October 5

Episode 113- Why Regular Website Maintenance Is Important

Paul: Hello, welcome to the Marketing Guys for Small Business Podcast. I’m Paul Barthel . I’ll be the host today. And I’m joined by Jen, Ian and Ken, and today we’re gonna talk about website maintenance, why it’s important, what’s involved, why you should do it, and why you might wanna outsource it. I’m sure everyone in this panel is running into this because we hear it all the time and it’s like, why do I have to pay for this? I have a new website, isn’t it secure? And I’ve never had website maintenance before. So Ken, I’m gonna start with you. Start at the beginning with some of these things. What is it? Why is it important, and why does even a new website need maintenance? 

Ken: Let’s start with the concept of the web. They call it a web for a reason. You’ve got all of these interconnected things just because you build a website, if you are thinking about it as a static commodity, that’s the wrong way to look at it. Things are always changing on the web. Always. You might be able to control largely what your website does. It may be a five page website. It may be a 250 page website. If it’s a five page website, obviously there’s probably a little less rigor required in the. In terms of maintenance, but the reason you need to maintain your website is because of hackers and security related issues. Number one, the fastest way to get your website hacked is to not maintain it. There are people who literally go to school and their training is how can they hack websites, and that’s all they do all day long. They fill out forms. They try to get people to click on malicious things. They try to insert malicious codes on websites, so you can’t just set it and forget it. There are platforms that are out there that make it sound like it’s that easy. They take care of that on the back end, and that may be a good solution for really small business. Or if you’re not really  focused on a search engine optimization type strategy, you just can’t set it and forget it. The other thing is just because somebody built you a brand new website, you still need to review it and periodically look at it and make sure everything looks good and normal.
A really common mistake that we see is when people build a new website, they get lazy. If you had an old website and they’re grabbing content from your old website, while it’s in a development environment, it may look fine. They may grab an old picture from your website. First of all, you may not have the approval to use that licensing for that picture because the previous website provider may own that licensing. But as soon as the old website is taken down, your picture’s a broken link because actually your picture was never uploaded to your website directly. It was pointed to your old website. You think about it when you’re driving down the highway and you see a billboard that looks like crap, or when you’re driving past a business and  you look at the front of their business and it doesn’t look very appealing or inviting. People are thinking that same thing about your website, so if you have broken pictures or things like that. Your formatting gets all jacked up because the platform that you use made an update. You can only monitor automatically so much certain point in time, it just takes somebody to go take a look at it and make sure everything still looks right because formatting could be jacked up, but your system may not tell you that formatting got messed. So it’s really important, and it ultimately comes down to the credibility of your business. Why give people any reason to not trust your business or think that your business isn’t actively in business? An old outdated website sends a lot of signals that maybe your website’s not in business. And we live in an economy we have for the last couple years, and it looks like we’re gonna see this for a continuing period. There’s massive change in businesses. Some businesses are opening, some businesses are closing. Another thing, and this is more content related as opposed to the care and feeding the system that runs your website, a lot of businesses are changing their business hours because they can’t hire staff or a whole variety of reasons. If you have that incorrect information on your website, somebody looks you up online and they decide to drive 10, 15 miles to your business and you’re not open, that’s not good either. They may never come back. I can speak from experience. I have never gone back to a business because they didn’t give me the proper information from their website. So you can’t just set it and forget. Look, if you’re doing your business right, you shouldn’t have time to maintain your website, so you should consider outsourcing it to somebody that has that expertise and the tool set to make that easy and a rigorous process in place so that you don’t have to interrupt your other busy schedule or activities that you should be focused on running your day to day operations of your business. 

Paul: Jen, I read a while back that something like 88% of people are probably won’t return to a website if they had a bad experience. So What would a bad experience on a website be? What would that look like? 

