it, you’d have to do that manually.

Some websites have a copyright date at the bottom which may require updating when you enter a new year.

Others may move to a new office or change phone lines and will have to update the address and phone numbers on the site.

For retailers and online shops, it is so important to ensure you’ve updated product pricing and inventory!! It is not fun to locate a product you need only to later find out that it’s out of stock.

A lot of websites are built on a Content Management System (CMS) so it’s possible to log in and make a change when needed.

If your website doesn’t use a CMS, we do recommend you have your website upgraded to one that does so you can make minor changes easily without having to wait for your designer or developer.

Add new content

Aside updating existing content, keeping your website well maintained also requires that you add new content.

People who come across your website and find new and fresh content are able to more easily trust that your company is alive and well since you are still posting new information to it.

The easiest way to lose trust in a company is to visit their website and find out that the last thing they ever posted to their website was in 2014.

It sows a seed of doubt that they might no longer be in business and that you should find a company that is.

Aside that, if you want to rank in Google and maintain your ranking, Google also likes to know that you’re still alive.

If you’re not posting any new information to your website whilst your competitors are, Google will start to drop you in search results whilst your competitors will rise and overtake you, stealing your potential customers.

Change passwords

Your password is one of the most important features in keeping your website secure. If it falls into the wrong hands, the data it protects can be accessed, stolen or compromised.

Whilst we’ve already written on a lot of useful best practices for keeping your password secure, what we’d like to mention here is that you have to not only make sure you use a strong password, but it is useful to change that password regularly.

Every few months, there is a significant hack on one platform or the other. A lot of the hacked data gets leaked onto the Internet and so it’s important to ensure that your password is not one of them.

You can check the website Have I Been Pwned to see if a password connected to an account you use is already lurking out there on the Internet or might have been compromised.

Website that allows you to check on compromised login details

If you do have a weak or leaked password, we recommend you change the password immediately and follow some of the best practices mentioned above.

Delete unused pages, posts, drafts, plugins, themes

When launching your website, you or your website designer would most likely have gone through a checklist to make sure your site was ready for the world.

You would have made sure the site is accessible, that you’ve gotten the right content on the site, and that it works just as you want it to, etc.

Other important points in your checklist would have included getting rid of any pages, posts, drafts, plugins, themes, tags, categories, images, videos and other bits and pieces on your site that aren’t relevant to your business, or needed.

This is usually the case for websites that are based on a template, theme or design that was used as the base for your website.

But even if your site was lean and clean at launch, over time, things change. You decide to test a plugin to see if it can perform some useful functionality for you but you forget about it.

You install a new theme and refresh the design of your website, leaving the old theme still installed and on standby. You update a page and end up uploading 4 different versions of an image till you find the one that works best for you.

Over time, you end up with your website having a lot of content that isn’t necessary. And especially with themes and plugins, not only can this bloat your site and slow it down, but it can also serve as a terrific entry point for malicious actors if they are successful at compromising them.

To keep your website well oiled and running smoothly, you regularly have to get rid of any new additions to your website that aren’t necessary or are no longer needed.

This even makes the site much easier for you or anyone else who manages it to know what is going on, to troubleshoot the site and to find where everything is.

You can learn more about how easily a site can be compromised with old content and plugins that aren’t deleted.

Check indexed pages of your website for problems

Another important website maintenance task is to take a look in Google at all the pages of your website that Google has indexed.

One valuable reason to have a website for your business is for people to find you in Google search.

The more valuable content you have, the more Google will like you and send your content to the top.

But the opposite is also true. The more incoherent and unhelpful content your website has, the more difficult it’ll be for people to find you.

To see all the pages of your site that have been indexed, simply search for your website preceded by the phrase site:

We for example would search for site:wopedigital.com and all the pages Google has found and indexed will be shown.

site:wopedigital.com

When you do not regularly take a look at all the pages of your website that Google has indexed, you miss out on a lot of crucial information.

This little maintenance exercise can reveal if your website has been hacked. Many hacked websites end up being used to host content in foreign languages. If you come across such pages in Google, you’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do.

