The burning question – What Makes the Best WordPress Maintenance Plan?
So, it’s happening: you’ve decided to make the jump and start selling online. Whether you’re starting a business or want to expand to the web, it’s a big commitment. Many companies of all industries have an online presence at this point, and the competition can be brutal. Having a WordPress or WooCommerce website today is much more complicated than it used to be, especially if it is your marketing tool for the business. Websites continuously need to be updated for WordPress maintenance, security, and marketing and if you’re trying to make your bottom line, maintaining your site can drain a lot of time.
As a WooCommerce Certified Agency, at Bright Vessel, we know a thing or two about this online sales platform. We’ve tried and tested many strategies and studied each outcome, and we’re committed to what works. That’s why we’ve prepared these WordPress Maintenance & WooCommerce Sales tips to help you sell online.
WordPress Maintenance Service Plans Tips
1. Find the Right Team for WordPress Maintenance
Pick the right developers not the host for your WordPress website. Hosting companies fall short in having the right team to provision servers and perform development tasks. It is best to work with a company which has your best interest in mind and is continually monitoring the uptime, updates, and speed of your site.
It is hard to find a good company that can do everything, so it is good to ask the right questions when reviewing companies to perform ongoing WordPress maintenance.
2. Ask a Vendor the Right WordPress Maintainance Questions
- Do you monitor Uptime?
- What are the specs of the server?
- If you’re on a shared hosting account, How many sites are currently on that server?
- Do I have access to a hosting control panel to administer your site altogether?
- Do you have full stack developers on your team?
- How do you prepare sites that can have a burst of traffic?
- Do you monitor for Malware?
- If someone hacks my site, will you clean it or is this an extra charge?
- How many hours does the pan include?
- Do you do any design services, ex: banner designs?
- How much is your hourly for additional development time?
- Do you perform SEO audits?
- Do you include any SEO tools for keyword tracking?
- Do you have a quickly deployable staging area?
- Do you perform updates on staging and not live site?
- Do you optimize the site for speed?
- Do you include and caching tools?
- Do you include a CDN (Content Delivery Network) in your fee?
- Do you have a ticket system for change requests?
- What is the turnaround time for an average request?
3. How Should Experts Perform WordPress Maintenance?
WordPress websites need to be continually updated every month for bugs and more importantly security. It is crucial to have periodical backups and include offsite backups in case of a catastrophic event.
We have outlined a few things your vendor or yourself should be doing for WordPress maintenance.
WordPress Back Ups
It might be relevant to highlight that this point could be one of the most important ones in connection to maintenance because if something backfires then your webpage can become:
- Slightly messed up.
- Irreparably broken.
- Instantly gone.
These are concepts that you might want to avoid, but if they occur, you should know how to solve them. That is why backing up the website will give you the chance to restore it from the most recent backup. Plus you do not need to be an expert to do it, WordPress has many options to help you.
You might see that there are a lot of free options for you to do a manual backup and restore your website. We recommend the paid option WPTimeCapsule.com.
It will provide a staging area, backups, and offsite backups very quickly and is worth every penny.
Updating Core, Themes, and Plugins
If you find an update available for core, a theme, or plugin that you have then, you should make that update. What is more, if there is a security update you might want to do it soon because it will plug holes and make your website less vulnerable to hackers and other evil-doers.
When multiple components need updates at the same time, you should go about them in the following order:
- Plugins (the smallest element)
- Your theme (the medium-sized part)
- Core (your most significant component)
- Keep WordPress Database Optimized
- All the content of your website such as blog posts, pages, etc., will be stored in a database. So, over time, it might become bloated and full of extra, unnecessary elements which will make your site slow.
Cleaning Up Your WordPress Database
To help the speed and efficiency of the site. You should perform periodic database clean up of the following items:
- Post Revisions
- Deleted posts
- Unapproved or spam comments
- Unused categories and tags
- If you are determined to clean it proactively, it will be healthy and fast
WP-Sweep can help identify all the erroneous revisions and deleted items for removal.
4. Installing Security Plugin
WordPress needs to harden, which we can efficiently perform through Security tools. It is very probable that your website host does not cover all of the security needs even if you’re paying for a fully managed WordPress or WooCommerce website. Nevertheless, there are some low-cost plugins and services which might make it simple to secure your website.
Defender Pro – This plugin is an excellent tool and part of a broader suite of great products.
WebARX Pro – Provides additional security and monitoring for defacement and blacklists along with a website firewall.
MalCare Pro – Is a reliable product with automatic malware scanning, firewall, backups and more.
What Most WooCommerce Maintenance Plans do not Consider
When selecting a firm to help you with your WooCommerce store. You should consider whether or not they know anything about effective UI/UX design, conversion optimization, and or SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Having a competent firm to update your site is one thing, but having another which can also help you grow your business changes the game entirely.
