How much does it cost to keep a website up and running? We explain what you'll need to pay for, how much it'll cost – and advise you on how to cut those fees…
Website maintenance is a bit like installing computer updates. It’s a total pain, and we’d all rather not do it, but it only gets worse the longer you leave it.
The only thing worse than this on a Friday evening…
…is this on a Monday morning
On average, 77% of users will give up trying to access your website when they see a 404 error message like the one above. Meanwhile, slow-to-load web pages are a major cause of ecommerce customer dissatisfaction.
The causes of poor website performance are complex. The consequences, however, are simple; fewer sales, more customer complaints, and bad news all round for your bottom line.
Fortunately, most issues are completely avoidable with the right approach to website maintenance. Sure, you’ll need to shell out for the services of trained professionals; but you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time, money and stress in the long run.
Here’s the lowdown on website maintenance costs in 2020. If you don’t have a website, our guide to web design costs is also worth a look.
How Much Does Website Maintenance Cost?
The cost of your website's maintenance depends on factors like hosting, domain renewal fees, content updates, and SEO checks – unless you're using a website builder, which comes with minimal maintenance costs. However, below are the average monthly costs for different sized websites:
- Small blog: $5 – $25 per month
- Portfolio website: $5 – $30 per month
- Medium-sized blog: $20 – $60 per month
- Large blog: $50 – $100 per month
- Business website: $35 – $300 per month
- Small ecommerce store: $150 – $1,500+ per month
- Large ecommerce store: $300 – $1,500+ per month
- Enterprise ecommerce store: $1,500+ per month
Or, for a cheaper option…
As we mentioned briefly above, website builders are a cheaper, easier way to create and maintain your own website.
Requiring no coding or technical knowledge, when using a website building platform, you simply choose a professional-looking design template; drag-and-drop your site copy, images, and videos into place; integrate the apps and tools that'll add the functionality you need; and voila – you have a website!
What's more, website builders won't charge big extra fees for ongoing maintenance – many of the necessary costs will be bundled into your monthly subscription fee. Below, we've listed our favorite website builders, and included their price ranges. Be sure to check them out before hiring a (more expensive) web designer!
|Website builder||Best for…||Price range (per month, billed annually)||Is a free plan available?||Check it out!|
|Best all-round website builder||$13 – $49||Yes!||Visit Wix|
|Best for creative entrepreneurs||$12 – $40||No||Visit Squarespace|
|Best for total beginners||$6 – $26||Yes!||Visit Weebly|
|Best for ecommerce businesses||$29 – $299||No||Visit Shopify|
|Best for big growth ambitions||$29.95 – $269.96||No||Visit BigCommerce|
Web Domain Renewal Fees
As the Dallas Cowboys learned the hard way in 2010, it’s easy to forget to renew your domain name after you’ve bought it. Renewal fees are due at the end of each billing period, and you’ll need to pay them to keep hold of your domain name.
We examined the average renewal fees for the three most popular types of domain name (.com, .net, .org) sold by 45 major domain name registrars.
Here are the registrars who emerged cheapest overall:
|Registrar||Average renewal fee/year|
|Registrar||Average renewal fee/year|
|Amazon Route 53||$8.99|
|Registrar||Average renewal fee/year|
Web Hosting Costs
Note: For a detailed costs breakdown of the different types of web hosting options, check out our full guide to the costs of creating a website.
Much like registering a domain name, signing up to receive web hosting services is usually cheaper than renewing an existing subscription.
We already ranked the top web hosts according to the initial cost of their shared hosting plans. Now we’re going to look at how they stack up when you add renewal fees into the mix.
We’re only concerned with renewal costs here, since these are what keep the figurative lights on for your website. Here’s how the top web hosting providers fare:
|Cheapest Web Hosting Providers|
|Web host||Renewal fees for basic shared hosting plan/year|
Website Framework Updates
Remember, using a website builder is quicker, easier, and cheaper than hiring a professional web designer, and you'll still end up with a sleek website that does everything you need it to. Skip back up this page to check out our favorite website builders!
All websites rely on a software framework. In 2020, WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are the three most popular frameworks. Developers are constantly iterating upon these frameworks, adding new features and security fixes.
As a website owner, it’s in your interests to update your website with minimal impact to performance. That means scheduling planned downtime for rolling out updates, testing the post-update functionality of your website, and debugging the source code to fix any issues.
Needless to say, it’s a process that requires considerable technical expertise. If you don’t have in-house IT personnel, it’s best to hire an IT consultant or web agency.
Most website maintenance agencies offer a range of pay-as-you-go and fixed pricing plans. Pay-as-you-go maintenance runs at around $120 per hour, and is best if you’re looking for short-term help rolling out critical software updates. Fixed pricing plans provide ongoing monthly maintenance at a reduced hourly rate – anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour.
Content Update Costs
Even if your business has the best product or services on the market, outdated content and broken hyperlinks on your website will send the opposite message to customers. A copywriting agency can handle content quality control for you.
Fees vary according to the type and length of content in question. We’ve covered average copywriting service fees in our other article on web design costs.
Search Engine Optimization Costs
Quite simply, SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – is what keeps your business in Google’s good books. SEO professionals make sure that each and every aspect of your website is fine-tuned to appear at the top of search engine results pages.
SEO agency packages run from $200 to $800 per month, and include support for:
- Keyword research and targeting
- Website analysis and evaluation
- Page coding and optimization
- Descriptive HTML site mapping
- Local business listings indexation
- Site analytics reporting
- Off-page link building
- Competitor analysis
As well as the costs detailed above, there are a couple more expenses to keep in mind:
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate – A digital certificate that confirms the identity of your website to users. Essentially, it reassures people you’re the real deal and that you can be trusted with their data. You don’t have to buy one, but you’ll probably want to; SSL certificates are known to boost e-commerce sales and Google rankings. SSL certificate installation prices start from around $50 (one-time fee).
- Website backups – Regularly backing up your website is a cheap insurance policy against getting hacked or infected with malware. From $5 a month, you can rest easy knowing that a recent version of your website can be restored from the cloud at the click of a button.
- Plugins and extensions – These are mini-applications that you install in your website to add features, like a video player or a Twitter feed. Plugins are free to download but require frequent updates to work properly. Website maintenance agencies can install updates for you – prices are available by quote.
If your website suffers from 404s galore, you’ve got work to do. Now you should have a better idea of what that work entails, and how much it will cost.
That said, you’ve got another option: redesigning your website from scratch. It’s all well and good paying professionals to maintain an old website, but if it doesn’t follow modern web standards and causes problems for your SEO, is it really worth it?
World class web design not only gives your brand great visibility; it also makes light work of website maintenance. A slick site built on the most modern frameworks is a cinch to maintain, and web design companies can even do that part for you too!
If you’re creating a website and want an idea of the costs involved, your best bet is to get bespoke quotes.
Complete our short webform and we’ll connect you with top website design suppliers today.