Compromised website with foreign characters indexed by Google

By running this search, you might also discover that you’ve got some pages of your site that are absolutely unrelated to what you currently do.

It’s possible that the template, theme or design you selected for your website had some default content in it. But in creating your website and launching it, not all the default pages and content were deleted.

And now you’ve got pages talking about real estate and construction when your website is all about cakes and baking. Or you find pages that have the all-too-famous placeholder text lorem ipsum.

Google Caching Lorem Ipsum

All these pages need to be tracked down and deleted. But not only that, you need to tell Google to also delete those entries from their search index as they have an adverse effect on your rankings. You can use Google’s Search Console for that task.

Finally, a search in Google of this nature can reveal a serious technical SEO problem with your website where very few pages of your website are indexed, or even none at all.

If you have none of your pages showing in Google’s index, or very few, it’s highly possible that a problem with how your site was configured is blocking Google from crawling your site and gathering information.

Or your website designer set your website to be hidden from Google during the development of your site and forgot to ever let Google back in to index it.

We’ve got a lot of help for you here if your website has hardly any content in Google.

Perform some reputation management

An important website maintenance task to do on a regular basis is reputation management.

Every few weeks, it is important for you to search for your business name and brand in Google just to see what pops up.

A Google search usually surfaces 10 links to different properties. Before and after these links though, you may also find some adverts.

If you regularly check on your business’ reputation in Google, you’ll be quick to notice if any of your competitors are bidding on your brand name.

For example, if you’re an electrical shop called John Mensah’s Electricals, and you’re the best in the business with everyone searching for you in Google, your competitors are going to take notice.

So one day, you go searching and you find out that instead of your website being the first link that shows when someone looks for John Mensah’s Electricals, you rather notice an ad promoting James Antwi’s Electric World.

Your competitor is siphoning off your clients by bidding and advertising on your brand name.

SEMRush bidding on Ahref's name
SEMRush bidding on Ahref’s own name

When this happens, you have 3 options:

  • To politely inform your competitor not to bid and advertise on your brand name
  • To report to Google if you have a registered trademark or your intellectual property is being infringed
  • To bid and advertise on your own brand name in order to push out your competitor.

But that’s only one problem reputation management can identify. In other cases, it might rather be severely disgruntled past customers or employees.

You can take the case of PayPal. Whilst they are a huge company serving millions of people everyday, they still have their share of dissatisfied customers. Whether justifiably or not, PayPal also has to do a bit of reputation management.

Someone decided to create a website called PayPalSucks.org just to document all the issues they and others have had with PayPal.

Imagine if someone did that to your business? Dedicated a significant amount of resources to ensuring that people searching for your company see negative things about you.

And sadly, bad news usually travels far faster than good news.

That’s why it’s your job to regularly search for your business name and brand and notice whether there are some ‘unflattering’ mentions of your brand.

If this happens in Google, some of the things you can do include:

  • Posting more and new content to help your site rank better
  • Opening new profiles on social media pages that usually get indexed well for your brand
  • Reaching out to the website owner to resolve the issue amicably
  • Reporting defamatory pages or links if they fall outside their legal rights to comment on your business

And if this happens rather on a review site, the first thing you should do is respond to the review as politely and factually as you possibly can, no emotional responses here.

New potential customers will see an emotional response and not want to do business with you. But if you handle yourself with grace in responding to a negative review, you can actually win over new customers.

If you’re being bombarded with negative reviews, you are going to have to contact all your best customers and people who can vouch for you in order to have them write some great reviews to counter the negative ones you’ve received.

Check bandwidth, disk space and CPU usage

Another server task that is useful to undertake regularly is to make sure your hosting account where your website is located is still able to support your growing website.

When you start out with your website, it’s possible it was very small and unknown. But as it grew more popular, you started to get a lot more visits to your website.

The more visits to your website, the more diskspace, server resources and bandwidth your website would use (bandwidth being the amount of data that is transferred every time someone visits your website.)

