WordPress Maintenance Plan or DIY

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Brandit360 Posts, website maintenance | 0 comments

WordPress Maintenance Plan or DIY

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Brandit360 Posts, website maintenance | 0 comments

WordPress maintenance is one of those topics that tend to divide business owners into two groups: The first group sees total value in having it done for them by a professional, while the second group takes an “I can take care of own my site!” approach.

What is WordPress maintenance?

So first things first, the main objection people have when it comes to investing in WordPress maintenance is that they think they can do this stuff themselves, and that it all won’t even take that much time.

WordPress maintenance is a whole set of activities that need to be taking care of regularly in order to keep your site running in good health.

Here are the types of tasks that are part of ongoing WordPress maintenance:

  • Updates: WordPress core updates, plugin updates, theme updates. This is a key element of all WordPress maintenance efforts, as not updating is one of the main reasons why websites get hacked.
  • Backups: database and files. And also making sure that the backups that you have do work. It’s actually reported that around 76 percent of WordPress users don’t use any backup plugin, so it’s not like backing up is common knowledge.
  • Security: scans, malware checks, security monitoring in general.
  • Uptime monitoring.
  • Performance optimization: making sure that the site works fast.
  • Comment spam handling.
  • Server-related maintenance: everything you’d normally do in cPanel.
  • SEO: taking care of your site’s internal structure to make it easier to rank.
  • Solving other miscellaneous issues as they come.

No matter how you read this list, this is a lot of stuff!

And, yes, you can automate some of it, but still, this is a lot of items to have on your mind, and each of them can go bad for one reason or the other. Even worse, that’s a lot even when dealing with a single site … and what if you have more than one?

Maintenance plans exist for a reason- they monitor, and foresee problems which many might miss.

  • They guarantee seamless updates, by testing plugin and theme conflicts before making any changes on the live site
  • Maintenance services go beyond updates and setup firewalls and notifications to monitor security breaches
  • You’re ensured of regular backups, so that your data is never lost
  • Your database and files are optimized to speed up your website
  • Broken links are tracked as well to help avoid any errors

Some consultants may tell you that all of these activities can be handled by installing several plugins.

But that’s not entirely true.

I won’t deny that plugins won’t make the job simpler. They certainly do. But they just assist you.

You still need to put in effort, monitor notifications, validate updates, supervise website changes and note errors. You also need to take the appropriate measures in case of any discrepancies or security breaches.

Plugins won’t help you there, people will.

People who know what they’re doing.

Let’s break this down one by one and look into how much is involved in maintaining a WordPress website.

1. Automation

So the first thing that we can do to make various WordPress maintenance tasks easier is to automate as much of it as we can.

a) Updates

Updates can be automated, but it’s also not simple of an issue.

WordPress core updates, Plugin and theme updates can be automated, but you need to be absolutely certain that none of your customizations will go away after the update, and that the site is not going to get messed up some other way.

b) Backups

This is probably the main thing that should be automated about your site’s daily life.

There are both free and paid backup solutions, and they all work quite well. However, we still have to make sure that your backups work and can be used to restore your site.

The main benefit you do get when having a WordPress maintenance plan in terms of backups is that it’s us who is responsible for making sure that these backups work.

c) Security

There are plugins like Wordfence,that do do give you some semi-automation in the security realm.

I’m saying semi-automation because unless you’re willing to spend money, it’s still you who has to make a decision whenever those plugins find any issues.

A WordPress maintenance plan offers you peace of mind security-wise.

d) Uptime

Uptime monitoring can be automated, but it’s still on you to do something if the site is down.

e) Performance

The performance of your WordPress site is something that you can improve by doing various tweaks and taking advantage of some caching plugins.

But, for the most part, it can’t really be automated completely.

Having us handling this for you and recommending specific fixes can save you a lot of time.

f) Spam

Spam is everyone’s favorite topic, isn’t it? Anyway, you can pretty much have it handled automatically via things like Akismet.

g) Server stuff

Server-related maintenance is not something you can automate.

h) SEO

The automation here basically comes down to how deeply you want to get into the topic of SEO. There’s the Yoast SEO plugin and a load of other ones, but for the most part, the level of your site’s optimization depends on how you go about creating new content on a regular basis. Not much that can be automated here.

And lastly, solving other miscellaneous issues as they come can’t be automated by definition.

With all these issues, the bottom line is – Updates are unpredictable! And they can take up a lot of your time.

2. How time-consuming it is to maintain a WordPress website?

If you can’t automate something then you will have to either handle it by hand or ignore it completely. And ignoring isn’t always the best game plan.

Here’s a rough estimate of the time investment needed:

  • Security: Setting up a plugin to scan things for you is one thing, but then you should also look through the reports and decide if anything needs doing at least once a week.
  • Performance optimization: This is hard to estimate, since the performance of your site can go down occasionally for whatever reason (server-related, new plugin-related, some third-party integration going rogue, etc.) and it may require more or less work from you on a regular basis. Yes, a plugin can assist with this, but it still requires some time at least every month to look through the charts and decide what you can do to make things better.
  • SEO: this will require ongoing effort from you no matter if you’re on a WordPress maintenance plan or not. Since it’s not a black and white issue, and everyone has their own idea of how much SEO work needs to be done for each post, let’s just skip it here.
  • Solving other miscellaneous issues: We just can’t estimate that.

