Easy Website Updates and Maintenance to Keep Your Site Secure

Every March I buckle down and audit my entire website.

Now, I bet you’re reading that thinking, “Hold up, what? Erin…isn’t this supposed to be a podcast episode about website updates and maintenance that you do in the beginning of the year? You know, like January 1st?”

Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. That’s exactly what this episode is about. I’m going to share a handful of easy website updates you can do right this very moment to make sure your site stays current, the legal requirements are met, and your security basics are covered.

But there’s a reason I mention March, and that’s because I don’t want you to sit down to do website updates and get blogged down by a million little new to dos at the beginning of the year when you already have a list of other goals and tasks you’re trying to accomplish.

I want you to start this year feeling confident about the goals you set, knowing that you did what you could to secure your site and provide current information because of the website updates and maintenance you did.

So block off 45 minutes on your calendar — 18 for the episode and the rest to make the website updates suggested. That’s it, friend!

Here are the basic website updates you should do now

In the footer:

  • Update the copyright year manually or by automating it
  • Check for any outdated or irrelevant copy in the footer
  • Make sure you have a privacy policy and any other legal notices, like a Terms & Conditions, Disclaimer, and more. And if you already have them, check to be sure they’re updated

Security updates:

  • Update the password you use when you log into your website
  • Check who the approved users or contributors are for the site. If anyone no longer needs access, make sure to remove them
  • Make sure your SSL certificates are current and valid
  • Check your host and domain renewal dates and put them on your calendar now
  • Update all plugins (if you have them) and remove any that are no longer necessary

Other podcast episodes and resources mentioned in this episodes:

It’s almost time for the 2023 Spring Clean Your Website challenge Join the waitlist now to get a special discount code only available to people on the list!

Check out Contract Club and The Contract Shop to get all the website policies necessary to protect your business and make your site compliant.
Both links are are affiliate links as I’ve bought templates from both businesses, and I’ve been very pleased with all of my purchases.

Oh, and I also told you I’d share instructions on how to update the copyright year in your footer:

Quotes from this episode about website updates and maintenance

  • “If there is something that’s wrong that you need to adjust, just make a note of it to fix later. You do not need to fix it right this moment. Do not let the actual work hold you back from doing this quick exercise.” – Erin Ollila
  • “If you don’t renew your website — if it isn’t set to automatically renew for you and it’s a manual thing —you lose your URL. Can you imagine that all of the hard work that you’ve done — whether it’s a DIY website, or all of the money that you’ve spent in website design, and in copywriting — only to lose it all simply because you didn’t pay your website URL bill? – Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, She Built This, and Photo Business Help.

Read the entire transcript of episode 045. in which Erin shares some easy website updates for your footer and site security

