5 Ways You Save When Outsourcing WordPress Site Care

Businesses owners generally are time poor and looking to cut costs while developing their business. Many business owners work long hours catching up on the paperwork or developing new business products or markets while also attempting to have a life outside of business. Being in business can be very rewarding and at the same time exhausting!  If you are in business and this does not describe you then you are in the minority (and I would like to speak with you).

For sole traders, partnerships, or small companies it is important that the critical business building and maintenance functions be handled or overseen by someone who has skin in the game. Essentially, any activity that may generate risk to the business or its income or reputation should be managed by someone who stands to lose if the risk is realised. This makes sense as long as the stakeholder understands the risk (or even knows that the risk exists) and has the knowledge to mitigate the risks.  

Most businesses are well aware of the various professions and trades required with the day to day running of their bricks and mortar business. But what about online? Who looks after the server (and where is it)? What type of server is it? Are there risks with using that particular hosting company that may affect my business reputation? Is the server secure? Is my site secure and protected against hackers? What happens if someone hacks my site or the hosting company goes out of business?

The majority of business owners, especially small business, will manage their web site themselves or entrust the original designer to provide site care and updates. Other larger business will include web site management as a role for admin staff and usually lump it in with social media and public relations.

5 common misconceptions and 5 Ways to save money and resources by outsourcing WordPress management

The following common practices are assessed for cost effectiveness vs risk and the consequence of the risk being realised. While it is not possible to quantify the risk cost in dollar terms we discuss the impact on the business reputation and function and implied costs.

Serious savings can be made by shopping around for the cheapest hosting

This may be true on a monthly pure dollar cost assessment but does not consider the very real risks to your online site and business.  The cheapest hosting is shared hosting where many sites share the same server and leverage the processor, memory, and data statistically to find economy.  The dangers inherit in shared hosting is that the other sites may not be engaging in ethical activities.  If all sites are on the same IP address there is a very real danger of the IP address being associated with those activities resulting in blacklist by search engines. This will severely affect rankings and therefore sales. If it is serious it may trigger browser warnings preventing your current clientele from accessing your site and damaging your reputation in the process. Other potential problems include slow site performance, email servers blacklisted for spam, and tightly controlled resources that may prevent some plugins from running.  

Risks:  Colocation with unethical sites, slow performance, insufficient resources.

Costs:  Potential for blacklist due to unethical sites on same server. Other issues maybe pages not loading or very slow, errors due to insufficient resources.  These will all affect the user experience and may in worst case affect your online reputation.

Recommendation:  Business sites should be hosted on business grade hosting, or dedicated server or private virtual server, or a server which is specifically configured for e-commerce WordPress sites with managed WordPress.

The big hosting companies provide the best value and support

Big hosting companies make their money through economy of scale – many sites crammed into each server with shared email servers (in some cases, no email). See the first item above for shared hosting. Some of these companies also offer WordPress managed hosting which ensures you will share your server with lots of other WordPress sites – see below. Support is provided through a ticketing system and may take some time for a customer care representative to make contact. The service is best effort which means that you must wait your turn and hope the tech understands your issue and can restore your site. Having sat in queues for hours with some hosting this can be stressful. Backups are usually on a set schedule and if a restoration is required it is back to the last good backup. This is not ideal when many changes have been made in that time interval or other site transactions have occurred – sales, posts, forum entries etc.

Risks:  Colocation with unethical sites, slow performance, insufficient resources, slow support.

Costs:  Potential for blacklist due to unethical sites on same server. Other issues maybe pages not loading or very slow, errors due to insufficient resources.  Slow response by support resulting in extended offline periods. Backups may be at fixed intervals resulting in additional rework.  These will all affect the user experience and may in worst case affect your online reputation. 

Recommendation:  Business sites should be hosted on business grade hosting, or dedicated server or private virtual server, or a server which is specifically configured for e-commerce WordPress sites with managed WordPress.  Engage with a WordPress site care professional to handle all your support requirements. 

Managed WordPress hosting through the big hosting providers will protect my site

This is shared hosting with a particular focus on WordPress which ensures you will share your server with lots of other WordPress sites. They will update WordPress core for you but not plugins or themes. This is all automated and runs the risk of either killing your site due to compatibility issues or lulling the site owner in to a false sense of security when in actual fact their site is still insecure due to out of date plugins and themes. They will scan your site on a regular basis and provide backups on regular intervals. They also restrict space and visitors to the site and require an upgrade if you exceed either.

The same issues will occur with WordPress managed hosting as the cheapest shared hosting as per above. You will pay more for this type of hosting with limited benefits and significant risk.