Jen: I know it sounds so loaded, right? Bad experience. People come to your website to find out information, whether it is directions, start times, opening hours, information about your product or service. If they’re about to buy a product or service that they have very little experience, maybe as validation too. Word of mouth. Got your business, you were recommended go or to participate or to buy from this business. You heard great things about it. Now you’re checking it out online for your own education. So a bad experience would be a more frustrating experience. Bad. Like I said, it sounds so terrible. So something like, the website doesn’t load very quickly. Or you go to look it up on your mobile phone and it’s not mobile friendly, or you click through to a link to learn more to download that e-book or to download that checklist and you get caught in a 404 page or you get caught in a website that’s just spinning and nothing loads for you other. Bad experiences could be content that hasn’t been updated in years, and you would know this because there’s dates from 2017 on there. So it’s the kind of thing that you would come to a website and you wouldn’t be totally sure about the ability for this company to fulfill your order or fulfill your service that you were after them to provide for you or to even have any trustworthiness about it. So a bad experience would mean that links are broken, sign up forms don’t work, they can’t get the information that they want to get from you. They’re being delayed either by technology on your side or by simply the information not being there and the kind of impression that leaves for them is, if you can’t have your website working properly, how are you going to, how can I trust that you’re gonna repair my roof properly or cut my hair right or something a lot larger or a lot more serious with financial consideration to your business. So those are the kinds of bad experiences that we mean, and these are completely within your control. These have nothing to do with your internet service provider going out. All standard website maintenance and good practices to have a website up and running. And it’s the kind of thing that can be taken care of with a little care and some very routine maintenance on your website. 

Ian: And Jen, do you see these two as well? The ones I keep coming across are, they’re not HG tps, so they don’t have SSL secure certificates. So Google actually will tell you this is an insecure site, your data may be in jeopardy basically. And then the other one I see a lot of still, which surprises me cuz I guess I’m in the industry, is non mobile optimized website. In  some industries, 60 to 70% of all users who come to your website are mobile, right on their smartphone. If you try to bring it up and you can’t read anything because it’s mouse type and you have to scroll around to try to even navigate the old site. Do you guys come across that a lot? 

Jen: Yeah. Those are good points. Especially the non-secure one, it makes you feel like you’re going somewhere dangerous. When you get that flashed up on the screen and you’re like, Oh, I’m just going to look at this information. As well too, some of the pushback that we have heard about the making sure that your site work on mobile is no one’s gonna buy whatever we’re selling on their mobile phone. It’s much too large of a commitment or too long of a sales cycle, but I think you’re missing the point. People do all kinds of research, all kinds of information gathering on more than their laptops. 

Ken: Well, and even if the transaction’s not gonna happen, even if users don’t really go look at that particular website, because of the nature of that business or transaction, Google cares. And it has an impact on your ranking. So mobile is everything these days. 

Ian: Most websites the algorithm Google uses now, and this has been going on for probably three or four years, is that they’ve moved to the mobile first optimization or algorithm, right? 

Paul: Mobile first indexing.

Ken: Ian, you coined a phrase. Is this your phrase? Mouse typing? Is that what you said? Mouse type? 

Jen: That is, it’’s so good too. Only a mouse can read it. 

Ian: I don’t know. In one of the businesses or corporations I worked in, we used to call the legalese type at the bottom of things, mouse type.

Ken: I learned something today. 

Paul: So Ian, you. Dovetailed into this. So let’s talk about security. You talked about ssl. Is that all it is? And something I’ve heard is I don’t actually sell anything on my website. They just fill out a contact form. So why should I be worried about security? 