If your website becomes a little too popular for example, you may exceed your website’s bandwidth limits and this can lead to it going down and/or being suspended.

Account suspended

This happens not just with bandwidth, but also with diskspace. If you’ve been uploading a lot of content to your site, you have to watch that carefully because if full, your website will have no diskspace to operate with and that also will take your website down.

You might say, “No worries! My hosting plan gives me unlimited bandwidth and unlimited diskspace!”

That’s great to hear, but the truth of the matter is that no hosting company out there truly provides unlimited bandwidth or unlimited diskspace.

If you are using a humungous amount of their bandwidth or diskspace, they can easily suspend your website and state that you were ‘abusing’ their resources or you violated one of their innocuous terms of service.

Exceeding CPU resource usage is one they like to use although server resources are not one of the points usually talked about when purchasing a hosting plan (unless you’re on a VPS or Dedicated server.)

Abusing CPU Resources

So we strongly recommend that you regularly keep your eye out for how much diskspace, bandwidth and server resources your website is using. Exceeding any of them can lead to your website being inactive or suspended.

You can read a bit more on those and how to mitigate them in the Spike in Popularity section of our article on My Website Is Down.

Check your analytics program

There are quite a few ways of checking how well your website is performing. Number of leads, number of newsletter signups, amount in sales, number of visitors to your website, etc.

But to do so, you are likely to need an analytics program to track just how well your website is doing.

There are many different analytics programs, both free and paid. Google Analytics is one of the biggest out there, especially because they’re free.

Others include:

  • Adobe Analytics
  • Matomo Analytics
  • JetPack
  • Hubspot

and more. The server your website is hosted on may also provide some analytics capabilities.

Google Analytics tracking software
Google Analytics tracking software

No matter the analytics system you use, it is necessary to check the data you’re getting on a regular basis.

You need to know:

  • Who is coming to your website?
  • Which countries are they from?
  • Were they referred by a website?
  • Did they come from Google search?
  • What were they searching for when they found your website?
  • How long did they stay?
  • What page were they on when they left your website?
  • Did they visit more than one page?
  • Did they purchase any of your products?
  • Is this their first time visiting your website?
  • Which acquisition channel is your most profitable?
  • Which advertising network is wasting your money?
  • What devices are your users visiting from the most?
  • And most importantly, are all these numbers trending upwards or downwards?

There’s a lot more information that can be gleaned from the analytics of your website, but I believe you get the idea.

If you used to get 100 customers purchasing through your website from a Facebook advertising campaign and that number drops to 50, that’s crucial information.

It might mean that your ads on Facebook are no longer effective. Or that you have to spend more money to get the same result. It might just mean you’ve got to fine tune your targeting to reach new people, etc.

If you were getting 1,000 visits a month from a popular directory you listed on but that traffic has dried up, it’s time to investigate. Did someone edit your listing? Is the directory still online? Have they made a change that’s affecting your traffic?

There is so much information you need to be on top of to ensure that your website is safe and achieving your goals. And a whole lot of that data will be found in your analytics program, so review the data from it very regularly.

(Note that depending on the number of analytics tracking systems you use and how they are implemented, they can cause your website to load slightly slower than it should. Do ensure to optimize the delivery of your tracking scripts.)

Check your default email accounts and spam folders

Did you know that for many domain names with email accounts, there is usually a ‘default’ account that catches a lot of important emails?

If your website has a cPanel section for management for example, you can take a look there in the emails section to view your default email account.

Default email account in cPanel catches unrouted mail

This account usually does a lot of important work, especially in catching errors happening with your site, or certain emails that aren’t being sent or received properly, etc.

Viewing this account every now and then can give you a heads-up on a more severe issue that might be brewing beneath the surface.

Similarly, no matter the email account you use, checking your spam folder every once in a while is also vital.

It turns out that sometimes, spam filters can be a little too aggressive. When that happens, a perfectly valid email you’re expecting ends up being hidden from you forever.