1. Design & Navigation
We’ve created four different sections to help you build your WooCommerce site, covering the technical aspects, layout and navigation, SEO and WooCommerce Subscriptions.
The first things users need when buying online is easy navigation. That’s why the following three WooCommerce tips are essential!
2. Add Live Search
Visitors might already know what they want the second they reach your website. Alternatively, they may have also been there before and want to go back to one specific item. That’s why adding live search to your site becomes essential. This way, potential buyers will be able to:
- See the most relevant articles on this WooCommerce site.
- Easily navigate through similar products, thus being able to compare.
- Generally speed up the process, as they won’t have to go into each subcategory.
We recommend two different ways to add live search to your site: choosing a theme with built-in search or through the WooCommerce Product Search Extension. You should try both to see which one fits your needs best!
3. Add Categories & Subcategories
Adding categories might be the most obvious-looking of all the WooCommerce tips on this list, but it’s also essential. It’s easy to forget to place products into different categories, but there are two main reasons to remember:
- Categories and subcategories make things easier for customers. While some visitors may know what they want the minute they come in, it’s not the case with everyone. You can make the design friendlier by sorting the products in a way that’s logical to everyone.
- Your SEO rankings will appreciate it. Categorizing makes it easier for Googlebot and other search engines to crawl into websites. Use highly specific long-tail keywords to help you rank for precisely what you’re offering.
4. Save Visitors Any Extra Clicks
In the spirit of making the user experience as straightforward as possible for your visitors, the best of all WooCommerce tips is to simplify. The basis of the online shopping experience is speed, and you need to dispose of any barriers. If visitors have to click ten times between categories and subcategories, they may become impatient. You don’t want them to leave and miss out on all your great products!
The best thing you can do is try horizontal navigation on your site. Through this strategy, you can:
- Display the links to the most relevant products or new content on your homepage.
- Save visitors lots of clicks.
- Make it easier for Googlebot to rank your site’s different sections.
- Improve the all-around internal linking structure of the website, which is excellent for SEO.
Generally speaking, it’s a win-win situation to link to your most essential pages from the get-go. Not only are you making it easier for visitors to navigate, but you’ll also allow crawlers to see your most important pages quickly. Every moment counts!
5. Technical Aspects
A few WooCommerce tips on the development side of your website.
Speed Things Up
A huge part of improving the overall experience of a site is making it run as fast as possible. Speed is particularly crucial in WooCommerce, as the perfect result for you is that visitors purchase. You want the experience to be pleasant and fast so that potential customers can navigate at ease.
A site that takes a few seconds longer to load than others is at risk of losing visitors. People doing online shopping want things fast and hassle-free. Plus, fast-loading sites do better with rankings, as Google and other search engines consider speed.
So, how do you improve speed? A few WooCommerce tips:
- Test your site on Google PageSpeed Insights. There are many tools to do this online, but this is the most readily accessible – not to mention free. Through PageSpeed Insights you’ll see how long it takes to load each page. You’ll also receive suggestions on how to improve overall speed.
- Optimize images. You want beautiful pictures showcasing each of your products in full HD, but the photos can be hefty. It’s easy for visitors to get bored when they have to wait too long to see a page’s images. There are plenty of online image optimizers that can help you preserve quality while also compressing.
- Deactivate the plugins you’re not using. A common issue on WordPress sites is that you have too many plugins at the same time. Cut them to a minimum and keep the ones you need. And only activate them when you’re using them!
- Use a CDN (content delivery network). That means keeping your information on different servers around the world instead of all in the same place. A CDN will help visitors land quicker on your site.
Customize with Plugins
Yes, the previous example of WooCommerce tips said you should be wary of plugins. We’re not trying to confuse you, but it is essential to customize. That way, your WooCommerce will look exactly how you need it to look.
- Find the perfect theme for you. See that it adapts to the kind of WooCommerce you want to build.
- Get the extensions you need. Decide how you want your WooCommerce to look and get plugins that help you achieve that. Keep in mind that there may be extensions that include multiple features.
- Don’t overstuff it!
Redirect Pages of Out-of-Stock Items
It’s a fact: when your business is sales, there will be times when you’ll run out of stock. If you don’t expect ever to have that item again, you’ll want to delete its page from your site. But what of those other times, when it’ll take a few weeks or months? It’s too long a time to leave the page as is, but you’d lose all previous SEO work by deleting it.
So we recommend two options.
Option #1 – Remove the page and do a 301 redirect to a similar product. In other words, redirect visitors from the out-of-stock page to something that resembles what they were originally searching. The best way to do this is by using the SEO > Redirects option on the Yoast plugin.
- Deleting reduces the number of ranking pages on your site. You’ve already put in some time and effort to make your pages rank, and they’ve been up for a while. Why lose all that work?
