If you are like most people then you may start out thinking that once you create a WordPress website, it is foolproof and requires little or no input apart from updating the websites content. Unfortunately this is far from the truth, once your site is up and running is when you realise that the real work begins.
In order to maintain proper functionality and host a successful WordPress site, you need to have a minimum maintenance regime that you stick with that will help you keep your site in tip top shape.
Needless to say many people are clueless about where to start or how to go about it, below are tips and tricks that will give you the know how of best ways to maintain a WordPress website to keep it optimised.
Why Should You Care About WordPress Maintenance?
WordPress has been advertised as one of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced platforms to run your site on. Due to this many people do not understand why it is necessary to keep a maintenance schedule in order to keep it working.
To understand and answer this question one should remember that WordPress is a technological tool like any other. This means that as advanced as it is, it is prone to glitches, which need to eliminated once discovered.
Regular maintenance enables you to keep abreast with enhanced security, plugins and themes that allow your site to run better and be more secure.
1. Backup your site regularly
Backing up the content of your site cannot be overemphasised as it is one of the most important things that you will do for your site. Although backing up is just for storage and for does not keep it clean and fresh, it gives you a solution in an event an unforeseen occurrence does happen.
Ideally in the world of technology nothing is guaranteed hence having a backup for your backup is actually a great idea.
For WordPress sites with single account users, a monthly backup maintenance basis is necessary. Corporate sites can be updated every other week while larger sites and blogs especially those with multiple users should be backing up at least daily.
To make things a little easier for you, WordPress plugins provide options that allow you to automatically backup your site easily so when and if an event occurs you will be in the clear.
2. Keep your site up-to-date
As mentioned earlier no technology feature is full proof and over time manufacturers usually find a better and safer way to provide the same service with improved features.
This is the case with the WordPress core, plugins and themes which are updated from time to time.
WordPress has made it so much easier for consumers to get the latest versions with a simple updating feature within the WordPress dashboard that alerts you with new security features and improvements.
Updating your website can be as easy as selecting update within the updates area on your WordPress dashboard and agreeing to the update requirements. To ensure that you are always safe, make it a habit to update as a reflex to continually receive upgraded security features to keep hackers away.
Should you update automatically?
In order to help you keep up with the most recent updates, WordPress gives its users the option of updating automatically. However the question is should you make use of this new feature? Well it depends.
Many security updates are there to help your site be safer and hence updating them automatically is a good idea. However when it comes to plugins and the theme updates steer clear from this practice as it might slow down the speed of your site or cause an incompatibility issue. Ideally the best practice is to schedule a time where you can look over the updates and roll them out yourself.
3. Delete unused plugins
In addition to keeping your site up to date you should also delete unwanted features, specifically unused plugins. As great and fancy as they look, it will reach a time when you realise that there are some plugins that you simply aren’t using.
These plugins use space and affect the functionality of your site increasing the load time period significantly.
If you haven’t used plugins for a particular time period ensure that you delete them and free up the space. This same concept is applied to numerous plugins that do the same function. Evaluate what you need and use the most effective plugin for a function and delete the rest.
Dangers of not updating plugins
Hackers tend to need time to work out how to crack a particular plugin looking for vulnerabilities. Not updating plugins to their latest more secure versions is simply leaving your WordPress site vulnerable to hackers and thus giving them leeway to take over your site.
Out of date or broken plugins also fall into this category and getting rid of them as fast as possible is necessary.
When updating your websites plugins, a trick that you will find useful is to update them one by one instead of in a batch. This way it is easy to identify if two particular plugins are in conflict with one another, which can crash your site and affect it’s presence.
4. Focus on your websites security
When it comes to the security of your WordPress website you must be vigilant. Taking steps to identify and install a reliable security plugin and making sure that it is configured in the correct working manner will help.
Unfortunately many people especially those new to creating and setting up security procedures for their websites simply stick with the default WordPress credentials and do not change them making their sites an easier target. Others unfortunately use the same password, their names, common words and everyday features as their password, which means that hacking it is relatively easy.
