Your website is your very own piece of real estate on the #digitalfrontier.

And just like your real home or property, it needs to be looked after, cared for and lots of general maintenance is required. Now we aren’t saying you need to revamp your entire website every day, but subtle changes and edits to your website will not only improve your Google rankings, but will ensure your site is up to date, secure and relevant.

Having to create, take over and manage numerous WordPress based websites on a daily basis, we have encountered a few technical issues over the years that seem to rear their ugly head every couple of months. 404 Errors, 500 Internal server errors, the dreaded White Screen of Death and of course the occasional website hack.

Most of these issues are easily avoidable and simple enough to fix (if you know what you are doing, if you don’t then click here). But on the odd occasion, this error could render your site useless and badly damage your online reputation as well as your brand.

These updates may seem a bit of a hassle to do on a regular basis, but will ultimately save you a lot of time, money and STRESS! All it requires is monthly management of the site and a general review every 6 months. Simple enough, right? Wrong! There is more to updating your website than you probably know.

With this in mind, here are our top 5 things to do to secure and keep your site relevant:

1.  Update your Software

This is a tricky one – you have to be careful when doing these updates to your themes, plugins and of course WordPress itself as they can cause broken websites and the already mentioned White Screen of Death. Basically, your theme and plugins have to be in line with your Wordpress version to work correctly. Old themes use old code, so updating these items may render some if the themes functionality obsolete and cause errors on your site. The same applies to plugins. So although updating your software is essential, these updates are best left to your web administrator. Because if something goes wrong, you will need to restore your site from a backup, which leads us to point number 2.

2. Back up your back up plan

Make sure you have backups in place. Not only to the core files, but of the database as well. You can then be safe in the knowledge that if anything does go wrong, you can easily restore your site back to what it was before making the changes. Lets not forget to keep your backups up to date as well – no point in backing up to a site that’s over a year old.

3. Keep it Safe

Since WordPress is an open source Content Management System (CMS), it’s relatively easy for hackers to get into your site and alter the code to their liking. But there is something you can do about this: there are some powerful security based plugins out there that can be harnessed to secure your site from these malicious attacks. We personally use i-Themes Security, which enables us to have custom logins, malware scanning and a ton more options to secure your site. Having said that, the easiest way for these hackers to get into your site is out of date themes, plugins and WordPress. So even if you have your security installed and cranked up to the “Fort Knox Security Level”, you can still be vulnerable to these attacks. If in doubt, refer back to point 1.

4. Content is King!

Now that your site is up to date, secure and backed up, we can now focus on the content of the site. This includes the copy, imagery and sitemap. Do you still offer the services listed? Is Mark still an employee? Has your fax number changed? These are simple changes that can ensure no potential leads are lost due to outdated content. Nothing is more irritating than finding a business’ contact details and the number doesn’t exist, or even worse, you select a service the business offers and then upon further communication they no longer offer that service. Nothing pushes consumers away faster than a disorganized and outdated business and website, so its important to update your content before it gets to that point.

5. Search Engine Optimisation

Now that the content is updated, lets review the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of the site. We use Yoast SEO plugin as it allows us to customize the meta tags, meta descriptions, page titles and more and as an added bonus, also integrates with your social media. As an added bonus, it also integrates with your social media. As technology changes, new words are added to the dictionary and the web gets more saturated, targeted keywords and title changes to your SEO is required. This sounds complicated, but with Google Analytics (that should be installed on your site), you will be able to track down what Google thinks is relevant in your site in terms of keywords, searchable keywords, traffic sources and analysis of the users behavior on your site. This data will help you sculpt and mold your new SEO terms and descriptions. Information that is very valuable for your business. This is a good time to confirm if your site is responsive, if not, it’s time to get “mobile”. As of last week, Google is now penalizing websites that are not mobile friendly. More on this massive change will be discussed in an upcoming blog.

These tips are fairly easy to implement, but please do take care if you are new to working websites. If you have any doubts then get hold of your web administrator to assist you. If you don’t have a web administrator or do not have any of these features on your website, then contact us. Digital. It’s what we do!

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