Creating a WordPress site isn’t enough. You also need to pay attention to some good ol’ WordPress maintenance.
When you’ve put lots of time into creating your site, it can be disheartening to think that the work isn’t over. In fact, it’s only just begun. But it doesn’t have to be a burden.
In this post, I’ll go through some WordPress maintenance best practices and give you some tips to make it more effective. I’ll also include a guide to paying someone else to do it and review some of the best providers of WordPress support services.
Putting Your WordPress Site into Maintenance Mode
Plenty of the work you do to maintain your WordPress site won’t involve putting it in maintenance mode, but sometimes you’ll need to do this—so it pays to know what it means.
When your site is in maintenance mode, it means that you’re telling visitors and search engines that it’s currently unavailable, but that unavailability is planned and temporary (i.e. your site hasn’t gone down).
When you update WordPress, or you update a theme or plugin, WordPress will automatically go into maintenance mode (stuck in maintenance mode? Fix it with this guide). You might have seen the screen that appears when you do this: it can be confusing.
WordPress uses a file called .maintenance to display a message saying “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Try again soon.”
This message is a little sparse, on a blank page, if reassuring. But it would be nice if it told visitors more, and if it was branded to go with your site.
This is why it’s a good idea to use a maintenance mode plugin to put your site into maintenance mode when you’re working on it and provide visitors with more information.
The Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode plugin will let you create a maintenance mode page that reflects your brand and gives visitors more information about what’s going on. You can also use it when you’re developing your site to set up a ‘coming soon’ page and collect email addresses to notify people when the site goes live.
If you’re doing any maintenance work on your site (including running an update), I recommend activating maintenance mode first so that your site doesn’t look broken. And if your site ever is broken, put it into maintenance mode so that the outside world can’t see what you’re doing as you try to fix it.
Keeping Your WordPress Site Backed Up
One of the most important aspects of maintaining your WordPress site will be keeping it backed up.
If you’re with Kinsta, your site will automatically be backed up for you on a regular basis, and you can easily reinstall an older version of your site if there’s a problem.
If you don’t have access to this, you’ll need to install and configure a backup plugin so that you have regular automated backups.
Then if your WordPress site is hacked or goes down, you know you can easily reinstate a version that you know worked. The peace of mind this gives you is significant.
If you’re doing maintenance work on your site — running an update, editing the theme, installing plugins, or anything set — it’s safest to take a manual backup before you start, either via the MyKinsta dashboard or using your backup plugin. Then if the work you do breaks your site, you can roll it back.
Keeping Your WordPress Site Updated
Another essential aspect of maintaining your WordPress site is to keep it up to date. This includes regularly updating themes and plugins as well as WordPress itself.
Why Updates are Important
There are three reasons for doing this:
- Most updates include security patches. Your site will be more secure if you have these installed.
- Updating your theme or plugins ensures you have access to the latest features.
- Some updates to themes and plugins are to ensure compatibility with the latest release, so updating ensures your site won’t have any problems.
You can either regular updates manually or you can set up automated updates to save yourself time and hassle.
Either way, it’s a good idea to run any updates on your staging site before your live site to be sure they don’t cause any problems. Kinsta includes staging sites in all of its hosting plans, meaning that you can test plugin and theme updates, as well as core updates, in a safe environment before pushing them to your live site.
Removing Unused Themes and Plugins
Keeping your site updated will be easier if you remove any themes or plugins that are inactive. Every theme or plugin you have installed on your site is an extra source of potential incompatibility or insecurity, so it makes sense to only have those themes and plugins you’re actually using installed.
So if you install a theme or plugin to test it, and then deactivate it in favor of another one, make sure you delete it as soon as possible.
Keeping Your WordPress Site Secure
To avoid hacks and other security breaches, it’s essential to keep your WordPress site secure.
With Kinsta hosting, you can be confident that security is taken pretty seriously. So much so, that Kinsta offers a security guarantee with each plan and, in case something bad happens, security specialists will fix your site.
