The cost of maintaining a website can range anywhere from $10/month on some very basic platforms all the way to $300+/month for complex corporate websites, eCommerce websites, or complex CMS setups.
That doesn’t even count hosting which could be considered part of the necessary maintenance of a website. Without hosting your website is nothing after all.
A good rule of thumb is that the average cost for most website maintenance is about $50/month if we’re talking a WordPress website. On the cheaper end there are static websites that can cost virtually nothing to maintain if we’re talking about straight HTML websites with no dynamic elements. There’s not a lot of functionality or anything dynamic about a static HTML website, though.
Not only that but most static HTML websites aren’t built in a way that’s as holistic or effective as a dynamic platform such as WordPress. Why? Because no single person can be an expert in so many elements of the web that are required for a well-ranking website. A lot is required for optimizing a website for search engines alone which requires a great deal of knowledge most people don’t have to put into a static HTML website.
The cost of maintaining your website should always be factored into your total website cost. It’s absolutely necessary for every website except maybe a static HTML/CSS website which is becoming more and more rare.
You can learn to do the maintenance yourself which could save you some money, but you’re not likely to save much if you try to match professional website maintenance benefit for benefit. Maintenance services are typically able to provide you with a lot of necessary benefits for cheaper than you can yourself because of scale.
Before we get into the details of website maintenance, I wanted to take a step back and explain the importance of it. Without it being important, then why the heck would you even bother!?
Why maintenance is important?
There are several major reasons you need to prioritize website maintenance after it’s built. Your business and website will benefit greatly from proper maintenance.
There are a number of points on why it’s important. Things get more interesting when we start getting into what happens if a website isn’t maintained. Hold tight for that next.
Here’a brief list of reasons why proper website maintenance is essential and beneficial for your website.
- Keeps your website secure
- Your website will always run faster
- New features that will benefit you are always added
- Keeps you ranked high in search engines and could even boost your ranking
Let’s take a look at each of those items.
Keeps Your Website Secure
In even the best platforms in the world, there are always security issues that will eventually be uncovered. Just because they’re not uncovered doesn’t mean they don’t exist, either. That’s why WordPress is such a great (and secure) platform. There are a lot of eyes on it, so if there are any security issues then those will be uncovered quickly. That means there’s a lot less opportunity for malicious actors to break into your website.
With all the issues being uncovered, that means there are constant security updates for WordPress, themes, and plugins. It’s always important to use themes and plugins that are well maintained which means there will be regular updates for them. If there are no regular updates then it’s time to look elsewhere.
So, proper maintenance covers updating the platform for security issues. For WordPress, that means updating the core, theme, and plugins. For other platforms that means you’re going to need to also audit your platform for security issues. If you’ve built your website on a platform or codebase that doesn’t have a lot of eyes on it then it’s up to you and only you to find the issues and fix them. That means there’s a lot less chances issues will be uncovered, and malicious people will find the issues.
Your Website Will Run Faster
Proper maintenance also means your website will run faster. If you’re running WordPress then theme and plugin developers are always coming out with updates that speed up your website. That is if you’re using a reputable and regularly updated theme and plugin.
Search engines and users alike appreciate a fast website, so it’s up to you to keep your website properly maintained to also make sure it’s running its fastest. The PHP version WordPress is using is important for speed and so is the codebase.
The affordable websites we build at Loclweb are based on one of the fastest and most well-maintained WordPress themes. Since it’s regularly updates that means there are constant speed improvement. That means proper maintenance keeps your website fast.
New Features For You
A properly maintained website means you get the best features that are always available. When new theme and plugin updates come out, new features come out with them. That also goes for WordPress core. There are constant improvement with every release. Bugs are squashed, holes are plugged, and features are added.
At Loclweb we’re always staying up-to-date with a properly maintained platform. That means we release new features to our users that improve their websites with each update.
Better Search Engine Ranking
You wouldn’t think a properly maintained website could lead to higher search engine rankings, but it can. Well, maybe not higher ranking but prevent dropping in rankings. In a way, it can also lead to higher rankings, though, because speed does help a website rank better. Proper website maintenance leads to a faster and more security website, both important to search engine ranking.
