Blog graphic: Wordpress when left unmanaged. How to ensure security and effectiveness of your website through proactive and proper managed web hosting.

WordPress – When Left “UnManaged”

Many of you either currently have or have had WordPress sites that you created yourself – and that’s great. I want to give you props for taking that leap and getting it done on your own. Avoid having an “unmanaged” WordPress site by asking yourself these questions:

  • Are you using the most cost effective hosting provider?
  • Do you know if your WordPress site properly and fully backed up?
  • Are the updates and WordPress itself up-to-date?
  • Do you have appropriate security measures in place to protect your website and your data?
  • Is your site recommended meeting minimal performance guidelines?
  • Are you meeting all the requirements that Google is using to rank your site in its search results?
  • How do I choose the best hosting provider?

For as easy and useful as WordPress is, the system management of a WordPress site is even more of a necessity today than it has been in years past. Pro-active management of your WordPress site is imperative, and having the ability to recover if something goes bad is even increasingly important. Here are some items to consider, by topic, as you think about the management of your WordPress site.

Website Backups 

I’ve been called in many times to help with various issues on a WordPress site…the site has been hacked…it’s performing slow…“something just isn’t right with it”. These scenarios typically have a few things in common, one of which is that there is no security set and no backups – or at least no current backups. If your site is being hosted by a larger provide, they may claim to include site backup. However, it’s often not a site backup but a “base backup” for their system; meaning that they can’t restore only your site. For the few that do have a decent backup, many times the backup is still on the same server as your site. Therefore, if there is any issue with that server or storage unit, they may not be able to restore it anyway.

Frequency of back-ups is partially dependent on how often your content changes. We recommend full backups once every two weeks for sites with infrequent updates and weekly full backups for the rest. If you have daily updates – or even multiple updates per day – we recommend partial or database backups at least once a day. Most backup tools for WordPress allow for configuration of daily and weekly backups. Some will even do near real-time backups. You want to make sure the backup gets stored on a different system then your website is hosted on.

Ask yourself:

  • What backups are being done for my WordPress site?
  • Are my backups stored off-site?

We perform automatic backups of our managed sites on proactively managed servers. See our hosting options.

Website Updates 

Another thing I see when working on WordPress sites is that the site or plugins haven’t been updated in a very long time. Plugins that are not updated open the door to security risks for your website. This can neutralize the effectiveness of the other security measures that have been put in place on your site and opens the door for hackers, leaving your site in a vulnerable position. Updating plugins is also a good idea since fixes for various issues are also applied with these updates. It’s very similar to updating your computer or phone with Windows or Apple updates. In some cases, additional functionality is also added with plugin updates. WordPress makes it easy to identify what plugins need updating. Just make sure that you have a full backup of your website before performing the necessary updates.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my WordPress website up-to-date?
  • Are my plug-ins updated?
  • Have I backed up my site prior to updating?

SOE performs automatic updates to sites and plugins as well as full site backups. We have Managed Web Hosting packages for up to 10 websites. Need more sites managed? Contact us directly.

Website Security 

When your site is “unmanaged”, security becomes a huge issue. Several ways to help secure your site include keeping WordPress up-to-date, removing plugins that aren’t being used, and much more.

Ask yourself:

  • What security measures are being taken to secure my WordPress site?
  • Do you keep your OS and underlying software up-to-date and secured?
  • Are ports hardened and restricted to only what’s necessary?
  • Can I get two-factor authentication?

Details on this topic can be found in our WordPress security article.

Minimum Performance Guidelines

The next key item to your site is meeting what I call “minimum performance guidelines”. If your site is failing on Google’s site performance benchmark, then it is time to have it looked at by a professional. Site performance issues can stem from using a “heavy” theme, having bloated plugins activated, too many pop-ups / slide-outs, or using a server that is not optimized to run your WordPress site. I recently had one new hosting customer that switched over from a large hosting provider. We took the entire site as is and moved it to our server where we had the basic optimization in place, but no caching. Prior to the move the site was scoring in the 20’s or less on Google’s site performance benchmark, but after moving to our server the scores went into the 70’s and higher. Nothing had changed but the server it was running on.

Just because a hosting company is offering Managed Web Hosting does not mean that they care about the performance of your site or their servers. And, unfortunately, some of the larger Managed Web Hosting providers automatically disallow certain plugins or features in order to maintain your site. In some cases, this is a good idea but other times, it’s really for their convenience and not of any benefit to you or your site. Select a Managed Web Hosting provider that will work with you on helping your site’s performance, even if there is a slight extra fee to it – it’s worth it.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your score on Google’s site performance benchmark?
  • Does your hosting provider care about how your site is performing?

We include 1 to 2 FREE web / technology consultation per month with Managed Web Hosting packages and can help insure high performance for your site(s).

Google Search Results 

The purpose of your site is to share information, provide value to your audience. Google looks to see if your site is “responsive” – otherwise known as “mobile-friendly”. If your site is not mobile-friendly, you will be lowered in their search results. It’s also important now to have an SSL certificate for your site. Google is starting to look at including whether you have an SSL certificate in how it ranks your site. Secure connections to your site are increasingly important – even if you are not selling products.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you know latest information that Google is using to rank you in their search results?
  • Should you even care about Google search results?
  • Is your website easy to find on Google or other search engines?

We provide a 30-minute website review / consultation for $49. Contact us to schedule your appointment.

Choosing a Hosting Provider

As you may already know, the cheapest hosting provider may not be the best hosting provider. Many larger hosting providers load as many sites as they can onto a single server, often overloading the it. Your website then takes the hit in performance and even availability. Even a good hosting provider may not overload their server, but that doesn’t mean they are pro-actively managing your WordPress site. With most hosting providers, your site and the topics discussed above are solely your responsibility.

If flexibility is key, make sure to work with a hosting provider that is willing to work with you. Sometimes the smaller provider can offer you more flexibility than the larger big name providers. For more information or questions on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us online.

Managed WordPress Hosting can run a little more per month than standard hosting, but overall, the peace of mind and reliability of knowing your site is technically managed and not going to just disappear one day is a worthy investment.

We hope you’ve found this useful, if you have more questions please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. Would love to get your feedback and answer any questions you may have.

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