Ian: The first answer to that goes back to what we just talked about. If Google cares about security, we should all care about security because Google is the gateway for most of our websites to get actual people, buyers to our website. So that’s super, super important. It shouldn’t be overlooked. The other is that when Jen was talking about that popup that happens when you try to go to an unsecured website, that’s a horrible experience and you actually have to jump through hoops. It’s almost like you’re signing a waiver when you do that because Google’s saying, Do not go to this website, whatever you do, but if you want to click here, go to advance settings or whatever, then click here. Like you’re taking your life into your own hands because you’re opening yourself up to potential malware. That’s what Google’s saying is you’re putting yourself at risk. In fact, I think that’s the words it uses. That is a horrible experience when you’re trying to reduce barriers for people to go through their buyerN journey. Imagine if you were to want to go to a physical location of a building and they’ve got police tape across the entrance saying, Do not enter this building, but if you want to, you can slide underneath the police tape. It’s ridiculous to think that it doesn’t impact the person trying to get the information and buy from you. So I think that’s really important. The other piece is that SSL is important, but it’s part of your overall tech stack. By tech stack, all of the technology you need as a business in order to deliver a website that’s optimized, secure, and hits all of the right buttons for your prospects. So SSL is super important to help keep your website from being hacked, to give a sense of security to visitors, and also to get people there through Google. Your website is hosted on a server through your hosting company your server is based on php usually. I won’t even go into what all that is, but it’s a technology platform that hosts your website. And if you’re with a reputable host that will get updated on a regular basis, but they’re often several versions behind. So you can force updates, that kind of stuff.Your website is based on content management system. WordPress or Droople or Wix or something like that, right? Where it’s an actual content management system. And you have to update that. If you’re on WordPress, it has themes, it has plugins, you have to update all of those things. All these tech stack elements can become outdated. They need update. Sometimes they need to even be replaced because sometimes plugins, themes, whatever it is, those companies go under occasionally. So when you actually click on the plugin and go to info, you can see when the last time it was updated. Even when you’re installing plugins, you should do that because if it hasn’t been updated for six months or more, don’t use that plugin. That’s a bad plugin because they’re not keeping it up to date. So any of these things can be a weak link. The good ones constantly updated, meaning the developer is always aware of any potential hacking weaknesses that might be in their plugin or their theme. WordPress is constantly updating their platform because they’re trying to close up these gaps. Of course, they’re trying to make it better as well. They’re trying to improve the functionality of the themes, the plugins, the platform, so you have to keep them up to date. But if you can’t keep these technologies up to date on an ongoing basis, you’re basically leaving your barn doors open on your website wide open for hackers to exploit, and they will. Once your website has been hacked, you are forever in the bullseye of hackers. Trust me, we’ve inherited websites from clients that come to us who have been hacked, and we do malware remediation and scanning and all that kind of stuff. You have to understand that once your website has been hacked, your URL is on the dark web and hackers will find you way more easily because they know that there’s been security breaches in the past. So why wouldn’t they target companies that have had security breaches? You need to do malware scanning on a regular basis to catch immediate problems, but some of these malware. And just think virus. That’s probably the easiest way for most listeners to think of it. Sometimes malware can immediately create an effect on your website, ransomware, all those kind of things. But sometimes they sit dormant for days, weeks, months, even years. And if you’re not scanning your website constantly, these things can hide. And then just crush you in the future. So you need to be smart about that. Always. I don’t think we’re gonna talk about this further on, but always the best security you can possibly have. The front end security is really important. The back end security of backing up your website. Vital. I can’t tell you the number of times clients have even updated things on their website or maybe even, like maybe we’ve been updating something on their website and for whatever reason WordPress has a glitch and the whole website gets shut down. And if we didn’t have a backup that we could roll back to the previous day and get their site up running immediately, it would be tough. It pays to have smart people that do this all the time helping you because  they just do it all the time and they’re very good at trying to make your life easy because that makes their life easy.

Ken: I have a question for you, Ian and Paul probably cuz you guys are more technical. Is there any risk if you have your website on a shared server and another website on that shared server gets hacked? Compromises the integrity maybe of that IP address or they get caught spamming with emails. Does that have any impact anymore on your website? Depending on if you’re on a shared hosting plan, because a lot of people go as cheap as absolutely possible for their host. I’ll never understand that. It’s like you are playing with fire and if you ever do have a problem, good luck with the technical support, but I’m curious from a security perspective, is that an issue?

Paul: Depends on how the server is set up. There’s shared hosting and there’s a virtual shared hosting, and it depends on how the hosting provider isolates those things. If the server is compromised, then yes, absolutely. It can affect anything on there. If someone hacks a particular website, but the hosting provider is using a virtual shared environment, which will isolate those websites, there’s less of a likelihood of other websites being compromised. Now, if someone is buying email lists and just blasting out emails and that shared IP address gets blacklisted, then yes, every website on that shared server is potentially blacklisted because you can blacklisted domain name or you can blacklist an IP address, and if that shared IP address is blacklisted, that will affect every website on that server.

Ken: I think the reason that’s important for our listeners is because when you go cheap, you are getting a whole lot less features to protect your online storefront, which is also your 24/7/365 salesperson. Yeah. Don’t go cheap. Don’t just don’t. 

Paul: We used a premium web hosting service and we’ve had people say, I can go get hosting for $5 a month.
It’s Okay, so what? Your business is worth $5 a month. That’s what you’re telling me. 

Ken: Would you pay for a building that’s $5 a month to house your building in where people are gonna come into it? You need to think about your digital properties, like you think about your physical properties of your business.
People don’t equate the two and there’s a strong correlation. As a matter of fact, I think it’s more important to protect your digital assets these days, because who knows what’s gonna happen with your ability for you to have people come into a place of business. 

Ian: I would echo those thoughts. If you’re with a good, reputable hosting company, most of them have very robust monitoring systems. So even if you’re on shared hosting plans, which aren’t always cheap, they’re much less expensive than having your own server. That’s often a choice people will make, but reputable hosts will have lots of monitoring stuff in place. And very quick redundancies so that if anything happens your site, you will not be impacted greatly with a very good host, even if there’s somebody doing bad stuff. Quite frankly, most people that are doing bad stuff often use cheap posting platforms because that it’s just a looser environment. Usually you’re in pretty good hands unless you have some caring people watching over your online presence. 

