6MayWebsite under maintenance

Good website maintenance is necessary for a healthy, website. It allows you to identify issues fix them, and make sure that your website performs at its best. All WordPress sites require at least some level of maintenance to keep them secure and well-functioning. And, while you do need to put in some work, it does not have to be complicated if you know exactly what you need to do and when to do it.

Here are our recommendations to successfully maintain your WordPress website ranging from weekly tasks to monthly and yearly ones.

Why You Need to Maintain Your WordPress Site

WordPress is constantly changing. The WordPress team is always adding new features, fixing bugs, patching newly discovered security issues. The same holds true for all the plugins you’re using, and the web as a whole.
Your website itself is also always changing. You might be publishing new content, updating the design, adding new features, adding new images and more.
Combining all these factors together there is a risk of something going wrong and your website not working.
Most of the time, all those updates go off without a hitch however to avoid the situations in which something does go wrong it’s important to put in some maintenance work.

Weekly WordPress Maintenance Tasks
  1. Visit Your Site

Visiting your site’s front-end and navigating through a few key pages is a great way to pick up potential issues.

  1. Moderate Comments

If you allow comments on your site, you’ll need to spend some time moderating them to make sure you approve real comments and flag/delete spam comments. Consider using an anti-spam plugin such as Akismet.

  1. Back up Your Site

Having a recent backup is essential to secure your site’s data. So, if your WordPress host isn’t already taking care of backups for you, you need to back up your site yourself. For most sites, weekly backups are a good frequency. You can make use of a plugin like Updraft of Jetpack for automated backups.

  1. Apply Updates (Core, Plugins, and Theme)

If you want to secure your website and keep it functioning, applying updates is essential. Every week, you should check in to see if there are any updates for the WordPress core, plugins, or themes. If there are updates, you should apply them. If you’re worried about compatibility issues, you can test updates on a staging site before applying them to your live website. Or, you can put your site into maintenance mode while you apply updates.

  1. Test Key Forms and Features

If you have important forms or features (like a checkout process), it’s important to regularly test them. There’s nothing worse than wondering why you didn’t get any leads/sales over the past 10 days only to discover it was because your form stopped working.

Monthly WordPress Maintenance Tasks
  1. Run Performance Tests

How quickly your site loads play a key role in user experience and conversion rates and even influences SEO. When you created your site, you probably optimized it for performance. However, that does not automatically mean your site will stay optimized, so it’s important to still assess your site’s performance.

  1. Analyze Your Site’s Traffic

To understand what is happening on your site, you should be using some type of web analytics tool such as Google Analytics. If digital marketing is a serious part of your strategy, you’re probably checking into your web analytics every day already. Most webmasters don’t need to check that often, but it is still useful to check in once a month or so to keep track of what’s happening and notice any trends. If SEO is an important part of your strategy, you also might want to set up keyword monitoring to track your site’s rankings in Google and check in every month.

  1. Run a Security Scan

Because WordPress is so popular, it’s an attractive target for malicious actors. To make sure your site doesn’t become a victim, it’s good to run regular security scans to catch potential issues.

  1. Optimize Your Site’s Database

Your site’s database is what stores all of your content, theme settings, plugin settings, etc. Over time, it can generate a lot of clutter via things like post revisions, transients, spam comments, etc. For that reason, it’s a good idea to periodically optimize your site’s database to remove all of this junk. You can do so using some performance plugins including WP Optimize. These plugins also let you schedule your database optimization to run automatically.

5.Check for Broken Links or 404 Errors

Broken links or 404 errors are horrible for user experience on your site because they get in the way of visitors finding what they are looking for.
While broken links and 404 errors are separate things, they go hand-in-hand because a broken link will usually lead directly to a 404 error. If you’re not familiar with what a 404 error is, it’s the error that your website displays when a visitor goes to a URL that doesn’t exist. To check your site for broken links, you can use a broken link checking plugin.
To find pages visitors tried to access that led to 404 errors, you can search for something like “Not Found” in Google Analytics and then click on the listing (marked by the arrow in the screenshot below) to find the specific URLs that triggered 404 errors:
404-errors
In addition to fixing your site’s 404 errors, you can create a custom 404 page that can help guide visitors to what they’re looking for.

  1. Verify Your Site’s Backups

A backup is only good if it works. So while you should take backups of your site weekly, it’s also important to periodically verify that those backups actually work. You can do this by restoring the backup of your site to a staging site or using a

Annual WordPress Maintenance Tasks
  1. Consider Whether You Need New Hosting

As your site grows, it’s easy to grow so much that you outgrow your current hosting. It’s a good idea to check in once a year or so to see if your host is still meeting your needs when it comes to performance, reliability, and features.

  1. Update Your WordPress Password

All the WordPress security tips in the world don’t matter if a malicious actor gets their hands on your username and password. For that reason, it’s a good idea to follow good password principles and change your WordPress admin password once per year or so. This, combined with other tactics like limiting login attempts, should protect you from brute force attacks and other login-based threats. Make sure to use a strong, unique password. Password managers like LastPass make it easy to safely store a unique password for each WordPress site.

  1. Audit Your Content

A content audit is a great way to improve your site’s SEO and user experience.
Essentially, your goals with a content audit are to:

  • Update and improve your top-performing content to help it keep its rankings or perform even better.
  • Remove ineffectual content and either merge its content into other content or redirect it to other content.
  1. Audit Your Plugins

Every plugin that you add to your site is a potential security vulnerability and can have an effect on your site’s performance. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use plugins, but it does mean you should be careful to make sure you’re only using essential plugins. It’s a good idea to consider once per year whether your site is still getting benefits from each plugin that you’re using. If your site isn’t benefiting as much as you thought it would when you installed the plugin, consider deactivating and deleting the plugin.

Conclusion

These recommendations are not set in stone and you might want to adjust the frequency for your website.
If this maintenance feels overwhelming, you might want to consider one of our WordPress packages which allow us to handle backups, security scans, updates,
Overall, though, once you get in the flow, your maintenance tasks should only take a few minutes per week, with some extra time every month or year to perform some other tasks.

Leave a Reply