Remember the day you first launched your first WordPress website? You probably spent hours picking out the perfect theme, installing plugins and publishing your very first post.
But the struggle isn’t over yet, you still have to maintain this masterpiece of yours. For some, maintenance isn’t an issue but for the vast majority, it can be overwhelming.
If you’re still a bit confused about how to maintain your WordPress website, this detailed post will help guide you with maintaining your WordPress website on a regular basis.
Why Maintenance Is Important
Before we get our hands dirty, it’s important to know why you should properly maintain your WordPress website.
Hackers and malware attacks are a real thing. Not properly updating your website and plugins can make you vulnerable to these unfortunate events.
In fact, most WordPress related hacks are due to plugins that aren’t updated.
Optimal Load Time
User Experience experts say that if your website doesn’t load in three seconds or less you lose 53% of your visitors.
First impressions are important! With a fast loading website, you’ll be sure to gain new customers and retain any existing ones.
Up-to-date WordPress websites have a much better chance of loading quickly.
Improved Search Engine Rankings
How are people going to find your website? While you may have other marketing methods, search engines are the way to go.
SEO is difficult to master, but a well-maintained WordPress website is far more likely to rank higher than an outdated one.
If you were Google, would you send your visitors to newer, up-to-date websites or old and slow sites? The answer is simple.
Better User Experience
Aside from load times, User Experience can contribute directly to your revenue. If visitors to your website have a hard time finding information they’ll just leave.
Out of date sites are not only slow, but lack clarity. For example, old versions of themes may have bugs that block images or videos from your website.
Some out of date plugins can even prevent lead generation forms from working correctly. You can solve some of these issues with some basic WordPress maintenance.
Proper WordPress Maintenance
Now that you understand the importance of maintaining your website, here’s the details you’ll need to make it happen.
Basic WordPress maintenance is broken down into six categories; backups, optimization, updates, security, usability, and spam prevention.
Utilize Backup Plugins
The future is uncertain, especially on the internet. In a split second, something can go wrong and your website could crash.
Most people just take a chance hoping their site never goes down. But when luck runs out, you’ll wish that you spent some time setting up backups of your files and database.
Backups don’t have to be complicated. There are plugins you can install that’ll handle it for you. We recommend Updraft Plus for backing up your site regularly.
The basic version of this plugin is free and gives you plenty of ways to store your backup. If the site ever goes down, you simply install the plugin, upload the backup, and you’re back online!
Using a plugin also has other benefits. For example, you can set it to do an automatic backup with a schedule that fits your needs.
Another great plugin sometimes recommended by WordPress developers is All-In-One WP Migration.
While traditionally a migration plugin, you can download backups and upload them on a fresh site (or the same site) anytime you need to.
This is a great option for switching web hosts as well.
Additionally, shopping around for a web host that also offers backups is a viable option. Some hosting companies do this automatically for free and some may charge an additional fee.
Because it’s through a web host and not the WordPress site directly, backups are easy and sometimes automatic.
If you choose to use a plugin you’ll have to use a free tool like UptimeRobot that constantly checks if the website is live.
Optimize Your Database
The database is one of the most essential aspects of your WordPress website. It stores all your files and site information.
As your site grows, files data grow with it. Databases can have buildups of data that aren’t needed anymore but still take up space.
Things like post drafts and revisions, spam comments, and old plugin files don’t need to be stored anymore. However, they can slow down your website if not properly handled.
Optimizing regularly can prevent excess buildup and keep your site speed optimal. We recommend using a plugin called WP Optimize.
It’s the most popular plugin for optimizing databases and has over 800,000 active installs with a five star rating.
- Removes all unnecessary data such as pingbacks, spam comments, trackbacks and expired transient options
- Optimize MySQL tables with the press of a button
- Compress images to reduce size but not quality
- Detailed control of which optimizations are carried out
- Automatic weekly cleanups
- Retains a set number of weeks’ data during clean-ups
- Performs optimizations without the needing manual queries
Keep Your Site Updated
WordPress frequently releases updates for their in-house themes as well as the framework itself. Each update provides new features, bug fixes, and a better user experience.
Updates also include security patches. Every time you ignore a WordPress update you’re putting your site at risk.
However, WordPress isn’t the only thing you need to keep up to date. Themes & plugins also release updates too.
These updates help speed up the site, provide bug fixes and security patches.
Before doing any major site update, we recommends making a backup of your files and database. Use one of the backup methods mentioned earlier to make this easy. This will allow you to quickly roll back if anything breaks during or after your updates.
