When you’re running a business, it’s not uncommon to want to do everything yourself, including maintaining your own website. But when work ramps up and you no longer have time to spend on your site, or you reach your technical limits, it’s time to think about hiring a WordPress expert.

What is a WordPress expert? It’s a broad and often confusing term simply because so many people of varied skill levels call themselves WordPress experts, from implementers through to hardcore developers. But for the purposes of this article, a WordPress expert is someone who is proficient in all areas of servicing a WordPress website, including:

A WordPress expert is like any other professional you might engage to help your business, such as an accountant or lawyer. Avoiding website maintenance is like neglecting to file your taxes or seek legal advice when putting together contracts. You wouldn’t run your business without sound, professional advice, would you? You’d probably end up with a humongous tax bill at the end of the financial year or clients ghosting you when invoices are due because your contracts aren’t airtight. Believe it or not, this is exactly the same for any website.

Finding the right WordPress expert is just as hard as tracking down a quality accountant or lawyer. WordPress experts are a dime-a-dozen, but the quality of their services differ enormously. It’s critical you find someone who is knowledgeable, skilled, and will take care of your website just as they would their own.

So in this post, I’ll run you through the most important things to consider when searching for a WordPress expert to help maintain your website.

Websites Are Not “Set and Forget”

Launching a website is just the start of your online journey, which might sound crazy since getting online in the first place is such an enormous effort.

But just like having a physical store or renting an office space, websites require monthly maintenance. Your new website might be stable on day one, but you might find that an image inexplicably fails to load on your homepage on day two, or the “Send” button on your contact form stops working a week later.

Worse, your site could suddenly go down due to an automatic software update and plugin conflict. Downtime means your business is effectively closed for the day (or longer if you’re not monitoring uptime), meaning customers or clients can’t reach you, losing you trust, confidence, and revenue.

This is why website maintenance is so crucial. While you might be keeping a close eye on your website in the early days, as soon as you get busy it’s the first thing to drop down your to-do list. A WordPress expert will monitor your site’s uptime and make updates and fixes where necessary, ensuring your site is always online and running smoothly.

The Dangers of DIY Website Maintenance

Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory.

A classic example of trying to do too much at work.

If you’re maintaining your website yourself, it might seem like the cheaper option but chances are it will end up costing you more time and money in the long run.

When your WordPress site is telling you there are updates, you’re living dangerously when you click “Update” without backups. When an update inadvertently breaks some part of your site that you notice weeks later, it’s hard to know when it went wrong, how it went wrong, and how far back you need to revert your site if you haven’t logged changes.

If you’re forced to restore an old backup, it could be a disaster if you run an eCommerce site because it means losing customer orders, contact entries, and content changes.

A textiles company recently discovered all this the hard way:

Last year, after a staff member updated WooCommerce, a small code conflict caused a bug in their checkout. When customers clicked to pay, they were no longer getting a confirmation message that their order had been placed successfully. So they clicked, again and again, charging their credit card multiple times.

They had no idea this was happening because testing their checkout was a low priority. It wasn’t until customers started complaining weeks later that they identified and fixed the problem. But by then it was too late – 17 high-value customers were affected, in turn impacting 16% of gross revenue.

A year later, the company is still recovering its losses – and most of those 17 customers haven’t come back. Maybe they should have hired a WooCommerce maintenance service! 🙂

It Costs More to Fix Than to Maintain

Whether through inexperience or neglect, it’s easy to damage the look and functionality of your website. When this happens, you have two options:

  1. Try and fix it yourself, potentially making things worse and definitely wasting time better spent running your business, or
  2. Pay someone more experienced a hefty fee to fix it for you.

When Amazon’s site went down in 2013, the 40-minute outage cost them $4.72 million in lost sales. A 5-minute website outage cost Google a half-million dollars the same year. If outages can happen to the largest technology companies, they can happen to your business.

Twitter Fail Whale

Remember when the Twitter website was so unreliable that the Internet named the graphic they used on their service outage page the “Fail Whale”? How many users did Twitter lose in those early days due to poor reliability?

There are a number of factors that can impact just how much website downtime would actually cost you. The size of your business is an obvious factor, but also how reliant you are on your website.

If your business operates exclusively online, downtime can be crippling. Downtime means your sales will come to a grinding halt until your site is up and running again. Therefore, downtime is more critical to you than it would be to a business that only conducts 25% of its transactions online.

The volume of your site’s sales is another factor that determines how much money downtime will cost your business. If you average $5,000 in sales per hour, then every minute of downtime is costing you $83. Imagine if your site went down during a peak sales time, like Black Friday? This figure would go up drastically.

And that’s just lost income when your website is inaccessible. Measuring the impact, you also have to take into account:

  • Loss of productivity for your staff
  • Recovery costs to restore your website
  • Loss of customers who are unable to access your site

When you compare the relatively small cost of website maintenance to the impact on your business and losses that you may incur due to unexpected downtime, it quickly becomes obvious that the cost of maintenance is an investment and not just a throw away expense.

