Website maintenance is important if you want to keep your business website in top shape.
It’s kind of like owning a car in that maintenance on a regular basis helps you to avoid a costly fix if something goes wrong. But how much are those maintenance costs? Can you expect to pay as much in website maintenance costs as you would for maintaining your car?
The answer really is “it depends.” Your typical WordPress website with a few regular plugins and paid website hosting generally won’t cost you too much at all. On the other hand, a website design with a lot of custom coding or more expensive plugins will cost a lot more.
Here we’re breaking down the approximate cost of website maintenance under different scenarios:
Regular website maintenance costs
There are certain things that you will have to pay for on a regular basis to maintain a website – usually paid monthly or annually. These costs will vary, depending on how you have set up your site.
Domain name and SSL certificate
You buy your domain, but it only remains yours so long as you keep paying for its registration. When you purchase from a domain registrar, you usually have the option of registering for a period of one year minimum and up to ten years maximum. This maximum depends upon the domain type – for a .com that’s ten years but for others it may only be one year at a time. If you renew annually, the cost is usually between $10 and $40, depending on the registrar and domain type.
Having an SSL certificate is a must for any small business website. It helps to foster trust between you and your customers and importantly, avert cyber attacks and protect your data. The maximum validity period for an SSL certificate is three years, so you’ll either be renewing annually, every two or every three years.
There are different levels of SSL certificate depending on what you need. For example, a small business that has a very basic, informational website or blog may only need a Domain Validation SSL. A Business Validation SSL is the next level up and is ideal for any business website that takes payments online. This level of SSL certificate ensures you meet Payment Card Industry requirements (PCI). There are a couple of other levels of SSL that larger organizations may require, particularly as they will secure multiple subdomains.
The price for renewing an SSL certificate begins somewhere around $10 for the basic level and goes up to somewhere around $4000 (think of a financial institution’s website for this top-end). The average for a business website tends to be somewhere between $40 and $60.
Web hosting is another essential part of owning a business website. Hosting is how your website is made available on the internet for people to Google or access directly. There are different levels of web hosting, so your hosting costs depend on how you have been set up. For example, if you’ve created a Wix website, you’ll pay the monthly fee attached to the package you chose, which will include your hosting.
If we look at WordPress websites, there are a number of different options. Basic hosting, where you look after website maintenance yourself might cost as little as a few dollars per month. However, this is something to be careful of when looking at hosting plans. Cheap hosting usually means shared servers and when a shared server gets too crowded, it can affect the performance of your business website. You should also consider, do you as the website owner really want to be making any software updates, updates to security or installation of new features yourself?
Another option is one we offer with our packages here at One Week Website: fully managed hosting services. This means that the host looks after installing WordPress, security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability. These are all things that are essential and that most business owners don’t want to take care of themselves. Our managed hosting starts at $149 per month, however that’s as part of a new website package along with regular updates. Basic managed hosting (where you take care of other website updates yourself) can be around $50 per month.
WordPress plugin costs
Plugins add essential functionality to any WordPress website. For example, you might use plugins for payment gateways, to set up an ecommerce store or to manage website content. Some plugins are free, but some premium plugins are paid, either one-off or monthly. How much will these cost you? Once again, it depends. Monthly rates tend to range between $5 and $100.
Less regular (but essential) website maintenance
Some website maintenance requirements will be more or less regular for you, depending on your preferences. For example, if your current website is looking dated, you may want a website designer to update its appearance. Design costs are generally a one-time fee (unless you buy a package that spreads the cost out) and can vary from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more.
Here are some other important website maintenance items:
There are many reasons to make regular content updates on your website. For one thing, the information you provide should always be up-to-date. Business websites that still reference a past event as though it is still coming up look as though they’re not being used. You might have essential people come and go, or other important information that requires an update.
If you operate a blog on your website, then usually you would update the content at regular intervals – weekly or fortnightly. Some business owners will do this themselves, but others would prefer to have someone else make those updates. The amount you pay is generally in line with how many updates you want the web agency, freelancers or whomever you use to make. We offer unlimited website changes as part of our two premium packages.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is another area that needs to be looked at regularly. This is because the algorithms the search engines use are always being updated. If you left your website as-is, you’d risk that you might drop in ranking on Google because some essential element is missing (or causing you to be penalized).
How will you know you need an SEO update? There are a few clues:
- You learn of a major algorithm update
- You notice that your organic traffic has dropped or been stagnant
- You want to improve your overall search engine rankings and haven’t noticed any change, despite making an effort.
How much will this cost? You could take the DIY route, in which case it costs your time. You might also have these sorts of updates as part of a package with your web agency, or, you could hire an SEO specialist. That last option tends to be the most expensive one, usually costing $2000+ (which can be well-worth it if you get results).
New feature updates
With technology evolving rapidly, there can be any number of reasons that your website might need feature updates. For example, perhaps you need to add new payment options or integrations with social media. Maybe you want new add-ons or a more efficient way of getting clients to book appointments. Adding new features isn’t about “keeping up with the Joneses,” it’s about maintaining a website that is attractive to the user.
As technology changes, people become more discerning and have higher expectations about how websites should operate. If your business website is lagging behind, you may lose potential customers who look for a website that is easier to use. If you’re looking at feature updates, we’d always prioritize items that will make the user experience better. How much will this cost? It very much depends on the feature and its complexity. If you can’t buy it “out of the box” such as a plugin, then you’ll need it custom-coded which will cost you more.
How much does it cost to maintain a website? The answer is difficult to quantify – as you can see here, your costs will depend upon your needs and the complexity of your website. If we’re talking WordPress websites, I’d say anything from $500 to $10,000 annually.
I’d like to end with this: your website is like a window into your business via the online world, so it’s in your best interests to keep it maintained. You get your car detailed and maintained, and a website needs that care too. Not only do you look after the experience of your website visitors, but you keep “what’s under the hood” running well.