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Website Maintenance Cost

Everything you need to know about the cost of maintaining a website

No matter how much it costs to maintain a website, the cost of not maintaining it will definitely be higher. Imagine you’ve built a beautiful new house, and then left it untouched for a year. There would be all kinds of issues, from weak security, to heating and plumbing problems, to overgrown grass in the yard… in short, visitors would take one look at the place and turn around!

That’s exactly what you don’t want people to do when they click through to your website’s landing page. A website can become outdated and unsafe even faster than a house, so it’s important to stay on top of things. The good news is, website maintenance pricing can actually be very affordable. These are the essential elements of website maintenance and their prices:

Breakdown: the cost of maintaining a website

  1. Domain names – $10-20/year.
  2. SSL certificates – $24-199+/year.
  3. Web hosting providers – $2.75-15.00/month.
  4. Email hosting – $1-5/month.
  5. Tech support – $0-1,000/month.

In addition to these necessities, there are a few things you can do yourself for free, or outsource to a third party for an additional cost:

  1. Search engine optimization – DIY for free/outsource for $200-800/month.
  2. Load speed – DIY for free/outsource for $50-3,000 total.
  3. Content updates – DIY for free/outsource for $500-3,000 total.

We’ll discuss all of these elements in-depth below. But first, we’re going to talk about website builders – they’re the first tool in your digital arsenal, and many of the aforementioned website maintenance costs actually come included in the price of a website builder.

Website Builders

Average cost: $10-30/month

squarespace website builder homepage

Your website builder is the bread and butter of your website (in case you didn’t get that from the name). The beauty of most website builders is that they’ll take care of the techier components of web maintenance for you, such as updating software frameworks. Drag-and-drop website builders are the easiest, quickest, and most affordable way to create a beautiful site.

The best thing about website builders is that their monthly cost already includes a lot of maintenance elements that you’d otherwise have to think about on your own. When you pay $10-30/month for a website builder, you’ll typically get a domain name, basic SSL security, and tech support included. In some cases, you’ll have to pay to renew your domain name after the first year.

The monthly cost of a website builder varies based on the specific builder you choose, and the amount of features you opt for. Most basic plans offer limited amounts of storage, while the more advanced plans often offer analytics capabilities and unlimited bandwidth. Check out the monthly prices of the basic plans from top platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly below:

BuilderPrice (billed yearly)
WixCombo plan – $13/month
SquarespacePersonal plan – $12/month
WeeblyPro plan – $12/month
We’ve ranked the top 10 Best Website Builders based on extensive research, so you can make an informed decision.

Spoiler alert: Wix takes the number one spot – and you can read our in-depth Wix Review to find out why.

Now, let’s break down each website maintenance cost separately.

Domain Names

Average cost: $10-20/year

The most prominent recurring website cost you’ll encounter is your domain name cost. Your domain name is your website’s “address” on the internet, and it’s not actually a one-time purchase. Most domain name registrars bill on an annual basis, and you’ll want to stay on top of that yearly cost so that you can keep ownership of your domain name.

The cost of your domain name will vary depending on the extension (e.g. .com, .net) and the registrar you choose. Below, we’ve summarized the costs of some popular extensions, and how they vary when purchased through the different registrars NameCheap, GoDaddy, and HostGator:

Registrar.com.org.us.me
NameCheap$8.88/year$11.98/year$3.88/year$3.88/year
GoDaddy99¢/year$10.17/year$7.99/year$3.49/year
HostGator$12.95/year$12.95/year$5.95/year$15.00/year

Domain name registrars also charge more after the first year – in other words, the renewal price of your domain name will typically be higher than the introductory price of your first purchase. Generally, introductory domain name costs for popular extensions like .com and .org cost $3-12/year, while renewing a domain name costs $10-20/year.

Got more questions? We’ve written an in-depth guide to how much a domain name should cost.

SSL Certificates

Average cost: $24-199+/year

SSL certificates encrypt information passing through your website, and keep visitors’ information safe. No matter what type of website you’re running, security is one of the most worthwhile expenses that you’ll incur. If visitors don’t see your website as trustworthy, it will impact engagement. In fact, 75% of respondents in one survey said they would abandon an online transaction if they felt that the website was not secure. Even if you’re not running an ecommerce site, Google favors sites with SSL, so adding this extra security layer is still an important website maintenance cost.

So, what do people look for to see if your site is secure? The padlock icon and “https://” in the address bar are both indicative of an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate. Check out how they appear below:

SSL padlock

Most web hosting providers offer a basic version of SSL protection for free via the non-profit Let’s Encrypt. However, if you want to upgrade to a stronger level of SSL protection (we’d recommend this for ecommerce sites, since visitors will be sharing their payment information), the next step would be to buy SiteLock security, which you can purchase through your hosting provider for about $2/month – not too pricey, considering we’re expected to spend about $6 trillion globally on cybersecurity by 2021! SiteLock’s extra features include daily malware scans, automated malware removal, and Google blacklist monitoring.