Paul: You mentioned WordPress, plugins and other, whether it’s Zoom, lU, Magento, they don’t call them plugins, but they have their versions, and if those aren’t kept updated, a hacker can use that as a back door, so to speak, to hack into the website. Security could probably do a whole podcast on hosting and website security and everybody’s eyes will glaze over. But it, it is important. It does need to be addressed. Ken, I’ve heard that website maintenance can actually increase your traffic. So how does that work? How can maintenance increase website traffic?

Ken: Google operates on this concept of eat expertise, authority, and trust. Content on your website feeds a lot of that, but the structure of your website also feeds a lot of that. And if you are not maintaining your website, you’ve got broken links and Google Bots call on your website and it sees you’ve got broken links, why is it gonna continue to trust your website to present it high end search results because you’re not paying attention and fixing these issues. So you know, by fixing broken links, by removing duplicate pages, adding new content, you’re sending signals to the search engines who are constantly crawling your site. At least they should be. If not, that’s another maintenance problem that you need to fix. It’s constantly coming and crawling your website, and anything that can erode confidence is ultimately going to erode search results. Likewise, if Google has confidence that it sees that you are doing ongoing maintenance on a regular basis, that you’re adding new content on a regular basis, every website’s gonna have broken links. There’s nothing we can do to prevent that. If somebody links to a piece of content on our website, and we take that piece of content down, or change the URL and it breaks, or vice versa. People are linking to content back and forth on the website. It’s not a static environment. It’s not like a brochure. It’s not like an online PDF that you view that never changes and nobody ever does anything to try to connect with it. So you have to pay attention. If you’re doing a regular job of updating and it’s like the first level of search engine optimization is the website monitoring care and feeding to take care of these, cuz they’re low hanging fruit type items. If you’re sloppy and you use the same title tag on every page, first of all, that’s bad from an SEO perspective. Google sees that and it’s like, Why would I give this website preference over another website if all of the things were equal because that content, nobody cares enough to go fix that content. And ultimately, the user experience, people have bad user experience if they go to your website and they’re driven there because there’s a broken link on your website they hit it and they get the 4 0 4 and they bounce right away. Again, that just sends signals to the search engines that your website is not what somebody’s looking for. These are all things that are perfectly preventable if you’re just paying attention and following a process of doing regular website maintenance. 

Paul: Jen, So Ken kinda touched on this contents King, and I know we talked about this on a recent podcast, but I think people forget that content go beyond just blog posts, that’s the first thing that pops into people’s minds. So could you talk a little bit about the different types of content that can be used on a website and why you would use different types of content. 

Jen: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. Yeah. I think we all always default to think about a blog post or written content.
Video is content. You could have audio snippets on there. You can have, I always like to go with downloadable checklists, but there can be downloadable documents, downloadable maps, downloadable infographics visual. As in diagrams can count as content for sure. So when we say content on your website to think of a, you could replace the word content with information, so any kind of visual text, audio information on your website. The point is that if you’re thinking about your audience, we gotta think about them in a in a few different ways. So first of all, and one of your audience members we can’t only be thinking about our target market, one of our audience members, as soon as you get into the digital world, one of your audience members, like it or not, is gonna be Google. So what is Google looking for? Updated content regularly. Does that mean every single day? No, but on at a regular cadence. So if you’re gonna start to take your website very seriously, like Ken said, is a 24/7/365 salesperson, which essentially it is. What kind of cadence can you update your content in? It can be weekly, it can be every two weeks, every three weeks. It just has to be consistent, and then it has to be relevant and helpful content that is of value and original for your users. The other thing I wanted to say about your target audience is you gotta think there’s many different types of buyers, right? You’ve got your buyers that’s gonna pull the trigger holding the checkbook, if you will. We do a lot of business to business work that often involves several influencers involved, several people that you have to go through, say IT, finance end users in order to tick the boxes so that a grand decision maker can pull the trigger and say, yes. But also, no matter if you have one buyer that can make the decision very quickly off your website, your audience is made up of people that have different learning styles as well. So not all of us like to dive in and read a whole bunch of content. If you have diagrams, if you have any kind of infographics, visual, audio, video, just be sure that the different types of ways that people learn are covered on your website with the different types of content as well. If you produce one piece of content, several different pieces of content can come out of that. So for example, we do this podcast weekly. We have part of. The first broadcast on video, each of us are allowed to chop that up into smaller snippets in order to use as content. We have the audio, which is used as going to the podcast network. We can also chop up the audio into audio snippets. We get the transcription so you can get several blog posts out of that because we tend to talk a whole bunch. But each one of our questions ends up being enough information for a very targeted blog post. So for all of us spending one hour every week, there are multitude, different types of content we can get out of that one piece of content to think about that as well. It’s not producing so much, it’s how can one be either chopped up or used in a different context.