It also pays to take steps to make your site secure yourself. Always use secure passwords, keep your plugins and themes up to date, don’t download free themes or plugins from sources other than the official plugin or theme directories, and ensure other user accounts on your site are also being managed well (more of which shortly).
If you’re not on Kinsta hosting, a security plugin will help you monitor security risks or breaches and identify what you need to do to fix them. Make sure you harden your WordPress site and make it less vulnerable to attack.
Improving Your WordPress Site’s Performance
There are two benefits to this:
- A fast site will enjoy higher search engine rankings, which will boost your SEO.
- A fast site means fewer visitors leaving before the first page has even loaded.
To improve your site’s performance, make sure you use hosting with a commitment to performance and uptime. Only install plugins and themes from reputable sources. And test your site’s performance regularly, using a performance plugin and/or external tools such as Google Page Speed Insights.
If performance isn’t what it should be, you can then take steps to speed up your site, which might include switching to better-performing plugins, editing the code in your theme, turning on minification, and optimizing images and other assets.
Aspects of your site where you can make performance improvements include:
- Your database – optimize database tables so that WordPress can read from it more quickly.
- Revisions – optimizing revisions will reduce the amount of unwanted content in your database and improve performance.
- Assets – make sure you enqueue scripts and stylesheets correctly in your theme and plugins.
- Images – avoid loading images that are larger than they need to be, by editing them before upload or using an image optimization plugin. And consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to deliver them.
Troubleshooting Issues With Your WordPress Site
Sometimes your WordPress site will develop problems. These could be severe, such as if your site is hacked or an update breaks the site. Or they could be minor, such as broken links or images not properly loading.
Here are some resources which will help you identify and fix problems:
- Fix 404 errors with pages not found.
- Fix broken links without having to manually trawl through your site.
- Fix the http error when uploading images to your media library.
- If images aren’t loading, use the Fix Media Library plugin to fix database entries for images.
Moderating Comments and Managing Users
Sadly, users can introduce insecurities and performance issues into your site.
- Users with admin privileges could install plugins or themes that are insecure or badly coded,
- Users with permission to create and edit content in your site could upload images or other media that slow down your site.
- Users leaving comments on your site could introduce spammy links or content to your site which could affect your SEO or even have you blacklisted.
All admin users need to understand the importance of security and performance and what they should do to keep your site working. Make sure they know to only use secure passwords and add software from reputable sources. A security plugin will let you enforce strong passwords or you can install a plugin like WC Password Strength Settings, which is specific to this.
Contributors and Editors also need strong passwords, so no one can use their account to hack your site and upload content you don’t want. Enforcing strong passwords will save you from having to educate them.
Use a plugin to compress images so that if your users upload large images, there won’t be a performance issue.
Comments can introduce spam to your site and slow things down in some cases. Stop comment spam by editing your discussion settings or using a plugin. And you can keep comments from slowing down performance by using a third-party commenting system or again editing your discussion settings.
You’ll also need to moderate and reply to the comments on your site. You can edit discussion settings so that you’re notified when comments are added, and you can configure settings so that comments aren’t published until you’ve moderated them.
Moderating every single comment before it’s published can be time-consuming. You might prefer to set things up so that if someone has had a comment approved in the past, they can comment again without moderation. That gives you a balance between stopping spam and encouraging discussion, as well as saving you time. And if you want more control over comment spam, the Akismet plugin will stop spam comments from even being notified to you for moderation.
Auditing Your Site’s SEO
Which is where SEO comes in. An SEO plugin will help you to enhance your SEO, and using best practices for SEO will give you an extra boost. But it also helps if you audit your SEO and monitor it regularly.
Google Search Console is one of the best tools for SEO. It can help you diagnose SEO problems and also gives you data you can use to identify your best performing content, see which keywords you are ranking for and check all your internal and external links.
