There are countless guides, both for beginners and experts, to WordPress maintenance. Would it make sense to publish another guide just for the sake of pushing out new content? At first sight, it’s unnecessary to publish a new beginner’s guide to WordPress maintenance.
However, there are significant upcoming changes, and most likely, WordPress maintenance will differ from what we currently do to take care of WordPress sites. The line between maintenance and optimization becomes more blurred, and these may interlay.
In this context, a short recap and some new ideas in the WordPress maintenance area might help you improve your site.
Guide to WordPress Maintenance [2021 edition]
WordPress maintenance encompasses all the activities performed to keep your site running. Check the WordPress.org guide to WordPress site maintenance to learn how to take care of your site from experts.
The Maintenance calendar is another precious resource aiming to show how to maintain your site practically. Still, if you run an online business like a blog, magazine, news, online store, rental, or agency website, you have to do more. A lot more. Follow the next steps to maintain your site correctly.
Setting up a backup plugin takes a few minutes, and it may prove as your business savior in some instances. A site copy is golden when the server hostings site files crush or when a hacker gets access to your site. Everyone agrees that a backup copy is vital, but a few webmasters ignore putting it into practice.
Indeed, it takes time and requires basic knowledge to create a backup copy manually. Luckily, plenty of excellent backup plugins are free of charge so that you can use them on your site. No excuses!
Install and activate the preferred backup plugin and configure it to create automatic site backups and export them.
Once it’s done, you rest assured. The plugin works, and the copies are stored on safe destinations. Bear in mind that the backup is only half the problem – you should try to restore the most recent backup from time to time. In this way, you ensure that the backups are functional.
Here are some WordPress backup plugins that can come in handy for backing up your website.
- UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup Plugin
- Jetpack – WP Security, Backup, Speed, & Growth
- BackWPup – WordPress Backup Plugin
However, there are many other backup plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository but the most important thing is that it works both to take a backup and restore a backup to ensure that you can restore your website if something should happen.
Update, Update, Update
It is another tip mentioned in all guides to WordPress maintenance. It’s nothing new, but you have to do it. Plugins and themes developers release updates to improve or to enhance the security of their products. New WordPress versions come with improvements, so you have all the reasons to click on the Update button.
Webmasters running multiple sites should use a WordPress management tool. It allows running all your sites from a centralized dashboard. You don’t have to log in to each site; add them to your dashboard and perform updates with a single click.
Regular Security Checks
Your site is never secure enough! No matter how many firewalls and security plugins your use, there is a brilliant mind able to break your site.
Still, the most skilled hackers won’t attack small and medium sites. Unless you run Amazon or CNN-like sites, you have enough tools to strengthen your site security. No hackers will waste time and resources on sites that don’t pay off the endeavors invested.
Hence, change your strategy from making your site entirely secure to make it unattractive to hackers. It’s a subtle change, but it has a huge impact. Instead of embracing a mentality such as -” I don’t care about site security because any hacker can break it,” you should shift it to – “let’s do whatever possible to strengthen the site security.”
Start with a security plugin. As with backup plugins, there are several effective security plugins. Many of these plugins (e.g., Wordfence) have a free version available on the WordPress repository. Use any of these free versions if you are on the budget. Here are a couple of WordPress security plugins we recommend.
- Wordfence Security – Firewall & Malware Scan
- All In One WP Security & Firewall
- iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
- Jetpack – WP Security, Backup, Speed, & Growth
- MalCare Security – Free Malware Scanner, Protection & Security for WordPress
Next, audit the number of users, their roles, and the password complexity. Reduce the number of users, their permissions, and force them to use complex passwords.
Periodically check the plugin security stats and the new accounts created. The stats reveal the hacking attempts, and you can act accordingly – ban IP addresses, limit the login attempts, etc. A clear overview of the new accounts helps to find the accounts that may be deleted.
