Plugin updates are important to keep your site secure, but your maintenance plan can—and should—also provide more.

You see the value in investing in maintenance for your website. At the very least, those pesky plugins and parent themes stay up-to-date. But, is the cost of a monthly retainer worth it for something that typically takes a few minutes (provided nothing goes wrong)? Use these tips to maximize your website maintenance plan.

A good maintenance plan goes much farther than clicking “Update” from the Dashboard once a month. How much farther? Specifics may vary slightly from maintenance plan to maintenance plan, but a solid contract should include some variation of the following:

  • Landing page creation
  • A/B testing
  • Website analytics reports
  • Ongoing quality assurance
  • Image optimization
  • Code review
  • Plugin review
  • Standards updates
  • Functionality updates

This list includes everything but major design overhauls. It’s also exactly the basic plan I offer to my clients. In this post, I’ll go a step further and share a rough schedule for mapping out how to include all of these updates in a one-year maintenance contract. And since this is based on a basic maintenance plan, we can get it all done in about 4 billable hours each month.

A quick note about hosting

Having a website hosting plan that includes a one-click staging environment and daily backups in combination with a monthly website maintenance plan is the smartest decision you can make. I recommend SiteGround to my clients, simply because they offer all the features that keep their websites up and running. Plus, they provide unmatched support when questions crop up.

(And no, they’re not paying me in any way to say this.)

Tips to maximize your website maintenance plan schedule

Monthly recurring updates

Every month, there are certain updates that should be performed to keep your website in good health. These include:

  • Plugin review and updates
  • Theme/code quality review and updates
  • Image optimization
  • Quality assurance

These are exactly the updates most people think of when they hear the words “maintenance plan.” It’s true, these are the updates that will take place most frequently, and they are crucial to make for security, speed and longevity.

Quarterly recurring updates

Every 3 months or so is a great time to include analytics reports in your monthly maintenance. Have your developer run some quick reports to answer the following questions:

  • Are visits growing, remaining stagnant, or falling behind?
  • How often are visitors returning?
  • Are the website’s visitors within our target geographic region?
  • Do any conversions show up for set Behaviors or Goals you’ve established?
  • Are visitors still using the same devices as those on our test list?
  • Any pages under- or overperforming?

The answers to these questions will help guide the months between your next report. This would be the time to focus on:

  • A/B testing an existing underperforming landing page with a new version
  • Updating your device test list and doubling down on quality assurance
  • Reviewing and updating existing functionality on the website

It’s important to note that changes made between analytics reports should be allowed to run for longer than 3 months before making more major changes to the same issue. The goal here is to pinpoint and prioritize what needs the most attention each quarter.

Bi-annually and as-needed updates

There are times when updates will crop up unexpectedly for your website. These include new product or service launches, campaigns, events, announcements, etc. You are also responsible for staying up-to-date on the latest best practices and standards—be that for privacy, code quality or otherwise—so long as you own the website. These updates will be fewer and farther between, and can typically fit in where needed.