It’s often overlooked by website owners, but it’s completely free and will provide you with data that will help you improve your SEO and be more strategic with your content strategy. Make sure to check out this in-depth guide about Bing Webmaster Tools.
A tool like Accuranker will help you monitor your search engine rankings, so you can identify any problems and fix them. It will also help you identify which keywords you’re ranking for and any that you need to put more work into.
You can also conduct a technical SEO audit to help you identify what’s working for your SEO and what needs to be improved.
Monitoring Activity and Error Logs
Finally, one of the least glamorous aspects of monitoring your site: monitoring activity on the site and checking error logs.
Monitoring activity on your site means you’ll know when something happens that shouldn’t, such as a new user unexpectedly being added, or files being uploaded that shouldn’t be. It will also help you manage your content and be confident the posts are being published when they should be.
The WP Security Audit Log plugin adds a screen to your admin which logs all activity on your site.
This way you can identify what’s going on at a glance and identify any potential issues immediately.
You should also monitor errors on your site so you can fix them as quickly as possible. Some tools to help you with this include:
- MyKinsta analytics will help you to monitor your site and troubleshoot any issues.
- Query Monitor will debug your site and identify things like slow database queries, REST API requests, hooks firing, and more. This can help you identify the causes of any problems.
- Viewing raw WordPress error logs or enabling error logs in the wp-config.php file will help you troubleshoot and debug any issues.
Using these tools may help you avoid any problems so instead of taking retrospective action to fix your site when it goes down or stops working properly, you can take preventative action to keep things ticking along.
Paying for Premium WordPress Support
All this can sound like a lot of work. It’s true that much of the work of maintaining your site can be automated. You can schedule automatic backups, configure updates to run automatically, and run automated security checks on your store which will alert you to any problems.
But you still have to set it all up. You have to take the time to check any issues. And you may have to fix them too.
Which is why it can be helpful to hire WordPress maintenance professionals.
The Pros and Cons of Paying for Support
Paying for premium WordPress support and maintenance will take a burden off you. It will give you the peace of mind of knowing that experts are monitoring your site and fixing any problems that arise.
But it does come with its downsides.
For starters, it can be expensive. It also means you lose the opportunity to understand your site better and get to grips with how it works. And if you like to have control, it can be daunting to entrust your precious website into the hands of a stranger.
So you might decide to outsource some of this work or to go with a hosting provider like Kinsta that does some of it for you. You might decide to outsource the aspects of site maintenance that you know least about or that will represent the highest risk to your site if you don’t do them.
Maintenance and Support Services Kinsta Provides
Some of your WordPress maintenance and security needs will be taken care of if you have a Kinsta hosting plan, which saves you having to hire another provider.
- Security guarantee means that your site is unlikely to be hacked because of state of the art protection. If it is hacked, Kinsta will fix it for you.
- Automatic backups mean you know you can restore your site to a previous version if something goes wrong, and make it easy to restore your site with just one click.
- Staging environment means you can make changes to your site and test them without putting it at risk: test everything in staging first, then copy it to live.
- Speed-obsessive architecture means your site will be fast and you won’t need to worry about performance as long as you manage it correctly.
- Regular uptime checks (every two minutes) mean you can be confident your site won’t go down without anyone noticing.
- 24/7 multilingual support, meaning you can ask questions and we will either help you fix a problem or tell you how to do it.
These features will save you lots of time when it comes to WordPress maintenance for your site (client sites) and help you avoid site maintenance headaches.
Top Providers of WordPress Support and Maintenance Services
If you do decide to hire professionals, it’s important to find a provider you can trust. This is why we’ve compiled a list of WordPress maintenance and support providers who we’ve worked with and have confidence in.
One or more of the providers below might meet your needs: everyone is different but you should find someone here who can help.
1. WP Buffs
WP Buffs describe their service as ‘24/7 WordPress website maintenance services for serious website owners & white-label partners’.
