WordPress is supposed to make building and managing a website simple, but that doesn’t mean its’ entirely maintenance-free. It’s the most widely-used content management system (CMS) on the planet due to its simplicity and flexibility, but plenty could go wrong if you try a set it and forget it approach.
Here is why it’s so important to maintain your WordPress site and five key tasks you can focus on for WordPress site maintenance to keep your website in top shape.
The Importance of Maintaining Your WordPress Website
If you want your website to be successful, you’ll need to focus on more than fancy graphics and content. Regular maintenance is also necessary to keep your site running smoothly and secure it from bad actors who’d love to steal some of your data or just your entire site. Some of the reasons that you should maintain your WordPress site monthly include:
- Keep your site running smoothly. According to HostScore, common causes of website unreliability are server overload and poor quality hosting. When your site is running smoothly, it will be easier to diagnose problems on the server-side.
- Close security threats. A site that isn’t regularly updated is more likely to have vulnerabilities. This is an invitation for hackers to corrupt or steals your data.
- Improve search engine optimization (SEO). A well-maintained website is going to perform better and achieve better search engine rankings.
5 Key Tasks for WordPress Site Maintenance
The good news is that there are a handful of simple things you can do each month to maintain your WordPress site, keep your searching engine rankings where they should be, and engage your visitors. Here are five that you should put at the top of your list.
1. Check Your Site’s Loading Time
If your site is taking more than a few seconds to load, it is not doing as well as it could in the search engines and is surely impacting the user experience. Google now uses site load speed as a ranking factor, and many consumers claim they’ll abandon their efforts if a site is too slow to load.
But that’s just the first step. Once you’ve tested your site, you’ll want to drill down on the results and make any necessary changes to increase its loading speed. Examples might be reducing image sizes or using a Content Distribution Network (CDN).
2. Update Themes and Plugins
The latest versions of WordPress update automatically, which is excellent news for site owners that want to cut down on some of this maintenance. But, you will still have to update some of the other areas of your site manually.
Having outdated themes and plugins in WordPress can make your site sluggish as well as vulnerable to security breaches. When themes and plugins are updated, they also often include additional functionality, which might make them faster and more secure.
The solution is to log in to your WordPress dashboard monthly and update everything, which is simpler than it sounds. Just go to Plugins>Installed Plugins, and select all of the ones with updates available. At the top, under “Bulk Actions,” choose “Update.” You can also update your current theme from inside the dashboard in the “Themes” section.
3. Optimize Your WordPress Database
Optimizing your WordPress posts is something you should do to increase your engagement, but one important maintenance task that is too often forgotten is optimizing your WordPress database.
A MySQL database is used to create and store all of the information necessary for your WordPress site to operate. But this database can become unwieldy over time because it begins to store unnecessary data. When this happens, it can slow down your website and sometimes even create errors.
The solution is to “optimize” your database periodically, and you can do this easily with a plugin. One option is the WP-Optimize plugin that will clean up your database with the click of a button. As a word of caution, you should create a database backup before you proceed – just in case.
4. Find and Fix Broken Links
No visitor enjoys clicking on a link and then reaching a 404 or other error pages. The longer your website is online, the higher the likelihood that you are going to have some broken links.
While there are plugins that can look for broken links, these may not be the best solution because they can slow down your site. A better option is to use an external tool like Dead Link Checker that will scan your site and look for broken links.
Once you get the results, you’ll need to return to your site and fix any of those errors. Some of your options include:
- Remove the link
- Update the link to a new source
- Update the link to an archived version of the referenced page
Depending on how much content you have on your site, you may want to run this exercise monthly so that you don’t fall behind.
5. Schedule Regular Backups
You put a lot of work into your WordPress site. It would be a shame to lose it all in a snap due to a technical error or the actions of a hacker.
Something else you should do monthly is backup your WordPress site so that you have a recovery source if something terrible happens. You can set this up automatically with something like Updraft Plus. This will backup your entire site, or the items you choose, on a set schedule.
Even if you have this set to happen automatically, it would be a good idea to check on your backups monthly. The worst thing that could happen is having your site crash or get hacked and then find out that your backups weren’t working or downloading as you intended.
Some of these tasks might seem tedious, but taking a few minutes to do each of them will be worth the effort. Keeping up with your WordPress site maintenance will keep your WordPress site loading fast, running smoothly, and attracting new visitors.