When was the last time you had your WordPress site checked over by an expert? A couple of months ago? Longer?

When running a business, it’s easy for website maintenance to slip down your list of priorities. But, just as regular dental checkups help to prevent root canals, routine website maintenance is essential to ensuring your site stays healthy. When I say ‘healthy’, I mean fast-to-load, backed up and hack-free.

This is especially true if your site runs on a content management system like WordPress. WordPress is a powerful platform and a good choice for many websites, but without regular maintenance, it can be vulnerable to a range of issues.

Before writing this, I ran a small Twitter poll to see how WordPress website owners handled updates on their sites. It was a very small sample, but the results were fascinating. Of the three options (automatic updates/on a maintenance plan/no updates), no respondents were on a maintenance plan, and the rest either had automatic updates in place or weren’t aware of updates taking place.

The Twitter poll results were as follows: They’re automatic: 50% | I’m on a maintenance plan: 0% | What updates?: 50%

Automatic vs Manual

When it comes to performing WordPress core, theme or plugin updates, it’s always best for these to be performed manually. This gives you the best possible chance of catching an issue before it reaches your users.

As a last resort, automatic updates can work but only if a backup system is in place. The danger here is that if an update breaks something, it can go undetected for a while and might need some investigation. From a security perspective, this is better than no update at all, but a manual update is the best option wherever possible.

What’s more, if your site is built using an underlying premium theme, this is unlikely to be set to auto-update. It might have been bundled with plugins that provide core functionality, such as a page builder, and these will not auto-update, either.

In my experience, most WordPress hacks occur due to an outdated plugin or theme. When you add this to the equation, manual updates are a no-brainer.

Peace of mind

It’s difficult to get excited about the difference between manual and automatic WordPress updates, so here are some tangible benefits to regular website maintenance.

1) Your site is less likely to be hacked
With regular and thorough updates taking place, plus a proper security setup behind-the-scenes, you significantly reduce the chance of your site being exploited. Think your site is too small to be hacked?

2) Your site is backed up should the worse happen
No security plan is ever watertight, and that’s what backups are for. Regular, automated backups that are replicated in a couple of places help to ensure that you’re in the best position possible should your site suffer a hack. If your site is hacked and there’s no backup, it would be a complete rebuild.

3) Your site will continue to load quickly
With performance monitoring in place, we’ll be alerted to issues as and when they crop up, helping to ensure your site remains lightning fast.

4) Keep your users (and Google!) engaged
By regularly publishing new content, visitors are more likely to want to come back to your site. What’s more, Google likes to see websites that are frequently updated: bonus! Sites that I’ve performed regular work on have previously gone on to rank #1 for target keywords. This doesn’t happen through maintenance alone, but with content updates and decent backlinks, it’s possible.

5) Incremental changes
Once a site launches, it’s much better to make small improvements over time, than neglect it and plan a rebuild in a couple of years. Not only are website rebuilds costly, but users take time to acclimatise to a new site.

A valet service

When you’re dealing with customers or client work, the last thing you need is to be thinking about the maintenance of your website. Nor do you want to be worrying about how secure it is.

Over the years, I’ve worked on over 200 WordPress sites. Many of these were in a vulnerable state. Almost all of them would have benefited from regular maintenance.

That’s why I’ve decided to offer WordPress maintenance packages. These range from covering the basics, to site owners who need more regular assistance. Just set up the required access, and I’ll take it from there.