They offer site monitoring and support, enhanced security, speed optimization, weekly theme and plugin updates, and advanced support for WooCommerce and more complex sites. They also provide WordPress training, run a podcast, and have a great WordPress blog.
WordPress agencies, freelancers and professionals can also use their white-label support program to offer 24/7 support for their clients while also making monthly recurring revenue. Jan Koch of WP Mastery earns 4-figure monthly profits through their white-label program while Rich Mehta or Rigorous Digital has increased his agency’s profit margin by 23%.
SkyRocketWP offers maintenance and support services alongside hosting that’s provided by Kinsta. That hosting is fully managed, with 24/7 monitoring and support, and they’ll fix any security issues as soon as they arise.
They also offer daily backups, site optimization, performance, and uptime monitoring, hack prevention, malware scanning and removal, and a page load speed guarantee.
Sign up with SkyRocketWP and you’ll get Kinsta hosting with full site management on top.
Codeable offers something different. Instead of being a support and maintenance company, they give you access to WordPress freelancers who can help you maintain and develop your site.
Whether you need theme development, custom plugins, theme customization or custom integrations, they’ll be able to hook you up with a WordPress developer who can help.
When you find a freelancer, you deposit the price of your project with Codeable and it only gets paid to the freelancer when you mark the project as completed.
ClickWP offers WordPress support so that you can get on with running your site, saying that they ‘make WordPress fun again’.
They offer hosting with website starter packages, making the design easier. They have pre-made designs (in the form of themes) that you can customize and add your own content to or have them add standard pages for you. Their service is designed to make things easier for people who are new to website creation.
They also offer support: they’ll answer your WordPress questions and help with tasks that don’t need coding or with development tasks, for a fixed monthly fee.
Valet offers a service aimed at helping you to have a ‘healthy, wealthy, wise’ website. They offer a bespoke service aimed at larger businesses that want to take away the hassle of running and maintaining a WordPress site.
When you hire them, you’ll be allocated a team of specialists depending on your needs: developers, engineers, WordPress experts, and other digital professionals.
WordXpress offers 24/7 WordPress support and maintenance. As well as managing things like updates and security, they’ll make edits to your site when you request them and work on your SEO.
They offer three levels of support with increasing services, ranging from basic security and monitoring to complete website care.
mintWP offers full WordPress maintenance services with Kinsta Hosting as standard in all their plans.
They work with individuals or freelancers, whatever type of WordPress site. They also offer a full white-label agency solution which includes site setup on Kinsta, ongoing maintenance, and 24/7 support. This gives site owners and agencies space to concentrate on their core business.
mintWP continues to add value by adding new features as standard to plans each month, bringing down the costs for freelancers and agencies worldwide.
8. Newt Labs
Newt Labs is a UK-based company whose service is aimed at saving you time managing your WordPress site.
Services include fixing problems with your site, keeping it updated and backed up, and patching and monitoring security issues. Their plans also include managed WordPress hosting aimed at improving site performance, and premium plugins which will help make your site more effective.
GoWP provides white label WordPress maintenance and support. Their services are aimed at agencies, and they describe themselves as an extension of your team.
They will help you to manage and maintain client sites, offering content edits, backups, security scans, malware fixes and a white label maintenance dashboard plugin that you can customize to reflect your brand.
If you’re a web design or development agency whose clients need hosting and support but you don’t have the time or resources to offer it, GoWP could help.
WPCurve’s services include regular maintenance and security but will also help you use your site more effectively.
As well as offering bug fixes, monitoring, and updates, they’ll advise you on how to improve your site’s conversion rates, reduce your bounce rate and increase your traffic. They have team members worldwide who can respond to your emailed job requests and help you make your site work harder and be more reliable.
Maintainn offers WordPress maintenance and support ‘from real people’.
They offer backups, regular updates, and security monitoring and fixes. They’ll also fix any issues with your site’s content or configuration. Their team includes recognized WordPress experts and as well as maintenance, they offer development and hosting.
