WordPress Maintenance, What is It?
The easiest way to think about website maintenance is to compare it to maintaining your car.
In order to keep your car in tip top shape you must do normal maintenance checks such as:
Check for proper tire inflation
Replace the air filter
Perform factory recommended maintenance
If you want your website to perform at an optimum level you should treat it just like you do your car. Keeping it up-to-date will prevent you from having malicious attacks, malware insertion, and ensure that your customers will have a good experience when visiting your site.
Each time that WordPress updates their core files you need to do the same as soon as possible. Plugins need to be updated each time the author makes a change. Plugins are actually the more susceptible files to be hacked so these are very important to keep current.
The bottom line is, regardless of the size of your company or your website, you need website maintenance. You have two options, you can do it yourself or you can hire a WordPress maintenance company to do all the heavy lifting.
You’ve spent a good amount of time and money to build your site, gain your customers, and create great content. You don’t want to lose any of these because of poor website management.
What are Website Maintenance Services?
Essentially these services are necessary tasks to ensure your website is up and available at all times for your clients or new visitors. You can break down the tasks required into smaller more manageable timeline chunks but all of them are important.
- Renew your domain
- Change the Copyright date on all pages
- Review content for accuracy and update or add pages as necessary
- Review your business strategy and make sure your website aligns correctly
- Consider if website design is current or needs an update
- Review your website – is there anything that could be improved?
- Web Graphics and photos – are they all up to date or could they be improved or replaced with better photos?
- Check your website content – what is dated and what could be improved?
- Review and tweak meta title and meta description tags – so search engines know what the page is about.
- Test the website to ensure that it looks and displays properly on the most popular browsers and mobile devices.
- Validate your site. (CSS/HTML, Accessibility, Mobile-friendly)
- Check backup health by restoring the most recent backup to a separate web server to see that it is valid.
- Check the up time logs so you can verify any downtime and when it occurred.
- If the up time of your website is less than 99.9% then consult with your web host. You might have to consider alternative web hosts if yours can not provide a satisfactory solution.
- Test your website’s loading speed (how fast it opens for visitors). If it opens to slow you may need to have a speed optimization process done.
- Check your security logs and see what the scans provide. Are there any issues that need to be resolved?
- Analyze your website statistics. What’s working, what isn’t? Take action to increase your CTR.
- Check for 404 errors and resolve them by fixing links or redirecting the page. Also, check that all other pages are loading properly.
- Backup and store files off-site for recovery purposes.
- Update core files and plugins. If an update is critical (security reasons) do this immediately upon notification.
- Check all forms (contact or others) are working properly.
Why Is It Important to Do Website Maintenance?
As noted above websites need routine maintenance to ensure that all facets of the website are working properly (links, forms, images, shopping carts, etc.) You can create the most visually appealing website ever but if it is out of date or does not operate or navigate as a visitor expects then they will leave and head on over to your competitor.
Below you will find what we believe to be the top reasons why WordPress website maintenance is crucial to your business.
Security is the most important reason that website maintenance is a must for EVERY website. We specialize in WordPress websites but it does not matter what platform you use, without proper security you are at risk of losing valuable data, even your whole website. Hackers around the world are constantly looking for website vulnerabilities to exploit. Sometimes it’s because you have valuable information, sometimes it’s just because they can. Preventing a security breach before it happens is essential. If your site is breached then the cost associated to repair and restore can become quite expensive.
WordPress (and many other CMS’s) have core files and provide many plugins for usability and functionality. It is vital to keep your files and plugins up to date. WordPress does a great job in rolling out security patches and bug fixes but they must be implemented ASAP to there is no downtime for your site and that a breach will not happen.
According to WpWhiteSecurity.com after looking at over 42,000 WordPress websites in Alexa’s top 1 million, there are:
- 74 different versions WordPress identified.
- 11 of these versions are invalid. For example version 6.6.6.
- 18 websites had an invalid non existing versions of WordPress.
- 769 websites (1.82%) are still running a subversion of WordPress 2.0.
- Only 7,814 websites (18.55%) upgraded to WordPress 3.6.1.
- 1,785 websites upgraded to version 3.6.1 between the 12th and the 15th of September.
- 13,034 websites (30.95%) are still running a vulnerable version of WordPress 3.6.
Again, we cannot say it enough times or strongly enough that you must have website security dialed in or you are vulnerable to all kinds of hackers.
If you are using outdated WordPress themes or templates on your site they may not display properly on mobile devices or desktop browsers. However, by performing regularly scheduled maintenance, you can ensure that your business is being presented in the best possible way on all devices.
Another factor to consider is your content. A well-maintained site will have fresh content to engage your customers and keep them coming back for new and more valuable information.
What would you do if you visited a website and the links or forms did not work correctly? Most likely you would leave and consider this business not very reliable simply because of the errors encountered.
It is essential to ensure that all information is accurate and readily accessible to your visitors.
- Has any of your staff changed?
- Are your phone numbers and addresses correct?
- Do you have social media icons pointing correctly?
- Is your pricing accurate?
Whatever you want your customers to see and engage with MUST be up to date or you will lose them immediately and probably forever.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Visitors will visit your site either because they already know your URL or they were searching for something and your site came up in the search engine listing. To come up in those listings (high enough for someone to find you) you must optimize your site for search engines. The easiest way to improve your search rankings is to add new content on a regular basis as part of your routine website maintenance tasks. The more you update the better the chance of being found when people are searching for specific information.
