Tech Breakout Summit/2021: Top Insights for Your WordPress Site

WordPress is the world’s favorite way to build websites—it currently powers more than 40% of the Internet. So who’s doing WordPress well? 

In this video session, WP Engine Technical Support Senior Manager Troy McHenry and Technical Support Manager, Madison Haugland will help you take your WordPress experience to the next level with insights drawn from millions of sites powered by WP Engine. Check it out below!

Video: Top Insights for Your WordPress Site

In this session, WP Engine Technical Support Senior Manager Troy McHenry and WP Engine Technical Support Manager Madison Haugland discuss:

  • Top insights and feedback gained from more than 835,000 client discussions
  • The WP Engine Go Live Checklist for websites
  • The best safety protocols for site security

Slides from the session

“From the mom and pop shops, to the robust agencies, to the enterprise brands, we are proud to power your digital experience on the fastest, most reliable hosting platform.”

Troy McHenry, Technical Support Senior Manager, WP Engine

Full session transcript

TROY MCHENRY: Hello, and thank you for joining our breakout session today. We’re going to be talking about top insights for your WordPress site.

My name is Troy McHenry, and I’ve been fortunate to have over 15 years working as an individual contributor and leader in the customer service space.

I’ve worked with WP Engine for over 7 and 1/2 years as a support manager, and I work out of our San Antonio hub. My team consists of senior techs, and I’m delighted to be sharing with you today. I’ll kick it over to Madison, so she can introduce herself to you.

MADISON HAUGLAND: Hi, friends. My name is Madison Haugland, and I’m a Support Manager for the Tier 1 and Triage team in Omaha, Nebraska. And I have 15 Happiness Engineers and two Tech Leads, and we support our Flywheel customers.

I’ve been with WP Engine for three years now, and I’ve kind of done all of the support roles around. And I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Today, we’ll be talking about top insights for your WordPress site. And I’m just going to go over the agenda real quick. So, we’re going to talk about historical data, the go-live process, SSL, site performance, and security. And then we’ll wrap it all up at the end with our top, top insights from all of those categories.

So, I’m going to kick it over to Troy to talk about some of that historical data and how we were able to make this presentation based on all of the interactions that we’ve had.

TROY MCHENRY: Awesome. Thank you, Madison. So let’s first start with some insight into our support team’s interactions.

From our inception in July 2010, we’ve always had some form of support for our customers. But it wasn’t until 2010– I’m sorry, 2016. That we launched 24/7 chat support for our customer base. We’re around the globe, having teams in the US, EMEA, and APAC regions.

It wasn’t until August of 2017 that we reached a monumental milestone within our support department by servicing our one millionth chat. I remember it like it was yesterday. We served cake and ice cream for the techs. We had swag for all of our techs. And we even celebrated the tech who took the one-millionth chat.

Just to provide a little bit of overview on the team’s workload for 2020. We chatted with over 659,000 customers, replied to over 126,000 tickets, and took over 48,000 calls. That breaks down weekly to an average of 12,678 chats, 2,431 ticket replies, and 942 calls per week.

Now again, this was across all of our shifts and across all of our offices that house our support techs.

One of the things that we’ve been super excited to hang our hat on is our average C set of 98%, and the average ticket satisfaction of 97%. This was something we were able to celebrate by winning the Gold Stevie Award in 2017, 2019, 2020. And then the Silver in 2018 under the Sales and Customer Service category.

Now, bringing that total interaction number together, we were able to service, in 2020, 835,000 interactions with our customers. Again, 835,000 interactions with our customers gives us the background knowledge to be able to come to you and discuss some top tips that have been helpful.

So, with this background knowledge on the interactions we’ve had with our customers, we’ve put together just a shortlist of common topics and insights to shed light on taking your site to the next level. The four of them being Going Live, SSL, site performance, and then security.

So, with Going Live. Like, who doesn’t want that process to be a seamless process so that you can focus on your business? To put it in simple terms, this is simply the process of building your site and then making it available for your public to view and interact with.

We have a very helpful checklist within our user portal to help you go live. The first one starts off with just connect and secure. This is a simple five step process to connect your domain to your website, as well as secure it with a domain, securing that domain with an SSL cert.

Now, we’ll go more into the SSL cert on the next slide. But this just ensures your visitors that they can find your website and interact in a very secure manner.

The next one being domain and set as primary. Now, this entails adding your domain name in the user portal, and then linking it to an environment which lets the domain know which environment on WP Engine server to direct visitors to.