The team at WPSiteCare describes themselves as ‘the original & best WordPress support company’ (a bold claim!).
Their services include security monitoring, automated backups, performance optimization, and SEO support. They also offer coaching designed to help you get the most from your WordPress site, and have a program for agencies designed to help with client site management.
FixRunner offers automated cloud backups, uptime, and security monitoring, speed optimization and personal WordPress support. They will respond to and fix any issues on your site and you don’t pay for the work until after it’s done.
WPMaintainer’s plans include theme and plugin updates, automated backups, security monitoring using Sucuri, free migrations, compatibility support for themes and plugins and discounted development costs (suggested reading: Powerful WordPress Migration Plugins).
If you sign up for a regular plan with them, you can also hire their developers for extra work at a reduced rate, giving you the flexibility to have your site maintained on an ongoing basis but also to develop it when you need to.
15. WP tech support
WP tech support offers emergency assistance for your WordPress site. If you experience a security breach, they will identify the cause of the problem and fix it for you.
They also offer ongoing maintenance plans, focused on website security. As well as keeping your site up to date and backed up, they will perform regular manual reviews of your site to ensure it isn’t vulnerable. You can view the reports from these reviews via their customer portal. They also work with agencies.
WPSitePlan is a US-based maintenance and support provider. They offer tiered plans, starting with their Basic plan which includes daily backups, uptime monitoring, database optimization, security scanning, updates, and monthly reporting.
Their top plan also includes unlimited help desk support, WooCommerce support, complete malware removal, and daily site scans.
WPFixIt offers 24/7 instant WordPress support. As well as ongoing plans, they have a menu of services for which they offer a fixed fee.
Services include general support, infection removal, speed optimization, site tune-up and a WooCommerce checkup.
They also offer monthly support services, including full website management, security monitoring, daily backups, and site updates.
18. The WPButler
The WPButler describes their service as ‘TLC for WordPress’. They offer regular maintenance, support, and monitoring of your site, and will fix any problems.
Services include restoring your site from a backup if it has problems, bolstering security, uptime monitoring, and automated backups.
They have a range of plans aimed at different kinds of business. The highest plan includes site reviews and 30-minute development time per month. They also offer a monthly retainer plan whereby you can pay in advance for development time.
FixMySite‘s service is aimed at helping you quickly fix any problems with your WordPress site.
They offer on-demand website support with a money-back guarantee. Fixes include making small changes to your site, repairing a hacked site, migrating sites, and solving theme or plugin conflicts.
FixMyWP also offers an on-demand service aimed at fixing problems with your WordPress site.
They will fix a hacked site, edit a broken theme, or fix a plugin that isn’t working. They also offer regular maintenance plans which include updates, spam cleaning, database optimization, backups, and email support.
TotalWPSupport offers a range of WordPress support and maintenance services. They will harden your site and fix potential threats, take backups of your site, update themes, plugins and WordPress core, and monitor your site 24/7.
They offer a range of plans, the highest of which includes hosting, real-time backups, staging, CDN, SSL, and a dedicated account manager.
Further reading: Managing an online store? Make sure to check our in-depth guide on how to add an SSL certificate to WooCommerce.
WPKnights is a WordPress maintenance and support service run by a bunch of WordPress geeks — or, as they like to call themselves, Knights.
Besides the usual offerings such as backups, updates, and monitoring, their services focus also on speed and security improvements. On top of that, they provide complete peace of mind via three self-service plans (starting at $49 per month) to appeal to every level of WordPress website owners.
They pride themselves on their responsive and hands-on customer service and building long-term relationships with each customer.
WordPress maintenance is essential for any site.
You can choose to take the time to keep your site maintained and updated yourself, automate some of the processes with plugins, or hire it out. Which one you choose will depend on your skill set, your resources, and your budget.
But whatever you do, don’t neglect site maintenance: without it, your site could become vulnerable. Therefore, it’ll stop attracting visitors and win you conversions.