What exactly is a web care plan and why do I need one?
In speaking with business owners on a daily basis, this is probably one of the top questions we get.
So your site is up and humming along, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping… everything’s coming up roses. What can possibly go wrong?
Let’s start with a little survey…
- Would you buy a house and then neglect to cut the grass, trim the bushes or do a termite inspection?
- Would you decorate your dining room and then never invite anyone over for dinner?
- Would you skip out on buying insurance so you can pay double or more at your next doctor’s visit?
I’m pretty sure you answered with a big, fat NO to all of those. So why would you build a fantastic online business and then neglect to take care of it?
Many business owners think that once a site is up, they can sit back and relax and it will run itself. After all, if they don’t update it, nothing will change, right?
This set it and forget it mentality is what gets a lot of business owners into a real (and often very expensive) bind. Just because they aren’t updating pages on the site, doesn’t mean things aren’t happening behind the scenes.
If you bought a house and then left it alone for a few months, it would get dusty, grow a few weeds and you’d end up with some unwanted pests. Web sites work the same way. If you don’t maintain them, you’ll end up with display issues, broken links, and few bugs wandering around in the backend. Your visitors will get creeped out and move on to your competitor.
And long periods of neglect cost you more in repairs over time. Technology moves so fast that if you’re not actively keeping up, you could be faced with a complete rebuild of a site or the removal of malicious code that takes a lot of time and money to remove.
Imagine a leaky pipe in your house that suddenly breaks and causes water damage. It would have been cheaper to fix the pipe, right?
A monthly web care is pennies compared to the big bills you will need to cough up for a complete theme rebuild or a hack removal.
So what should a web care plan include?
Web care plans can be a bit like car shopping. There are a lot of makes, models, and options to choose from. So how do you know what’s right for you?
Here’s what we consider essential…
Automatic Daily Backups
There are a lot of ways you can backup a website. And there are just as many right ways as there are wrong ways to do it.
We highly recommend that your web care plan includes an automated DAILY backup that runs at the server level. Not a plugin or something that you have to remember to run manually and then download a copy.
And while plugins that run backups can be helpful, they can also be an absolute bear to restore. They aren’t fully reliable, and in some cases, they aren’t really backing up your entire site – yikes! We suggest you use plugins as a secondary backup, but not as your primary backup source.
Your best option for a reliable server backup is to use optimized hosting (see below for more details). A really good web host will take daily backups, keep them for 30+ days, and give you control to restore them as needed.
What would a little downtime cost your business? Can you afford to miss a week’s worth of traffic? A few days worth of orders? What about an hour of downtime right after you sent your biggest client a link to your site?
You can chalk that up to “that’s just how the Internet works”, but it’s not. If you’re experiencing downtime or any period of time where your site simply doesn’t load or perform properly, you’re losing business. And there’s no reason for that.
With the right hosting and support team, you should never have to worry about downtime. A good host can handle traffic spikes and hardware glitches with little to no downtime.
Of all the sites we manage right now for clients, our uptime is currently around 98.9%. In the rare instance that a site goes down, we know it before our clients do and we take immediate action to get it back up and running… usually within minutes.
Just like with a house, you need to keep appliances maintained and your foundation in good condition. Updating your web software is absolutely essential to the well-being of your online business.
Many times, the updates may not seem to do anything externally for you, but they provide security patches and bug fixes that keep your site from crashing or being unsafe for your visitors.
A good web hosting package will also provide you with a staging server so updates can be tested and approved before going live.
Security Updates and Monitoring
Web security comes in many forms. It can be code that it added to your website software. It could be specific settings on your server. It could even be found in hardware your web host uses to protect the server.
In a digital world, your website is your strongest asset. You should be making sure your walls are structurally sound and floorboards are solid so your visitors don’t fall through the cracks.
Security isn’t a set it and forget it function either. Active security monitoring is something you need to prevent hackers and spammers from sneaking in a back door. Active scanning for “bad guys” should be included in every web care package.