30,000 Websites Are Attacked Every Day

Humans make up less than half of all web traffic. According to Imperva Incapsula research, 48.2% of online traffic is genuine human activity, with “good” bots – monitoring bots, commercial crawlers, search engine bots, and feed fetchers – making up another 22.9%.

So-called “bad” bots account for 28.9% of traffic. Impersonator bots, most often used to launch DDoS attacks, are the most active, accounting for 24.3% of all traffic on Imperva’s network.

With more than 30,000 websites hacked every day – 18,000 of those in the U.S. alone – website security should be a top priority for anyone running a website, no matter how small.

It’s a common misconception that hacking is all about defacing a web page, but more often than not hackers don’t want you to know that your site has been hacked.

Once a site is hacked, it can be used for all kinds of malicious purposes, such as re-directing your traffic, deleting files, stealing user and customer information, changing your login details to lock you out, and sending spam emails from your domain. Once Google catches on that your website has been compromised, it’s only a matter of time before it’s blacklisted and disappears from search rankings.

Obviously, there are good reasons to be concerned about your site’s security, but that’s not to say WordPress is an insecure platform. The WordPress Security Team, made up of approximately 50 experts, including lead developers and security researchers, is constantly monitoring the platform, ready to release a fix when a vulnerability is identified.

Sucuri, a top online security service, reported in its Hacked Website Report 2017 that of the 34,371 infected websites they dealt with, 83% were WordPress sites. The one constant in the report is how poorly websites are maintained, effectively giving hackers easy access to vulnerabilities they can exploit, including out-of-date software, plugins, and themes.

The real security issue is the people running websites. They often don’t have enough knowledge to make educated decisions about the content they put on their site, the plugins they use or the themes they install. According to WPScan, 52% of website vulnerabilities are caused by plugins while 11% are caused by themes.

How Maintenance and Optimization Can Help Protect Your SEO Rankings

Imagine this:

Your website is ranking in the top 3 for highly coveted keywords in your industry and you’ve come to rely on traffic via organic search for the majority of your revenue. But then one day, a hacker correctly guesses the login credentials for an old user profile and injects malware into your site.

Google notices your website is infected and displays a warning to visitors. Your site disappears from SERPs, your revenue takes a big hit, and you’ve got no choice but to hire a security expert to remove the malware and restore your site. It takes weeks to repair the damage and months to recover your rankings, costing your thousands.

You might not realize it, but the security of your website, as well as its speed, can impact how your site ranks in Google search. If you don’t have an SSL certificate for HTTPS or your website is slow to load, it might as well be invisible online because Google will prioritize other websites – including your competition – over yours.

A WordPress expert can run security and malware scans on your site and also optimize it for speed, ensuring your site performs fast and efficiently for visitors.

How a WordPress Expert Can Save You Time, Money and Stress

Your website is the backbone of your online business. So whether you’re ready to ditch the DIY or just want someone more technically proficient to take care of your site for you, working with a WordPress expert will give you peace of mind that your site is in good hands.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when searching for a qualified WordPress expert:

1. Determine what you need

Before you go out and hire the first WordPress expert or maintenance service you come across, it’s important to work out exactly what you need help with. These are some of the services WordPress experts can provide:

2. Do your research

Googling “WordPress expert” or “WordPress maintenance service” will generate a ton of results, so sift through these links, keeping in mind your list of requirements.

Shop around but don’t be fooled by simply comparing prices – what you get for a monthly fee will differ greatly between maintenance companies. Some might offer all of the services above, while others might offer just a few for the same price.

WordPress experts will usually outline exactly what they provide on their Services page and in their terms of service, so read these pages carefully.

3. Determine your budget

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what maintenance services are charging. At this point, you should determine your budget and what you are willing to pay for the upkeep of your site.

It’s important to be realistic with your budget. WordPress professionals who maintain websites are just that: professionals with years of experience. So don’t expect to pay peanuts for servicing a crucial part of your business.

4. Ask a lot of questions

Your website is an important asset so before you hire someone to take care of it, ask questions such as:

  • Will you optimize my site’s performance?
  • Will you remove malware?
  • What costs extra?
  • How long are backups stored for and where?
  • Will I be required to transfer my hosting, domain name, etc?
  • Are you available outside of business hours for support? And in what timezones?
  • Do you provide monthly reports?

5. Hire a WordPress expert

Armed with your research, list of requirements, budget, and answers to your questions, you’re ready to find the right WordPress expert to look after your site.

Many people don’t realize the benefits of site maintenance. With the right WordPress expert, you can expect improved site performance, page speed, and uptime – all of these things depend on your site running the latest WordPress software, plugins, and themes. Likewise, your business growth, content, analytics, and design is dependent on your site running smoothly.

Calling in a Professional

You wouldn’t fight your own legal battles in court or attempt surgery without a surgeon, so why maintain your own website when a WordPress expert can do it for you?

Securing an experienced WordPress expert to update and maintain your site will not just save you time having to do it yourself, but potentially lost visitors and sales if – and when – something goes wrong later down the track.

If you’re interested in learning more about maintenance for your website, get in touch to learn how Barrel Roll can keep your site performing at its best to support your growing business.