By checking your spam folder regularly (twice a month for example), not only will you be able to fish out any important contract-sealing emails, but you’ll also be able to have your spam filters adjusted to no longer mark certain emails as spam.

Make sure your systems help your business, rather than hindering you and costing you money.

Check your website forms to ensure they’re working

Many websites today have a contact form or two on their website. Contact forms are popular ways for potential clients and customers to send an email to the business without having to fire up their email client.

It’s also a great way to avoid giving out your business email address in the event that it gets added to a marketing or spam list (in the case where you can be contacted via any method other than email).

The problem though is that contact forms in many cases have a notorious reputation for NOT WORKING!

It is incredibly frustrating to have leads visit your website, willing to give you money, but when they send a message through your contact form, not only do you not get the message, but they never hear back from you and eventually end up going to your competitor.

It’s reached the point that many people are very skeptical with regards to trying to contact a business through their contact form. But this ought not to be.

To make sure you don’t miss out on any potential leads or great customers, you’ll have to check to make sure your contact forms are working on a regular basis.

Simply visit your website, navigate to the Contact Us page or wherever your forms are located, fill the form, submit it and wait a little, to see if you get an email alert with the information you just filled.

WopeDigtal Contact Us Page with our contact form

If you don’t get any alert after a while, check to see if you’re looking in the right email inbox. Your contact form is configured by you or your website designer to deliver information to a specific email address.

In some cases, the form may be configured to not deliver emails, but to be stored in the website’s database, accessible by you when you log in. (Ideally it should do both.)

Whilst storing contact form submissions on your website is a useful backup feature, receiving an email alert on the information of a contact form submission is usually important as timely response to a request is critical to actually converting a lead to a customer.

If you’re looking in the right email inbox but still can’t find the email in question, you now have some troubleshooting ahead of you.

  • Make sure the form submission isn’t being assumed to be spam and delivered to your spam folder. If it is, you can configure your email client to whitelist those types of emails so they don’t land in spam.
  • Make sure that your contact form is configured to send emails from a real and existing email address. If the email address being used doesn’t exist, this can trigger email servers to reject the emails generated outright.
  • Update your SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records to ensure that the server sending emails on behalf of your website or domain is authorized to send those emails.
  • Some mail servers, due to errors in configuration might have problems sending email to their own addresses. This is sometimes due to an email routing misconfiguration. If that’s the case, having your contact forms delivered to an email address not on your server may help.
  • Ensure your contact forms aren’t trying to send email as a Gmail or Yahoo account. Your email will be considered fraudulent by other email servers and swiftly rejected.
  • If you’re using a contact form plugin, make sure it’s updated to the latest working version.
  • You may have to adjust your website to rather send emails via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) rather than the default PHPMailer for most CMSes including WordPress.
  • If that also doesn’t work, you might have to have emails sent via a 3rd party email sending service like Sendgrid, Mailjet, etc.
  • Note carefully that some web hosts do not allow you to use SMTP to send emails from their websites unless using their own email accounts. In cases like that, a 3rd party sending service that sends emails via API would be necessary.
  • Email testing and email logging plugins might help you with the troubleshooting process to identify if emails are being sent at all or not.

If you finally get your contact forms working as they should, there are two other things to remember.

You should make sure your website’s contact forms use some manner of honeypot or captcha to reduce and hopefully eliminate robots from spamming you via your own contact form.

If this isn’t watched out for, it can lead to all emails coming from your contact form landing in your own spam folders.

The second thing is to diligently respond very swiftly to all people who contact you through your website’s contact form. They should be treated just as urgently as if they had called your business directly.

Uptime Monitoring

Uptime monitoring refers to the process of checking that your website is always online and accessible.

A website that isn’t online is just like a ship out of water, almost useless.

Many people would assume that it’s the responsibility of their hosting provider to ensure that their website is online. But that’s not exactly true.

Your web hosting partner could be the best in the world, providing you with 100% guaranteed uptime and your site could still be down and inaccessible.