User Experience Optimization
Google planned to roll out a new update in May 2021. It aims at ranking higher sites with outstanding user experience. The focus is on core web vitals, and experts all agree that speedy websites will be favored. Bear in mind that a fast loading site is only half of the problem. Your site must be user-friendly, so you should do everything possible to satisfy your site visitors.
Under these circumstances, improving your site UX became a task falling under the site maintenance category shifting away from site optimization. There is a blurred line between maintenance and optimization.
Site maintenance implies all the activities needed to make your site run smoothly, while optimization refers to everything you do to improve the site performance. Site maintenance is mandatory, while optimization is facultative.
To stay competitive, you will permanently need to optimize your site. The planned Google update accelerates the blending of WordPress maintenance and optimization.
Altogether, what really matters is user satisfaction. Prepare your site for the new update and permanently tweak your site to improve the user experience. Nothing is 100% sure in the realm of SEO, but it’s said that your site UX will become as important as the backlinks are.
You install WordPress themes, plugins, save drafts, store revisions, and deal with spam comments. Your site database keeps track of all these bloats across time, resulting in a slow loading site. Luckily, a bunch of free database optimization plugins is available to clean up your site database. It takes around five minutes to install, activate, and set up such a plugin.
Here are some WordPress plugins that can help you optimize and clean your database.
- WP-Optimize – Clean, Compress, Cache
- Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions
- Plugins Garbage Collector (Database Cleanup)
Delete Unused Themes and Plugins
Do you install lots of WordPress themes and plugins? You are not the only one; many webmasters do the same. Still, you have to delete the unused themes and plugins. These remain in your site database if you don’t delete them.
It’s not only about bloating the database and slowing down the loading speed; it’s also about security. Any theme and plugin is a potential vulnerability. It doesn’t make sense to store unused items that may harm your site and don’t improve it.
Get Rid of Spam
It’s a simple and effective task – delete the spam comments. Akismet is a great plugin to use fighting against spam. If possible, manually review the comments because sometimes Akismet considers proper comments as spam and vice-versa. It rarely happens, but it’s better to reduce these instances.
More useful WordPress plugins to fight spam.
- Spam protection, AntiSpam, FireWall by CleanTalk
- WP Cerber Security, Anti-spam & Malware Scan
- Disable Comments – Remove Comments & Protect From Spam
Check for Broken Links
Checking the site’s broken links is another simple task to do. Broken links annoy users, and certainly, you don’t want that. Don’t worry; you don’t have to check every link manually.
Broken Link Checker is a useful plugin that does the leg work for you. Depending on your preferences, the plugin may notify you via email or admin dashboard.
Test Site’s Forms
Many webmasters lose sight of testing the site’s forms. Indeed, the forms work permanently once you properly configure them. You might edit a file that impacts a form, and you didn’t realize it. Or you misconfigured your email newsletter plugin.
Anyway, you should check the site’s forms from time to time. Imagine that a prospective client sends you a message, and it didn’t land in your Inbox. You don’t want to miss such opportunities!
Test Site Responsiveness and Speed
Testing the site responsiveness depends on how frequently you tweak your site. Supposing that you tweak the site design once a semester makes sense to check the site responsiveness with the same ratio.
Webmasters who continuously bring new design improvements should check how the site looks on mobile devices frequently. Don’t resume only using a responsive theme. Carefully check how mobile users consume your content and how accessible the site is. If possible, ask family members and friends to test the site. You will get unexpected insights from their experiences.
Use Google Page Speed Insights or Pingdom to find out the current rating of your site loading speed. Keep in mind that a plethora of things influences a site’s loading speed. Sometimes, unexpected things may slow down your site, and you should always be aware of them.
Over to You
WordPress maintenance takes precious time. You don’t have any choice but to create a routine and work accordingly. The above suggestions are enough for 99% of all WordPress sites.
Do you have another suggestion to maintain a WordPress site better? Leave a comment with your exciting thoughts.