WordPress is by far the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world, with millions of websites using it to power their online presence. However, building a WordPress website is only the beginning of your journey. Maintaining your website is just as important as building it, as it helps ensure that your website stays secure, up-to-date, and optimized for the best possible user experience. In this article, we’ll explore the essential ongoing maintenance tasks you need to perform on your WordPress website to keep it running smoothly.
Keep WordPress Updated
WordPress regularly releases updates to fix security issues, bugs, and improve functionality. Keeping your WordPress site updated is an essential part of website maintenance, as it helps to ensure that your site remains secure, stable, and performs optimally.
You can update your WordPress site manually or automatically. To update WordPress manually, you need to log in to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the updates section. Alternatively, you can download the WordPress core files from wordpress.org and upload them to your server manually.
To enable automatic updates, head to the updates page in the WordPress dashboard and choose to enable automatic updates for maintenance and security releases only, or for all new versions of WordPress. This will ensure that your site is always up to date without having to do it manually.
Update Plugins and Themes
Like the WordPress core, updating plugins and themes is also critical for maintaining the security and functionality of a WordPress website. Outdated plugins and themes can potentially introduce security vulnerabilities or compatibility issues with new versions of WordPress.
It is important to regularly check for updates and install them as soon as they become available. Most plugins and WordPress themes will display a notification in the WordPress dashboard when updates are available, and users can also check for updates manually.
Before updating plugins and themes, it is recommended to create a backup of the website to avoid potential data loss or other issues. In addition, it’s important to read the update release notes and check for any compatibility issues or known bugs that may affect the website.
If a plugin or theme is no longer being maintained or updated by the developer, it’s recommended to find an alternative solution or consider removing it from the website to avoid potential security risks.
Backup Your Website
Backing up a WordPress website is an important part of ongoing maintenance. Regular backups can help you restore your website to a previous state if anything goes wrong, such as a hacking attack or accidental deletion of important files.
There are several backup options available for WordPress, including manual backups and automated backup plugins. Manual backups involve downloading a copy of your website files and database to your local computer or cloud storage. This method is more time-consuming and may require technical knowledge, but it gives you complete control over the backup process.
Automated backup plugins, on the other hand, offer a more convenient option for backing up your website. There are several popular backup plugins available for WordPress, including UpdraftPlus, Jetpack Backup, and BackupBuddy. These plugins can schedule regular backups of your website files and database, and store the backups in a secure offsite location such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon S3.
No matter which backup option you choose, it’s important to test your backups periodically to make sure they are working properly. This can involve restoring your website from a backup and checking that everything is functioning as expected. By taking the time to back up your website regularly, you can ensure that your data is safe and secure, and that your website can be quickly restored in the event of an emergency.
Monitor Website Performance
Website speed is critical to test on a regular basis. Over time, your WordPress website may become slow and sluggish. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as outdated plugins, inefficient code, and too many images. Slow page load times and other performance issues can lead to a poor user experience and lower search engine rankings. There is a plethora of things that affect page speed, so it’s important to optimize your website on a regular basis to keep it running smoothly.
You can use free tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to analyze your website’s speed and identify any areas for improvement. These utilities can help identify any bottlenecks in website performance, such as slow-loading images or inefficient code. They can also provide reports on page load times, file sizes, and other metrics that can help you optimize your website for better performance. If your website is slow, you can optimize images, use a caching plugin, or upgrade your hosting plan.
Secure Your Website
Securing your WordPress website is essential to protect it from hackers, malware, and other security threats. You can use plugins like Wordfence or Sucuri to monitor your website for suspicious activity, implement two-factor authentication, and add a firewall to your website.
WordPress websites are a common target for malware attacks. Malware is a type of malicious software that can infect your website and steal your visitors’ data. It is important to scan your website for malware regularly using a reputable security plugin. There are a number of free and paid malware scanning tools available.
Keep it Clean
Keeping your WordPress installation clean is an important part of ongoing maintenance. Over time, websites can accumulate and become cluttered with unnecessary data such as spam comments, post revisions, and unused media files, which can slow down the site’s performance and make it harder to manage. It is recommended to regularly clean up your website’s database, remove any unused plugins and themes, and delete any unnecessary files or data. There are even plugins available to help with cleaning up and optimizing your database and removing unnecessary files.
Additionally, optimizing images, using caching plugins, and minimizing the use of external scripts can help improve the speed and performance of your WordPress website. It’s also important to regularly test your website’s functionality and user experience to ensure that everything is working as intended.
Test and Fix
Checking your site for broken pages and incompatibilities with plugins is an important part of regular maintenance for any website. Broken links and display bugs can lead to a poor user experience, and incompatibilities with plugins can cause errors or even crashes on your site.
Every time your site receives a WordPress update or a plugin update, you should give your site a good once-over to make sure everything is still kosher, as often these updates can introduce new issues. If you notice any errors or problems after updating a plugin, you may need to troubleshoot or even uninstall the plugin to prevent further issues. It’s also important to only use well-reviewed and reliable plugins to minimize the risk of incompatibilities or other issues.
To check your site for broken links, you can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker or WP Broken Link Status Checker. These plugins will scan your site and alert you to any broken links so that you can quickly fix them.
In addition to these important maintenance tasks, here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Monitor your website traffic. It is important to monitor your website traffic so that you can see how people are interacting with your website. This information can be used to improve your website’s design, content, and functionality.
- Keep your content fresh. One of the best ways to keep visitors coming back to your website is to keep your content fresh. This means regularly adding new blog posts, products, or services to your website. Don’t be afraid to shuffle things around, reword some of your copy, and add new images to keep it interesting.
- Monitor your SEO performance. You can use tools like Google Search Console to track how well your site is ranking, which pages are performing well, and to see which are your most successful keywords. It can also help identify many other SEO and UX issues.
- Moderate your comments. If your site has comments enabled, you will need to take time to approve the good comments, delete the toxic comments, and report the spam comments.
Maintaining a WordPress website is an ongoing process that requires time and effort. Think of a website as a living and breathing organism that requires constant TLC to keep it healthy. By following these essential maintenance tasks, you can ensure that your website stays secure, optimized, and up-to-date. Remember to back up, clean up, and test your website regularly to ensure the best possible user experience for your visitors.