To keep your WordPress website secure and operating at peak performance, we advise scheduling some routine WordPress maintenance tasks.
It may seem like a hassle, but it’s a very important work that needs to be done on regularly basis to keep your site secure and healthy.
If you’re unsure of where to start (or why), read on as we will lay down the essentials for you in this article.
Why Your WordPress Site Needs Maintenance
Just like most platforms, WordPress is always ever changing and evolving, which means things could get obsolete quickly if you neglect upkeep or updates.
You might think you won’t need all those shiny new updates, but maintenance is more than that. It can save you from having to deal with the potential problems an outdated website poses in the future, including:
- Security threats – outdated WordPress versions are more vulnerable to security threats.
- Broken website – components that are not maintained regularly might experience incompatibility issues that render them corrupt and unusable.
- Poor performance – even if you speed-proof your website initially, the performance may suffer over the years with more features added.
- Poor user experience – slow loading time and missing or broken components contribute to bad user experience.
- Poor SEO – the combination of poor performance and bad user experience can lead to poor SEO ranking.
Fortunately, most WordPress maintenance tasks require no sophisticated tools or advanced technical skills to carry out. It’s a simple but worthwhile investment that will greatly benefit you in the long run.
Key Maintenance Tasks for WordPress
Now that you know why WordPress maintenance matters, let’s take a look at some key tasks you should already be doing:
#1Keep your WordPress Core, Plugins, and Themes Up-to-Date
Frequency: immediately if a security update is available, quarterly for remaining updates
In addition to new features, keeping up with WordPress updates also enhances the security and speed of your website.
However, some plugins you use might be incompatible with the newest updates. So before implementing any changes, you might want to check on a staging website first. If your hosting provider doesn’t offer a native website-cloning feature, you can use plugins such as WP Staging or Stagecoach.
While you’re doing this task, it’s good practice to delete the plugins and themes you no longer use. That way, you can free more space and limit the vulnerability risks to your website.
#2Keep a Backup or Two
Frequency: daily, and whenever you deploy larger update to your site
There are two kinds of WordPress backups – file backups and database backups. The former is comprised of plugins, themes, and core installation files, while the latter consists of website data such as posts, comments, users, and more. A fully functional WordPress backup is a combination of both.
Generally, it’s advisable to create multiple backups and save them in three different locations just in case one of them gets corrupted. You can save them on your local computer, in an external HDD, or in cloud storage, for example.
As for how often, it really depends, but a good rule of thumb is to have automatic daily backups.
Additionally, you can also back up your WordPress site manually or automatically. Most hosting providers offer automated backups as a part of their service. There are also plugins like UpDraftPlus, BackWPup, or VaultPress that can do the job for you.
However, manual backups are not without their merit. Manual backups should be done whenever you launch a larger update, especially one that will effect your database.
Need some help? Find out more about the proper ways to back up your WordPress site here!
#3Monitor Your Website’s Security
Frequency: continuous automatic scanning
WordPress is generally secure, but it’s not immune to malware. A key WordPress maintenance task is security hardening and scanning. There are plenty of security plugins you can use to automate and ease the process. Sucuri, WordFence, and MalCare are some of the most popular ones.
However, a thorough security scan might take a toll on your server. So it’s better to schedule your security maintenance when the traffic is low. On top of scanning your website, make sure to check your website’s error and access logs to see whether there’s any suspicious activity. We also recommend using strong passwords and changing them regularly.
Finally, good quality hosting such as WPEngine should have an in-built security scanning as part of the package taking the burden of security scans away from you.
#4Delete Unnecessary Files and Data
The more data you pile up, the more memory they consume. Hence why you should purge your drafts, old content, revisions, unused media files, and trash from time to time.
Another thing you should delete is spam comments. Not only having them around is bad for your website’s reputation, but they also eat up space. You can use tools like Akismet, Antispam Bee or CleanTalk to fend off spam comments.
Aside from giving you a clutter-free dashboard, doing this will also ease the load on your website. After all, a bloated website decreases performance, which brings us to the next point.
#5Optimise Performance and Databases
According to Google, the ideal load time for websites is 2 seconds, and 3 seconds if it’s on mobile. Anything longer than that affects user experience and causes a higher bounce rate. You can check your WordPress site’s page load speed by using tools like Google Search Console or GTMetrix. These tools will offer you insights on how to improve your website’s speed on top of telling you the time it takes to load.
#6Ensure Everything is Running Properly
A crucial part of WordPress maintenance is making sure everything is running as it should. Here are a few components you’d want to check for errors or poor performance:
- Links – make sure all the external and internal links you use still work and are free from formatting or spelling errors. You can use a tool like Dead Link Checker to do this quickly.
- Forms – sometimes a bug or misconfiguration on your server or email provider causes forms to stop delivering emails.
- Pages – make sure all pages are working and none of them are throwing up the 404 error.
- Analytics – monitor analytics tools like Google Search Console for notifications of any issues.
While maintenance sounds like tedious work, keeping your WordPress website in tip-top shape is paramount. An unmaintained WordPress site can compromise security, functionalities, and user experience. It’s a simple investment that will go a long way.
That being said, if the notion of WordPress maintenance still overwhelms you, consider hiring a WordPress retainer expert to do it on your behalf. That way, you can focus on other, more exciting aspects of running a website.
- Have you got a web development project you need help with? Get in touch.