What Is The Difference Between WordPress Care Plans and Website Maintenance? [Video]

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    Hey, everybody. It’s Christina Hawkins. I am the owner and founder of GlobalSpex Internet Marketing, and this is a video we’re going to talk about website maintenance and the difference between a maintenance and a website care plan.

    First, the difference between a website care plan and website maintenance. For us at GlobalSpex, we have website care plans that include maintenance. To kind of start from the beginning, a website really is the cornerstone of your brand. It is where your logos, your photos, your message, your mission, your resources, your blog, your services, your … all of that is sometimes encapsulated in your website. Really, your website is a crucial part of your business.

    Now let’s consider that you’ve left the door open of your business. Essentially, that’s very much like what happens when people don’t properly care for their website. If you have a WordPress website, it is even more crucial. WordPress is lovely. I live on WordPress. I go to the WordCamps, I go to the WordPress meetups. I build solely on WordPress. But I understand the other side to this and that is making sure your website is secure, performing properly lives up to the company that your website, your brand.
    So part of that is what we had to do with the care plan. So sometimes with some folks, websites are kind of in the back of their mind. It’s something they log into, they create their blog, they hit save, and they walk away from it. But there’s things in the background that need to be updated. Things like plugin securities, WordPress core security. Maybe there’s somebody trying to hack into this site and they’re repeatedly hitting it or repeatedly trying to log in. That’s a security issue.

    A script might break something over time. Especially, I’ve got websites that are 10-years-old that use very old PHP, which is the core code language. And it’s been 10 years, where they’re at 5.1. We’re now at 7.2. So anything at 5, I think even anything under 7, I’ll start seeing end of life issues. As you can see, we’ve got 5.5, 5.6, and 6 was an abandoned issue. So we jumped to 7.0. So we’re at about 7.1, 7.2, 7.3.
    When that happens, a script might break, a plugin might break, maybe some custom code that was done might break, and we’re not sure why. If you don’t have a care plan in place, like a backup or someone like ourselves that are constantly in there looking at it and making sure it’s running smoothly, it’ll cause a problem later.

    All software is vulnerable. Boulevard. Number one point when it comes to care plans. And I’ll get to the difference between the care plan and maintenance. So we’re just talking about care plans right now. I think everybody knows software is vulnerable. Software on your computer, software in your laptop, your iPad, your mobile device. Software is vulnerable. It’s vulnerable to a user and it’s vulnerable to, I’m sorry. It’s vulnerable to human beings. If they click a link, bad link somewhere. If they pick up the phone and give some private information that allows that person to log in, they share information through an email and it’s being keyed and logged. That’s vulnerable.

    On the flip side, script on websites can become vulnerable as well. Sometimes a developer might update a script, but forget a comma. I don’t know. Something. Or there’s a line of code in there that allows hackers entry. Now the community is very vast. It’s ever vigilant. So usually those plugins are notified and they go to the WordPress repository and we get notified if there’s an issue. All software is vulnerable.
    Number two, your website is no longer a set and forget, especially if it’s WordPress. Even Drupal, Joomla, any of those, you need to have a set. It cannot be set and forget. You can’t just build it, throw it on a on a hosting company, and never touch it again. You need to be vigilant about it and start logging in, see what’s happening. Technology is always evolving, and so your website should always be evolving.
    Care plans sometimes get defined as just on the back end as in our case, daily, weekly, monthly, every 12 hour backups depending on the package you have with us and the kind of work that you need done. If you’ve got a WooCommerce site and you have a lot of orders coming in, we would probably recommend every 12-hour backup.

    What sometimes happen is people misconstrue their hosting company that says premier WordPress hosting. Usually that means that the hosting account is built for WordPress in mind. Maybe it’s got the right level of PHP language. Maybe it’s got the database that you need. Maybe support has some technical skills to help manage, maybe something goes wrong. But overall your hosting company is not going to take care of your site. It is not going to upload updated plugins, especially if it’s premium, and maybe you didn’t get a license it. If your website goes down, usually backups are the entire backup and it usually can be a manual thing. They offer backups, but unless you go in and click backup, there’s no backup.

