Most of our clients opt-in for our Care and Maintenance program but, we still provide them with the tools they need to keep their site secure and performing well if they don’t.
The key is staying on top of these tasks because vulnerabilities are found every day and hackers are quick to take advantage of poorly maintained websites. Businesses routinely approach us because their site has been hacked and need to restore it to working order.
While our clients are covered through the routine maintenance and ongoing reviews of their websites, are you keeping your WordPress site secure and performing fast for your website visitors?
Here’s a quick list of items that need to be attended to to keep your site up and running.
Instead of relying on customers or prospects notifying you that your website is down, a monitoring service will notify you as soon as it goes down. While reliable web hosts do everything they can to keep your service optimal, being notified is a great first line to be aware of any current and ongoing issues with your website.
Uptime Robot provides a free service that monitors your website and notifies you via email, and app when it becomes unavailable. Set up your account to be notified in both ways in case your email service becomes unavailable along with your website.
Any software exposed to the internet is inherently vulnerable to viruses and denial of service attacks and websites are no different.
Your site could experience anything from traffic being redirected to another site to new pages being created for black hat SEO for another site. Even worse, it could be infecting your site’s visitors with malware. I’ve had a business approach me for service because their site was redirecting mobile phone users to “adult-related” sites.
You can reinforce your site to defend from these issues with website security. Digital Redefined uses a couple of different methods with our Care Plans:
Your first line of defense is having SSL enabled for your website. Most hosting providers now include free SSL which is perfect for websites that are used for lead generation and basic data collection (i.e. name, email, phone number). If you collect payment or more confidential personal data, I highly recommend a paid SSL with a higher trust level.
While there is a single vital task that needs to be performed daily, it is automated once configured.
Regular backups are a must when your website plays an important role in your business.
It’s a means to a fast restoration if your site is ever hacked or a software update causes it to crash.
Even if your hosting provider performs daily backups for you, having an off-site backup is great insurance in case their backups aren’t reliable or even the off chance they go out of business or have a datacenter fire.
As uncommon as it sounds, thousands of websites experienced just that when Europe’s largest hosting provider – OVH had a massive fire at one of their 4 data centers in March 2021.
As of this writing (May 11,2020) there are some site still not fully in service because they didn’t have an offsite backup plan.
Having a backup for your backup by using a plugin such as Updraft Plus lets you schedule backups for your website that it then uploads to a cloud storage provider (DropBox, Google Drive) of your choice. The user-friendly plugin will walk you through setting up your backups and connecting to your preferred storage service.
Having backups is very helpful but restoration may require someone with restoration experience to access your server and perform the restoration for you.
Weekly website maintenance activities take more of a hands-on approach but can be performed by someone with a basic understanding of the WordPress admin features. If you struggle to find the time to perform these tasks, find someone in your business that can and add it to their duties. Along with these tasks, make sure a backup is performed before updates and have them review vital site pages and features to ensure they are working properly after the updates are completed.
WordPress Plugins are 3rd party software that enhances the features of WordPress. Update these regularly as the providers patch bugs and create new features that you can take advantage of on your site!
After updating plugins, make sure to clear any caching plugins you may be using and perform a review of the site and features. On the rare occasion, you experience a bug in a new plugin feature or plugins have a conflict, it’s better that you notice it instead of a site visitor.
If you do notice issues, the backup that was performed before updates can be used to restore the site to a very recent state.
Much like plugins, your site theme which is used to change the layout and design of your site may require updates from time to time.
Having an additional theme installed (such as the WordPress yearly theme) to fall back on if an issue arises and your default theme needs to be disabled for troubleshooting purposes.
Your security plugin and hosting provider should be monitoring your website for being compromised but you should perform your own scans to avoid being notified by a site visitor that your site is possibly hacked.
The Securi Site Check Scanner is a highly trusted source to perform this task. Visit the site, enter your site URL, and press “Scan Website”. It will check your website for known malware, viruses, blacklisting status, website errors, out-of-date software, and malicious code.
Monthly, you’ll want to make sure your site is optimized for top performance. It’s also a good time to review search and analytics data to make sure marketing and SEO efforts are making an impact.