Paul: Good information. Ian, I want to go back to security for a minute cuz we talked about why it’s important and I’m giving you all the hard questions. How would someone go about finding security issues? Is it a manual process or there tools that can be used and is it something the average person could fix?

Ian: Yes, there are tools, there’s scanners. This is such an important factor for us that we’ve created an elevated hosting package that has its own security tech stack in it, and some of that is monitoring and scanning software. Just so you know that there’s lots out there that you can use. One of the best in the industry is called Sucuri. I’ll just spell it out cuz I think if any listeners want to check their own website and maybe we could include the link as well. It’s site check dot s u c u r i.net. So you just enter your URL there and it will actually scan your website. I don’t think you can get to know the no level of security risk because they are a security company. They’re trying to get you to invest in their software. If your site is really secure, it will say low security risk, but it will actually tell you a little bit about what’s going on with your website and where there’s some security issues. There’s others out there. Some of your hosting companies might have a malware checker. There’s lots of tools that are out there, and even if you just search for WordPress, a malware scanning or anything like that, you can come across them. Talk to whoever’s managing your website first because something might be in place already and they might already be monitoring your website because monitoring is key. Regular monitoring of your website to ensure that there’s nothing unto untoward going on. There’s lots of tools. You can check the website. Some are free, some offer a light version and then a premium version. We personally, two tools that we really like on the security side are iThemes Security, which is pretty solid, and then even a, another level up is Wordfence Premium. Just really good with Wordfence. You can even block specific countries. It will warn you if your website is being attacked. It will tell you when your log to your website has been locked out. Because somebody’s tried too many times. You can set how many times they can try. We’ve often had to intervene for our clients, even without them knowing. Yesterday, one of our clients was under attack from Russia. We were able to put a block on that country and just say, any IP address coming from this country. And there are ways around that of course, but if they’re showing us their IP address, we might as well block it. So there’s lots of things we can do. We can also lock down the website if we feel they’re under huge attack, which we’ve had to do for a few clients over the years. Meaning that there’s no way to log into the website for a period of time. 

Paul: So you talked about Wordfence and blocking things, and this goes back to your hosting provider to some degree. Like I said, we use a premium hosting plan. It’s not cheap, but they already do a lot of these things at a server level. So you don’t even have to worry about it. 

Ian: We’ve added this text stack though, cuz what we found is some of the hosting providers malware scans, we actually got caught once because our hosting provider, we were investing in the malware scanning and it kept coming back as negative. And then we actually discovered that yes, indeed, we through a different group. We found out that there was a malware on our client’s website, and so we started to learn that there’s different levels of quality of malware scanning. And so that’s why we’ve created our own tech stack. We still use the hosting companies as the level one, and then if a client will invest in the bigger security tech stack, which we always recommend, it just adds more and more layers of security and protection for them because the last thing we want to do, even for ourselves as their service provider we don’t wanna have to remediate a hacked website, right?
It’s huge pain. But for them, and as a fellow business owner, I never want my website to be down and I never want that for one of my clients. 

Paul: So Yeah, that’s a good point. Hackers might be lowlifes, but they’re not stupid. 

Ian: They’re not stupid. No, they’re very smart people. 

Paul: Ken, something else is really important to Google is site speed. So can you talk about that and what can cause slow load times? Again, is this something that the average person could fix? How difficult is it to fix the slow load times? 

