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Maintain your firm’s WordPress site to keep it fresh and secure

If your firm has a WordPress website, deciding whether to perform your own site maintenance or outsource that work to a professional comes down to two main factors: knowledge and time.

Many business owners choose WordPress for site creation because it is easy to use and widely known. Unfortunately, many fail to consider the continuous site maintenance required. Before you decide to go it alone when it comes to your website maintenance, consider what that entails, the time it takes, and what’s at risk if something slips through the cracks.

If you’re like most accounting firms, even if you have the knowledge to manage your own site, time is in short supply. The time you do have is best spent running your practice, not acting as resident webmaster. Use this information to help you decide whether you should enlist the help of a professional to maintain your website.

Website maintenance: What it includes may surprise you

Once your site is live, your static pages are in place, and you’re adding fresh content to your blog each week, you probably feel good about how your website looks. You should because those are all essentials for a successful accounting site; however, remember there’s more to a website than meets the eye. The back end of a site is where the action that keeps a site running properly takes place. Precise and timely maintenance is critical to keeping your site functioning flawlessly.

For most people, it’s surprising to learn how much ground website maintenance covers. In fact, even WordPress suggests creating a maintenance calendar so that required tasks aren’t overlooked. To give you an idea of what’s involved, here are some essentials that WordPress recommends:

Timeframe varies; some tasks daily, others every one to two weeks:

  • Backup your site (daily)
  • Delete spam comments (every two weeks)
  • Add new content (weekly)
  • Validate your site (after code or style sheet changes)

Monthly:

  • Check stats
  • Check links

Every three months:

  • Update WordPress

Every six months:

  • Check in with WordPress for new info on upgrades, news, events, etc.
  • Refresh your site — a site that looks neglected and outdated causes visitors to click away before they have a chance to explore your services.
  • Site submissions — resubmitting to Google periodically helps Google recognize your site as a long-term entity.
  • Clean out old plugins and check for new ones.
  • Clean out graphics and images no longer in use.
  • Optimize web pages and CSS (cascading style sheets).

While it seems lengthy (and maybe even confusing), this list doesn’t begin to cover every aspect of maintaining your site. Also consider these constant aspects of website maintenance:

  • Daily uptime performance monitoring and fixes;
  • Server-related maintenance;
  • Content creation — new, engaging content keeps your site current;
  • Security, such as managing and renewing your SSL certificates;
  • Hosting and domain renewal;
  • SEO — Google-friendly search terms in headlines and copy are essential for being ranked by search engines;
  • Managing site comments — engaging with site visitors is essential and can boost business.

Clearly, website maintenance is ongoing and requires more than basic knowledge to perform. And while you may find at least a partial solution to an issue on one of the many WordPress forums, ask yourself if you have the spare hours to spend searching, understanding and fixing an issue that wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if your site was maintained by a professional. Time devoted to researching and repairing issues detracts from the time you should be spending on running your practice and serving your clients. It’s the equivalent of a website designer trying to learn all the facets of the new tax codes in order to file their taxes.

Website maintenance is critical for your business

Even if you feel you have a grasp (and the spare time) to maintain your site on your own, before you consider risking it, keep in mind that a well-maintained website is essential for your business in today’s market. An optimally functioning, attractive and up to date site will:

  • Attract new clients — people searching for accounting services will be able to find you and when they see that your site is updated and fresh, they will be more likely to engage your services.
  • Help you retain customers — your clients want to see that you keep current in your niche; it reminds them that they chose well when they chose your practice to handle their accounting and tax needs.
  • Boost your search engine ranking — sites with dated content, broken links and poor SEO rank lower in search engine results and can even be overlooked by Google.
  • Add value for your clients and make a positive contribution to your industry via the services, blogs, and info you share.

In addition to freeing your time to manage your practice and cater to your clients, enlisting the help of a professional webmaster can save you time and money in the long run by keeping your site running smoothly.

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