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So you’ve got a great looking website and you’ve heard that the days when you could simply let it sit there and gather dust are long gone. Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about sites getting hacked or going down just as a company launched a big online sale for their customers. Disastrous! Good for you for taking the initiative and researching best practices when it comes to site maintenance. So without further ado, here’s my to-do list to help guide your website care.
Make Sure you’re using a Secure Web Host
Your best bet when it comes to fending off hackers and spammers is your web host, and remember to bear in mind that you get what you pay for when it comes to web hosts. When you’re browsing the web for a suitable candidate amongst the countless options, these are the top things to consider before taking the plunge:
- Excellent support. If things go wrong (and they do) you need to know that your web host has your back.
- Malware Scan and removal service. No software is hack-proof so having a host that can detect, remove and clean your website if it becomes infected is essential.
- Compatible with your website software. Whichever CMS (WordPress, Joomla) you decide to use it needs to integrate with your host.
- Guaranteed uptime of at least 99.95%. There’s nothing more frustrating than your website going down, it can lose you customers and sales and affect your search engine rankings.
- Scalability. Look for a host that makes it easy for you to grow and scale your business, your server needs to grow alongside your business and be able to handle spikes in demand.
- Make sure they don’t lock you in. Should you ever decide to part ways with your host for a different host provider, they shouldn’t make it difficult for you. Read the terms and conditions to see if there are any restrictions otherwise you could be in for some serious difficulties in the future.
- SSL certificate. If your host can’t provide you with an SSL certificate then look elsewhere. Your SSL certificate keeps your data encrypted, essential if you run an online shop or request people to enter their information into forms on your site. Not having one will also affect your position with Google as they will deem your site ‘not secure’.
My suggestion: I personally use SiteGround. Their round-the-clock support has always been exemplary, they operate a Managed WordPress hosting option which is ideal for my clients and their uptime is 99.99% at the time of writing. As always, check a prospective host’s reviews from customers, and be sure that they are not just affiliate reviews!
Make Regular Backups of your Site
As we discussed earlier, no software is hacker proof so having regular backups is essential. Imagine how much money you might lose if your site was to go down for a day? A week? Or even a month? Or what if it had to be completely rebuilt? Backups are essentially non-negotiable if you want to sleep peacefully at night. Backups are fairly quick to set up and download. I would recommend weekly or daily backups to be taken. Be sure to download (or upload) your backups to an off-site location and test them on a staging server every quarter to make sure they’re clean.
You’re likely thinking that most of these points relate to security and you’re absolutely right, the amount of information on the internet today along with incredibly skilled cybercriminals means that it’s imperative that we take cyber security seriously. Along with having a secure web host and taking regular back ups and storing them off-site, I would recommend securing all passwords using LastPass.
My suggestion: Make sure your passwords are not easily hackable, ie. your favourite football team and your birthdate. My passwords all look as though I have sat on a keyboard, for example: HD=Whqd209FUFZ08qwFH)HF*q_fB and change your username for logging in to something other, and more complicated, than “admin”.
Keep your Software Updated
If you leave your software to slowly fall behind it forms cracks through which hackers can infect your site. This also goes for your website’s theme. The latest updates are not just about adding fancy new features, they’re also for bug fixes and patching up security issues.
My suggestion: Always have a look around your site before backing up, if everything looks good take a back up and then update your site. Once the updates are complete, go back around your site and monitor it to see whether everything is functioning correctly, if not then you can roll back your site using the back up if necessary.
Outsource Website Maintenance
Website Maintenance can be time consuming and although it sounds daunting, it isn’t as complicated as all that. Most people join my website care plans simply because they don’t have the time or the patience to learn all of these new systems, software and processes. They prefer to let a professional take control while they enjoy their peace of mind and extra time to focus on what they would rather be doing. If you think you’d like some help, I offer several website maintenance and care plan services to choose from with no long-term contracts so you’ve nothing to lose! Click here to go to my Website Care page for more information or read more about the pros and cons of doing it yourself verses outsourcing here.