    Sometimes the backup is a month. So it’s a month ago. And if you’ve got a very static site and you really barely touch it, a month backup is fine. But how long, how many versions of that backup do they keep? If your website gets hacked in say, February, but you didn’t notice it for three months and you’ve got three months worth of backups, there’s no fixing that. There’s a manual thing that somebody has to go in, find where the errors are in the script, and fix and clean and back up again.

    Your hosting company will not do that. They will just go back and just find the lightest is backup, and see if that fixes it. Now, you can hire another company to help fix it. That’s something we have done, as well. But that can get expensive, tedious, and it’s not always perfect. Sometimes it’s just you have to start from scratch.

    Another area that hosting companies will tell you that they’re doing malware checking. They offer it but nobody turned it on. Another thing is just the port level itself. We have about three hosting companies that we recommend we host, but if you decide not to host with us, we have others that we would recommend as a really great WordPress hosting. Now you might spend an extra 10 bucks a month. You might spend, I think WP Engine’s maybe $60 a month. WP Engine is very, very clear about what plugins they allow and don’t allow. And they’re very strict and that’s good because they’re protecting their customers. And so we’re a little bit of the same. We typically don’t allow our customers admin access because we don’t know if they’re going to do something which can affect other clients. So , we kind of hold a close tight hold on some of our websites to make sure they’re safe.

    We talked about backups as part of a care plan. We talked about traffic reports. Sometimes depending on the package you have, we’ll include some analytics. We do have uptime monitoring. So part of the uptime is if your site goes down, I get a text. Sometimes the site goes down, but it’s not down. And so we actually have alerts that there’s a certain word missing on the site that that’s another indicator that the site’s down. So sometimes you go to the site and it’s kind of up, but it’s blank. So according to the monitoring service, it’s up. But really when you go to it, it’s blank. And so if it’s blank, it’s going to be missing this key word. So that’s another indicator that something’s wrong. We get text messages on it and we’re usually … sometimes we fix it before you even know it.

    Software updates, of course. If you have more complicated sites, what we do is we do a safe backup. Before we update anything, we click safe backup. It makes one backup before we update anything. And then we kind of, okay. All good? We good? We’re good. Awesome. If something’s weird or wonky, then hopefully we’ll notice it and we can kind of either we revert back. Or maybe it’s small enough and we can just kind of make that fix right then and there.

    Okay, so let’s take a look at one of the care plan reports that customers are getting. Basically, it’s every month you’re getting a report on everything that we’ve done on your website, excluding maintenance. We’re trying to figure out a way that we can incorporate any maintenance that we’ve done, which we’ll talk about in the next segment. And then obviously a huge list of plugins. So in this case we had 22 plugins that we updated last month on this particular site and it kept going. We updated a single theme that we work on.

    Some optimization is spam comments. We optimize the database. We reviewed or we deleted any old drafts because that can hinder performance over time. Backups are running. So we can see the very last backup was in July 1st. Now this is a July report, I think we’re now in August. But you can see the website version we’re on, the theme that we use, how many plugins, published, post, approved, all that good stuff. And obviously this is our websites so there’s a lot going on here. 240 published posts. I just noticed that.

    Some analytics. Certain customers, if we’re doing more work for them, if we have their website connected to analytics, which 99% of them do, but if you’re on a certain package, you may not see this, but analytics is included. I like this. I can kind of see the sessions, the page views. New sessions obviously went down almost 2% in July versus June.

    Security. We’ve got the website’s clean, it’s verified, there’s no malware, vulnerabilities, la, la, la. Performance. Again, more information. Now here’s where we’ve got a little bit more detailed in the page load time. Page load time was under a second, but the little red arrow means I went up 0.02 seconds. I’m okay. I can deal with that. But as long as it’s under one second, I’m very, very happy.

    That’s kind of an overall view of what the kind of report that customers get when they have a care plan. It’s a really nice health report, and I just love this little tool.

    Performance on your website is another indicator that something might be wrong with your website. We try and keep things under three seconds. And if it goes all of a sudden from two seconds, all of a sudden we’re at 10 seconds, we get a report, a notification, and that tells us that, hey, something’s wrong. Sometimes it could have been somebody uploaded a huge, massive 10 megabyte image on the homepage or another page. Sometimes it just could be hackers. They’re trying to slam the site and it’s slowing it down. We try and go in and block that IP address or whoever it is. Then another might be just a plugin was updated and it’s just really slowed the site down. So we’re always vigilant on that. We try and find out what the reason is for the performance degradation, and we try and fix that.