Configuring DNS records. Now this happens to be a very common topic that our customers come in to chat on. How do I get my site live? How do I point it to WP Engine? Now, this happens to be the last step in Going Live with your WP Engine-managed WordPress site. But this process is done with your DNS hosts, and simply tells the domain name where it should send traffic to the WP Engine servers.

There are several methods for pointing DNS to WP Engine, but the foremost common are CNAME, ANAME, Alias, and A record. By going through your user portal, you can navigate to your environment name, and that’s where you’ll find the IP and the CNAME

Now, the one you ultimately choose to use, it’s up to you and whatever support your DNS host will provide by doing those things. Any of the aforementioned will help you get up and running once complete.

A side note. We’re always here to help you do that and get you up and running, should you not understand which one would be helpful for you.

The next point is adding that SSL cert. Again, we’re going to talk in more detail about this on the next slide, but this just protects anyone who may want to send information through your website.

Then the last one here is updating WordPress URLs. Now this requirement, it’s consistent on any WordPress host, and simply tells WordPress software which domain should show up in your browser. It’s an important step to help prevent issues with redirects and SEO.

This Go Live checklist is a helpful guide to use in moving you closer to your ultimate goal of having your domain go live successfully. Next, we’ll talk about SSL.

MADISON HAUGLAND: Awesome. Thanks, friend. So, we have a couple of tips that we’re going to touch on for SSL. And basically, we’re going to go through them.

So, first most important thing about SSL is, you want to– So, the reason SSL is so important is because it ensures your visitors are connecting to your site securely and through HTTPS. Basically, HTTPS is how information is transferred and encrypted. So, keeping all of that information safe. If you are collecting information or data from your customers, it keeps everybody safe and secure. To the next slide.

So, when you do have SSL added to your website, it’s going to have this padlock in your browser. So it could be a green padlock, it could just be a padlock. But that’s going to ensure people visiting your site know that it’s reputable, safe, and secure. So, any business that’s going on, any sales, that sort of thing, people are going to feel most comfortable using your website.

The next little bit of information. SSL also improves SEO. So, by using an SSL certificate, whether it’s through our free SSL, or through bring your own certificate to one of our platforms, this helps with SEO rankings. So that’s really cool. Google, that bumps you up in the list and it helps with SEO rankings.

Lastly, we are able to help with different types of SSL certificates. So if you want to just use the free version, we are able to provide that for you, but you can bring your own from other providers. And that can add an additional layer of security, or add your organization or business’s name in the URL bar. And that’s just a really cool way to say, hey, we’re super secure and we’re here for you.

So, my last thing on SSL is, there are a bunch of tools out there in the world if you aren’t getting the padlocks. Say you have SSL added to your website, but you don’t have that padlock in the browser. There are tools like Why No Padlock that will scan your site and find any insecure content, or mixed content, and point it out to you, or the cert may be out of date. And so it’ll help point those things out.

And then to help fix insecure content, it’s either reuploading a photo, or just doing a search and replace, which you can do via a plugin, or we can help you out with our support teams as well. And then finally, we’ll pass it over to Troy to talk about site performance.

TROY MCHENRY: Thanks, Madison. I know if I poll the room today, I’m confident everyone would raise their hand when I pose the question, do you want your site to perform at optimal speed? Of course, everyone’s going to raise their hand and say, yes, Troy, point me in the right direction.

So, as we look at a few tips on keeping your site fast as possible, I want to highlight a few areas that we share with our customers as it relates to two of the pillars that we stand on. The first being enterprise performance.

Now, this relates to the site speed, scale, and security. So, as an AWS advanced technology partner, we offer a wide range of solutions that meets the needs of customers seeking high performance optimized for WordPress.

We have global centers all over the world, in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. As we’re talking about speed, PHP 7.4 and HTTP/2 enabled will give you a better visitor retention and conversions with the latest updates, along with a better SEO.

Our proprietary EverCache reduces the strain on your site’s resources. So that helps with your caching issues.

The second pillar that we want to talk about is the actionable intelligence. Who doesn’t want site analytics? Our Page Performance. This just means that this will improve your website speed with first speed performance tool that is integrated in your user dashboard. So, this will allow you to see the impact of new plugins and site features as quickly as you’re implementing them.

What better way to sum this up than to state a quote from one of our customers. The customer said, “WP Engine’s highly optimized platform dramatically boosts site performance, directly correlating to higher conversions and SEO.”