Those are all important reasons for website maintenance, but they don’t tell you what can happen if you don’t maintain your website.
What Happens Without Website Maintenance
There’s a slow degradation in your website if not maintained properly. The results I explain below won’t necessarily catch up with you immediately but over time they could cause a whole world of hurt for your business.
Some businesses never recover from some of these, and it could even lead to you losing a huge part of your business or harming your brand irreparably.
Let’s get into what can happen with no website maintenance.
Every day, new vulnerabilities are being found and patched on all web platforms. If you don’t update your website then it will become vulnerable to malware eventually. That especially goes for themes and plugins. Nearly all security issues with WordPress are caused by themes and plugins. The WordPress core is extremely secure, but there are plugins and themes out there which aren’t updated by users or users use poorly maintained plugins.
Malware can do all sorts of things to your website. Some bad guys may use your website as part of a botnet in order to attack a bigger target. Hundreds and thousands of websites can be combined into one massive and dangerous resource for a hacker. You don’t want your website to be a part of that.
If your website is infected with malware, then it could load viruses to people who visit your website. That means people who are interested in our business could instead get a nasty surprise.
Any way you look at malware it’s absolutely no good. You don’t want your website associated with it in any way. Not to mention, search engines will eventually discover your website is hosting malware and will accordingly either remove your website from their search engines or flag it.
Once your’e on a search engine black list then it can be nearly impossible to come back from that.
Flagged By Google
If your website isn’t shown in Google then it doesn’t really exist. Google does scan websites for malware, and it allows users to report issues. If they catch you with something nasty on your website (whether you know it or not), then they will remove your website from the index or at least warn visitors in search results that your website may be a risk.
Your website is your responsibility to take care of and there’s no excuse not to. You are fully responsible for the results and Google treats it as such.
It may be nearly impossible to recover your domain if it gets malware as your domain is forever stained with that reputation. You can read more about how Google treats malware on a Google Search Console help doc about malware and unwanted software.
Harm Your Customers
You are 100% responsible for your website and what happens to visitors on your website. It is negligent to not maintain your website and customers will see it as such. Any issue your users have on your website is your fault and will likewise affect your business.
By not maintaining your website you’re putting your customers and innocent visitors at risk.
Your customer’s information could get stolen from a hacked website. There have been many cases of hackers using malware to lock files on people’s computer and hold them for ransom.
You wouldn’t want to send your customers to a hacked website then inadvertently gives them a virus too. That wouldn’t give them a very high opinion of your business whether you meant to do it or not.
Important Parts of Maintenance
There’s a lot more to maintenance than just running a few updates on your website on occasion. If you do it right, then it also involves many other aspects that will help your website be in shipshape.
Here are some elements that you have to focus on for website maintenance.
- Updates (core, plugins, theme for WordPress)
- Regular Audits
All of these need to be regularly maintained and monitored. You can never assume someone is doing it for you unless they expressly say they are. That’s one reason why I put regular audits in there which we do for all Loclweb clients regularly. If someone is doing it, then you are probably paying for it. If you’re not then run away because they can’t afford to do the right job for free.
Here’s a bit more information on each of the points above.
Quality hosting is essential to a fast and secure website. Your host should make sure the best and most security protocols and services are used. That could be the PHP version, database, cache, and more.
No matter what platform you’re using updates are essential. For WordPress, that means core, theme, and plugins. If someone isn’t doing them for you and testing them before updating then nobody is doing it. That is a recipe for disaster for your website and your business.
Every website needs security built in. That means a good firewall and also good scanning of files for any malicious activity.
Regular monitoring of your website is important. That means monitoring speed, visitors, passwords, and more. Regular monitoring can alert you to any changes that occur.
If you don’t have a backup of your website then you’re playing with fire. Backups are essential if any issues arise. The more backups you have in different locations, the safer your website will be.
Just to make sure everything is looking good, regular audits help you uncover any issues. That means making sure security levels are set properly, user permissions are set up well, and that your website platform is doing well.
We include all of these things as part of our features, so you don’t have to worry about any aspect of proper website maintenance. So do proprietary page builder services. The difference is that we offer premium maintenance services on all of our plans rather than slimmed down basic services.
How much does maintenance cost for different types of websites?
