If you have a WordPress website, you need to maintain it; by making sure your site is updated, optimized, and running smoothly – which Google and your clients will love you for.
Why is WordPress site maintenance essential?
Your WordPress website is comprised of many elements:
- WordPress core
- MySQL database
- Configuration – Users, Logins etc
If you don’t maintain those elements, you are opening up these issues:
- Outdated WordPress versions are vulnerable to security threats.
- Website components that are not maintained may experience incompatibility issues that render them broken, corrupt or unusable.
- As you add more features, blogs, pages, etc., your website can show performance issues and reduced speed. Slow loading sites or sites with missing or broken components contribute to a bad user experience.
- Google doesn’t like slow-performing websites or bad user experience, and it can affect SEO ranking.
6 Essential Tasks to Keep Your Website Optimized
1. Create a complete backup of your site – stored in different locations.
Backing up your site regularly is essential. If you accidentally break your website or get hacked, you may be able to restore your website from a previous backup and get it up and running quickly.
There are several ways to back up your website:
- Good hosting services will allow you to easily create a backup manually and an option for automatic backups as part of their service.
- There are WordPress backup plugins that let you run both manual and automated website backups. You can then seamlessly sync backups with cloud-based storage services or to your local device.
- Generally, our rule of thumb is to create multiple backups, and we save them in different locations in case of corruption. redDog.co.nz, for example, backup locations consist of: cloud-based, Webhosting server, backup service, local computer and external hard drive – we believe you can never overprotect a valuable asset.
2. Keep WordPress, themes and plugins updated – plain and simple.
WordPress updates enhance the security and speed of your website. Go gently here as some plugins or even WordPress themes can be incompatible with new updates, so they could break your site. It’s always best to test on a staging website first and do your research.
Within your WordPress Dashboard, you can easily ensure that you are using the latest WordPress version and that your theme and plugins are also up to date:
Appearance > Themes or Plugins > Installed Plugins
3. Running performance tests.
Several factors can affect your site performance, including hosting (good or bad), theme, plugins, image sizes, and more.
Google states that an ideal load time is 2 seconds (desktop) and 3 seconds (mobile); longer can affect user experience and causes higher bounce rates. Run tests on your site to see how it’s performing and where it can be improved; for example, GTMetrix, or Google Search Console will show you how your site is performing and points to improve.
4. Updating your passwords – and change your URL login
Strong passwords are vital to keeping your website safe; use long, complicated passwords for all parts of your site, including:
- WordPress dashboard
- Web hosting
- MySQL database
- User accounts
Change the default login to your site, as bots will be looking for that login.
5. Is everything else on your website running smoothly?
Let’s call this a website WOF; check to make sure your indicators are working as well as your brakes. Check these pointers for errors or poor Performance:
- Links – Some of your content or images may cease to exist over time because of content updates and page changes. Check that the external and internal links work and are free from formatting or spelling errors; Dead Link Checker can point this out quickly for you.
- Pages – Check for 404 error – links to pages that go nowhere, meaning the connection has no idea where the page has gone, and your site shows a 404 error. Google Search Console will let you see your 404 pages, and you can then use a plugin to help you redirect those dead pages; you can also do this through your .htaccess file manually. Do you have a custom 404 page – if not, consider this for user experience; see some cool 404 pages here
- Analytics – monitor analytics tools like Google Search Console for notifications or any issues
- Test all contact forms – if they are broken, how will you know? Forms can be complicated beasts at times, with captcha codes, updates and SMTP delivery errors. Often sites use plugins for forms – like Gravity forms or Ninja forms. Misconfiguration with your hosting account and email can prevent the delivery of forms. So test them periodically, and check to see if they are providing the information you need.
6. Deleting and cleaning – it’s always time!
Check to see if there are spam comments on your site; remove them, not just for user experience but also you may find that your site has some issue with bots. If you don’t need site comments turned on, turn them off.
Delete old pages and post drafts; if you have no use for them, there is no point you keeping them as they may be slowing down your site; make sure you empty the trash afterwards. Check that none of your pages are ranking for your keywords before you delete them.
Clean out your media library; this can at times be the most neglected part of your site. You load an image, and then you don’t use it, or it has a huge file size, and it’s sitting there loading with your site. It’s always best as a first rule of thumb to optimize your images before loading them to your site. Be careful when cleaning out the images that you don’t throw away something you need – remember backup.
For the images already uploaded to your site, you can use plugins to optimize them:
Before your images are uploaded, you should optimize; here are some options:
Remove all unused themes or plugins; you want to make sure your site is shipshape; for example, if you leave a plugin there that you are not using, it could lead to a vulnerability issue later.
Clear your cache – it’s one of the simplest ways to improve your site’s Performance. Many premium plugins will help you with that process; we like WProcket.
You can breathe some life back into old content that is not working for you. Go through your old blogs and see if there are ways you can update them or rewrite them if they performed really well – is the information still accurate? Is it ranking well for keywords you want – how can you improve it? Are there internal links to other pages or blogs that can be added?
- Check to see if your content is outdated and can reflect new changes; for example, a blog with dates on it as in 12 best dogs parks in 2021, or you are explaining something, but the rules have changed since you wrote the article.
- Check if your posts are ranking for SEO purposes; if not, is there anything you can do to improve the blog’s rankings? Do you know what keywords you want to rank for? If not, start there.
- Check your internal blog post links, are there posts or pages that could have new relevant links added to them,
- Update your blog promote it again
Optimizing your MySQL database will remove unwanted data, which helps improve database performance. WordPress CMS is database-driven, which means that all your site content is stored in a MySQL database. Over time, your database may become bloated; this can include information from removed plugins, draft posts, pages, spam comments etc. Some plugins can do this for you – again, do your research.
Don’t be overwhelmed; get yourself on schedule. I can provide advice on when you should do tasks, but each site is different. One rule of thumb is always – if you touch your site for anything, run a manual backup before you do anything.
Keeping up with your WordPress website maintenance will help keep your site running smoothly, loading fast, and attracting and engaging new readers. If you want to work on your business instead of maintaining your website, consider one of our Website Maintenance Plans.
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