Next, we’re going to talk about security.

MADISON HAUGLAND: Thanks, Troy. So, site security. Who doesn’t want to keep their site safe? We have so many different ways to help you keep your site safe. And it’s super, super easy, no-brainer things.

So, my first suggestion, this might seem like a no brainer, but using secure usernames and passwords for your WP logins. I found a little statistic that 70% of people don’t use secure usernames and passwords. So, a strong password– Actually, 75%. So, a strong password basically is upper case and lower case, numbers, and over eight digits long.

So, basically, making sure you’re using those not just admin usernames, so admin dash something, or a very specific to you username, and then those strong passwords for your WP login. And that really can go for anything. It’s going to keep anything more safe.

Next suggestion is keeping those plugins and themes up to date. So, oftentimes, plugins and themes will have updates for security vulnerabilities. So, if you’re running out of dates, plugins, and themes, out-of-date plugins and themes, then folks are going to be able to potentially hack your site because they are unsafe and insecure.

So, always keeping those plugins and themes up to date, as soon as those updates come out, is really, really vital to keeping your site safe and secure.

Also, if that’s not something that you have the time for or not something that you feel comfortable doing, we do have Smart Plugin Manager available that is an add-on, and folks are able to purchase. And it’s super, super convenient, and it keeps that site safe and secure by updating those plugins and themes.

The next step is adding CAPTCHAs to your forms and logins. So this is going to help just identify that it’s not bots, it’s not spam. And basically just you’re going to really reduce your spam in your forms and on your logins, basically. So, adding those CAPTCHAs. Again, this is one that’s very, very common online, but making sure you add this to your forms can really help with those spam comments on your site.

Next up. I don’t have a photo for it, but next up is moving your WP login page. So, basically, moving your WP login page protects against malicious bot traffic. And there are a bunch of different ways to do it. But plugins are the most common way of doing it. And basically moving it from slash WP admin to slash WP login, or slash my login page. And you can personalize it. But basically, it just helps those potentially malicious bots from spamming your login page as well.

Next suggestion. I don’t have a photo for this one either. But my next suggestion is two-factor authentication. So, two factor authentication is something that we use for email or for banking, but also you can use it for your website as well.

So, two-factor authentication via Google Authenticator, I think, Jetpack, there’s a bunch of other options, It’s an additional step for you to go through, but also it’s an additional step that hackers or malicious folks aren’t able to get into. It’s very specific to you and your phone number, or to you and to your whatever program you’re using.

So, it’s just an additional step that outside folks really have no way of spoofing, if you will. So definitely, definitely would recommend two-factor authentication.

Next one. SSL. We talked about this earlier. But SSL is super important. It encrypts that data. It helps your site become– Helps that site be trusted and safe. And I would definitely recommend it. We have free options, also there are options that you can go out and purchase on your own. So, definitely, something that we would recommend is SSL.

And finally, track WP user activity. So, if you are seeing any suspicious activity on your site or you’re just questioning is anything going on, there are a couple of different plugins that you can use. It’s called track WP user activity, or Simple History.

And basically, you’re able to see what’s happening on the website in the WP admin to see if folks are doing anything out of the ordinary, and just kind of gives you an insight into what’s happening.

I’m going to kick it over to Troy to kind of talk about our takeaways and go on from there.

TROY MCHENRY: Awesome. Thanks, Madison. So, just to recap where we started. We are a 24/7 support team around the globe. We’re here because of you. We’re here to help you be successful online, through our platform and digital experience.

Using the Go Live checklist is really going to help you move from where you are to becoming live on our platform. It’s very user-friendly and just will help that transition become seamless.

Ensuring your site is secure with SSL is just going to give your customers that added comfort level of knowing that I can move information across the site without any issues. It’s going to encrypt those things that you want, those personal things that you want encrypted.

And then keeping your site safe. We want to keep it safe from all those malicious activities that are out there, that are looking to just put a damper on what you’re trying to do with your business. We’re going to help you secure that.

And then meaning your site is the—Making sure your site is in its optimal state to perform at its best. Friends, we are the number one managed WordPress hosting platform. We’re the most popular platform for WordPress because of each and every one of you.

From the mom and pop shops, to the robust agencies, to the enterprise brands, we are proud to power your digital experience on the fastest, most reliable hosting platform. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for trusting us with your business. And let’s continue to press ahead. Thank you.


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