Have you given your website an update lately?
While many websites are fine to be left largely running themselves for long times, you should make sure to schedule a round of website maintenance a few times a year. There are a number of issues that can crop up, or happen simply because of the passing of time, that decrease its effectiveness.
We've put together a list of the most important items you can look for, and why they need to be taken care of.
The 5 Most Important Website Maintenance Priorities
1 - Verify Your Backups
Networking is full of horror stories about failed backup units they thought were working. Your website backups should be tested often, to verify they're still archiving correctly and able to restore on demand.
2 - Plugin and Platform Updates.
This especially goes for users of Wordpress and similar hosts, although it can apply to any website. The plugins and platforms you're using are almost certainly getting updates, and you don't want to risk breaking compatibility with users with newer software. Often the updates are security related so you will want to make sure you do those updates if they are compatible with your code.
3 - Check Social Media Coding
Are you using a lot of rich tagging in your social media posts? Rich tag formats like Open Graph are changing consistently. Verify your posts are showing up correctly, and your code is up to the current format standards.
4 - Examine Website Metrics
Which pages and content types are doing the best? Which pages are getting the least hits? This can help direct your content strategy in the future, as well as suggesting pages that should be revised (or eliminated) to bring the metrics up.
5 - Clean Up Your Message Forums
If you run any sort of public messaging system (some social media included) delete any obvious pieces of spam, comments in foreign languages, and openly abusive or inappropriate posts.
You might also lock older threads, if it's an option, just to save yourself the hassle of cleaning them out later.
And If You're Being Especially Thorough:
These website maintenance items don't need to be done as often, since they're time-consuming, but they should be done around once a year.
1 - Go Through The Pages One-by-One
Yes, it's a hassle (or good work for an intern) but a page-by-page visual inspection of the site is really the only way to know for certain whether there are any broken pages, links, or in-page elements. These should, of course, be taken care of immediately.
2 - Check Your Copy
There are always typos which slip through, no matter how many eyeballs checked them before going up. A thorough reading of your copy will reveal mistakes and formatting glitches that would stand out like a sore thumb to a first-time visitor.
3 - Update Or Remove Out-Of-Date-Pages
Are any of the blogs on topics which have changed significantly since the article was published? Old information is often dis-information. Consider revising pages which no longer have current\accurate content. Software reviews are a good example, since software is constantly updated.
Likewise, if you tend to make pop culture-related comments, update your jokes. Those Twilight and Harry Potter references are old and busted.
4 - Update Photographs
Fashions fall out of style. Even a perfectly serviceable picture may need to be replaced if elements in it are too out-of-date, such as furniture or clothing. Over time, this can start to impact your image.
The key point to remember is that websites are never fire-and-forget solutions. Just like a body or a car, they need constant maintenance for best performance!