Last Updated on October 10, 2023
For one unsuspecting business owner, an impending ‘perfect storm’ of WordPress issues threatened to jeopardise their online presence and commercial success. There was a genuine risk that the website would suffer from multiple technical failures and go offline.
The client initially sought assistance from Web Matters to address their website’s general underperformance and search engine rankings. Website enquiries and booking notifications were also landing in spam folders. Compounding the situation was that the web developer who built the website took weeks to reply to the client’s requests for assistance.
Upon our initial assessment, we found many critical issues. These included multiple vulnerable WordPress plugins, usability problems, and design inconsistencies. The website was hosted on low-cost shared hosting, significantly contributing to sluggish loading times—a detriment to user experience and SEO performance. With numerous competitors vying for the same small market share, this website put its owner at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Triaging the most pressing issues, we undertook the following work:
- Web Hosting moved to a Managed Web Host: We transferred the website to a managed WordPress hosting provider that offered development hosting and staging sites, allowing us to test the updates and changes on a developer site without affecting the live site.
- DNS Management moved to Cloudflare: The DNS management was via web hosting, which another developer managed. We, therefore, imported the DNS records into Cloudflare and updated the domain name’s DNS servers at the registrar.
- Plugin and Theme Updates: We found many out-of-date and even abandoned plugins. We updated WooCommerce to a secure version and installed a more reliable Stripe plugin for online payments. The client directly obtained licenses for premium WordPress plugins and the theme, ensuring they now had control over this vital aspect of their website.
- Critical Plugin Replacement: We identified a vital plugin that had been abandoned by its developer, highlighting potential security risks. We learned that another plugin developer had released a new patched version, ensuring uninterrupted core functionality.
- Email Delivery Enhancement: We resolved email delivery issues by routing website-originated emails through the Postmark transactional email service and implementing the necessary DNS records for domain validation, ensuring that enquiries landed in the client’s inbox, not the spam folder.
- Search Engine Optimisation: Optimisation of the website’s SEO settings and metadata significantly improved the website’s search engine rankings over several weeks.
- Accessibility and Design Tweaks: We enhanced website accessibility by addressing contrast issues, resizing the logo for better legibility, adjusting button colours for accessibility, and improving the hero image overlay for better text legibility.
- Reviews Widget: Leveraging the client’s excellent reviews, we added a testimonial widget showcasing recent reviews and an AI summary, offering a snapshot of the exceptional service customers could expect.
Conclusion and Key Take Aways
Web Matters handed over a much healthier website by recognising and tackling the looming ‘perfect storm’ of WordPress issues. We revitalised their online presence and improved their positioning in the search engines, leading to increased website enquiries. Here are the key takeaways from the case study:
- Timely intervention is crucial for preserving and enhancing your WordPress website’s health and performance.
- Regularly update plugins, themes, and core WordPress files to maintain security and functionality.
- Choose a reliable managed WordPress hosting provider with development hosting and staging sites for testing updates and changes without affecting the live site.
- Consider moving DNS management to services like Cloudflare to better control and manage your website’s DNS records.
- Route website-originated emails through transactional email services and configure the necessary DNS records for domain validation.
- Prioritise search engine optimisation (SEO) to improve search engine rankings and increase website visibility.
- Don’t forget about website accessibility – critically examine contrast issues font legibility and ensure colour choices meet accessibility standards.
- Leverage positive reviews and testimonials to build trust with website visitors through widgets and AI summaries.
- Regularly monitor and address website vulnerabilities, including abandoned plugins and security risks, to avoid potential technical failures.
- Recognise the importance of your website as a significant investment and take proactive steps to ensure its long-term success.
If you face similar challenges, remember that timely intervention can make all the difference in preserving and enhancing your digital footprint and your significant website investment. Get in touch if you need assistance with any aspect of your WordPress website.