Run Regular Security Checks
There’s no doubt that security is the most important maintenance for your WordPress website. However, it’s also the most difficult.
Because of this most people just ignore it. That’s a terrible idea! Instead, take a proactive approach and prevent trouble from happening in the first place.
With security, it’s better to prevent the issues before they start as undoing damage from hackers can be costly.
Even though WP security can be complicated, there’s plugins available to make the process easy. We recommend the Cerber Security Plugin.
This powerful and easy to use plugin has a price point everyone can afford – free! We use it on the majority of our client’s WordPress websites, it’s that good.
- Defends WordPress against hackers, spam, trojans and malware
- Mitigates brute force attacks by limiting the number of login attempts through the login form, XML-RPC / REST API requests or using auth cookies
- Tracks user and intruder activity with easy and powerful notifications.
- Activates a specialized Cerber anti-spam engine and Google reCAPTCHA to protect registration, contact and comments form spam
- Advanced malware scanner, integrity checker, and file monitor
- Sets flexible security rules and sophisticated security algorithms
- Restricts access based on IP addresses for repeat offenders
Fix Broken Links
Broken links negatively impacts the user experience, but it can also negatively impact SEO, lowering your rankings and losing traffic.
Broken links can be addressed with a plugin like Broken Link Checker. This simple plugin constantly scans your website checking for broken links and notifies you when it has one.
Once identified, you can either edit the link or remove it completely.
Most people don’t realize how many links are on your website. If you’re a blog constantly linking to new products, you have probably hundreds of external links that need to be checked.
Other websites may get deleted or change their permalinks causing you to direct visitors to a 404 page. For affiliate marketers this could mean a loss of revenue.
Use this plugin regularly and update links that are no longer working on your site.
Check Contact Forms
Contact forms also need to be tested to make sure that the email notifications are still making it to your inbox.
Thankfully, it’s super easy. All you need to do is fill out the form and make sure you receive the email or notification that it was received.
A broken form could mean that you aren’t getting notifications from your website visitors and losing potential customers. It’s always best to test this anytime you perform an update as some plugins could interfere with how the forms work.
I also recommend installing a plugin that will save the form submits directly into WordPress as a backup. That way you can check the submissions at any time and see if you have been missing notifications.
Spam is a major issue in the WordPress community. Not only is spam annoying, but it can damage your digital reputation.
Spam is frequently seen in the comment section of WordPress, but it can be found in contact forms too. Too much spam through your contact forms can actually mark emails from your website as spam.
This can decrease your revenue and negatively impact your SEO.
Spam is no joke and it’s an important issue that you should work to prevent. Captcha forms do a great job of preventing spam. There are free plugins that provide this service.
In order to make sure your site is spam free, be sure to check throughout your site frequently as well as your contact form emails.
Spam emails through your form can go to the spam folder. Some people even recommend approving all comments before they’re posted.
You can change this in your WordPress settings under the comments section.
Keep an Eye on Speed
There are dozens of factors that can influence the speed of your WordPress website. Thankfully, most of them can be controlled.
Things like outdated themes, new plugins, web host issues, and poor database optimization can slow you down.
Using a free tool like Google Page Speed or GT Metrix can make it easy to test your website on multiple devices. For advanced users, you can run speed audits directly in the console, under the audits tab.
The good thing about Google Page Speed is that it’ll tell you exactly what contributes to the speed of your website.
Site speed is a task that requires frequent maintenance and review. After all, the speed of your site if the first thing your visitors notice.
Make Maintenance Easy
After reading this guide, you’re probably a little overwhelmed with the idea of properly maintaining your site. Developing a maintenance plan can help eliminate a lot of worries and headaches for your WordPress site.
The size of your website can help you determine the best maintenance schedule. Smaller websites may only need to be maintained once a week while larger sites may need to be checked daily. Depending on where you fit, consider blocking out time to go over your security, updates, page speed, backups, and contact forms.
Consider Professional Service
WordPress maintenance isn’t a one-time thing. It’s something you need to do on a consistent basis, similar to cleaning your house.
While the process is tedious, not doing proper maintenance can cost you time and money. In some cases, a hacked website can be a complete disaster for your business.
If you need to stay focused on growing your business, consider hiring an expert in WordPress maintenance. With a decade of experience in WordPress, our experts will thoroughly maintain your website so you can focus on revenue.
With a dedicated crew and blazing fast support, you’ll never have to worry about maintenance again. We offer plans suitable for every WordPress website, from startups to established sites.
Click here to learn more about our WordPress Maintenance Services.