You just had your brand new website built and it’s now live. What’s next?
Building a website and maintaining it are two separate efforts. In maintaining a website, the goal is to ensure that your site is up and running and serving your customers. In this article, I will share with you things to consider for maintaining a website.
You want to make sure that your website is up and running 24/7. Unless you have multiple servers configured with load balancing, your site will go down at some point. Some hosting providers will be proactive and notify you of upcoming maintenance to their servers but some won’t.
Even though a site going down by your hosting provider is beyond your control, you can still monitor your site and reach out to your hosting provider if site goes down without prior notification or if it’s down for prolonged period of time.
To receive an email when your site goes down, you can use a free service from Uptime Robot. They have paid service which monitors your website every minute but their free plan with 5 minute interval has been good enough for us. If your site goes down, you will receive an email and you can let your hosting provider know.
Monitor 404 Errors (broken links)
If you have a simple 10-page website, it’s easy to detect broken links. What if you have a website with a few hundred or thousand pages? You will not catch all broken links by manually clicking through pages. One of websites we manage has close to 10,000 pages. If you don’t actively monitor 404 errors or broken links, then you are serving broken pages to your visitors and are at the mercy of visitors who are kind enough to report it to you. If I come across broken link on a website, I just leave the site – I hardly report it to their webmaster.
You can monitor 404 errors in two ways:
You can set up Google Analytics to send you a daily or weekly report of 404 pages served – you can do so by using the page title of your 404 page and using filtering.
You can also use Google Webmasters – 404 errors are shown under the Crawl Errors section.
Keep in mind that 404 errors not only degrade the user experience but it’s also likely that it will impact your SEO if it happens often.
Monitor web traffic
This is more for marketing purpose than maintenance. Keep in mind that not everyone who comes to your website will become a prospect or customer. They may come back later, read more blog posts, compare with your competition, and such. So it’s a good idea to monitor web traffic and understand following:
- How many people are looking at my website per month?
- How are my visitors finding my website?
- How much time do they spend on my website?
- What content are they looking at?
All these questions can be answered by analyzing traffic in Google Analytics.
Monitor for suspicious activities
If you have a website with backend administration and you have to provide username and password to log in – like WordPress or Drupal – then your website is likely getting hit by countless bots trying to hack into your website.
If you have a WordPress website, WP Security Audit Log is a great plugin. It is scalable and has additional plugins that can meet the needs of enterprise requirements. If the plugin uses the same database as your website, it can impact your site performance. I highly recommend that you use a separate database server for this plugin.
Monitor security patches
It’s always a good idea to stay updated on latest security fixes and patches for your website. If you use open source platforms like WordPress or Drupal, they release security patches often for the core and the plugins/modules. A proactive web publisher would subscribe to their email lists to stay informed on security updates and apply them as soon as they become available.
Sometimes, your hosting provider will apply security updates automatically which I found extremely helpful.
Do you have anything else that you are monitoring that was not included here? Please use the comment section below to share with us.