Taking the above into account, I think it’s reasonable to estimate that maintaining your site is going to cost you at least an hour every week – if you’re just handling the bare minimum, or a lot more if you really want to get to the bottom of things.

The question to ask yourself is whether you can make more money during your maintenance hours vs what it would cost you have a WordPress maintenance plan. Or whether you can contribute to the site’s growth in some other way if you don’t have to do maintenance on your own.

3. What are the things that you probably won’t do on your own?

There a some services included in a WordPress Maintenance plan that you would never do by yourself, if you were to maintain your own website.

  • For instance, even when updating your website – the core, plugins, theme – if you do it manually, how often do you create additional backups before and after the updates take place? (Just in case an update messes something up and you need to revert right away.)
    • And if the updates happen automatically, do you have things set in a way that those additional backups are being created? Probably not.
  • Also, do you keep your backups off-site?
  • Do you monitor how your website looks on all popular devices?
  • What is your reaction time when maintaining your own site? Do you wake up in the middle of the night when you get a notification that the site is down? Or do you wait until morning, at which point your site might already be offline six or more hours?
  • If a security scan reveals some malware, do you know how to remove it? I mean, without having to spend your day researching the problem on Google.
  • Do you create maintenance reports for yourself? You know, a sheet where you can see everything you did, and etc.
  • And lastly, something that’s somewhat related here, what if you need any WordPress help – do you have anyone you can contact about that? And I’m not talking about pure hosting issues or something, but someone you can ask about anything WordPress-related.

All of the above are things that a WordPress maintenance plan covers.  

For us, the absolute main benefit is the reaction time. It’s knowing that when anything needs doing, it will get done right away, not when you wake up and put things into motion.

4. What could go wrong if you don’t maintain your site?

Okay, so the above is everything that we know we should take care of, but we don’t always get around to actually doing it. Hey, it’s just life…

So what could go wrong if you neglect WordPress maintenance? Note: this is somewhat a way of evaluating if we need to do any maintenance in the first place.

Here’s the big three, more or less:

a) You get hacked

According to Wordfence, the most attacked things in WordPress are: vulnerabilities in PHP code (core, plugins, themes), login pages, older apps hosted on the same server, config files, and the web server itself. 

“Why would anyone hack MY website? It’s not like the national security depends on it.” Right?

Well, as it turns out, hackers don’t really spend that much time picking the sites they will hack (unless you’re a huge brand). Most of the time, attacks are vulnerability-based, not website-based. Meaning, an attacker doesn’t pick a target and then tries to find a way in, but rather picks a known vulnerability, and then tries to find all the websites that can be attacked with it. In that light, everyone’s a target, no matter how big or small. And not maintaining your site is the first step to becoming a victim.

b) You lose data

Data loss is often even worse than getting your website hacked. If you don’t have a reliable (and working) backup in place, you’re risking not only the site, but perhaps your entire business. And it doesn’t take much. For instance, a server malfunction, a problem with the cache, a virus on your own computer – the one you use to access the admin user on your site, and probably a myriad of other reasons.

c) You lose SEO

Did I say that data loss is the worst? Scratch that, if you rely on incoming traffic from Google then having your rankings dropped can be even worse than that. Google punishes infected sites severely.

And, unfortunately, Google is quite good at detecting problems like that. I’m saying unfortunately because it often means that if you don’t do any maintenance, it’s Google who notifies you about your site getting hacked.

google search console hacked notification



And at that point it’s too late. You can end up blacklisted – your visitors will see a screen like the following one when they try to visit your site:

 chrome blocked hacked site



Neither of the above three is particularly fun experience, obviously, but with good WordPress maintenance set in place, you can successfully avoid all of them.

So, the question becomes:

“Is a WordPress maintenance plan worth it for me?”

At the end of the day, WordPress maintenance is something that you absolutely do need to have taken care of.

So there are two ways to sleep better at night and keep a vigilant eye on your site at the same time:

  • take care of it yourself,
  • hire us to do it for you.

We kind of all know what the downsides of maintaining your site are if you’re doing it on your own. I mean, no matter how we put it, it’s going to take time. You need to arm yourself with patience, time, educate yourself (continuously), and – surprisingly – you need money too.

The elephant in the room is this: there have been many services and tools mentioned here – tools that make WordPress maintenance possible when handling it on your own – and a big chunk of those are paid-for if you want to get the full benefits. These amounts add up.

For example, the premium edition of Sucuri starts at $199 / year, again, that’s security only. Then, how about premium backups with BlogVault … that’s another $108 / year. And so on. So why not drop all of those additional tools, and instead pay a single monthly fee with one WordPress maintenance plan? I’m not going to state that it’s the perfect solution for everybody, but if you get your calculator out, you’ll start seeing the appeal.

WordPress maintenance is something that you absolutely do need to have taken care of.

Would you rather spend your time focusing on building your business or maintaining your website? Unless you can focus well on both, it’s always better to have professionals overlooking the technical aspects of the website at a regular intervals.

So what’s it going to be for you? WordPress Maintenance Plan or DIY?

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