Having your site optimized for all devices is extremely important today especially for mobile. A few years ago Google decided to use a “mobile-first” index. This means that your website should show up on a mobile device perfectly. If you have not updated your site for a long time then chances are that it is not optimized for the mobile index and that is hurting your chances of being found. If they do find you your website might not show correctly and they will just continue to move on.
There is much more to be said about search engine optimization but that is for another article. For now, just ensure your website is up-to-date, works on all devices and you are adding content as often as possible.
How can you keep your customers coming back to your website? This is a question that many of our clients have asked. The easy answer is to update your content often with interesting, relevant, and shareable information. Give them a reason to take action like filling out a form, make a purchase, or call you.
A few ideas to keep them coming back might be a special sale, a new product, an event you will be holding, donations you make to a good cause. There are plenty of ways to pique interest.
Another way to keep them coming back is by collecting their email address and sending them a newsletter or simple email letting them know what’s going on with your business and directing them back to the website to see.
Using your social media is another way to direct them where you want them to go. With software today you are able to publish content and automatically send it to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform you use.
Ask questions and let your customers know how much you value their engagement with you. Your website is much more than an online business card. It is a powerful marketing tool to inform and engage your customers.
We’ve explained in this article that website security is the most important aspect of your website maintenance routines. Backups are the second most important task you must do.
If you like doing things yourself there are plugins that will back up all your files and store them on the same server as your website. Many of those plugins will also allow you to email the backup to yourself so you can keep them at home. Some web host providers provide limited backup services as well.
Businesses like ours take that task and ensure that you never have to worry about forgetting to backup your files and depending upon the plan you choose there are other benefits.
We’ve all heard of someone who lost files or even a whole website because they did not have a current backup. You can not skip this step in your website maintenance. I am sure you would not want to have to go through the process of rebuilding from scratch.
If your business’ website is simple and is more informational then you can backup monthly and that might be sufficient. If you are adding content on a regular basis or you have dynamic components like an online store then backing up more frequently will be important to you.
How Much Does Website Maintenance Cost?
Cost is not just the amount you might pay on a monthly basis. It is also what it may cost you by not maintaining your site regularly. Improper website maintenance or just ignoring your site will lead to an accumulation of issues such as downtime, loss of revenue, malware (costing a lot to fix), or Trojan Horses.
The better choice is to invest in website maintenance services and allow an expert to keep your site healthy, secure, and up-to-date. You should be doing what you do best and bring in the customers.
What is the Average Cost of Website Maintenance in 2020
That’s a great question! The answer is not as simple as one might think because one size does not fit all. Generally, it depends on the size of your site and the number of services you want to include. Most companies offer website maintenance plans that will fit the average personal, hobby, or business site. Check out our findings below.
Small personal blog
$10 – $50 (very basic backups and updates to WordPress files and plugins)
does not include things like domain renewal, content edits or additions, malware fixes, etc.
Active blog with a large audience
$50 – $300 (backups, updates to WordPress files and plugins, some edits to content, marketing, etc.)
Small Business Websites
$150 – $1500 (backups, updates to WordPress files and plugins, some edits to content, marketing, design, code customization, e-commerce, etc.)
$300 – $2500 (backups, updates to WordPress files and plugins, some edits to content, marketing, design, code customization, e-commerce, developers on hand to take care of issues immediately, etc.)
Website Maintenance Costs in Detail
This is an annual expense which the client takes care of on their own through their domain provider. It should range from $10 – $35 per year depending upon the TLD you choose (.com, .ord, .biz, etc.)
There is a large number of web hosts you can choose from. They can range from as little as $10 monthly to $100 (managed hosting) or more per month depending upon requirements and services that are offered by the host.
WordPress Website Maintenance
This is where we live. This includes things like scheduled backups, security updates, optimization, coding, and a host of other options. Generally speaking most companies (like us) will offer you a package deal while some work on a per hour basis. These costs (packages) can range from $10 to thousands of dollars per month depending on website and needs.
If you need content created for your website there are a few ways to approach it. You can hire a content creator by the piece, by the word, or by the hour. Some website maintenance companies offer these services (we are one of them) and some do not. Prices for content vary widely based on the size of the content, the ability of the writer, and the research required.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Without proper SEO having been done on your site the chances of showing up in the first few pages of Google for your specific search terms is almost nil. If your site is not set up with good SEO formats and practice you will not be found.
Some website maintenance companies offer SEO and some do not. We generally farm out these services or simply refer you to a person or company we trust to do the job correctly. SEO costs can vary widely as well with a minimum of $200-$300 per month to thousands of dollars per month depending upon whether you are a local, national, or international company. These costs include things like keyword research, website audits and website analysis, link building, content, and competitor analysis.
Most of our clients fall into the personal, hobby, or small business category. We have WordPress website maintenance plans to fit each type of client with some perks for each plan. There is also the ability to pick and choose exactly which service you want or need. Check out the WordPress Website Maintenance Plans page for more information.
We believe that we should each do what we are best at. We are experts at keeping your website, secure, up-to-date, and healthy. You are an expert at whatever your business is. By working together you gain an advantage by not being one of those guys who wears every hat in the company.
You can’t be an expert in everything but you can grow your business by doing what you do best and allowing us to ensure that anything that can be protected will be protected on your website.
When you use WP Maintenance Plans for your website maintenance services, you won’t have to spend hours or extra money resolving an issue. We have your back. It all comes down to trust. If give us the opportunity to earn that trust, you’ll never look back, we promise!