Ken: It’s huge. I think Ian mentioned and we talked about before, Google does this thing called mobile indexing first, and it uses this concept called core web vitals, where it looks at the performance of how fast your website loads each and every page. But overall, your website as well, it gives you recommendations on things that you need to improve. It tells you what are the slow loading or the resource heavy components. Now, some of that may be gobbly goop. Go to somebody who’s not super technical. One of the best sites and most reliable sites is GT Metrics. You could go into gtmetrics.com, plug in your website. You get a free scan and it tells you how fast your website’s loading. It will give you some ideas of the resource utilization elements that you might need to go in and address and fix. On a simple basis, in my mind, there are three reasons why websites load fast. I’m gonna talk specifically about WordPress because we just basically do almost exclusively WordPress. The two of these are gonna apply to any web platform. One is how much script code are you trying to load whenever you’re trying to load at any given page, and particularly the homepage of your website. A lot of people get really sloppy. They add a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of bloat that’s added over time. If you’ve had your website for years, you may have forgotten that there’s this piece of script code that’s still out there. Even if you’re not actively using that script code may be trying to load up upon first load of your website. So you can need to go in and monitor for that and clear that out. That’s probably not something that a lay person could easily do, but that is one of the big reasons. Here’s one thing that everybody could do and that is, size your pictures properly. You do not need to have 300 DPI X large version of a file on your website. Website. Presentation does not equate to printing quality that’s needed. In terms of imagery, you wanna make your picture as light as possible. 72 dpi, I think Max have a 96. You wanna try and get it there. You don’t need the super large pixel version. You wanna try to go through a process and get these pictures as lightweight as possible. There are tools that are out there that can help you do some of that. Photoshop is obviously one but you have to pay for that. But there are other tools that are out there. Ian you and Paul probably have other ideas. 

Ian: Can was the big one nowadays can 

Ken: Yeah, Can but there’s a utility too that will allow you to go in and upload a picture and it’ll size it for you in a really light manner. I’m drawing a blank on what that’s called. Probably the biggest mistake we make. And if you’re in a rush to get a page built, it’s really easy to just throw that picture out there and say, I’ll come back to it and I’ll improve it later, but I gotta get this page live. It’s hard to remember to go back and do that always. That’s one of the reasons why you wanna pay attention to it. And then the other thing is with WordPress, having a lot of plugins. If they’re not actively being used, if they’re still sitting on your website, it’s just unnecessary bloat. It’s just a potential security risk. So periodically go in and review the plugins that you actually really need to run. And provide the functionality you want on your website and remove the ones that aren’t needed. And if you don’t address that bloat, it can have an impact over time. And like I said, it also contributes to security vulnerabilities as well, because you’ve just got unnecessary pieces of code sitting on your website.

Ian: One of the things that I always chuckle at Ken, when we’re doing the speed analysis of client’s websites is the worst offenders from a time to show on your screen are Google’s own products, Google Maps and YouTube. If you have any of that on your pages, you are probably suffering a slowdown. So there are strategies in ways in order to defer those or just ways around that. Just a real quick comment too. We use GT metrics all the time because it’s more like a real life test, but the Google page speed test is an industry standard as well, and I just thought it was worth commenting on that because a lot of people see the results from the Google Page speed test and it’ll show you a mobile score and then a desktop score. And just so you know, the Google is actually using, I think it’s a 2012 smartphone as it’s speed of downloading for their mobile test. They are talking about upgrading it to a more like a 2017 version or something, but it’s a really dated thing, so it’s very hard to get a really great mobile score on their speed test.

So it’s just something to be aware of. When we’re doing speed test, GT metrics is a much more reasonable approach where if you can get an A or B score, you’re doing quite well. 

Ken: Yeah, there are image compression plugins that you can put on your website, but again, if you’re starting with a massive file, the compression’s only gonna take it down so much. So you need to try to right size your images in the first place. TinyPNG is one of the ones that I was thinking. It’s just the utility you can go to. You can put your image there. It’ll reduce the file size, which will increase the load speed. 

Ian: What about caching and CDNs, Ken? 

Ken: Those are important for speed improvements and you’ve got plugins for cashing. The quality of your web host is probably gonna provide you with a CDN. So those are two important elements. Those start to get a little bit more technical and are really more of the tech stack, I think that you have. If you’re somebody who’s pretty sophisticated in using your website, even if that’s not your regular day job, you might be able to work with CDNs and caching plugins as well. Yeah. The other thing too is if you’ve got a really strong premium web hosting plan, they’re gonna disallow certain plugins because they already have a tech stack that they have designed and trusted over the years and continue to monitor and that may conflict with some plugins that you’re trying to upload, so just keep that in mind too. You’ve got security plugins or caching plugins. Those are really common things that are gonna be disavowed from a premium hosting platform because they’ve already provided a lot of those things and they know they’re doing it specifically because they want to own and control the quality of their tech stack.

Ian: But just so you know, you can also talk to them about bypassing those controls because we’ve had to do that occasionally for our security tech stack. Because it’s better than theirs, and so we’ve had to get them to release some controls so that our security tech stack can talk to the mothership of the security tech stack, if that makes sense.