Secure Loading Site
With Google now requiring that you have an SSL certificate installed in order to get search rankings, we’ve seen a few business owners brush off this option simply because they don’t see Google search as part of their business strategy. We hear things like…
“No one searches for me in Google.”
“I’m not trying to rank for any keywords.”
Ok, that’s cool (and also a little strange if you’re trying to GET PAID since Google traffic is free), but that little green padlock in your browser bar means a bit more than just better search rankings.
What is your visitor going to do when they land on your site and suddenly a warning flashes up that says “This site is not secure, proceed at your own risk”? They might think twice about checking you out. That scenario will soon become a reality for a large chunk of Internet surfers who use Chrome and other browsers that support this notification.
The fact is, it’s a security FEATURE, not just Google trying to play games with the search algorithm. That padlock icon is protecting you and your visitors from having bad things happen.
If you’re ok with turning away potential customers, then continue to ignore the warnings on your site. Otherwise, getting an SSL certificate is cheap (we offer it for free) and takes just minutes to set up.
Imagine a giant apartment building in a big city. It’s full of different tenants who have different needs. Some of them take care of their living space and some don’t. Some are noisy and some cause physical damage to the walls and appliances. All of those things can affect your apartment.
When the guy above you in Apt 2514 burns his dinner, your clothes will smell like charred tires for a month.
Now imagine a nice condo, where there are structures in place to make sure you can’t hear (or smell) your neighbors. Where they provide excellent security and have rules in place to make sure there that everyone has what they need to live comfortably and stay safe.
You’d prefer living in the condo, right?
Well that’s the difference between shared hosting (an apartment) and optimized hosting (a condo). Yes, a condo is going to be a bit more expensive. But it’s also going to be safer, easier to get to and more inviting for your guests.
Imagine needing to invite your best customers over for dinner. Would you prefer to invite them over to an apartment where your ceiling leaks every time the guy upstairs takes a shower… or to a nice condo where you can entertain them comfortably without the fear of someone else in the building crashing your party?
Your website’s “living space” matters.
I will also add this… optimized hosting is one of those things you need to experience in order to understand how awesome it is.
You won’t realize how SLOW your site is until you move it to an optimized host and it starts loading at blazing fast speeds.
You won’t realize how unsafe your current neighborhood is until you move and realize you never have to worry about hacking ever again (we offer a hack-free guarantee).
You won’t realize what a life-saver optimized hosting is until you make a change you can’t undo and need yesterday’s copy of your website restored within the next 5 minutes.
Moving to optimized hosting is probably the single greatest thing you can do to protect your online business.
Metrics and Reporting
We love metrics and think everything you do in your business should be measured. Otherwise, how would you know if it’s working for you or not?
Knowing your numbers is critical to making good business decisions. That’s why we consider monthly analytic reports and essential part of a web care package.
A good report will tell you whether you are improving in key areas and also alert you to problem areas on your website that need to be fixed.
Think of these reports like getting a check up from the doctor. You’re probably fine, but it doesn’t hurt to take your blood pressure every now and then.
Tech support comes in all shapes and sizes. You’ll find everything from super generic troubleshooting to specialist who knows your software inside and out.
You should choose your support team like you would choose a medical professional. If you had problems with your eyesight, would you go to a veterinarian? Sure, a vet might be able to help you, but it would be pretty general advice. You’d get much better results from an Optometrist. So look for a web care plan that specializes in your type of website for the best possible results.
Also, make sure you sign up with a team you trust and who cares about your business. There are lots of geeks out there who can troubleshoot and fix technical issues, but do they know who your target audience is and what your business goals are? Will they offer you advice or help you make smarter decisions about your online business?
These are important questions to ask yourself when shopping for web care plans. At Left Right Labs, we care about each client we serve. Our plans are tailored to make sure they are getting the most out of their online business.
We know our client’s industry, their ideal client, and their business goals. It’s our duty as Web Professionals to provide the best web care possible to support them in reaching those goals.
If you’d like to see the web care options we provide, you can review our Web Care Plans here.