Ensuring your website is properly maintained is a lot like taking care of a car. When you first get a brand new car, it has that fresh new car smell, is as clean and runs as best as it ever will.
Every so often, you take it to the carwash and every 3 months (or 3,000 miles), you bring it to a mechanic to change the oil, etc. Some check-ups require more work to be done all with the goal of keeping your car running in tip-top shape!
Your WordPress website is no different.
Previously we looked into ways to keep your WordPress website secure, let’s take a look into the simple things you can do to keep your website maintained and functioning beautifully.
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Here are 4 simple steps to maintain your WordPress website:
1) Backup Your Site
Backups are the cheapest form of insurance around—they cover everything, cost next to nothing, and always pay out. They are the single most cost-effective investment you can make in your business.
You might be thinking, “My hosting provider does regular backups.” That’s a great start, but it’s not enough.
We recommend having backups in at least 2, if not 3, different locations — ideally implemented by different processes.
In other words, if your hosting provider is only providing a single daily backup to a single location, get a backup plugin and set it up to backup your entire site (including all files and databases) to an offsite location such as Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Our recommendation is UpdraftPlus. Though they have a Pro version, the free version of UpdraftPlus likely has everything you need.
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to find out you don’t have a valid backup ready to recover from.
2) Keep Everything Up to Date (and Delete Unused Plugins)
From better performance, to new features, both WordPress core and the plugins you have installed can get updated for a variety of reasons. However, one of the most important reasons to stay updated is to keep your site as secure as possible.
The truth is, nothing online is completely secure. Developers behind WordPress core and your plugins are constantly working to patch bugs and other vulnerabilities before the hackers find them.
The flip side of this however is that upon patching a bug, developers will disclose details on the vulnerability that was patched—meaning if you didn’t install the latest security updates, you are especially vulnerable.
The good thing is, minor updates (which include security updates) for WordPress core are enabled by default and, as of WordPress 5.5, you can opt-in to automatically update any of your plugins or themes.
If you are not actively keeping your site up to date yourself or using a third party to do so, our recommendation is to enable automatic updates on most of your plugins.
TIP: WordPress major updates are not automatically updated. Though they can be enabled with some simple code, to gain complete control over customizing automatic updates, we recommend checking out the Easy Updates Manager plugin.
Similarly, plugins that are no longer being maintained by their developers are a security risk and should be replaced or deleted ASAP.
Additionally, make sure to delete any plugins that are inactive and are not being used.
Watchdog Word to the Wise: If you worry about updates breaking your site’s design and want to avoid long hours spent fixing it, your friends at Watchdog are there for you! Each of our WordPress website management plans come with our complementary Visual Validator — the powerful tool that keeps an eye on your site to ensure it’s as beautiful as it was before updates were performed.
3) Review Your Content for Broken Links
If your WordPress site features a multitude of links, you’ll always want to double check that each of them is functioning exactly as intended.
That’s because broken links come with heavy consequences:
- They annoy your customers, diminishing their trust in you
- They can break your funnels, leading to lost revenue
- They lower your Google Search Rank, reducing your site’s traffic
There are a few tools available out there to help you keep track of broken links on your site.
Generally, plugins such as Broken Link Checker can cause performance issues—so much so in fact that some hosting providers have banned it and similar plugins from being used on their platforms!
Ahrefs and Screaming Frog both provide tools for combing through and reviewing the links on your website.
4) Improve Your Site’s Performance
If your web pages don’t load fast enough, visitors won’t stick around to read your sales pitch. This is called the bounce rate: the rate of site traffic entering your site, only to immediately leave without doing anything.
Here are some of the ways you can improve your site’s performance, as well as our favorite plugins that make it easy:
- Compress images – Our recommendation is ShortPixel
- Enable caching – Our recommendation is WP Rocket
- Disable loading of unnecessary scripts – Our recommendation is Perfmatters.
- Delete unused plugins
Watchdog Word to the Wise: If any of this sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, or the thought of setting up and managing all of these plugins seems overwhelming, feel free to give us a shout! Our WordPress Speed Optimization service will turn your website woes into website wows!
Regardless of how your site was built, websites are never something you can set and forget—they require constant maintenance to function as intended and resonate with your customers.
If you can balance managing both your business as well as all the maintenance and security that goes into your website, we definitely give you kudos!
But, if you’re like the vast majority of business owners, you would probably rather spend your precious time building your business and not fussing over your website, hiring a WordPress management and support team may be a great option.