Your website is like your Car.
Maintain it to reduce the risk of failure.

Websites are like cars. If you invest in maintaining it, you’ll likely avoid the expense and inconvenience of a major failure. Website Management Services keeps your website in top shape to ensure it continues to attract prospects for your business.

Small Business operators are busy people. I should know; I’m a small business owner too. One of the key principles small business operators need to manage in our day to day activities is ensuring we do the essential things to run the business.

If there are non-core tasks that require specialist skills or tools we don’t have or we dont have the time, then outsource. This allows us to concentrate on our business’s core mission.

Build a Better Business by Outsourcing

“Most entrepreneurs have great talents but many times they think they can do it all,” Sparks says. “That can really stall the growth of the business. By outsourcing the day to day back-office tasks, the business owner has more time to focus on generating income.”

Why does WordPress need maintenance?

WordPress is a popular Content Management System (CMS) used for modern websites with arguably 40+% of all websites using this system. Chances are your business website is built in WordPress and so you need to be aware of its maintenance liability compared to ancient HTML websites.

WordPress provides a relatively easy way to build and maintain websites; is readily extensible using ‘plugins’ for useful functionality and very adaptable to different designs through installable ‘themes’. This versatility is why WordPress is widely used by web developers for small business website creation as it is quick to deploy.

WordPress is great for web developers, for you and also for hackers

Sadly, WordPress is also frequently targetted by the hacker community, undoubtedly due to its wide adoption. Most website owners aren’t aware of WordPress’ complexity ‘under the hood’, but hackers certainly are, and use their own toolsets to capitalise on this hidden complexity to hide their hacks.

A large community of devoted programmers actively support WordPress as best they can, however, the updates they engineer to address potential flaws or ‘exploits’, then have to be installed by someone – but who? You? Your web developer?

Further, as the re-engineered updates are created, they are also detailed in the vast library of updates, (see ‘Exploits’ below) and so hackers also become aware of flaw the update addresses. When Hackers target a site, they can literally lookup the site’s software version details and so know exactly how to attack it.

Web Developers are ‘Creators’ not ‘Maintainers’

The typical web developer’s business model is focused on creating new websites. Messing around with tiresome website maintenance is not their bag. As a result there is a burgeoning fleet of unmaintained websites, with owners blithely unaware of the need for website maintenance, let alone the exposure it places them to hackers.

Maintain WordPress to manage the risk of attack

This lack of awareness usually ends abruptly with a reality check, when for example Google starts flagging that your website ‘may be hacked’ in its search results. Prospective clients are dissuaded from visiting for fear of being hacked themselves and website leads stop.

If Google shows this for your website you know you are in trouble
Read more: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/190597?hl=en

Let’s not even consider the liability to your business should your hacked website start infecting its visitors…

What is an 'Exploit' ?

An ‘exploit’ is a point of attack into software, in this case into your website.  Think of an armoured tank in a battle scenario. If that type of tank has a known weakness, and the enemy is aware of that weakness, they will ‘exploit’ it to more easily usurp the tank.

In the case of WordPress, exploits are published in detail and so accessible to hacker communities.

Hackers can then use probing software to sniff out websites that are vunerable to a specific exploit to more easily attack them.  Not applying patches your site literally beacons ‘Hack me please’.

Website Management Tools

If your business isn’t able to invest in website support, we’ve prepared the following to help you through the process. This also covers the tools that we use to support our clients’ websites. If you DIY website maintenance you may not need all of these, but should carefully consider them:

I’ve divided these into those that:

  • Minimise Your Risk of Being Hacked
  • Monitor Website Performance

Hacker Protection Tools

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WordFence

This tool from the team at WordFence is in my opinion the gold standard for minimising your site’s risk to hackers.

WordFence Plugin

The Wordfence plugin is an internal ‘firewall’ inside your website. The plugin monitors all visitors to the website, and if they exhibit hacker-like behaviour, it locks them out to minimise the harm they can do.

While the free version is highly functional, the paid Wordfence subscription provides enhanced protection by instantly protecting your site from any new ‘exploits’ that the WordFence team have discovered.

The free verson has a 30 day delay on addressing newly discovered exploits.

Once installed, the blocked attacks reporting reveals the frightening number of hacker probes on your website that you are suddently aware of.

Check the WordFence Vulnerability Reports in our right hand column and their Advisories here: https://www.wordfence.com/vulnerability-advisories/

WordFence Central

A powerful adjunct to WordFence is WordFence Central. This cloud-based service integrates with the Wordfence firewall plugin in your website to provide even more information about your site’s status.

Some excellent examples of the value-added protection WordFence Central provides include:

Plugin removed from WordPress.org

If your site uses a plugin that has been ‘abandoned’ or removed from WordPress.org there is no obvious support for the plugin, so if it has issues, no-one is going to attend to them. Further, the plugin may be removed from WordPress.org as it has unpatched security issues. Either way, the plugin represents a security exposure for your website and should be removed.

