I see it time and time again:

Successful online business owners, bloggers, and nonprofits alike spend a small fortune to have a professional build a great site, then opt to manage everything on their own after the launch.  They blog diligently, share on social media, load everything up with content and completely ignore the site’s back-end.  One day the site starts to get sluggish, it doesn’t want to update, things start to look wonky, backups stop working, or the thing gets hacked and it crashes.  The fix ends up costing another small fortune, causes unnecessary stress and frustration, and it could have been avoided all along just by avoiding the most common mistakes people make when it comes to protecting their websites.

Here’s the breakdown of the 5 most common mistakes people make that keep their websites from functioning like the well-oiled machine it should be:

Not updating
If I had a dollar for every time I saw a site get hacked or stop working because the owner simply ignored update notifications, I wouldn’t need to work five days a week.  Failing to do something as simple as updating to the latest wordpress release, latest theme update, or latest plugin version can leave your site with gaping security holes, formatting bugs, sluggish performance
and version conflicts between framework and plugins.  It takes just a few minutes each time you log in to your site to take a look at what needs updating, and get it sorted. 

I do stress one note of caution on this, however: it’s important to know if the updates will be compatible, so it’s always best practice to run a manual backup of your site before doing the updates, and it’s preferable to test them offsite first to be 100% sure. That’s usually where having professional support helps.  A good webmaster will always backup, test, then update on the live site.  But in reality, if you’re running a site that has been built on a solid foundation like Genesis or Divi, you’re pretty safe to bet that the updates will all compliment one another. 

Ultimately, you’re better for doing the updates than not, so stop ignoring them! It’s the fastest, easiest way to keep your site running smoothly.

Overloading plugins
You want a new site feature, and instead of finding out if it can be built into your site (or even if it’s already a feature option that your site has), you run to the plugin directory and try to find the quickest solution to solve your problem. You download a few, try them out to see which one does what you’re looking for. Eventually you have eight Instagram plugins on your site at one time, one operating in your widget area, and you forget about the others.  Or worse, you piggy-back plugins on top of one another thinking if one security plugin is good, three together will make the site as secure as Fort Knox. Wrong.  What usually happens in cases like this is the plugins end up conflicting with one another and essentially cancelling one another out. In any event, you have a complete mess on your hands, and the systems you put in place to protect your site ends up making your site vulnerable.

Do yourself a favour and select plugins carefully.  Look at what you really need, do a little research to see what plugins are recommended to work well with your site’s theme, and please, for the love of all things sacred don’t load your site up with ALL THE PLUGINS!!! Less is more in this case!! When you do find a plugin that works well with your site, go through, deactivate and delete old ones that it will be replacing, or that you no longer need.

Same thing applies if you update your site to a new theme. Just switched from Avada to Divi? You no longer need those separate slider plugins.  Go through the installed plugins to see which ones are not required to run on the new theme and get rid of them. They’re not doing your updated site any good.  

And please, PLEASE, don’t ignore the update release notifications.

Database and install overload

Your Pro hosting account comes with unlimited databases, subdomains and wordpress installs. Sweet! That means you can add sub sites, sales sites, program sites, member areas all without having to pay for additional hosting. That’s great! But you don’t have to take the limitless quotas to heart and run a hundred new installs on there just because you can. One of the biggest mistakes I see happening in this case is people who try to diy their website, and in the process run new wordpress installations in a bunch of subdomain folders until they get the site to where they want it. Once they get the one they love, they fail to delete the other installations, or else, delete the wordpress files, but fail to get rid of the database that goes along with the installation.

Same thing happens with multiple events or program offerings. A business offers a special program or annual/semiannual event and once that event/program ends, keep the site up but never go back to use it again.

Here’s the thing. It clogs up your server space and it’s a sure-fire way to get you added to your host’s most hated customers list. Not to mention, nine times out of ten, those untouched website installations have out of date plugins sitting on them leaving everything in your host account vulnerable.

It’s okay to want to keep your site files for reference, or in case you decide to give it a face-lift or recycle it again down the road.  But in the meantime, pull a backup, archive the site, and then take it off your server.  Add a sexy landing page with a sign-up form to your site, and point the domain to that if you plan on bringing the event or program back. That way you’re keeping your house in order, and even better, your building your list of potential customers for the next time you do decide to launch http://laparkan.com/buy-tadalafil/ that program or host that event.