Ken: Right, yeah. 

Paul: Should we go down the caching and CDN rabbit hole? 

Ian: Maybe that’s a topic for another day. I don’t know. 

Paul: Could be. That’s a really good point though, that what Ken was talking about, the images, if you size the images properly to start with and then you compress them. That’s gonna really help speed up your website and the caching. We won’t go into that, but it all works together and I think it’s important to understand that a lot of small business owners, it, look, it’s not their job to know this stuff or do this stuff, and this is probably why don’t want to try to do it yourself. Jen, it sounds to me like a lot of this comes down to testing. What are some of the things that should be tested on a monthly basis, or maybe even more often than that? 

Jen: Yeah. That’s funny you say that because we run into this and I’m guilty of it too, right? You get your website all done, everything’s working fine. You just wanna , can it just work, right? But there’s things that stop working for whatever reason, and some of those reasons are. For example, let me just talk about WordPress. There could be certain updates that render other things not to work properly. And so you gotta go in and give it a little bit of a tweak and a fix and you’re back in business. Now you’re not gonna know that unless someone is looking at your site and maintaining it every week or every month. And that’s the type of thing that we’ve had good luck with some good website maintenance contracts. Folks are going in there looking every week or every month, depending on how complicated the website is, just to make sure everything is working right, our plugin’s updated and that kind of thing. So this is something that you can get either yourself or someone on your team to test. Just a schedule it a basic thing. So you could be testing the forms on your website. How often do you make sure that someone can sign up for your newsletters? Someone can sign up to get a call with you or submit an inquiry, and that’s the thing. You don’t want those forms to be not working cuz you’ve got someone who’s really interested in taking the next step with your business to not allow that information to come through, which, the previous question, bad experience, but also potential loss sale and whatnot. The other thing is if you’re hosting the web host that you are using, if they’re not providing backups daily, you guys had talked about this previous questions in this episode. It’s just not worth it. It’s just not worth. You only need one time for your  website to go down to really understand and to really learn this lesson the hard way. Ian, when you said you were alluding to daily backups, I know with some of our clients when we talk about, we gotta make sure that we have daily backups, they just think that’s overkill. We’re not updating of our website every day. It doesn’t change that often, but it’s the type of thing that you know what? Go for the best support that you can because if your website goes down, or if you need to reinstall, you wanna have the most up to date site you can. 

Ken: In regard to backups, most hosting plans probably offer a 30 day backup, meaning that they’ll keep the latest backup as of 30 days ago. So if you never go log into your website, but maybe once every six weeks or two months, something could have happened on your website and you may not have a credible backup. So you need to think about this stuff. You can’t just set it on autopilot. You really need to think about how do you take care of this stuff. Do you need to get to the point where you also keep an offline back up that’s not a part of your hosting, Because if that gets compromised for some reason it’s not as simple as it seems. Can’t just fire up a website, walk away and think you’re all good. 

Jen: That’s a good point.

Ian: That’s good. If I can add an anecdotal support for something you said there, Jen, about going in and having people constantly testing your forms and whatnot. I actually had a client come to us, They weren’t a client at the time, but they wanted us to take a look at their website. And the reason they wanted me to take a look at their website was because they said, Ian, we rebuilt this website a year ago. I haven’t gotten one lead from this website in all that time. And I looked at the guy and I said, That’s really weird. Even a bad website should get one lead in a year, You’d hope, unless you’re totally invisible and have indexing turned off or so which happens an index, my website. But what we found was, first of all, they didn’t have Google Analytics installed, so you actually couldn’t see how many people had been to the website, so that’s a problem for diagnosing the issue. But what the problem was, is exactly what Jen said, is whoever had developed the website set up a form. The form didn’t go anywhere. The To: in the email, what email to send it to was blank. So there might have been a trail of really upset prospects who had been trying to get ahold of this client for a year. Fixing that particular thing was five to 10 minute job for the diagnosing was a little harder, but the fixing was so quick. When you know where to look. To me that supports what you’re saying, Jen, is things can happen, things can break even with regular updating of things. A plugin might be updated, might cause a conflict of some kind. And if nobody’s testing stuff you wouldn’t know until a client complains. Yeah, so that’s really great idea. 

Paul: See Ian, now you’re just nitpicking about having the forms go somewhere.

Ian: I know. I’m so particular that way. 

Jen: So particular on actually getting the sale.

Ian: I think if you build a website, you got your 24/7 sales person out there working for you and they’re taking orders, but they’re not giving them to the company. That’s a problem. 