Plugin appears to be abandoned
This plugin hasn’t been updated for over 2 years, and so is likely no longer supported. Again the plugin represents a security exposure for your website and should be removed.

Performance Monitoring Tools

This suite of tools enables you to see how well your website is performing. 

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Analytics

This Google toolset provides information about visitors and their activities inside your website.

  • Google Analytics Scripts
    These scripts sit inside the website and capture visitor activity, then dispatch the data to the Analytics reporting system. The script can be added manually or via a plugin into your website.
  • Google Tag Manager (GTM) is an alternative to the Analytics scripts. As GTM uses customised ‘recipes’ to capture visitor data, it is more flexible and capable than the standard Google Analytics scripts.  GTM recipes can be complex, but there is excellent 3rd party online documentation.
  • Analytics Reporting
    Google Analytics reporting is a web-based interface at https://analytics.google.com/
    Users need a Google ID to authenticate to use Analytics. Over the years, Analytics has grown to provide increasingly sophisticated reporting.
  • Analytics Version 4
    Google Analytics is currently undergoing an evolution to its next iteration, Google Analytics Version 4.    This new generation is much more than a simple upgrade, and significantly changes the approach to measuring and reporting website activity.  During this transition period, Analytics can exist as GA4 or Universal Analytics (UA) as the previous version. 
DIIB

DIIB is an ‘Expert System’ that analyses numerous website characteristics then provides recommendations on how to improve the website’s performance.

DIIB connects to Google Analytics, Google My Business and Facebook and then uses ‘big data’ analysis to make observations about the site’s performance.

 

 

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is a very useful toolset for examing a website’s SEO performance. GSC reports a website’s Google Search performance in detail, with much of the information not accessible elsewhere.

At its simplest, GSC shows which Google searches your website ranks for, what the rank is over a period of time and how many people click through to your site after making that search.

The other thing to consider is if Google reports a certain data type in GSC then it’s reasonably likely this is relevant for improving your website’s SEO.

Connecting your site to GSC

To be able to use GSC, it’s necessary to register your website using your Google ID as described here: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/search-console 

 

 

SEMRush

SEMRush has evolved to become the goto toolset for website performance measurement, with a comprehensive range of analytics tools across:

  • Ranking monitoring
  • Backlink auditing
  • Google Ads performance
  • Keyword Analysis
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Reporting
  • and much more
Uber Suggest

The Uber Suggest toolset was developed by industry expert Neil Patel and provides a range of capabilities including:

  • Keyword ranking
  • Keyword Research 
  • Website Auditing 
  • Backlink Analysis
  • Website Performance Analysis 
DataStudio

DataStudio is another Google capability that provides a convenient graphical reporting environment. DataStudio connects to a vast arrange of disparate data sources, and then presents them into a customisable display for a consistent view.

Connecting to Google services is provided for free, while 3rd party connectors are also available to connect to many other systems. Supermetrics provides connectors to over 70 different data sources.

I particularly like DataStudio as it centralises a diverse range of systems. It enables the development of easily understandable reports that provide insights across a range of online marketing data sources.  DataStudio enables Clients to directly access key data about their website or online marketing program either as a monthly emailed PDF or interactively. 

 

 

So What Does Website Maintenance Involve?

So at the end of the day, what is website maintenance?

Website Maintenance is a review service delivered at regular intervals to ensure your website is operating optimally.

Software Updates

A key activity is updating software. In the case of WordPress sites, software updates involve:

  • WordPress core software
  • Plugin software
  • Theme software

Confirm Backups

Holding recent website backups is your insurance should the site become corrupted or hacked. In the worst case scenario you can restore your backups to get your site working again.

It’s very easy to assume backups are happening, then in a disaster find they aren’t – Arrghh. Here’s some key points for backups learned from years of looking after websites:

  • Have a time series of backups
    If the file corruption/hack occurred weeks ago you’ll need a backup that precedes this so you’ve got a clean copy to restore. Keep multiple daily or weekly backups.
  • Ensure your backup enables you to restore your website
    NB WordPress also includes a database that should be backed up as well.
  • Know how to restore your website from the backup
  • Store your backup some where else.
    There’s no point keeping your backups in your hosting package. If it gets hacked so does your backup.

Content Updates

As part of our bundle of website maintenance services, we also provide any content updates – information updates, new pages, publish posts etc. 

Performance Check

To be effective, website maintenance relies on capturing data about your website’s status or performance and then checking against this baseline when undertaking the maintenance activity. Has the site started to slow down? Has an error crept into its operation? Is Google flagging an issue for the website? etc.

 

Peter Cornish

An online marketer with deep experience in Sales & Marketing as well as technical skills accumulated over the many years of working in this industry. He has been knee-deep in websites and online marketing since the mid 80’s.
Peter is a lateral thinker who sees solutions where many don’t.

Website Concierge is a reincarnate of Succinct Ideas, providing quality website support and online marketing for small businesses.

If you found something in my site useful, I’d really appreciate if you could link to the page and maybe Google will help other people who need the same info find the page as well 😉

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