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Is Maintaining a Website Free?

Discover the true cost of maintaining a website for a small business.

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Maintaining a website is not free. From domain registration to time spent updating your CMS, website maintenance is something you should account for. In this article, we’ll explore all the costs for maintaining a website and why it is important.

What involved with Website Maintenance?

Website maintenance is more than just clicking update on your website. It’s the regular updating, fixing, and optimising of your website to keep it secure and easy to use. Tasks usually include:

  • Updating the website’s software, plugins, and themes to ensure that they are running the latest version
  • Monitoring the website’s uptime and performance to ensure that it is running smoothly
  • Adding new content, such as blog posts, product descriptions, or images
  • Fixing any broken links, missing images, or other errors on the website
  • Optimising the website for search engines by using keywords, meta descriptions, and other SEO techniques
  • Monitoring the website’s analytics to track visitor behavior and identify areas for improvement
  • Ensuring that the website is secure by installing security plugins, monitoring for malware and other threats, and regularly backing up the website’s data.

Let’s explore each of these tasks.

Domain Registration and Renewal

When you create a website, the first expense you will encounter is the cost of purchasing and registering a domain name. A domain name is the address that users will use to access your website. For example: https://hatchandvox.com

Domain names typically cost between £7 – £20 per year, depending on the domain extension. The most common domain extensions are .com, .net, and .org. With newer TLDs, like .coffee and .property, you can expect to pay a higher premium.

Once you have registered a domain name, you will need to renew the registration each year to retain control over the domain name. Failing to renew the domain registration can result in the loss of the domain name and the website that it represents.

Web Hosting Services

Web hosting provide the servers that are used to house your website. The cost of hosting services can vary widely depending on the size, complexity, and traffic volume of your website. Basic hosting services can be as low as £5 per month, while more advanced hosting services can cost £100 or more per month.

When choosing a web hosting service, it is essential to consider factors such as uptime guarantees, customer support, and server location. Uptime guarantees ensure that your website will be available to users at all times. Customer support is essential for resolving any issues that may arise with your website. Server location can affect the speed and performance of your website, so it is essential to choose a hosting service with servers located in a region that is close to your target audience.

Generally, the more you pay for hosting, the fewer issues you’ll encounter. If you’re just starting out, a low £5 per month hosting package may be enough for now, but you’ll certainly want to upgrade as you get bigger.

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Content Management System (CMS) and Plugin Updates

A content management system (CMS) is essential for managing your website’s content and functionality. Without it, you have to hard code every web page. Each edit would have to be sent to a developer.

Building a website with a CMS is cheaper, but it requires regular updates. The same for any plugins you want to add – such as contact forms or any ePOS integration. Not only does updating ensure you’ve got the best features, it also protects you from security vulnerabilities.

Updating Content and Design

Website content and design elements need to be updated periodically to ensure that they remain current and relevant. Outdated content and design elements can make your site appear stale and unprofessional, potentially impacting your brand’s reputation and credibility.

Regularly updating your website’s content can also help improve your search engine rankings. Search engines favour websites that regularly publish high-quality, relevant content. Even updating your industry tips blog you wrote in 2019 will make a huge difference.

SSL Certificates and Security

SSL certificates provide security for websites by encrypting data transmitted between the website and the user. SSL certificate costs vary widely, with basic certificates being available for free, and more advanced certificates costing over £100 per year. SSL certificates are essential for protecting sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal information.

Security is a critical aspect of website maintenance. Websites that are not secure can be vulnerable to hacking, malware, and other security threats. It is essential to implement security measures such as SSL certificates, firewalls, and regular software updates to protect your website and its users.

website performance dashboard

Performance Optimisation

Regular website maintenance helps to ensure that your site functions correctly, and visitors can easily access the content they need. Site maintenance activities such as testing, debugging, updating plugins, and optimising page load speeds can help to prevent crashes and ensure optimal site performance.

For example, regularly testing your website’s functionality can help identify issues such as broken links or pages that take too long to load. Debugging and optimising page load speeds can help ensure that your website is responsive and user-friendly, which can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search engine optimisation (SEO) involves optimising your website to improve its visibility in search engine results pages. Regular website maintenance activities such as updating meta tags, optimising images, and creating new content can help to improve your site’s search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website.

For example, regularly updating your website’s meta tags can help search engines understand what your website is about and improve your website’s visibility in search results. Optimising images can help improve your website’s page load speeds, which can also improve your search engine rankings. Creating new content, such as blog posts or articles, can help attract new visitors to your website and improve your website’s overall visibility.

These activities are not normally included in a web hosting packaging. Instead, you should seek a SEO expert to handle these for you.

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Should I pay for regular website maintenance?

Maintaining a website involves many costs, but each cost is necessary for creating and maintaining a successful online presence. By understanding the costs involved in website maintenance, you can make informed decisions about the services and features that are essential for your website.

Pros of free web maintenance

When it comes to website maintenance, there are a lot of factors to consider. While free options may seem like a good choice, they may not always be the best option for your business. For example, if you are running a small business with a limited budget, free website maintenance options may be more appealing. However, if you are running a larger business with more complex website needs, paid website maintenance services may be the better choice.

Drawbacks of free web maintenance

One of the main drawbacks of relying on free website maintenance options is that they can be time-consuming. If you are handling maintenance tasks yourself, you may need to devote a significant amount of time to ensure that your website is running smoothly. This can take time away from other important business activities, such as marketing or product development.

Another issue with free website maintenance options is that they may not always be reliable. Free plugins and tools may not be updated regularly, which can leave your website vulnerable to security breaches or other issues.

Additionally, free options may not always provide the same level of support as paid options. If something goes wrong with your website, you may not have access to the same level of technical support as you would with a paid service.

Pros of paid web maintenance

On the other hand, paid website maintenance services can be a great option for businesses that need more extensive support. With a paid service, you can rely on professionals to handle maintenance tasks, which can free up your time to focus on other important business activities.

Additionally, paid services often provide more extensive support, such as 24-hour monitoring and emergency support. This can be invaluable if something goes wrong with your website outside of regular business hours.

Drawback of paid web maintenance

Of course, the main drawback of paid website maintenance services is the cost. Depending on the scope of services required, the cost of a paid service can be substantial. For smaller businesses with limited budgets, this may not be a feasible option.

Paid vs Free – which is best for me?

Ultimately, when choosing between free and paid website maintenance options, it is important to consider your business’s unique needs. If you have the time and expertise to handle maintenance tasks yourself, free options may be adequate. However, if you lack the technical expertise or prefer to focus on core business activities, it is advisable to invest in professional website maintenance services.

laptop with a sofa website on screen

Conclusion

Maintaining a website is not a one-time expense but an ongoing cost that businesses need to be aware of to ensure their online success. While free website maintenance options are available, they may not be the best approach for a business that values its online presence. Instead, it is essential to explore all available website maintenance options and make an informed decision that meets your site’s unique needs.

Our hosting packages start from £75/month. Included in all packages are:

  • Domain name and hosting
  • SSL certificate
  • Daily Backups and Security Scans
  • Uptime Monitoring
  • CMS + Plugin Updates and Management
  • Tech Support

If you’re looking for a hosting provider that supports you, get in touch today.

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