Ensure that you are well protected and that you block hackers from accessing your site, install plugins that periodically scan for malware virus’ in your plugins, theme and core of your WordPress site which should help keep it safe.
5. Keep an eye on your websites speed
The speed of your site is just as important as keeping up with new plugin features and improved security measures.
When searching for a specific subject in a particular niche, people are known to want easy gratification and this translates to a faster loading time of your site.
Unfortunately because of a lack of patience, even though your site might have great content, without your site working at its optimum best you will lose visitors.
To ensure that you minimise the bounce rate and increase visitors and viewership, ensure that you do all you can to increase speed. To do this start by ensuring that your hosting needs directly reflect your current needs and has an allowance for your sites growth.
Go a step further and ensure that you eliminate anything that might slow it down like too many plugins or out of date features that need to be deleted.
Remember that speed of your site is directly related to the Google ranking of your site and thus it is necessary to run and maintain a successful WordPress website to not only keep your visitors happy but Google as well!
To make it even easier for you Google has made available a page speed tool that gives you the opportunity to monitor the speed of your site and get helpful tips and tricks that improve the performance of your site.
6. Manage user accounts
A rookie mistake that many people who have never used a site with a multiple user account feature is to be lax with the dealings of added account users. In order to grow in content and to allow diverse creativity, having multiple users over time becomes necessary especially if it’s a big website.
Unfortunately sharing a password and not having a hierarchy of vetting and accepting content is a recipe for major technical disaster.
One major way of dealing with this is to limit the number of multiple user accounts and at the same time ensure that they have their own unique login and password details which they keep secret. It is also wise to ensure that you do not use the default admin user name for your accounts as it compromises the strength of your sites security details.
If you wish you can go a step further and change the URL for your login details and make it even more difficult for your site to be hacked.
7. Comment moderation
Delete spam comments
One of the best ways to maintain a WordPress website and keep it optimised is to deal with the spam comments.
Initially, depending on the number of visitors your site attracts you will gain a lot of spam comments that might be a surprise at first. Ensure that you do not waste time or resources answering back to these and get rid of them as soon as possible.
One way of doing this is by installing an anti spam plugin that will help you limit computer generated spam in your comment section. A periodical checkup to ensure that legitimate comments are not caught up in the comment section is necessary.
In order to run a truly effective website, reader comment participation is necessary. Ideally you should recognise the fact that the reader has taken time to comment on an article that they have found particularly useful to them and the least you can do is to comment back.
Visitors tend to react positively to sites that answer to their comments as they are seen as more credible. First time visitors are also able to see that a site is active and thus more inclined to keep on visiting and reading.
Go a step further and ensure that every day or every other day you respond to comments to ensure that the readers feel they are taken seriously. In all ensure that you are not rude and you keep it as polite as possible and watch out for when you might come across as rude without even realising it.
8. Examine Your Site’s Front-end
Sometimes when you are used to seeing something so often, you rarely see the changes and after effects that it creates or how the finished product reflects to consumers. This is the same case when you have a website. Many are times when you think that something is working perfectly only to realise much later on that it wasn’t the case.
To ensure that your site is actually beneficial to your readers it is important to examine it’s front-end from the visitors point of view. This means that you should take the time to sign in as a reader and analyse if it’s working as it should.
When doing so, take advantage of the opportunity and see if the various plugins that you placed on your site are actually worthwhile. Many are times where adjustment is necessary and you end up changing the number of plugins, which affects the front-end and makes for easier readership on your site.
In all remember the site is for your readers and not for your personal amusement and thus your site should reflect that they come first.
9. Review Functionality
Checking your websites functionality is another factor that you cannot overlook to enhance user experience. Usually it is the small details that can make a big difference. After a number of updates you should make sure that everything works as it should by considering the following:
Test Browser & Device Compatibility
The first and most important factor to check is compatibility. As easy as it might sound, just checking that your site is up and running on one device is far from sufficient. Test your site on various browsers and on different devices. Skip automatic running of checks and do it the old fashioned manual way. At times you might find that though it runs seamless on one device or browser on another it could be completely broken which calls for further testing and changes.
