Surely that’s something I can do myself?
Will you though?
Does everybody need website maintenance?
Are there any situations where you can go without?
Most people run websites that need updating regularly. Not with content, but with frequent, technical tweaks and fixes. Indeed, not updating a website and its associated CMS in 2020 means that you probably have about one year before your site crashes – or you get hacked.
Websites with a CMS (WordPress is the most popular Content Management System) need updating throughout the year. WordPress sites that aren’t kept up to date are how I get work. 95% of my client base consists of people who let their sites . . . go.
I usually come on board when someone has a hacked website and they need my help. The owner may not even know they’ve been hacked until I run my bevvy of diagnostic tools. Usually something stopped working. Or things mysteriously … disappeared.
How old is my website?
Never let third-party software age more than about 3 months max. I’m talking about plugins mainly, but complex themes also need updating. Yearly is enough. Client sites I manage don’t get hacked because I’m constantly updating 3rd party software (plugins mostly but not always). I look after sites (uncredited) for a whole bunch of marketing companies, fixing all kinds of issues for other people’s clients.
In other words, if you want a healthy website – update anything that has code. The more up to date your code, the more secure the website. Why? Because in 2021 about 90% of plugin updates and theme patches are security-related.
COVID-19 gave hackers more time to hack
Hackers use scripts to hack sites. If a site is vulnerable, the script alerts its human master – who then takes over.
PHP 7.4 (released in 2020) is a huge speed and security improvement over PHP 5.4. (rel 2012). Most sites I take over run PHP 5.4 – which is no longer supported (by the PHP community). It’s full of holes and … We live in a very different, much hackier world 9 years on.
In 2021, WordPress is getting fussy about what will it will work with and what it won’t.
Upgrading from an old version of WordPress to the latest version probably won’t work as it did a year ago. Way back, during the good old days of 2019, hitting the WordPress update button was a breeze. All you had to do was hit it and a new WordPress would download. Hit that puppy in 2021 on an old site running WP5.x and you’ll most likely get the infamous and not very helpful
The site is experiencing technical difficulties. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.
That’s when I usually get a call. The Site Admin left the company 5 years ago.
Incidentally – the technical message above is really a hint for you to change
WP_DEBUG from false to true in WordPress’ wp-config.php file. You’ll usually see a bunch of gibberish with links to a not-updated plugin.
Website Maintence is Insurance
Is that what you’re selling? Website insurance?
My best clients are those who have run a website in the past which was hacked. This is closely folllowed by clients who ran a website their way for a year or two and understand the real meaning of ongoing technical assistance.
I’ve also had website maintenance clients change staff. They don’t know who I am or what website maintenance is and suddenly I’m sending them a yearly invoice.
Do we need that?
Well, no. But you might – (*beeeeeep*)
Over the COVID-19 period, several NSW and Victorian clients called – unable to pay for maintenance. People who don’t know what I’m doing here and see maintenance as a furfy. And that’s fine. I don’t want to sell (or continue to sell) a service that has no value to any buyer. All my maintenance plans come with free hosting. Those people get a bill and think I’m just hosting their site. But that’s not even close to what I do.
To simplify my service into one line, I usually say to the average, non-technically minded person
If your site goes down, I get it up again.
I keep things up to date is what I actually do. Hosting is almost free in most cases. It’s not like I do nothing at all and then suddenly spring into action. That’s what insurance companies do do. Nothing – until it breaks. Then it’s either a case of fix it or buy a new one.
I keep sites up to date on a monthly basis. Sometimes weekly if there’s a big update (where all the plugin companies rush to release a buggy new plugin to match the latest WordPress release).
Website Maintenance Clients
I get new website maintenance work from people who:
- are paying too much for website hosting
- have a hacked website (and they know very well)
- have a hacked website (and they don’t know)
- run their own website buy need technical help
- understand the value in what I do (here’s a list)
Website Maintenance & Security
A non-managed website can be a nightmare to resurrect and qualified website developers aren’t cheap.
Check out my Website Rescue Service.
Did Google De-list You?
Google will de-list your site if it is considered unhealthy
In the past (before I came on the scene) one client had a website banned by Google. All I actually see is a red flag in Google Search Console alerting me to a problem. But that only happens if you are plugged in to Google Search Console (part of our website maintenance service).
Keyword stuffing (inserting high-ranking keywords into your page content or writing the same key-phrases over and over) is considered spam by Google. Not many modern SEO companies seem to be aware of this. Several sites I’ve resurrected were last touched by an SEO expert. SEO rules change monthly, so if you abandon the service, some of the techniques they were using quickly become dated and you literally get penalised by Google.
Google’s Moving Goal-posts
With over 1 billion websites and counting, Google’s SEO Terms and Conditions are getting stricter and stricter.
If you do get added to Google’s ban list, fixing mistakes might not be enough to get your domain name re-listed as clean.
Recently there was a big (worldwide) hack on the WP-File-Manager plugin. One of my clients (website built by another developer) was hacked. I cleaned the hack and resubmitted the site to Google. Google Ads still won’t serve ads to the domain – even though Google Search Console has recognised that the site is clean.
Google needs to trust your website
Poor quality sites (and brand new ones) are less trusted by Google. If you don’t pull your socks up and provide evidence that you are now on your best behaviour, Google will penalise you . . . but they don’t tell you this directly. That would reveal their algorithm. A trade secret. And Google’s secret recipe.
I can look after your website
In short, if you’ve been bad, I can find that out for you and start rebuilding your online reputation. A yearly website maintenance fee is all you pay. Monthly options are also available. Hosting is free (and we’re talking about Litespeed web servers – everything coming off fast SSD cards!).
All you should have to worry about is keeping site content fresh and up to date (not updating a website is a sin).
There’s no such thing as too late
“But my site is a mess. It’s gonna cost a bomb!”
No. It’s not.
Sure, some websites really are beyond redemption and might require more work to resurrect from the ashes than to start over completely.
I’ll let you know if this is the case before doing any website maintenance. No obligation.
If you do have to start again, I can help. Where you are (with an unmanaged timebomb or, God Forbid, a broken website) is where my clients come from.
Managed WordPress Hosting?
Yes. We do that. That’s what we mean. Managed. We do it every day.
WordPress runs between 25% and 35% of all websites on the net.
Several website hosting providers now offer specialist WordPress hosting. Managed WordPress hosting is where the technical aspects of running a WordPress website is managed. But this isn’t what I do. Security, back-ups, site speed, updates, some site tweaks and scalability are covered (in my comprehensive list).
My aim is to offer clients a seamless online experience – while you focus on building business.
Hire your own webmaster
That’s basically what management is
Let me deal with the security and maintenance issues on your website.
I write and know CSS and HTML inside out and insist on using approved, premium or supported third-party software alongside best practice, Google-friendly SEO techniques. I don’t touch or modify core CMS files (many programmers do) and I am happy to advise about any content you upload to your site that may conflict with Google’s mercurial SEO policy. We prefer WordPress but also work with other systems (I code sites by hand whenever I get the chance).
If you feel some of this doesn’t make sense or you need further clarification, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you suspect your site does need some kind of maintenance (i.e. you are having trouble with the running of it and aren’t 100% sure how to keep it up to date) fill in the form below and we will be in touch. Allow 48hrs for us to get back to you.
Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jump Jet) text adventure computer program in 1982 during the Falklands War. He now builds websites using best practice, future-proof web development, Ad marketing & SEO. He at Curtin Uni and OUA where in 2007 he was voted 5th best lecturer (out of 2,500) over all disciplines taught in Australia. He loves sharing what he knows with Australian businesses.