Another problem that can come up with an overloaded hosting account is that it can come back to bite you in the butt if you ever find yourself having to restore a backup of your site. (I’m going to go into this more in my next point.)  If you have an oversized set of databases you’ve very likely at risk of going over your hosting accounts file transfer quotas… and if that happens, it’s going to be dang next to impossible to migrate/reinstall that backup, and you’re in a whole mess of trouble.

Not properly backing-up

The single most responsible thing a website owner can do is backup website files on a regular basis. Having a good, clean, off-site backup means you have a safety net in the event that something terrible does happen to your site.  But what happens if you’re not paying attention to what’s getting backed-up, or where those backups are getting stored? Well, it could land you in a whole heap of trouble.

If you’re running a backup program on your website, then you need to take a look at the custom backup settings.  Go though the list of files an folders that you want included in your backups, and exclude anything that is unnecessary.  Most of these backup programs automatically include everything in the installation folder, and if your site is installed in the root of your hosting account, then it’s grabbing all the installations running on subdomains and installation folders that you have in that account as well. Know how I just mentioned that overloading your host account can be a big problem? Here’s another reason why.  Your backups are going to be MASSIVE. They’re also going to have multiple databases included in them, that will end up causing you grief if you end up having to install those backups. 

Similarly, setting your backup to archive your old backups is just a recipe for clogging it up with unneeded data, and fattens that puppy up to the point where your host quotas won’t support the installation.

Once you have your scheduled back-ups configured to collect the data you need, you have to make sure you’re storing it in a safe location.  At the very least, set your backup to save a copy offsite to a cloud storage account.  I recommend having your backup automatically copy to a dropbox folder dedicated to backups as the very least you do.  It’s also a good idea to copy your backup files to an external hard drive just to that you’re sure you have a clean copy in the event that all else fails.  It may seem like overkill, but having to start from scratch on a new website is a stupid and expensive mistake that the few minutes of file transfers can prevent.

One other thing: don’t count on your host to run automated back-ups for you.  Unless you’ve included server backup in your hosting plan, you can’t be sure that it’s being done.  Even then, it’s always better to have a secure backup in your hands, than to hope a customer service rep in a good mood will do everything they can to try and find a clean backup for you if you do find yourself panicked and needing help.

There are a number of automated backup services available out there (I recommend BackupBuddy), and there are some fantastic professional manually run back-up services available at great prices (like the one we offer our clients!) that ensure that your site is safe in the event of crashes, hacks or virus infections. 

Whether you opt to have a professional take care of your site’s backups, or you opt to do it yourself, take a few minutes to ensure that it is being done efficiently, and make sure you know the steps needed to restore that backup in the event that it’s needed.

Not investing in site maintenance
You understand the value of hiring a professional to build your site, then leave the maintenance to chance or hope the VA you hired to update content can take care of it for you.

Treat your website the same way you would treat your business’ finances.  Handle it with care, and get a professional to step in and assist whenever you can.  A professional will know what to look for when keeping your site maintained and up to date, and will take every step necessary to make sure that it is running at its best efficiency.  Where you may ignore a bug warning simply because you don’t know what it means, or you don’t bother to clean up your web server because you’re afraid of breaking the whole darn thing down, a professional knows where to step, what to do, and how to do it properly.

I see people all the time who invest in hiring someone to update their website content, create graphics and content, because they understand the value of quality content, and don’t have the time or know how to put in to it themselves, yet these same people ignore the maintenance side of their website because they simply don’t realize the implications of mismanagement or neglect.  Having the right person overseeing your website maintenance is the best insurance policy you can buy for your online business.

 

Your website is the foundation of your online business, and just as you would take every safeguard necessary to protect your bricks and mortar business, your website need to be properly managed as well. The back-end of your website, is the backbone of your online business, and you really REALLY shouldn’t be ignoring it or not taking it seriously.  When your site isn’t functioning properly it can be costly in terms of development and lost revenue.

Do you need help managing your website? Want to ensure that it’s kept up to date, running as efficiently as it can, and make sure you’re covered if anything does happen to your site? Let us take care of your website worries so that you can take care of running your business.

Contact us for a consult!

 

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