How To Keep Your WordPress Website Safe, Secure, and Attractive to Google
OK, you have a website. That’s awesome. And you probably had it built on WordPress – because that’s the smart thing to do. And maybe it’s even generating revenue or helping you build a list of potential leads, or achieving whatever goal you set out to achieve. But how do you keep your WordPress website safe and secure? And how do you keep Google interested? We have some website maintenance tips below that will help.
People often make the mistake of not worrying about these things after the site has been launched. They just assume that everything will be ok. It might be, but chances are it will soon be running out-of-date software which will be a huge security risk.
It is essential that the site be kept up to date, protected, and backed up. It is also important to keep a focus your relationship with Google. Follow these tips to stay on top of things.
WordPress Website Maintenance Tips
Let’s start at the most obvious stop-gap. Backing up your website is the single most important thing you can do. Your site is made up of a database and a bunch of files (code). All of which needs to be backed up on a regular basis. The reason for this is simple: when something goes wrong (not if, when), you’ll be able to recover if you have backups. We recommend backing up your site’s files and database daily. If that’s too much, then at the very least weekly backups should be performed. And you should keep no less than 30 backups at your disposal. Our Care Plans keep many more than that – just to be safe.
And finally, your backups should be saved “off site” – meaning on a server or drive that is different from the server that is hosting your website or your email. If you’re doing backups yourself, we recommend Amazon S3 Services – but DropBox can be used as well.
WordPress Updates and Plugin Updates
Do you know that WordPress is actually a bunch of files? Each of those files is code written in a programming language. That code is constantly being improved upon by the large community that contributes to the WordPress Software Platform.
So what’s that all mean? It means that at least on average the software that makes up WordPress is updated approximately once a month. Usually more often. If you run Windows on your PC or Laptop, you’re probably familiar with the fact that Microsoft Windows is updated pretty regularly – almost daily. This is the same thing. WordPress is updated regularly too – all software should be in fact. And it’s not only WordPress code that gets updated, but also the plugins that were added to your site when it was built. Those get updated even more frequently. And an awful lot of these updates are security enhancements. Not something that should be ignored.
But here’s the problem: when the code for WordPress or a Plugin is changed, it doesn’t necessarily update your website automatically. In fact, that’s a pretty bad idea as sometimes an update can actually break your site. When we perform WordPress and Plugin updates, we first run a complete backup of the site, run one update at a time, and check the site’s functionality and design between each update. Only when we’re sure nothing bad happened do we continue on with the next update.
Keeping the site’s software updated is considered “best practice”, mostly for security reasons.
A firewall is a special piece of software that is added to your site and/or server that helps keep the bad guys out. A good firewall will protect your site from brute force attacks, Denial of Service attacks, and other malicious acts.
Website Security Scans
You’ve probably heard the term “malware”. It is short for malicious software and basically includes anything that has been inserted into your website with bad intent. It can be that someone build a series of folders and files on your server for the purpose of directing search traffic to their site (a common thing for pharmaceutical seo hackers to do). These you never see with the “naked eye” – but google sees them and will drop you right out of their rankings and flag your site as “hacked”. It can also be when someone comes right into the text on your website and adds hyperlinks to their sites or network of sites. Again – this is to help their own SEO rankings at the expense of yours! Other times they will set up functions on your website to help them send spam email which will be traced back to YOU, not them – again – hurting your online reputation with Google and other search engines.
All of these things can hurt your site and your business.
A well protected site will run regular Security Scans to look for such things. Sometimes Google or other engines will find the problem first, so security scans will check to see if your site is flagged by any of the reputable tools and sites that keep their eye on such things.
Fresh, Relevant Content for your Website
The items above are intended to keep you out of trouble. Google doesn’t like trouble. But we also want to do positive things to help the site stay in Google’s good graces.
One such thing is to have fresh and relevant content.
You should be producing content for your website (and social channels) on a regular basis – but not so much that you are producing bad, meaningless content just to have content. If you can only muster up one great, meaningful blog post every month – that’s ok. Just keep it coming when you can, and keep it interesting to your readers and relevant to what you do. The idea of content is to establish yourself as the expert in the field. Let them know what you know. Share it with your readers and you will reap the rewards.
There’s some debate about how useful the whole “keyword” process is at this point. The truth is, the proper use and the value of keywords has evolved somewhat. We believe that the “key” (pun intended) is to write what’s relevant. If you write about your clients pain points and problems and how to solve them – you’ll be on the right track. However, the point isn’t to sell, sell sell. It’s to educate, educate, educate. Teach your reader what the proper solution to their problem is. Teach them what your product or service does. Teach them about the industry in general. Cover important people in your industry. Do all of these things and you will naturally be using “keywords” – and you’ll be using them the way Google wants you to use them – in regular, everyday, readable and meaningful speech.
All that said, you should still know what your keywords are and you should still place them in the appropriate on-page places on the site. Title tags, alt-tags and headings are still somewhat important – and for a good user experience, the Description Meta Tag is still important too. The point is to stay away from keyword stuffing or even keyword percentages. Just write naturally about the topic and it will work out for the best.
Have a Plan
One of the best “website maintenance tips” I can give you is to have a solid plan. Have a plan that keeps your site backed up and safe and secure at all times, and fresh and alive as well.
We have plans that can help of course. Our Care Plans help keep your site safe, secure, and backed up, and can help with keeping your content up to date too. If you’d like more information on our plans please check out our page all about website maintenance.