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. Erin Ollila  00:00 Happy New Year friends. While I am not fully back to work yet from my holiday break, I purposely use this time off of work during the first few weeks of January to do some small behind the scenes business tasks. And one thing I always schedule is a quick one hour or less New Year’s website update. Now, I’m going to preface this whole episode by explaining why I keep it to an hour or less. And at this point, it really only actually takes me about 15 to 20 minutes, because I’ve done it for so many years. But there’s a reason why I don’t spend hours and hours of time doing this. And that’s because I actually spend a lot of time doing website work during the month of March, every single year and this year is included, I do a spring clean your website challenge. And I do the work on my own website right alongside the participants.  So this exercise of New Year edits that I’m about to explain to you right now, of course is important to do in the beginning of the year. But it’s only a very quick review. And a solid website audit updates and improvements come during the month of March for me at least. And I would say for you too, because I mean, it’s spring here in the northern hemisphere and spring is the best for me at least, everything gets better when spring rolls around. So we might as well use that same momentum and motivation to make our websites better at the same time. If you are at all interested in joining me in the spring clean your site challenge this year, you can sign up for the waitlist now and I’ll email out a coupon code that is exclusive to the waitlist before signups begin in the beginning of March.  Okay, back to the point of this episode, there are a few easy to update things that you can do to set your website up for success in 2023. Let’s start with something simple and easily that you have probably already seen on social media. It is the date in your website footer, you should have a copyright date listed in your footer, and you want to make sure that it’s current for this year. This is the easiest quickest thing to change. But I highly suggest that you actually automate this. Now if you haven’t done that yet. See, I still check on mine every year to quickly make sure that the change actually did happen. But because I’ve automated it in the past, it’s actually all set up tech wise for me, so I never have to do anything. Now you might be listening and being like, well, what the heck are and how do I actually automate this, of course, I don’t want to do it on my own, but I don’t really know how to change it. Now there’s different ways for different sites. Right now I’m using Elementor Pro to run my website, and I have a field in there in the footer. That is for the current date time. So those three words that’s actually what the field is called. And it makes my year always update to the current year. Before using Elementor Pro, I had an easy peasy custom code and my footer, that also worked in the same exact way to update the year to the current year. If I can find the link in my bookmarks that explained how to do it, I’ll make sure to add that to the show notes for you.  So you can add that custom code to your website. If you don’t already have an option like one that’s built into Elementor Pro. So while you’re there, take a peek at your entire footer. After you’ve made the changes to the year to make sure that everything there is actually like current, nothing is out of date. And if there is something that’s wrong that you need to adjust, just make a note of it to fix later. You do not need to fix it right this moment. Do not let the actual work holds you back from doing this quick new year’s exercise. Simply make the note that it has to be done and add it to your to do list for a later date and time. You want to keep this as easy as possible for yourself to review things and make yourself a to do list. But let’s stay in the footer for a second.  While you’re there, you’ve looked for the date, meaning the year you’ve looked to see if there’s any content in there that’s out of date that needs updating.  But I also want you to stay there and see if you have the required or at least suggested legal stuff that you need and that is a privacy policy, a terms of ease of use. But then some other industries need other things like a disclaimer, specifically, if you’re in the coaching, mental health industries or any other type of industry where the FTC is regulating, like what you say to the people a and to give you the, the protection to disclaim things like you are not a mental health counselor, for example, and you are not providing them mental health services by the education that you have on your site. Or, for example, if you’re a legal website, you’re explaining that you are not providing legal services to the end user of your websites, you’re just providing information. So a disclaimer is very important in some industries. The other things you want to consider is, are you selling any type of courses or products? Do you have any type of legal terms within your terms of use that explain your terms of purchase, explain your terms of the program, because those are other important terms that you want to have listed. And quite often, these are all found in your website footer. So if it’s not there, just make a note that these are things you really want to make a move on. And you really want to get done. The two people I always recommend, or the two companies I always recommend, for example, is a Braden Drake’s contract club, and you get in there, it’s $30. For all of these types of contracts. I think that’s really been huge for so many people to be able to get themselves set up with contracts in their business. And another company that I recommend is the contract shop, they have templates that you can purchase, as either a bundle or one off products. And I will make sure I put the links to both of those businesses in the show notes. So you can head on over there and buy from them. I will disclaim I’ve actually purchased from both. And both of them are affiliate links, because I’ve been very pleased with both of my purchases. Alright, so let’s move past the footer for a second.  