WordPress Maintenance

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As a site owner, WordPress maintenance is one of those topics that tends to draw a fine line between those who are in favor, and those who say, “this is my site, I can do it myself!”. But what is the real reason behind this heated debate? Does hiring a WordPress maintenance pro really help provide that much benefit or can you truly do it yourself? Let’s take dig a little deeper and find out!

What is WordPress Maintenance?

Without causing our brain to “malfunction” right off the bat, WordPress maintenance can basically be summed up as the entire series of events (or, if you like to connect with your inner child, “chores”) that are fundamentally essential to keep your site running in good health, on a regular basis. A few examples of regular WordPress maintenance include updates, backups, security, performance optimization, malware scans, and comment spam handling.

Understanding what WordPress maintenance entails is a pivotal component in optimizing one’s site, and plays a huge role in developing and maintaining a great site that runs smoothly and easily. But what about the physical responsibility of making sure these processes are taken care of? When it comes to figuring out the right option for maintenance, a few things that definitely need to be considered are automation, time, and overall value.

Automation: A DIYers Best Friend!

Who doesn’t love results without having to physically maintain the work? No one, right? Well, automation can help make web maintenance tasks much easier, especially if you choose to go about doing it yourself! Let’s take a closer look at how automation can (and in some ways, can’t) be applied to a few of the basic WordPress maintenance tasks.

 

  • Updates
    Updates are a relatively easy thing to automate, but it is important to make sure you don’t get too comfortable. Updates can still require some physical monitoring.
  • Backups
    Backups are probably the one main thing you should automate about your site, right now.. If you’re already worried about the hole in the bottom of your wallet, don’t panic, there are both free and paid backup solutions (all of which work quite well).
  • Security
    Security is an important part of everyday life and comes in many forms. Just like the alarm system on your house, security for your site should be a high priority as well!

    While there are plugins like Wordfence, iThemes Security, and Sucuri, many of these plugins only give you “partial-automation” in the security realm, so keep that in mind when choosing what security you want, the level of protection, and how comfortable you are working with them.

  • Performance
    The performance of your WordPress site isn’t something that can be fully automated. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you are most likely going to have to spend some extra time here.
  • Spam
    No one likes spam, but don’t worry, spam can easily be handled automatically through plugins like Askimet Anti-Spam.

Time is Money. So How Much Time Does Maintaining a Site Consume?

If something can’t be automated, then it must be handled by hand or else it will never get done. Of course, you could ignore it and see what happens, but let’s be honest, how many times is ignoring something the best thing to do? So how much time do you really need to invest in key WordPress components?

 

  • Updates
    Things are constantly changing in the WordPress world. Your WordPress core itself need updates. Sometimes, this happens automatically, depending on your host – but this can also cause you grief if your theme is dated an incompatible. Most of the time, you have to initiate the update yourself. We haven’t even touched on updates for the Theme you’re using, does it come with updates? How often are they released? Are you checking for vital updates that may contain security patches? Last but certainly not least is plugin updates. These are vital to keep things running smoothly and reduce vulnerabilities. Having a system in place to keep track of updates, and checking for them often is a good way to stay on top of updates. Don’t forget to backup before you do!
  • Security
    Running a plugin to scan things for you is a great first step, but it is also wise to analyze  the scan reports and decide if there is anything the scans are missing, and they do! This is something that should be done often, at least weekly.
  • Backups
    Regular backups should be kept off your server. Why? If something happens to your site and you can’t access the files on your backup plugin, your content (and website) is gone
  • Performance
    Performance optimization can be a hard task to accurately estimate since there are so many factors involved such as hosting, theme, content, image sizes, server related issues, plugins security, and optimization, and/or a third party integration causing problems. While there are certain plugins that you can install to help monitor your site’s performance, it is still highly recommended that you spend some time to dig deep and analyze your site’s performance as a whole. 

Combining all of the above at the basic level (the bare minimum of site maintenance), it is reasonable to assume that maintaining your site will cost you at least 5 hours a month (more than an hour per week). The question you need to ask yourself is, “can I make more money during my maintenance hours versus what I would end up spending to have a pro take care of it for me?”.

Hiring a Pro

Now that we are beginning to better understand what WordPress maintenance really takes, it is time to see if using a pro really does really provide any added benefit. Here are a few examples of what WordPress maintenance companies, like us, can help provide and how.

  • Peace of Mind
    A benefit of hiring a pro is that we are responsible for making sure that the backup options attached to your site are in full, working order and we keep duplicate copies of your website files on two separate servers. 
  • Security
    So what about security? We use advanced security software to constantly monitor, protect, and notify of any malicious malware and/or vulnerabilities your site.
  • Time is Money
    If you live by the phrase, “time is money”, then having someone available to handle things for you can be a game changer. No more constant monitoring, or waking up in the middle of the night to make sure everything is working according to plan!

Aside from just the basics of WordPress maintenance, it is also important to remember that there is much more that goes into maintaining and running a site than you may think. Other services that we offer (that have probably never crossed your mind up until this point) include:

  • How does your site look on different devices? Phone, tablet, computer? Did you know Google is moving towards mobile-first ranking?
  • Where are your backups stored? If you simply use a plugin that stores on your database, then your files are not secure!
  • Are you creating maintenance reports to show when and what you have done?! Are you staying on top of Core updates on your server in addition to Theme and Plugin updates in WordPress itself?

Poor Maintenance = Poor Performance

Finally, poor maintenance of your site is a big issue that can lead to a ton of headaches. Three substantial issues as a result of maintenance neglect are a poor first impression on visitors to your site, hacking / the loss of your website data, and the painful goodbye to SEO rankings. Having the constant monitoring of a WordPress maintenance company can help diminish these potential risks.

Choosing the Best Option: DIY or The Pros?

Knowing what we know now, one thing can be said for sure, WordPress maintenance is something that is undeniably important. But what about all the other factors like time, cost, and effort? How do we decide whether we should do these things ourselves or hire someone to do them for us?

When you break it down, the major selling points for using a pro can be divided into two distinct themes, responsiveness and convenience. Since you can never really know for sure what might happen to your site, if things do indeed go bad, having a pro on your side can allow for quick action and a relatively simple process (since we are talking about people who cater to providing this kind of support for a living). Not only can we help with peace of mind, but also with a better feeling that things will be handled in the correct way.

Since maintenance is a necessity for all WordPress websites, in the end, it comes down to what works best for your site. Understanding the demands of maintaining your site on your own (time, patience, self-education, and money) can help you make an educated decision about what is right for you.

If you decide that using a pro is the way to go, know that it’s an affordable option starting at $250/yr or $29/m. Peace of mind doesn’t have to break the bank.