Good website maintenance is necessary for a healthy, long-lasting website. It allows you to spot problems early, fix them, and keep your website up and running and useful. Follow our checklist to successfully maintain your WordPress website.
Why you should maintain your WordPress site
Your WordPress website is a bit like a car. If you treat him right, he will work for you for years to come. But if you neglect maintenance, problems can pile up and, if you really procrastinate, your website can even stop working.
WordPress is constantly changing. The core team is always adding new features, fixing bugs, patching newfound security vulnerabilities, etc. The same goes for all the plugins you use, and for the web as a whole.
Your website itself is also constantly changing. You publish new content, change the design, add new features, and more.
Put all those changes together, and there’s a big risk that something will go wrong and your website will stop working.
This sounds a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of the time, all those changes go smoothly. But to avoid the rare situations where things do go wrong and to stay on top of trends on your site, it’s important to do a little maintenance.
WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist
Weekly WordPress Maintenance Tasks
1. Visit your website
This one seems simple – but just visiting the front of your site and clicking around to a few key pages is a great way to spot any issues. With that said, it’s easy to forget this and spend all your time in the WordPress dashboard. So go to your site once a week and flip through some of the most important pages to make sure everything is still working the way you expect it to work.
2. Check the ‘comments’ / reactions
If you allow comments on your site, you will need to spend some time each week moderating them to make sure you approve genuine comments and flag/remove spam comments.
To help you save time moderating comments, consider using an anti-spam plugin like Akismet. That way, you only have to check once a week to see if you approve of human comments and if Akismet accidentally marked a genuine comment as spam.
3. Back up your site
Having a recent backup is essential to keep your site’s data safe. So, if your WordPress host doesn’t already provide backups for you, you’ll need to back up your site yourself. Weekly backups are a good frequency for most sites.
If you have a static brochure website that never changes (ie any blog posts or comments), monthly backups may suffice. The optimal backup frequency of your site really depends on how often you make changes and add content to the database.
4. Do updates!
We can’t repeat it often enough, if you want to secure your website and keep it working, applying updates in a timely manner is essential. Every week you should check for updates to the WordPress core, plugins, or themes.
5. Test your most important forms and applications
If you have important forms or features (like a checkout process), it’s important to test them regularly. There’s nothing worse than wondering why you weren’t getting any leads/sales in the last 10 days, only to find it was because your form stopped working.
For some sites, you might want to run this monthly instead of weekly. It really depends on how essential the forms/features are to your business. For mission-critical forms where every problem means loss of revenue or customers, it’s always a good idea to test weekly.
And for truly mission-critical functions, you can set up some sort of automated surveillance system. For example, Pingdom offers transaction monitoring to test key features on a daily or hourly schedule.
6. Check Google Search Console
If Google encounters issues with your site’s SEO or mobile optimization, it shares alerts in Google Search Console. For this reason, it is important to regularly check whether Google has identified problems with your site.
You can quickly see all the issues by clicking the notification bubble in the top right corner
Monthly WordPress Maintenance Tasks
7. Run Performance Tests
How fast your site loads plays a key role in user experience and conversion rate and even has a small positive effect on SEO.
When you created your site, you probably optimized it for performance. However, that does not automatically mean that your site will remain optimized, so it is important to regularly assess the performance of your site to detect any problems.
Once a month is a good frequency for most websites, although you may want to do this weekly for mission-critical sites.
8. Analyze your site’s traffic
To understand what is happening on your site, you should use some kind of web analytics tool, such as Google Analytics.
If digital marketing is a serious part of your strategy, you probably already check your web analytics every day. Most webmasters don’t need to look that often, but it’s still helpful to check it once a month or so to keep track of what’s happening and spot any trends.
If SEO is an important part of your strategy, you may also want to set up keyword monitoring to track your site’s ranking in Google and check it every month.
9. Run a security scan
Because WordPress is so popular, it is an attractive target for malicious parties. To make sure your site doesn’t fall victim, it’s good to run regular security scans to spot potential issues.
Most WordPress security plugins include automatic security scan features.
10. Optimize your site’s database
Your site’s database stores all your content, theme settings, plugin settings, etc. Over time, it can generate a lot of junk via things like post revisions, transients, spam comments, etc.
That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically optimize your site’s database to remove all this clutter.
You can do that with some plugins, including WP Rocket. With these plugins, you can also schedule your database optimization to run automatically.
11. Check for unreachable links or 404 errors
Broken links or 404 errors are terrible for the user experience on your site because they hinder visitors from finding what they are looking for.
Although broken links and 404 errors are separate things, they go hand in hand because a broken link usually leads directly to a 404 error. If you’re not familiar with what a 404 error is, it’s the error your website displays when a visitor goes to a URL that doesn’t exist.
To check your site for broken links you can use a plugin that checks broken links.
12. Check your site’s backups
A backup is only good if it works. So while you should make weekly backups of your site, it’s also important to regularly check that those backups really work. You can do this by restoring your site’s backup to a staging site.
This is certainly no small task and many hosting companies nowadays offer automatic backups within your hosting package. If you are sure that this is the case, you can skip this task. So always start by checking with the hosting!
Annual WordPress Maintenance Tasks
13. Consider if you need new hosting
This is always at the top of our annual tasks and we prefer to do this twice a year. Your hosting is often one of those things that you once closed somewhere and didn’t really look back after that. We understand that very well, but in practice, this can be expensive. Hosting companies are free to adjust their packages as they wish.
That can be in the hardware (the speed), the software (which you can log in to for pleasant management), or even worse, in the prices! Let’s note that we are absolutely not in favor of budget hosting, because in our experience and testing that is always an expensive story. However, the price does not have to be disproportionately high for what you get in return.
So try to take a critical look at and compare your hosting at least once a year. In our view, price is also good support and timely upgrades to the platform to keep up with the latest developments in the market.
14. Change your WordPress password
All the WordPress security tips in the world don’t matter if a malicious person gets their hands on your username and password. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow good password principles and change your WordPress admin password once every year or so.
This, combined with other tactics like limiting login attempts, should protect you from brute force attacks and other login-based threats.
Make sure to use a strong, unique password. Password managers like LastPass or Bitwarden make it easy to securely store a unique password for each WordPress site.
15. Check your content
A content audit is a great way to improve your site’s SEO and user experience. You can double the top-performing content of your site with it and also fix the weakest content.
Essentially, your goals with a content audit are the following:
- Update and improve your top-performing content so that it maintains its ranking or outperforms it.
- Remove ineffective content and merge its content into other content or redirect to other content.
- It will also help you understand what content works best for your site so you can adjust your strategy in the future.
16. Check your plugins
Any plugin you add to your site is a potential security vulnerability and a potential drag on your site’s performance. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use plugins, just make sure you only use essential plugins.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to check once a year to see if your site is still benefiting from every plugin you use. If your site isn’t benefiting as much as you thought when you installed the plugin, consider deactivating and removing the plugin.
Keep your website maintained and preventively eliminate all problems
This checklist is not set in stone and you may want to adjust the frequency to suit your website. For example, if your website’s forms don’t play a key role in your business, you probably don’t need to check them every week.
However, we were trying to find a good frequency that is optimal for most websites, so this checklist is a great place to start when creating your maintenance plans.
If this maintenance feels overwhelming, consider paying for a WordPress maintenance service to maintain your site for you.
for website maintenance service contact us.