Wouldn’t it be lovely to just be able to set up your website and forget about it, safe in the knowledge that it would be secure and run perfectly? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Now that you’ve setup your site, its time to start maintaining your WordPress website.
Just like anything else, if you want your website to run at its best, you need to take care of it. That means keeping it up to date, secure and backed up.
But maintaining your WordPress website doesn’t have to be daunting. With a bit of organisation you can set your website maintenance to run like a well-oiled machine.
In this post we run through exactly what you need to be doing to optimise your site and keep it safe. And we recommend a few brilliant plugins (all free – no affiliate links) to help automate your website maintenance and make your life sooo much easier.
DAILY / WEEKLY TASKS
Backup Your Website
This is without a doubt one of the most important maintenance tasks to do for your website.
If you’ve had your site for a while, no doubt you’ve run into a few bumps along the way. Maybe you’ve even gone through the terrifying experience of having your website or content just disappear on you or change after an update, a security breach or sometimes, for no obvious reason at all.
I once saw a well known blogger have her beautifully designed website completely destroyed by hackers. Luckily her site was back up and running like new a few days later – she clearly had backups!
How often you back up will largely depend upon how active your site is. Maybe your website is relatively static and so you run backups weekly or monthly. If you’re a blogger who posts daily you may want to back up every day or every few days.
Personally, we tend to back up our site weekly, or after we have made any major changes, e.g. updated the design, added in pages.
Your hosting provider will quite often provide backup services but its a good idea to also take offline backups and store them yourself (just in case your hosting provider goes down – it happens).
We recommend using the UpdraftPlus plugin which enables you to make regular scheduled backups and send them to your choice of remote storage such as Dropbox.
Update Your Theme and Plugins
Whenever you log onto your WordPress control panel and see one of those little orange circles with a number in it sat next to ‘Updates’, ‘Plugins’ or ‘Themes’, that means there is an update waiting.
You should get into the habit of accepting updates whenever you see them, especially security updates. They are there to fix any errors in your theme or plugins and update the security features in response to new threats.
By keeping everything up to date your site will work better and be more secure (in fact, one of the main reasons websites get hacked is a failure to keep them up to date).
If you are regularly logging onto your website then you will see the update notifications pop up in your dashboard whenever you log on and you should accept them there and then.
However, if your site is more static and you only log on every so often, you should set some time aside to specifically check for updates at least once a week.
Check Your Contact Forms Are Still Working
We are actually guilty of this particular one *hangs head in shame*.
One time we were going through a particularly quiet stage and getting very few enquiries. After spending a long time fretting about why on earth no one was contacting us and whether our business was about to die a very rapid death we decided to check that our contact form was working.
We still have no idea how many enquiries we missed out on during those few weeks.
The moral of the story: check your contact form regularly to make sure it is working! I would recommend checking it weekly at the very least. We tend to check ours every few days to make sure everything is functioning as it should be.
Moderate Comments on Your Blog
Most websites these days have a blog. And if you don’t, you probably should have (check out our blog post on the Pros and Cons of Blogging for Your Business to read more).
Whilst blogs are a way of demonstrating your authority, they are also a way of building a community and interacting with your readers.
Comments are a great way of doing this. And if you are lucky enough to be receiving comments on your blog, then you should be responding to them. This shows your visitors that your website is still very much active and helps them to build a connection with you (which, by the way, is a good thing).
But…that’s not to say that all comments are desirable. No matter the size of your site, and no matter how good your anti-spam plugin, you will still no doubt be hit with some annoying spam comments.
Luckily WordPress gives you the ability to moderate your comments and only post them to your site once you have approved them.
So if you have a blog, make sure you are logging on weekly, if not daily, to approve comments, reply to them and delete any spam comments from your dashboard.
Check Your Website Security
This is another biggie!
Even small websites are vulnerable to being targeted by hackers so your site security is something that should be top of your priority list when setting up your website.
You should also be checking your security settings regularly to make sure that everything is still super secure.
We use the Wordfence plugin to protect our site from hackers and malware. The free version enables you to schedule regular scans of your website and blocks malicious login attempts.
Clean Your WordPress Database
Over time your WordPress database can get full of extra stuff that you don’t really need – spam comments, deleted comments, old post revisions, just to name a few. All this extra ‘junk’ slows your website down which can cause people to leave your website.
You can use the WP-Sweep plugin to clean up your database. We recommend doing this monthly to keep your site as speedy as possible.
If you’re looking for other tips on how to speed up your website, you can check out our blog post on 4 Quick & Easy Ways to Improve Your Website’s Load Speed.
Update Your Content
A website is constantly changing and evolving so your content should be changing and evolving with it too.
Of course blog posts will continue to be published on a regular basis. But you should also take the time to check over other static content on your website pages to check that it is still correct and applicable.
If you’re a business you might want to update your ‘Portfolio’ or ‘Recent Work’ pages, make sure your business information is still correct and check that your content is still relevant.
Check for Broken Links
As your website gets bigger and things get moved around or deleted you may end up with broken links which are frustrating for your website visitors.
You can use the Broken Link Checker plugin to scan your site and check for broken links. You can either activate this plugin to check for broken links every month (or whatever time period you decide on) or keep it active on your site so that you get notified whenever a broken link is found.
And there you have it – the easy guide to maintaining your WordPress website and keeping it running smoothly.