The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Website Maintenance

I’m sure at one point in your business life you heard about website maintenance, wondered what it is, how it is done, or maybe you are even signed up to a maintenance service. If it is the latter, you might still wonder what happens in the background, so this post is here to provide answers to all your maintenance-related questions.

What is Website Maintenance and Why Does it Matter?

Website maintenance is the proactive care and management of your website. It involves regular tasks, updates, and checks to ensure optimal performance, security, and user experience. Think of it as the behind-the-scenes work that keeps your online storefront running smoothly.

Why is it a Must?

1. Security Shield: Regular updates and security plugins act as a shield against cyber threats. In the ever-evolving digital landscape, a secure website is non-negotiable.

2. Speed Optimization: A slow website is a business black hole. Maintenance includes optimizing speed, ensuring your visitors don’t warp away before your content loads.

3. Fresh Content and User Experience: Regular maintenance allows you to update content, fix broken links, and enhance the overall user experience. It’s about keeping your audience engaged and coming back for more.

How Often Should You Do It?

Routine maintenance is key. Aim for a monthly checkup, including updates and backups. Major overhauls, like cleaning up the database or revamping security measures, can be scheduled quarterly.

However, if you have a more complex site with regular content updates, loads of traffic, a membership option, or even a big online store with multiple products it is recommended to do these checks on a weekly or even daily basis.

Okay, that’s about the intro. What about the steps? Do you want to do it yourself?

You can, it’s not rocket science.

Below you can find the steps of the basic maintenance I offer for my clients. 

1. Backup:

This is the most important step to take before making any changes to your site. The main reason is to have a version you can go back to in case anything goes wrong.

  • Install a reliable backup plugin like UpdraftPlus.
  • Or access your files through your hosting provider and save your files there
  • Or access cPanel and create a backup there
  • Make sure to add the date of the backup to the file name so you know when it was taken
  • PRO TIP: If you back up your site regularly it’s recommended to keep an excel/spreadsheet of each version and with a comment on what the old version is about and also what the new one contains
  • Schedule regular backups, and store them securely. (outside the server, usually either on your computer or on dropbox/Google Drive).

2. Update, Update, Update:

  • Navigate to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Click on “Updates.”
  • Update WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
  • Do them one by one to avoid any crashes

3. Tidy Up the Database:

  • This will help with your website’s performance
  • Install and activate the WP-Optimize plugin.
  • Clean up unnecessary data, like spam comments and post revisions.

4. Fortify Your Defenses with Security Plugins:

  • Install a reputable security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri.
  • Configure settings and run regular security scans.
  • PRO TIP: Set up two-factor authentication for admin users

5. Monitor Performance:

  • Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. It can show you how fast your site loads and what needs attention
  • Address issues affecting your website’s speed and performance. GT Metrix gives you details of what is wrong and what can help fix it

6. Check broken links

  • Broken links harm your ranking on Google, hence why fixing them has to be a top priority
  • Use the broken link checker to see how many and where you have broken links
  • Obvious, but fix the broken links 🙂
  • Re-run the checker until there are no broken links

7. Test your site

After all the updates an changes have been made make sure to test your site. What does this mean?

  • Check each page layout and design on both desktop and mobile
  • Check each button and link and see if they are working correctly
  • Check your forms as well and see if they work correctly and emails are sent properly

8. Backup again

Once all of this is done and the site works as it is supposed to you can create a new backup of the whole site.

This will ensure you have a version of the site that is updated and performing well.

7. Track your results

It is one thing to do your maintenance but keeping a record of it is a must. When you have reports in place you can see how your site’s performance changed over the course of time and you can spot if there are any underlying issues.

This can be a screenshot taken from each tool, or creating a spreadsheet and adding all necessary info there.

For example: you can see if your site’s page load time increased since you added your new brand images. This can give you an insight that maybe the images are not optimized for the web. Once you compressed your images you can doublecheck the performance again and see if that was the issue.

Reports give you the possibility to make more strategic decisions and keep you site in a healthy state.

Remember, a well-maintained website is a powerful asset for your business journey. Invest the time, and watch your online presence soar!

Got questions?

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Product, Brand & Web Designer

I help businesses create great websites that attract more customers and increase sales. I use my skills in consulting, design, and e-commerce to tell your business’s story and improve customer service. We’ll work together to understand your business and create a website that meets your goals.