Risks:  Colocation with unethical sites, slow performance, insufficient resources, slow support, false sense of security.

Costs:  Potential for blacklist due to unethical sites on same server. Other issues maybe pages not loading or very slow, errors due to insufficient resources. Slow response by support resulting in extended offline periods. Backups may be at fixed intervals resulting in additional rework. Plugins and themes not updated resulting in conflicts with WordPress core or security issues. Where a security issue is detected by the hosting company they will suspend the site. These will all affect the user experience and may in worst case affect your online reputation. 

Recommendation:  Look for dedicated or VPS hosting first or fully managed WordPress hosting as part of a managed plan. Fully managed includes all plugins and themes and an engineer to perform the updates for you. 

Self Management is easy and cost effective and can wait until time permits

And so say the majority of WordPress site owners. Sadly many of them will come to understand how costly this decision is.  Updates are usually required to counter a security exploit or to add features. This is true for all levels – WordPress core, themes, and plugins. Any site that is not up to date runs the risk of being compromised through the exploit. This may not be visible – the site may appear perfectly normal while loading malware or worse ransomware on visitors computers. In other cases your site may be hosting downloads or acting as an email server for spammers. In all cases Google will detect the activity and your site will be penalised.   

Risks: Unsecure site and high potential to be exploited by hackers.

Costs: High potential to be blacklisted by search engines and other security sites. Loss of reputation. Failure to protect customer data.

Recommendation: Look for dedicated or VPS hosting first or fully managed WordPress hosting as part of a managed plan. Fully managed includes all plugins and themes and an engineer to perform the updates for you.

My site designer manages my hosting and WordPress site.  I don’t need additional help.

This may be correct in which case you have made a sound decision. If you are happy with your site performance and can see that the site is up to date when logging into the dashboard then you can rest easy. Many design studios are now offering management services to maintain contact with the site and keep you in the sales loop. Some designers see this as a way to create low hanging fruit – easy sales of site redesigns with the added reason of security or out of date etc. Others are happy to provide a hosting and maintenance service without using the association to generate more sales.

We have heard this said to us many times only to find that the designer does not manage the site. In fact, the designer has moved on and unless you require a content update will not perform any maintenance at all. They are after all designers and make a living from their artistic abilities.   

Risks: Unsecure site and high potential to be exploited by hackers.

Costs: High potential to be blacklisted by search engines and other security sites. Loss of reputation. Loss of customer data.

Recommendation: Contact your current designer and request a report on maintenance activities and intervals for your site. Ensure that the designer has a regular offsite backup regime especially before major changes in content or code updates.

How WordPress Site Care services save you money and resources.

The number one cost to a business of improper management is Loss of Reputation resulting on long term loss of rankings and online exposure. This may be further amplified by existing customers being affected by the site appearance or browser security warnings. The potential is loss of future clients and existing clients.

WordPress Site Care services save you from this biggest of costs by ensuring your site is secure, backed up, has sufficient resources, is online, and malware free.

Other costs are related to resources required to properly carry out site administration. The following are some areas where resources are reduced:

  • WordPress Updates – Keeping your WordPress site up to date is important to protect your online reputation and your valuable confidential customer data. Before any updates it is important to perform a full offsite backup so that if there are any issues the site can be restored. Ideally a security scan is performed after the update to check that the update did not introduce any known exploits. Updates are normally performed during times of low site activity (after hours). A Site Care professional will carry out updates after hours and follow a process to ensure the site downtime is minimised and any issues are quickly resolved.
  • Site recovery – When something goes wrong with the site a Site Care professional will quickly restore the site and assess the source of the problem. Due to the up to date state of all components the likelihood of this occurring is greatly reduced.   
  • Uptime Monitoring – problems with the server or site are detected within 5 minutes of occurring resulting in a faster restoration minimising downtime.
  • Blacklist detection – regular security scans detects any issues reported by search engines and security services resulting in fast restoration.

In summary there are direct cost and hidden cost savings to be realised through outsourcing site management. As the international online and highly visible presence of your business and reputation it is critical that due care and attention is applied to site management and maintenance. Once the damage is done it is a long road back to restore online reputation and lost revenue. 

About:  ManageWP® Australia provide WordPress Site Care and Server Management to site owners and designers.  We also provide secure hosting and relocation services if required.  We do not design web sites although we are happy to make changes to existing designs where appropriate.  We will NEVER approach you to redesign your site as our focus is security (server and site), recover-ability, monitoring, and restoration.  Please contact us if you would like an assessment of your current server or site security or need some assistance or advice with your site.