Don’t want to pay more than you have to? Check out the 10 Best Free SSL Hosting Providers.

Web Hosting Providers

Average cost: $2.75-15.00/month

bluehost hosting provider

If you’re using a website builder, then web hosting is another expense that will be sorted out for you. However, if you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, then you’ll need to find a web hosting provider. Web hosting providers power your site, and decide everything from how quickly your pages load to how many files you can store. Basically, hosting is an essential part of the cost of maintaining a website.

Web hosting is also a recurring payment that you’ll have to budget for in order to keep your website up and running – literally. This is because factors like website uptime are also dependent on your hosting provider.

Hosting costs vary according to hosting provider and hosting type. The most common types of hosting are shared, VPS, cloud, and dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is the cheapest type, and can still accommodate the needs of most small to medium-sized websites. Below, we’ve outlined the cost of purchasing a middle-tier shared plan from three of the top shared hosting providers:

Hosting ProviderPrice (billed yearly)
InMotionPower plan – $8.49/month
HostGatorBaby plan – $3.95/month
A2 HostingSwift plan – $4.90/month
Want more options? Take a look at our full ranking of the 8 Best Shared Hosting Providers

Get more pricing info with our breakdown of How Much Website Hosting Should Cost

Shared hosting will do the trick for most websites, but if you’re running a large blog or a medium to large-sized ecommerce store, you’ll want to consider VPS hosting instead. While shared hosting means sharing a server’s resources with other websites, VPS hosting means having more server resources allocated to your site. VPS plans are more powerful, and therefore more expensive, as you can see below:

ProviderPrice (billed yearly)
InMotionVPS-1000 plan – $22.99/month
HostGatorSnappy 2000 plan – $19.95/month
A2 HostingPower+ plan – $25.00/month

Very large ecommerce websites should eventually consider upgrading to a dedicated hosting plan, which costs between $80-300/month. With this type of hosting, a server and all of its resources are dedicated entirely to your website, so your business won’t be affected by fluctuations in anyone else’s traffic or files.

Heads Up – Web Hosting and Introductory Prices

Regardless of which plan and provider you end up choosing, the cost of your web hosting will increase noticeably after the first year. This is a pretty unavoidable expense, and one worth knowing about. For example, the $22.99/month InMotion VPS plan mentioned above renews at $64.99/month after the first year.

If you’re not sure what kind of hosting your site will need, you can take our web hosting quiz to get a tailored suggestion! If you’re stuck between a few different options, consult our web hosting comparison chart to make an informed decision.

Email Hosting

Average cost: $1-5/month

“Email hosting” means having a custom email server for your website, which can accommodate email addresses @yourdomain.com and lend your site more legitimacy. Like SSL security, basic email hosting is available for free from many hosting providers, but many website owners choose to pay more money for more features and capabilities.

bluehost email homepage

For example, Bluehost’s email hosting, which you can buy as an add-on to a regular hosting plan, costs $2.99/month for the first year (it renews at $4.99/month) and includes:

  • Emails and calendars
  • Outlook web access
  • 15 GB email storage

Email hosting is a necessary expense for a business website, because having email addresses hosted @ your domain boosts your site’s professionalism. On the other hand, if you’re running a personal website, email hosting is a great addition if you have some extra budget to spend – but if not, don’t sweat it!

Tech Support

Average cost: $0-1,000+/month

Both website builders and web hosting providers have in-house customer support teams to help you work out technical difficulties, free of charge. However, if you want more tailored support, you can opt to outsource and pay for a website maintenance service. Website maintenance services come as tiered packages, so you can choose a plan (and, more importantly, a price) based on your website’s needs.

For example, an outsourced web maintenance plan for a personal blog will cost around $50/month and include regular updates to your site’s theme and plugins. For more commercial websites, you can pay around $100/month and receive dedicated SEO support in addition to regular updates. Larger ecommerce sites can pay $500-1,000/month to add development support, like the creation of new templates and functionalities for your site.

Tech support could cost you nothing, or it could be the most expensive website maintenance cost on your list. It all depends on what you’re looking to get out of these services. We recommend starting with the in-house support included in the price of website builders and hosting providers, and deciding what additional support (if any) you’ll need from there.

Want to get your money’s worth from in-house tech support?

Bluehost is our number one hosting provider for customer support. Read our Bluehost Review to learn more.

