Are you one of the lucky business owners who has a WordPress website? In our opinion, WordPress offers the most flexibility and can be infinitely customized to meet your needs.
WordPress has been in existence for over 10 years. It is easy to add content (such as blogs) or make changes to keep up with your changing business. It is a dynamic blog based platform, allowing you to keep your information up to date – unlike other non-blog sites, which are static.
Many ‘converts’ have expressed relief at being able to truly manage their content, some of whom had out-of-date static sites and a webmaster who was no longer available. If you are not yet convinced, read my blog post, “Why WordPress is the Best Choice for Business Websites”.
However, with all that power comes responsibility. The open source format of WordPress makes it a bit easier for hackers to render your site’s description unrecognizable to Google. Some sites disappear completely. All websites are vulnerable to attack. It is precisely because WordPress is so popular that it has become a target for hackers.
What are the most common causes for a website compromise? Out of date software, plugins and themes that are vulnerable because they, also, are out of date, and compromised credentials (login and password).
Prevention is the key here. The term ‘Website Maintenance’ is a little confusing. To most clients, it sounds as if you tighten a few screws here and there, and perhaps dust the pages a bit. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
We like to call it “Website Management”. For a nominal fee, your web designer can ensure the site includes all the updates and protection it needs in order to run trouble-free.
What does it take to keep a happy, healthy WordPress site? A good deal of technical knowledge. You can do this yourself, but if you find it more complex than you want to learn, there are many developers who can do this for you.
Think of your website as a living thing that needs continual care to thrive – both on the front end (what you see when you go to your site) and the back end (all the things you don’t see that represent the mechanics of the site) Here’s how you can be an informed owner:
There are three different areas you will occasionally need to update.
1. WordPress Core. These are the files that make up WordPress software. There are usually 3 updates per year. These give you great new features and security patches.
2. Themes and Child Themes. These create the appearance of your site. These updates also contain new features and security patches.
3. Plugins. These extend functions and features that tailor your site to your specific needs. They must be updated to run with the current version of WordPress and with your specific theme. They will also contain new features and security patches.
The WordPress community is made up of thousands of code writers and developers who offer most of their software for free. It’s one of the great advantages of WordPress. They are constantly working to innovate and improve, and are an amazingly generous group. Think of it as having a huge IT department as part of your business.
Here are the most important things you’ll need to do:
- Always have a current backup of your site. Always. Backup your files and database daily as an insurance policy that can reinstate your site with some effort and expertise.
- Broken links on your site must be fixed. If you have broken links (links that when clicked go nowhere) your visitors will be annoyed and it can affect your search engine rankings.
- House cleaning. Removing spam and trashed comments, page and post drafts, unused plugins and themes are all necessary. These items can inflate your database, causing issues.
- Test forms. Make sure they are working correctly. Test the overall functionality of your site as if you are a visitor. See anything that needs to be changed/corrected?
- Review security. Delete inactive users, change admin/FTP passwords, and check your file permission settings.
- Limit login attempts. ‘Bots’ attempt to login to your site by trying random login information in thousands of combinations. By using a plugin such as Limit Login, you limit attempts to a low number, such as 5, after which the site becomes locked.
Can you do all this yourself? Yes. But, do you really want to? As a business owner, you have to prioritize, and your time is the most valuable asset you have. It can be extremely comforting to have a WordPress expert working behind the scenes to ensure your site stays trouble-free. The peace of mind you’ll have knowing everything is working as it should will free you to attend to the other five hundred things about which you must worry.