Hopefully, you set your site up with Google Analytics and activated it in the Google Search console. If not, how do you know your site working for you?
Review the Search Console to see what search terms you’re ranking for and people are clicking to view your site for. This is a great way to see if any SEO efforts your working on are making an impact. Keep in mind if your domain is less than 6 months old, Google keeps your domain in a “sandbox” and limits the ability to rank.
Google Analytics gives you insight into what visitors are doing on your site. What to review is worth multiple blog posts of their own but in short, It’s worth reviewing how pages are performing for page views, and bounce rate. If you have goals or eCommerce transactions set up, review them to make sure that they are properly tracking and relevant to your current business needs.
Routinely running database cleanup on WordPress aids in performance for page load for visitors. Drafts and revisions will bloat the database causing queries to slow down over time. Using a plugin like Breeze will improve website speed and resource optimization. It’s easy to configure and the default settings should be all that is needed to improve your performance.
Perhaps the most neglected but 2nd to security in importance is load time. Bounce rate (people leaving your site) increases exponentially if pages take more than 2 seconds to load. We recommend using GTMetrix to test load time. Sign up for a free account so that your tests are stored and can be compared from month to month for changes in performance.
Like analytics, how to handle the results from these tests warrant multiple blog posts. If your site isn’t loading in under 2 seconds, reach out for a strategy session for recommendations on how to improve your site’s performance.
Keeping track of internal and external links that you have on your site can be daunting. If you’re regularly creating content, you probably have lots of links to pages, images, and even other websites. Avoid disappointing a site visitor by making sure your links are accurate and resources are actually loading (nothing worse than the broken image icon).
The Dead Link Checker can review links on your whole website or individual pages and will report any links that need to be reviewed.
Many premium plugins now include a yearly subscription to access new features and security updates. We recommend adding a reminder to renew while performing your weekly updates a week or two before the subscription expires. This ensures that you will not have a lapse in updates and some companies even have discounts for renewing prior to expiration.
This is going to sound like a broken record but just like Plugins and Themes, keeping WordPress core up to date is detrimental to your site!
The process is similar to updating plugins but we recommend reviewing plugins to make sure they are compatible with the version of WordPress you will be upgrading to. This is especially important when the update is a major release that could have breaking changes to plugins.
Take the same care as plugin and theme updates by performing a full backup just before the update that you can restore from.
It’s a good idea to review your pages from time to time for accuracy and grammar errors. Use the information gained from your analytics and search console review to consider any content changes that you may need to perform.
I also recommend tracking posts with time-sensitive data in blog posts so you can adjust your message or calls to action so that they are accurate. If you have seasonal or evergreen posts, update the data as needed to keep content relevant to your readers.
Quick Tip: Grammarly has a free app and Chrome extension that is a lifesaver when it comes to proofing your content. It’s like having an editor on staff every time you write.
While this may be a lot to take in, keeping WordPress secure and running fast does mean taking some time to give your internet presence some love and attention. If you invested in the creation of your website, consider this vehicle maintenance. You’ve got to change the oil, perform routine maintenance and rotate the tires to keep it safe and running efficiently.
If the thought of performing these tasks on a routine basis seems overwhelming, there are options available that will take the responsibility away from you. Options that will let you concentrate on your customer’s needs instead of worry about their experience when they use your website.
That’s what you have to ask yourself. Our WordPress Care Plans allow you to work on your business, not in your business by letting us take care of your WordPress upkeep.
For the past 10 years, we have been keeping our customer’s WordPress sites secure and optimized. That time has given us the tools and processes for efficiently maintain WordPress sites.
Every plan includes the items in this article plus features that promote growth as each plan is built to provide the most value on your investment no matter how you use your site.
Want to have a chat to see if our WordPress Site care may be right for you? Do you have questions about the tasks in the article?
I’ll gladly connect for a quick session to help you out!
We want to see your internet presence thrive whether no matter who you work with. Your website and can be transformative to your business and keeping it healthy will pay itself back in trust and user experience!