Cost of Maintaining Different Types of Websites

The amount of budget you’ll need to set aside for each component of website maintenance will vary depending on what kind of site you’re running. We’ve listed a general guide to website maintenance pricing below:

  • Small blog or personal portfolio: $5-30/month
  • Large blog: $50-100/month
  • Local business site: $30-60/month
  • Large business site: $60-300/month
  • Small ecommerce store: $100-1,500/month
  • Large ecommerce store: $300-1,500+/month

Different websites need to focus on different areas in order to provide a great user experience. For example, a small business site might be particularly concerned with email hosting, because it’s a small expense that adds a lot of legitimacy. Meanwhile, a large ecommerce store will be most concerned about finding a powerful payment gateway, which wouldn’t even be an expense for a small business site.

Regular Website Maintenance That Doesn’t Have to Cost Anything

In addition to the paid maintenance priorities we’ve already discussed, there are some manual tasks you can do to keep your website running smoothly at no extra cost. You don’t have to do these tasks yourself – you can hire an agency to handle them – but if you feel like getting hands-on and saving some budget, we’ve outlined how below.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO covers all of the little things you can do to boost your website’s rankings in Google search results. Anything that makes your site easier for search engine crawlers to find will contribute to good SEO. Here are some basic steps that you can take:

  • Write snappy page titles and descriptions: the title and description are what make up your page preview on Google. Short, informative titles and descriptions will encourage people to click through to your site.
  • Incorporate relevant keywords: keywords are the search terms you want your page to rank for. For example, if you’re selling homemade jewelry, you may want your product page to show as a result when people search for “craft bracelets.” Therefore, you’ll want to include the term “craft bracelets” on your page where applicable.
  • Tag images: when you upload an image to your website, you can provide “alt text” that will show up in place of the image in case of loading issues. This text is also a clue for search engine crawlers trying to figure out what your page is about.

If you’re going the DIY route for your SEO, it’s important to note that some platforms have better capabilities than others. You can check our guides to the best hosting providers for SEO and the best website builders for SEO to see which platforms have the strongest SEO features.

Outsourcing cost: $200-800/month. If you’d prefer to have an expert handling your site’s SEO, you can consult an SEO agency to analyze your website and create a tailored strategy.

Load speed

Keeping page load speed as fast as possible is good for both SEO and user experience. How quickly your website loads depends on a lot of factors, including file size and image compression, both of which you can control. In fact, you can resize and compress your images in one fell swoop with free online tools like ImageResizer.com – it’s what we use to upload photos to Website Builder Expert!

Outsourcing cost: $50-3,000. You can hire a technical SEO specialist or work with a digital agency to optimize your website load speed beyond just image resizing and compression. We’d recommend outsourcing for load speed only if you’re running a large blog, business site, or online store. When it comes to small sites and personal pages, manually tweaking the images will do fine.

Content updates

The look and feel of your website is one thing. The actual content that your website posts is another. Great content – blog posts, “About Us” pieces, bios, and basically anything people can read, watch, or view on your site – will make or break your audience engagement.

If you enjoy the creative aspects of running a website, then you can have fun with content planning and creation. Drafting the content itself will make up most of the work, but it’s also vital to stick to a good schedule when you’re actually posting the content. Nothing’s worse than clicking onto a blog page that hasn’t been updated since 2011!

Outsourcing cost: $500-3,000. If you’d rather go the freelance copywriter or creative agency route for your web copy, prices will vary dramatically depending on the tasks you need done. If you want new blog posts written multiple times a week, you’ll be paying between 10¢ and $1 per word. If you only need a landing page written once, it’ll cost about $500-1,000 for the full page.

Website Maintenance Cost: Recap

Now that you know the essential and nonessential costs of maintaining a website, you can plan out an effective budget. Remember that your expenses will vary depending on what type of site you’re running: for example, an ecommerce store taking payments onsite will need to spend more on SSL security than a personal blog will. And if you decide to use a website builder, many basic costs will come included in your plan.

To recap, these are the essential website maintenance costs:

  1. Domain names – $10-20/year.
  2. SSL certificates – $24-199/year.
  3. Web hosting providers – $2.75-15.00/month.
  4. Email hosting – $1-5.00/month.
  5. Tech support – $0-1,000/month.

And you can DIY or outsource these secondary maintenance elements:

  1. SEO – DIY for free/outsource for $200-800/month.
  2. Load speed – DIY for free/outsource for $50-3,000 total.
  3. Content updates – DIY for free/outsource for $500-3,000 total.

With these moves in mind, you’re all set to keep up the good work!

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About Maura Monaghan

Maura Monaghan

I grew up scribbling in notebooks, and until recently the thought of relocating my writing to the digital world seemed like an impossible goal. But when I finally took the plunge and created an online portfolio, I immediately saw the benefits of having my work out on the web. Since then I’ve learned everything I can about creating different websites, so that I can help those in a similar situation get online without a similar headache.

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