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Website Maintenance

Maintaining the optimized website

Lizardwebs Raleigh Web Design can provide as much or as little web maintenance as a client desires. We can do SEO optimization and maintain websites in a variety of formats. Using CMS systems – WordPress IS our favorite, straight HTML websites, PHP websites or ASP websites – we can help you in most cases.

How much website maintenance is up to the customer. Some customer prefer to keep us on top of all aspects of their website. Adding new content, examining web statistics, optimizing keywords, modifying content and much more. Others prefer to ping us only when they need something out of the ordinary – maybe a new webpage or whole new website layout.

Something to keep in mind, there’s the general website maintenance like doing backups, updating plugins (when applicable), and things of that nature.  However, most people want website maintenance to keep their website rankings up there in the SERPs… so we’re switching gears to more of an SEO perspective here.

The goals of website maintenance

The Physical side of Website Maintenance

  1. Keep your website secure and updated. Make sure no new exploits will affect your site by keeping all code up to date – things like updating plugins, reviewing code for security holes and the like.  Be aware that this DOES happen – all it takes is some new exploit and an unprotected file or two to allow a hacker access. Stay UP on those updates!
  2. Make sure that there is a recovery path in case of physical server failure, virus attack or some other unforeseen issue.  Keeping backups of all important files so that even in a catastrophic failure, the content and site can be deployed elsewhere quickly and with a minimum of fuss. There’s nothing worse than having a host disk failure (or worse, a script kiddie with time to kill) tank your site, and possibly hundreds of hours of work, and then have to try to create your several hundred page website all over again. NOT fun.  Any maintenance plan should include backup strategies appropriate for your site.

The SEO side of Website Maintenance

  1. Keep new content in front of your visitors. NO ONE wants to see the same content over and over again in most cases. If you want return visitors, then you should keep your web content fresh. This ALSO keeps the search engines interested.
  2. Improve upon the content that you have to increase your search engine ranking. Unless you rank #1 for every keyword you want, then you will only benefit from examining your web content and improving it as you gather more and more data.

As far as SEO, here’s our take on website maintenance!

Keep your content fresh. Sites will get spidered more consistently and regularly when the content gets changed more frequently. I keep track of the logs to see when spiders normally are visiting and try to make my updates coincide.

Get and examine the website logs. If your host includes good log tools, use them. If the site handles it’s own logging, make sure tha there is a way to meaningfully sort and review the website visitor data. The data contained in your logs is the secret to building up your search engine standings. If referer links in are accurately captured, the search terms that were used to find your site will be there. You can’t optimize that which you aren’t aware of. We normally rely on Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools for monitoring all aspects of our websites.

Check your site rankings consistently. Either use a tool, write your own or manually check to see where your site ranks for the terms that you have chosen to optimize. I normally check mine around the 15th of the month. Track these rankings from month to month to see if your changes go up or down. Try to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I don’t think there is a magical way of doing this other than just continually plugging away. Sadly, it takes a long time relatively speaking to see exactly how your changes will affect your site rankings.

Build up links with other sites of a similar nature. This one can be touchy. If I want everyone to buy those “custom widgets” from me, I don’t necessarily want to be linking to every other custom widget maker. I may however want to link to people that make accessories that can be used WITH my widgets. Such as widget holders, widget cleaners, widget training manuals, etc. Sadly I think most algorithms prefer linking to other similar companies. While this was and is great for things like research topics, news items, etc. it isn’t the best way of handling a commercial site. Imagine if you walked into a Ford dealer and found directions and information about Toyota, Chevy and Nissan as well. Pretty silly, huh? I personally feel that is why so many of these veritable “link farms” end up doing pretty well as far as traffic while providing almost no information of use.

Backlinks – Get out and promote your site and include your website domain URL. Find relevant news groups, forums and any other places that allow you to add content. Interact as appropriate. If it’s a Widget forum, then post relevant opinion or information to the group. Include your web site URL. When the forum gets spidered, voila! You have a new link to your site in the search engines. This is what people refer to when they speak of “backlinks” – backlinks are good.

Warning: DO NOT get into one of these forums and just start spamming your URL. Not only will you tick off the regular forum people, but may actually turn people away from visiting and purchasing your product. Be a good netizen.

You may also write articles on your topic of knowledge and submit them for publishing on community sites or other web sites. The more times your URL gets into the search engines (read “more backlinks”), the higher the website will rank as time goes along.

There really is NO silver bullet for getting to the top of the heap without effort. Admittedly there are several companies that guarantee rankings for your site. Can it be done? Can it be done ETHICALLY? Let’s take a look at things that you really should NOT do.

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