And let’s talk about site security. This can’t wait until March. The first thing you want to check are your website users is there anyone that needs to be removed from the backend of your website. So for example, if you hired a VA, or if you had someone doing conch content for you, or SEO for you that you’ve given them access to the backend of your website, and they’re not using it anymore, they need to be removed right away. If not, consider updating, if not, and if actually consider updating your passwords to be more secure.  I guarantee that you haven’t thought about updating the password for your website login and for ever. So if you’re already in your website, just take a second to do it right now. And then you’ll know that every year you’ll update your password to your website just make it that much more secure.  When you’re done with this, you’re going to want to check to make sure your SSL certificates are still valid and current, because they expire approximately every 12 to 13 months. But even though I say that I want to point out something else with my previous website host, they actually expired every 90 days. Granted, they automatically renewed at that time for me. So I get an email every three months that just let me know that my SSL certificate expired and was renewed at the exact same time. But it is important to make sure that it’s done. Because you want to know that your site is secure. If you check the SSL certificate, you’re going to want to do that by visiting your hosting site. And if you’re there, why don’t you double check on any renewal dates listed there. So for example, I’m currently using SiteGround. That’s who has my certificates, when I go to check the dates that they’re valid until I can stay in my account and make sure I check on the renewal dates of my URLs. You want to make sure that you put them on there on your calendar now, even if they don’t renew until April, even if they don’t renew until November so that you don’t miss any important renewal dates . Why? Because if you don’t renew your website, if it isn’t set to automatically renew for you, and it’s a manual thing, you lose your URL. Can you imagine that all of the hard work that you’ve done, whether it’s a DIY website, or all of the money that you’ve spent in website design, and in copywriting, only to lose it all simply because you didn’t pay your website URL bill. So of course, I obviously recommend to make sure that this is set to automatically be billed and paid for when it’s due. But just take a second and throw it in your calendar because this date will never change. The only way it would really change is if you change the website host and then the date of the switchover from bringing one domain into the new website host might be a different date. But if you’re not changing host and for example I was on my last host for 12 years I didn’t change at all, that day is always going to be the same. So just throw it in your calendar and set it to be a reoccurring task that comes up every year, just so you can double check to make sure that you actually have paid for your website.  And here’s here’s where I can bring it back to why this is so quick for me. Now, these are all things that I already have set up. I know when my SSL certificates are valid until I know when my website renews. So all it takes is for me to quickly check into my you know, host and go to my account area to just double check that those numbers that I assume them to be are correct. And I don’t even have to think of it. I don’t have to write anything in my calendar. At this point. It’s already there. So for me, this all gets done in no time at all, because I’ve done the work originally.  Let’s continue with what’s happening within your website. Look at the plugins that you have on your site. For example, if you’re on WordPress, you know who or what type of plugins are you giving access to your website, you constantly want to check on this because you want to make sure that you’re actually using the plugins that you have. So your site security is always at the level that you want it to be and you’re not weighing down your site with plugins that don’t need to be there. You should be having it set up that you are constantly updating your plugins or updating your theme or any of these things on your site. And I’m going to assume that’s how your website is set up. If it is not, though, you want to make sure everything is updated. You do not want to wait and do this once a year. So either set it so that way, it’s something that you check in regularly on or put something in your calendar. Now that kind of gives you like an indicator that okay, I haven’t checked my plugins this month, let me go in and make sure that they’re all updated. Because updated plugins are making sure that your site is secure. If your plugin is not updated, there could be potential chances for hackers or security issues or just broken links, broken plugins that affect the design of your site. So definitely look in on that while you’re using your website.  Could I continue now and share a bunch of other things that you could do to make sure that your website is updated and ready for 2023, of course, but I’m not going to do that. Because I really want you to just take action on those things that I’ve mentioned today, we’ll look at your footer, make sure everything is correct there, look at the security of your site and make sure that everything is correct there. And then once you have this list of any to dos that you need to do, add them to your calendar right away. It’s so easy, at least for me, it is so easy to make a to do list or a later list and never take action on it. So because we only reviewed a few key vital things that need to be done at the beginning of the year, I want you to take those items and pencil them in throughout the month. Maybe you do one a week, right? Maybe you just take like the tiniest task, and you do one a week, maybe you do one a day, maybe you spend an entire weekend in the month of January, just making sure everything is updated. However you want to approach it is fine. But set it in your calendar. So you know when it’s gonna get done. And give yourself like a check in to make sure you’ve done this. If this is the very first time that you’re doing these things at the beginning of the year, just remember, it’s gonna be so much easier moving forward. And you’re going to be able to do all of this work in a short period of time. Right now, it might take a little bit of time, but you’re setting yourself up for success in the future. And that is what is key about having these indicators within our schedule, that the work that we do on our website will be transferred into the future and make everything in the future so much easier for us.  