WordPress is not built “out-of-the-box” to run smoothly and securely. It takes a special blend of strategies to make a WordPress website reliable. Read on to find out what those strategies are.
Here at Hog The Web, we have been building new WordPress websites, fixing WordPress websites built by others, and then maintaining and securing them for years. In that time we’ve honed in on just the right strategies and maintenance tasks to transform WordPress websites from affordable but quirky and buggy sites, into rock-solid platforms to run serious business websites on.
Strategy 1: Pro-active Software and Server Updates
This one comes first because it is SO often neglected by site owners and managers. (and for good reason!) Poorly built sites will not respond well when you try to update them. A lot of custom code in the wrong place will not be compatible with the new themes, plugins, and WordPress core files that get released. Which causes bugs and glitches and generally breaks your site.
But don’t blame the updates! It’s when developers “hack” features and functionality into WordPress sites that causes the problems. As with all things; there a right way and a wrong way to customize WordPress sites.
So then what do you do if your site IS outdated but you can’t update it due to this issue? Keep reading to learn how we respond effectively in this situation…
Strategy 2. Routine Malware/Virus Scans
According to Sophos Labs, 30,000 new websites are identified EVERY DAY distributing malicious code to their visitors due to website malware infection! The majority of these 30,000 sites belong to ordinary small businesses.
While many infections can be identified and removed by common tools like malware removal plugins or “SiteLock” security offered by hosting companies, we have found that our tools often detect infections that these common tools miss. So make sure you choose a malware scanning service that uses the very LATEST tools.
The virus vs. anti-virus arms race is a viciously fast evolving battlefield that you DO NOT want to be on the losing side of.
Strategy 3. Install a Hacker-Proof Firewall
A firewall is like a gateway that ALL web traffic must pass through before it can touch your website’s hosting server. Firewalls detect and block any malicious activity that’s trying to reach your site. This is becoming more and more critical every day because on average 30% of the traffic hitting your site is malicious bots trying to infect it and gain control, and that trend is increasing!
Strategy 4. Routine Backups and Up-Time Monitoring
Ask most folks if they’ve lost a ton of business-critical data because they didn’t have a simple backup plan in place, and you’ll see some very somber faces. It’s easy to overlook the importance of backups. It’s one of those things that seems so extraneous and superfluous… UNTIL that one fateful day when everything crashes and you NEED the backups.
And with technology, you never know when that day will come.
So developing a routine backup plan for your website isn’t too hard to implement but will save you a ton of stress in the long run. We find that it’s safest to store your backups in the cloud, instead of on your own server where your site is hosted. It’s also a good idea to set up an Up-time monitoring service that will alert you if your website goes down for any reason, so that you can take action right away to get it back online before any of your customers notice.
Strategy 5. Hire a 24/7 Bug/Glitch Repair Service
If you follow all the steps above flawlessly, there might still be moments when things just stop working on your website despite your best efforts. In these moments you don’t want to be scrambling to contact your last web developer, who might be operating on a 48+ hours delay for all new tasks. Or s/he might even be on vacation for all you know!
But, if your like most business owners/admins, you already have enough on your plate just running and growing your business.
Routine tasks like these often lose priority over the more urgent issues within any dynamic company, and that’s to be expected. This is the situation MOST of our clients find themselves in. Despite their best efforts to keep up on this important maintenance work to avoid further stress, often this work gets neglected until an emergency strikes, such a the site going down or becoming infected with malware.
Fortunately for our clients, we have a team of WordPress experts that monitor, protect, and maintain their websites 24/7 through our UpKeep Service Plans. These plans include ALL of the above strategies and more.
We also implement server-side caching to accelerate their websites, and provide friendly customer support via Chat, Phone, and Email. (Plus some really juicy website analytics data in our monthly reports)