Test Your Forms
The next functionality you should ensure that works well is your forms. Because you are running a business online, contacting you should be easy so your forms should be working properly. Periodically, run tests to ensure that they are still working properly and that all of the information on the contact form page is up to date.
Easy navigation of the content on your site is another factor that you shouldn’t underestimate. Ideally to keep readers hooked and reading what you have to offer you must give them all the information that they need easily and this means directing them to other related content via a link.
To eliminate their disappointment and enable them to read the services you have to offer, get in the habit of testing your links and correct any that are broken or where the page linked to no longer exists.
Find and Fix 404 Errors
Another frustrating factor that you might encounter is finding 404 error pages. As frustrating as it might be to you, it is much more so to readers and thus you can do your part and fix them beforehand. You can use the Google Search Console to inform you about any potential errors once it has done a crawl of your site.
10. Check Your Analytics
To enhance user experience and offer services while still building on your readership numbers is to find out what your readers want. Google analytics allows you to pinpoint content that is popular among your readers and lets you know the overall behaviour of your readers as a whole.
This information is especially useful as it allows you to strategise and thus enables you to give your readers what they want which enables you to run a business and remain relevant.
Ideally every organisation should have some rules and regulations to follow as some changes can cause mistakes to happen such as the cancellation of your websites domain name or blocking your source of revenue, which can and does happen and the consequences can be disastrous.
Google analytics can inform you of mistakes and it acts as an alarm system warning you and informing you on what you should correct to avoid further problems. Normally, running this program once a week is sufficient to keep you up to date.
11. Optimise your database
The place where you store your sites content, pictures, images and pages is called your database. To ensure that your WordPress website is working at its best and you get the most out of your resources, you need to optimise it. As you add content, your site occupies a bigger storage space and thus laxity is usually seen by the speed.
To remedy this WordPress plugins have been made available that automatically run and help your site speed by deleting unwanted background information. This includes blog content, comments, unwanted draft posts, revisions and the like that do not add any use to your site. These plugins also help optimise the underlying MySQL database tables of your site.
12. Scan For Malware And Signs Of Hacking
Check for any irregularities and do not assume anything and counter check everything that seems out of place. In all use specific security tools like WordFence and WP Antivirus site protection. Doing this ensures that you adhere to basic security measures and it allows you to keep abreast of the latest exploits to help keep your site safe and secure.
13. Update Your Portfolio
Missing out on updating your portfolio is an often overlooked feature that should not happen. Ideally your portfolio acts as your business front and thus should depict that you are serious about customers and serious about wanting to attract and do business with your clients.
Ensure that you keep it up to date with your most recent work you have done and thus potential clients are not put off with work that you did ages ago. To keep it fresh, make it a habit to check at least once a month if anything needs to be added, especially if you have been busy.
14. Consolidate Plugins and Themes
Run a clutter free website and consolidate your plugins and themes. Watch out for numerous plugins that add to the clutter and eat up precious space within your site.
It is not uncommon to try various plugins before you get the right one, but it is common to forget about them and simply keep on adding to them. To ensure that you do not fall into this rut, get in the habit of deleting themes and plugins after you have moved on and decided on a particular one.
Get in the habit of asking you if all of them are necessary and delete those that have overstayed and outlived their usefulness. This not only gives you the opportunity to add new features that might be useful for your readers but it helps lead to a flawless running site, which improves your sites speed.
15. Eliminate Dead Links
Finally in our top 15 list of helpful tips to help you maintain your WordPress website is to eliminate dead links. Over time, some links become redundant and outlive their usefulness. At times a site URL might have changed or the sites page does not exist anymore. This and simple typing mistakes, leads to broken links that lower the credibility of your site in providing steady information at the right time.
After every few months check on links that lead to other sites and ensure that they still work. Though they don’t lower ranking on Google, they do give a negative perception to your readers. If clicking manually seems to be too much work, install a plugin that does it for you such as Broken Link Checker that check on this and informs you to correct them if need be.
In doing these WordPress maintenance tips and tricks your site is bound to be clean, updated and work at its optimum best. You should also get to enjoy an increase in visitors, a higher Google ranking and be able to run a stress free business from anywhere in the world.
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