Ken: That is a problem. 

Jen: Yes. A problem, yes. 

Paul: In my opinion. I’m not real good at sugar coating things. If your web post doesn’t provide automatic daily backups, you need a different host. That’s just how I feel about it. And when it comes to WordPress specifically, your plugins should be updated at least weekly because different plugins issue updates. Not like every plugin on your website is updated at the same time. You can have five different plugins that are updated, five different days.That has to be done weekly, in my opinion. In kind of wrap it up here, can you talk a little bit about the pros and cons? We talked about why you should do this a little bit, how to do it, but is this something a small business owner or business should do in house or should they outsource it? Is it feasible for them to do it in house? What are the pros and cons? 

Ian: Yeah. Here’s the truth, people, anyone can do this stuff. Anyone. As long as you have a little bit of intelligence, you can navigate your way through the tools, you can do this. The question is, should you be doing this, and will you be doing it as well as someone who is experienced? This is not to diminish the expertise involved in hair cutting. I can cut hair. I would do a horrible job on your hair. From the outside, it doesn’t look super complex because the tools are simple, right? It’s not the ability to pick up scissors or a shaver or hair coloring or whatever. It’s the experience that goes into the person doing that job with expertise and quality that makes the difference. And I think that’s really important and really true here. Professionals who do this all the time, they will bring a world of expertise and quality to this that ensures your website is in the best hands possible. So I think that’s really important. Few other good reasons. We all have good intentions, but good intentions don’t get the job done and they don’t keep your website secure, right? Everybody says, Ah, I started blog blogging six years ago, and you look at their website and the last blog they did was six years ago, so they got one out. That type of behavior, which is very common with online stuff because we’re all running our own businesses. We’re managing people. We have a lot on the go. This will fall through the cracks unless you have someone looking out for it. So good intentions, don’t get the job done. And you don’t wanna lose business because of this. There’s a lot of complexity here. You’ve probably gotten a sense of that. It can be very simple, but simple usually isn’t super secure or super well maintained Professionals understand the complexity. They navigate it well, and they care about your best interests. Again, someone who does this all the time, will have learned from their experiences, whether good or bad experiences on how to keep your website up to date, maintained, monitored and secure. My personal recommendation is always leave this in the hands of the professional, and I would go so far as to say, not only should they be helping you with the maintenance, the security, let them choose your hosting company. I’ve just seen so many times where we inherit a client or win a client and they’ve been on GoDaddy for 17 years. We just know because we deal with these companies all the time. Sorry, I should have used some sort of hidden meaning for the company, I just said, cuz I can’t say anything bad about it. 

Ken: Yeah, you just lost us a sponsor. 

Ian: Let’s just say there’s lots of options out there and there’s different tiers of quality and somebody who lives and breathes stuff will make sure you’re in the best hands. That’s all I’m gonna say. 

Ken: Can I add one more point? 

Ian: Of course. 

Ken: Your domain registration and your hosting plan, your domain is annually or how, whatever term you buy it  under. And your hosting could be monthly or it could be annual plan. Pay attention to those emails that you get. And if you don’t know if it’s legit, because there are a bunch of spammers out there that say, Hey, your domain is about to expire. You can spend 280 bucks to get it renewed. And they send you mailers, they send you email. So some of it’s not credible, but you wanna make sure you know who is your domain registrar. You wanna make sure where your website is hosted and pay attention when those renewal emails come up because even if you have a credit card on file, your credit card may have expired, so you need to pay attention because those things are only purchased for a particular term, so you need to pay attention to when those terms are coming up for renewal. 

Ian: You guys probably find this right? When we build relationships, we call it partnering with our clients because we’re there to be their marketing authority and guide. Usually once we’ve started working with a client for a little bit of time, they know we might be on a call or something and they’ll be like, Hey, I got this email. And they’ll learn to use you as the filter, you meaning you’re the marketing expert as a filter, to determine what’s real and what’s not. And almost all the time, once those discussions, If that comes across your desk again, just throw it over to me and I’ll give you feedback. But do not click the button. Don’t do not buy these things because there are so many spammers hackers, cheaters,

Ken: And they come in the mail too. 

Paul: Yep. That’s a good point because ignoring the legitimate emails can make your domain or website go away. This is actually a complex topic and there’s probably a lot more we could talk about, but this is a good place to wrap it up. I think unless someone has anything imperative they feel they need to add, this is probably a good place to wrap it up. Thanks for joining us and we will see everyone next week.


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