So again, I hope this episode was helpful for you that this could be an annual tradition of things that you do on your own website. And that you you know, enact every year and make sure everything is set up correctly and how you want it to be. And just a reminder, I would love for you to join me in the spring clean your site challenge. I’m going to be doing the work right alongside of you, you have access to me to ask questions. And we’re going to get your website set up with a website audit. So that you can use that information that you’ve created to check in on your website to check in on your analytics to check in on all of the data and messaging and key things that come together like branding, even to make sure that your site is really performing the best for you. We’re going to get that all set up. So it’s something you do once a year or twice if you want to kind of split the work into like two different periods of the year. But we’re going to set that up in March so that way net sphere when it rolls around, the idea of editing and auditing, your website is going to be so easy for you, because you’re going to know exactly what to check, you’re going to have all of the data from 2023 to bring into 2024, you’re not going to have to start from scratch. And you’re really going to be empowered to know that all of this work that you’re doing is benefiting your business, you will see the ROI, you will feel more competent, sharing your websites with potential customers. And you’ll be able to use it as a marketing tool that really shows you and your business in the best light. So yeah, join the waitlist. And you will get a special coupon code to join us and work through the spring clean your website challenge.  But for now take action on these very few things that I pointed out. Come on over to Instagram if you have any questions and ask them of me. But until then I hope that you have a great start to your 2023. We have a lot of awesome content coming your way. Next week, we are going to be talking about how to maintain marketing momentum. Why? Because I am very clear on understanding how goals and resolutions are awesome. And we set these lofty Big Ideas for ourselves that we want to accomplish. But then what happens is once the buzz of the New Year wears off, and we kind of settle back into normal life, we realize that those goals and resolutions and things that we set for ourselves may have been overwhelming, or may have been a bit too much. And what happens is we kind of crash or we give up or we just say okay, I’ll focus on that later. So I have Diann Wingert coming on to talk about how to maintain momentum. And it’s a really great episode, I took so many notes myself while I was having a conversation with her. So come back next week and hear that conversation. The following week, I’m super excited about because it is the one year anniversary of the talk copy to me podcast. So we’re gonna have a really fun episode, or at least I hope it’s a really fun episode. That kind of reviews like what’s happened from the beginning of the launch to right now a year later, I’ll talk about like, if I would have made any changes early on the changes I did make and kind of what’s played out for the podcast. So you’re going to be behind the scenes look, as well as a review of the types of series that we’ve had on the show. So I’m expecting that to be a fun episode, I hope I’m not over promising. I hope it’s not just fun for me, but not you guys. So join me for those next two episodes.  And then following that we’re gonna have a big long series on social media. Why? I know you may be confused about this, because I tend to think of social media as a addition to your marketing tools. And it’s not something I talk a lot about on this show. But the key is, so many of my clients kind of run their business on social media, or at least they do before we start talking about their messaging, their marketing, their brand, strategy, SEO, things like that. I hear so many people talk about social media and feel frustrated, because they feel as if the work that they’re doing in their business is so massive, like they have to show up in all these places. They have to do all of this content and create it, they have to have so many calls to actions. And it feels like so much work. But what I’ve done is I’ve called in a ton of professionals to talk about each social media channel, so that you can determine the best places to spend your energy. If social media is how you want to be spending your time in your marketing. If you’ve already decided that you don’t want social media, I have a great podcast recommendation for you. My friend Meg case, bolt of love at first search has an awesome podcast called Social Media slow down. So head on over there and listen to some of her episodes because I really enjoy them. But I hope you’ll stay tuned anyway to kind of hear about your options in business. Because when I recorded these episodes, I was really kind of blown away and things I hadn’t considered for my own business, and how I want to show up differently on different channels. So I think there’s going to be a lot of aha moments and things to consider that you haven’t quite thought of when it comes to social. And that’s it. That’s the beginning of our year. I’m so grateful for you as a listener and I really just wish you the best for 2023 and I’ve got a lot of great content in store for you. So thanks for listening to the show and have a great rest of your week.

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