It may surprise you to learn that this question – what does your ongoing web package cover once your website is launched – is one of the most important questions you can ask your web partner. It’s also the one that often gets overlooked.
When contracting with someone to build a website, it’s easy to get distracted by the excitement of a new and improved website. But once you find a web partner that is a fit for your online marketing goals, what happens after the website is launched is just as important – if not more – than the new website itself.
Because unless you have a comprehensive post-launch maintenance program, your brand new, beautiful website can fail technically. It may not rank in search engines, which let’s face it – it doesn’t matter how cool your website is if no one can find it. It may also have a few things that need to be tweaked once the new website is officially online.
Here are a few things to look for in an ongoing web package…
Domain and web hosting
One of the most fundamental things a web partner should be able to manage for you is the ongoing registration and hosting of your domain and ongoing hosting of your website. This accomplishes two things – you don’t have to worry about annual registration bills and you don’t have to worry about technical updates to your website.
Once you’ve determined that your web package covers domain registration and hosting, as well as web-hosting post-launch, ask your developer what web host they use. Not all web hosts are created equal. Research the host and get a feel for their dependability and their customer service record. If your package covers web hosting, your developer will be reaching out to the web host in the event of a technical failure. You want to make sure that your website is hosted with a company that has great customer service. If your website experiences a technical failure, and it takes your web partner several days or a week to get the situation rectified, that’s a problem. Downtime can have a direct effect on your business’ bottom line.
There are lots of things going on in the background of your website. Most websites are built with several different types of components. Platforms, themes, and plugins are constantly updating. Over time some updates may not play nicely with other updates. Or some technology may still update, while other technology may be abandoned by the developer so it is no longer updated. There is no avoiding this certainty in the web development world, so be certain that your ongoing web package covers technical issues that may surface over time.
Search Engine Optimization
The last two things we’ve discussed are fairly routine. Continual search engine optimization may be something that you will want in an ongoing web maintenance agreement. Another certainty in web development and online marketing is that the bar is constantly moving on search engine optimization (SEO). This makes it next to impossible to stay on top of best SEO practices. Even if you are on top of SEO trends, you may not be sure how to implement them on your website, as many SEO best practices are of a technical nature.
Like we mentioned earlier, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to invest in a new website if no one can find you online. Ask your web developer if SEO is part of your ongoing web package, and if so, what routine tasks are performed, and how often are they performed? How much involvement will be required of you, the business owner, in the way of ongoing improvements to the website?
Many web firms have moved into offering digital agency services. This goes beyond SEO and may include ongoing copywriting, local listing maintenance, email strategies, lead generation, pillar pages, landing pages, CTAs, Google Ads, etc. Depending on your annual revenue and your online marketing goals, you may not need these types of services. If your business is a few years old and you are ready to take it to the next level, maybe looking for a web developer that can assist with ongoing digital marketing makes sense.
Kat Hobza is First Call Web’s Marketing and Sales Manager. She holds certificates in HubSpot Inbound Marketing, Social Media, and HubSpot Software, as well as Google Ads. She helps First Call Web clients build their online presence through strategic web development, copywriting, and pay-per-click advertising, as well as meets with small business leaders regularly to determine if First Call Web is a fit for their online marketing goals. When Kat is not weaving her online magic, she likes to write, fly-fish, golf, goof around with her family, play in the sun, stare mindlessly at the Bitterroot mountains from her deck, and binge watch Netflix.