Website maintenance can vary a lot depending on the type of website you have. It can vary from no worries at all to regular monitoring being necessary. Most monitoring can be done by a security network which we employ to make sure your website is always secure.
These are some different types of websites and what website maintenance might look like on each of them.
Open Source Content Management System
Content management systems (CMS) always require the most maintenance because there are a lot of moving parts in them, and they accomplish a lot. That’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more expensive either because of the savings they can introduce.
Unless your website is going to stay the same for 10-15 years (not recommended) then a CMS is a great investment even with maintenance costs. There are three major players in the open source CMS market right now.
WordPress is by far the largest with a huge market share. It powers more than 33% of the entire internet, which is astounding. You’re reading this on a WordPress website right now and our whole platform is built on WordPress.
You can get the best of the best with an open source content management system. There are endless possibilities of what a good content management system can do.
Themes can easily make a content management system look any way you’d like. Plugins can extend the functionality of the core with infinite possibilities. Page builders are one type of plugin, and they can make it easier to create a page with advanced formatting all with the mouse.
Open source content management systems require the most maintenance because of the large community constantly working on them and making them better. That means more security and more features than you would get with any other type of website.
If not updated, these content management systems can quickly become vulnerable to malware and other hacks. Not only can the core of these become vulnerable, but the plugins and themes can also become vulnerable.
There’s almost no way to avoid the fact that these platforms can all become vulnerable. They need to be maintained and updated on a regular basis, which is a positive and a drawback.
It’s a lot of work keeping them updated and secure. At the same time, these regular updates for security also mean they’re being optimized, improved, and made better all the time. With new features and a dynamic environment also comes more work on keeping them updated.
Proprietary Content Management System
There are hundreds of proprietary CMSs and one great feature about them is that maintenance, security, etc. are all built into them.
There shouldn’t be any additional charge on top of the monthly cost, and you shouldn’t have to do anything but use their system.
- Wix – Starting at $11/month for personal, $14/month for business.
- Weebly – Starting at $12/month for a useful website (no ads, etc.)
- Squarespace – Starting at $12/month for personal, $18/month for business.
While proprietary CMSs are great because everything is included, they are also extremely limited in their features. You’re dependent on one company to accomplish your website goals as opposed to an entire community that works together. Many of them charge you for every module you enable, and then you’re limited to only the features they’ve developed. To get the features you need could be nearly impossible or take years if it ever happens.
You’re also at the mercy of the CMS for things like SEO and accessibility. All this means that your cost of maintenance is relatively low to begin with, but can quickly add up and still leave you without the things you need to have a successful small business website.
Static HTML & CSS
A static HTML & CSS website doesn’t require any maintenance as long as there’s no code involved in any way. Even the smallest amount of PHP will make things infinitely more complex and vulnerable. Yes, even one line of PHP code can easily make your website vulnerable, especially if not kept up-to-date as PHP and other web languages change regularly.
It can be quite costly to do everything right and fully optimize a static website for search engines. The initial cost can be huge and then updates may be even more costly.
Unless you know HTML & CSS, then making the smallest updates can be expensive and difficult. You’ll most likely need an expert to make any updates to your website if you’re lucky enough to get all the features for a well-optimized static website.
Ultimately, it comes down to a choice you have to make for your business website. Just a company vehicle might be reliable and safe, or it might not, a business website could be the same. It all comes down to how you want to be presented on the internet and what type of platform you choose for you.
No matter what option you choose (except possibly static) there are things you have to keep in mind or pay others to keep in mind and monitor. Buying a cheap host that costs $5/month and expecting a good website that is well-maintained is a mistake. Often that cost is for hosting only and poor quality hosting at that.
Any choice you make, you should consider what you get and what might be left out (without telling you). I’ve seen too many websites developed on platform such as WordPress and then not properly maintained. The WordPress platform will be blamed as the issue, but it’s not the platform, it’s the maintenance of the platform.
That’s why we chose to use WordPress for Loclweb as it’s the most secure online platform with the most eyes on it. It has the features every small business website needs and is also extremely fast. For most WordPress websites, maintenance should range from $50/month to $100/month for a basic or eCommerce website. Anything less than that and you’re buying cut corners which will likely harm you later.