    Let’s talk about maintenance now. Like I said, some people have questions of the difference between a care plan and maintenance. Maintenance are the things that we do to help you when you’re not quite sure what to do. Maybe you’re too busy, maybe it’s a complicated website and you just don’t have time to manage it. If you’re the marketing executive, really shouldn’t be your job to go into the website and make a bunch of changes. Especially if you’re a little unsure, if you make a change, is it going to break the site? Typically, you’re not. If you’re going in to update a text or change a photo, you should be fine. But most of the time people just don’t have time. They don’t want to have to mess with it. So that’s where we come in. That’s maintenance.

    If you’ve written maybe six blogs and you’re about ready to go on vacation, you’re a little kind of cutting it short there, you send us those blogs, we get them ready, we schedule them out. So they get posted every once a month for the next six months, and we ensure that the SEO’s right. The meta titles are right. The images are right. The file name is right. Sometimes we’ve got some complicated websites that have very large databases and we’re still in manual mode. We have to upload products and in a special spreadsheet. That’s maintenance.

    If you’ve got … let’s see what else. Sometimes maintenance is, like I just said, updating some text. A new page. Recently a client asked us to … they want to incorporate a website. Have very two or three pages, but they didn’t want to have to manage, too. What we did is we took that, those pages, and inserted it into the current website. They could get rid of one website. Less hassle. We don’t have to mess with that domain and that hosting account. Now we incorporated it into the new site kind of as a sub site type of thing. But that would be maintenance. We just created two, three pages, copy the content, maybe re-did it a little bit because we wanted to maintain the brand of the site. So the content was there, but it was just organized a bit differently.

    That’s maintenance. So the difference, again, sorry to go back and forth on this, but care plan and maintenance. So care plan, again, let’s start over. Care plan. We are making sure your site’s secure, it’s performing well. There’s not much … your hands aren’t in this. This is all us, and you get a report on the month.

    Maintenance are the updates and the tweaks and the … Oh, one other is possibly the funky weird thing that happened. Say you’re in there and you update a page. You hit save. You go to the page and it’s like, whoa, my God, where did it go? What’s happening? And it’s all weird pages or it’s not looking right. The contents here, the photo’s on the … what did I do? First off, don’t panic. Send us an email [email protected] Usually, you can just go back one revision. Just maybe the hour before you started editing it and just kind of start fresh again. It’s usually the best thing to do it. If something’s really wrong, we can go in, we’ll if we can fix it quickly ourselves. Or if you don’t have a revision version, maybe you did it yesterday. I take that back. You could still do yesterday and this will be a revisions. But you can … I don’t know. So maybe something even worse that a revision update just isn’t going to fix. We can always go to the backup.

    But those are the kinds of things that we’re here to help you with. We’re not your typical hosting company. So we’re not the kind of company that we have 24/7 access. We try and be proactive. We try and see things coming before they actually do. And, again, that’s why we have many, many backups of many, many websites just because I’m ultra like, you never know what’s going to happen.
    Anyway, that’s kind of the difference between a care plan and maintenance. And I hope that was helpful. And I hope that I can keep this short because I know I don’t like 20-minute long videos, so I will do my best to edit a bunch of stuff out. Keep it short. Hopefully it was by the time you see this. So thanks so much. Bye.

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    Christina Hawkins

    Christina Hawkins is CEO of GlobalSpex, Inc. and a Fractional CMO for her clients. A seasoned digital marketer since 1999, Christina has designed and built exceptional websites partnering with small businesses to help them grow and increase revenue. She understands that digital marketing is a constantly evolving technology and works to stay on top of the latest changes. She is always looking for the best route for clients' lead generation needs and revenue. In addition to her ability as a digital marketer, Christina is a coach and mentor with Agency Mavericks to other digital marketing freelancers, helping them grow their businesses. She is also a sponsor and co-leader of Houston's WordPress Meetup.

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