In our article, My Website Is Down, we talked about some of the ways your website can be inaccessible and most of them don’t even have anything to do with your hosting provider.

The various possibilities we mentioned include:

  • Device or Internet issues
  • A plugin or theme conflict
  • A server issue
  • DNS resolution
  • An unscrupulous website designer
  • A spike in popularity
  • A DDoS attack

But since you can’t check your website every minute of every day, how do you know whether your website is online or not?

If you’ve got a very busy website with clients buying from you every few minutes, you’re most likely to hear them complain if they can’t get through to your site.

They’ll let you know on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that they can’t buy your products because your website is down. But this is surely not ideal at all!!

Some potential clients won’t even skip a beat. They’ll just move on to the next person they can buy from and you’ll lose tons of money.

Not only that but your reputation will also take a hit as an unreliable company. Because if this is how their website is on today and off tomorrow, then it can be assumed that’s the same experience that will be experienced with your products and customer service.

You need to be able to ensure that your website is online all the time. If you have a website maintenance package from a service provider, they can probably provide you with a website uptime monitoring service that checks your website every 5 minutes.

These services work by pinging your website and confirming that it’s up. (This doesn’t have any impact on your analytics so you won’t see your numbers skewed by any phantom visits).

If the service notices that your website is down, it’ll alert you immediately so you can get on the case or contact your website designer or hosting partner to find a way to get you back online.

There are some websites that are so lightly trafficked that no one would even notice if the site was offline. If their website goes down because of an automatic platform update for example, they’d only know 2 months later when they decided to check up on their site again.

For people with small or even tiny websites that are hardly visited, this might seem not to be an issue. But there is one problem that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Google’s aim is to visit every online resource and have all that information easily accessible through their search engine. To that end, they crawl sites on a regular basis.

If Google likes your information, they let you rank high, bringing you lots of free traffic and paying customers. But if they don’t like your information, they demote you in their search engine and you stand to lose out on hundreds and even thousands of potential customers.

And one thing Google doesn’t like is a website that is down or inaccessible. A website that Google can’t crawl will be swiftly demoted and even completely removed from their search engine index making it basically invisible.

So if you want your website to serve you well and bring you lots of new customers over time, it’s useful to monitor your website to ensure it’s always online.

Install a firewall

A firewall is basically a system that monitors all incoming and outgoing requests from your website.

When websites were mostly static, there was much less damage that a malicious actor could inflict on your site or your business. But that’s certainly changed.

Today’s websites are very, very complex systems that have lots of moving parts. Anyone gaining access to your site via a tiny vulnerability can end up making a really big impact.

And whilst there are thousands of vulnerabilities out there with new ones being exploited each and every day, there is no need for you to worry your head over those.

If you’ve ever installed or used an anti-virus program on your computer before, most of them have a firewall included. They scan all the incoming and outgoing traffic to your computer in order to protect you.

That’s why if you visit a compromised website by accident, your anti-virus program can simply block access to that site because it was trying to install some malware or virus on your computer.

A firewall for your website works the same way. After doing what you have to do to protect your website, the firewall does the rest.

Even if a hacker finds a brand new exploit no one has ever heard of, your firewall in many cases might identify the suspicious activity of this person and block them before they can do any damage to your website.

For the hundreds of websites we manage, we have a firewall protecting every single one of them. They:

  • Block bad bots from accessing our clients’ websites
  • Protect vulnerable URLs from being accessed
  • Prevent hackers from being able to run codes and attacks even if they hypothetically gained access
  • Lock out and block suspicious users who try guessing people’s passwords
  • Limit the rate at which websites can be accessed to keep things running smoothly
  • Block visitors to our clients’ websites from certain countries or regions where necessary

and a lot more. Some companies that provide firewalls you can consider include:

Conclusion

That’s quite a bit of information to work with. No worries. You can always bookmark this page and work through it to keep your websites safe and secure.

But if maintaining websites and looking at code isn’t something you consider fun, you might probably just want to hire a company like ours to provide you with maintenance services for your website.

Do let us know in the comments if we can help you in any way.

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