- You might have that product in stock again eventually. If you delete it, you’ll have to start from scratch.
Option #2 – Add a powerful message that indicates where the user can find a similar product which is in stock.
Example: “Thanks for shopping with us. The item that you’re looking for is currently out of stock. Please see this similar product (Link to the new product). Please use discount code FREESHIP and enjoy some free shipping on us.”
- Adding a message with a link to a similar product could be a good tactic for your usability.
- Giving a discount promo code can entice the user to continue and purchase.
Search Engine Optimization
If a website sells terrific products, but it doesn’t rank it Google, and nobody sees it, does it sell? SEO is an essential part of any site, and particularly useful for WooCommerce. Here are our three favorite SEO WooCommerce tips!
1. Create Your Own Copy
It’s easy to copy and paste product descriptions from other sites, particularly when you’re not the manufacturer. However, duplicate content can prevent you from going up on Google and other engines.
- Write a fresh copy for each product description.
- Add original images from your library to the product. Photographs are particularly important if you’re selling items people can find on different websites.
2. Include Real Reviews
If you’re starting and your WooCommerce isn’t well-known, you’ll need to showcase you’re trustworthy. One of the best ways to do that is through reviews, as online shoppers pay close attention to them. And, if you’ve decided to add a section for reviews of your store, they need to be real.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews, in their own words.
- Verify the reviews that appear on your site. You can do this by checking the “Verified owners” box under WooCommerce > Settings > Products. That way, only people who have purchased the product can comment.
- Consider installing a review plugin such as TrustedSite reviews. Through that, you can get real reviews after a third party requests them and deems them appropriate.
3. Work on Internal Linking
One of the best WooCommerce tips you’ll get, anywhere: work on building internal links. A healthy website is well-connected within itself, making navigation easier. Every section of a website should be linking internally, from blog posts to introductory pages. For WooCommerce in specific, internal link-building is an excellent strategy to help all your product pages succeed.
- Add Upsells to the items on your site. WooCommerce has a built-in option to allow Upsells, which will recommend similar products to visitors. You’ve seen it before: the idea of “if you liked this, you’d also like…”
- Add Cross-sells. Another built-in option on the WooCommerce menu, visitors will see Cross-sells when on their shopping carts. They’ll get suggestions for complementary products.
If you’re thinking of taking things further and going premium with WooCommerce Subscriptions, you’ll need a few additional rules. Here are our three important WooCommerce tips for the premium service:
1. Choose the Right Host
Your hosting service is the basis of everything you build on your website. If you choose well, you’ll be on the way to a thriving business. Otherwise, things may become overly complicated, and you’ll need a whole extra set of WooCommerce tips.
Keep in mind:
- You need more from a WooCommerce Subscriptions host than from your regular WordPress one. You’ll need a host that allows you to run a web application and go well beyond merely blogging.
- The WooCommerce hosting solution you choose will be behind your payments. Through that host, you’ll be able to control payment data, so you need something secure and trustworthy.
- Changing hosts can be a long, tedious and expensive process, so it’s best to research beforehand. Find a host that fulfills your current needs and allows growth in the direction your WooCommerce needs.
2. Be Mindful of WooCommerce Code
As an open platform, one of the great things about WooCommerce is the myriad of options it offers. However, it also means a line of code can change and mess up a good chunk of the site. That’s why one of our top WooCommerce tips is to be very aware of your code.
Extensions on WooCommerce Subscriptions can fail in a big way, and you may have issues with payment. Being selective with code becomes critical with a plugin that directly deals with money.
Here are a couple of ways to prevent significant issues:
- Test updated plugins on a staging site before going live. Test a recurring payment (which won’t go through on the staging site) to see if it works correctly.
- Pick plugins, extensions, and themes with a good rep. There are seemingly endless options in WooCommerce, but they’re not all equal. To avoid possible issues, always choose new additions with good reviews and general feedback.
3. Make Decisions About Payments
Among the critical WooCommerce tips on this list: figure out how you want to manage payments on Subscriptions. What you’ll need to do:
- Choose a gateway for WooCommerce Subscriptions. Go for something with modern and adaptable APIs, plus easy-to-use dashboards. It’s important to note that some regions will have a smaller pool of options, so be sure to research ahead.
- Find the payment gateway extension that works best for you. Some factors to consider should be whether they offer support if the developer is well-known and if they offer automatic recurring payments for your customers’ usual methods. You’ll also need to find a gateway extension that combines well with WooCommerce Subscriptions, to avoid future unpleasantness.
At Bright Vessel, our primary goal is helping you achieve the WooCommerce solution of your dreams. Our WooCommerce Certified Agency and the team of experts focuses entirely on the WooCommerce tips that work for you. We have a robust WordPress Maintenance Plan that covers every item in this post. Do you need more information about our services? Please reach out to us!