WordPress could well be called the poster child for ‘easy-to-build’ websites! However, making a website is only the first step… to ensure that the website stays relevant, and doesn’t falter when it comes to search engine rankings, it is essential to give due attention to ‘website maintenance’!
Now now, you don’t need to be overwhelmed… It is just a bunch of things you need to do to keep your website alive and kicking! To make it easier for you, we made a simple checklist you can keep ticking off!
i. WordPress site maintenance checklist!
Here we go…
1. The obvious… take a backup of your entire site
Taking a backup of your WordPress site and database is of utmost importance. In the event of a server failure or a security breach, your business won’t suffer much if you have taken a back up. This includes taking a daily backup of your posts, pages, media files, etc.
2. Make sure your site is secure
Website security should ideally be the topmost priority when it comes to maintenance. You must check your website regularly, to ensure it is safe from malware, viruses, and other security threats. Some ways of doing this:
- Change your passwords: Changing passwords frequently protects your website from malicious attacks and hack attempts.
- Remove inactive website administrators: Remember the saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth”? Make sure your website doesn’t allow admin access to a lot of people to prevent security breaches.
- Conduct a malware scan: Doing a daily and weekly malware scan is important to tighten the website’s security. Use a malware removal plugin to clean known and unknown malware, and also guarantee protection from malware in the future.
3. Update and upgrade everything
To ensure that your WordPress website is secure and performing optimally, regularly update your site to the latest version. In addition to this, always update:
- WordPress plugins: One way to keep your website secure is to update all your plugins to their latest versions.
- WordPress theme: Updating your WordPress theme regularly ensures that your site will always be compatible with all future WordPress releases, mobile devices, and browser updates. Additionally, it also ensures that your site is secure since the updates help keep the themes protected from hackers and other threats.
- WordPress widgets: Like your plugins and theme, updating your widgets is also important for your website to function smoothly.
- Content: Keeping your website posts and pages up-to-date ensures that your search engine ranking is high, and also keeps the traffic coming.
- Copyright: Along with keeping your website updated, you should also ensure your copyright date is updated. This instils trust in your audience.
One important point is to disable the Automatic WordPress Updates – these are responsible for breaking one too many sites, rendering it ineffective from the SEO and security perspective.
4. Delete what’s not needed
Keeping your website clutter-free is important to ensure it functions optimally. Some of the stuff you can delete are:
- Spam comments: You can install a plugin to delete all spam comments and ensure that your website doesn’t face any performance issues.
- Unwanted themes: Outdated themes pose a threat to your WordPress site’s security, and are one of the most common causes of website hacks.
- Unwanted plugins: Too many unnecessary plugins can be bad for your site’s performance, resulting in slow page loading speeds, site crashes, and security breaches. Evaluating them, and keeping only the ones that are necessary, will only prove beneficial for your website.
- Media files: Temporary and redundant media files (images, audio, video) can cause your website to run out of storage space. Clearing them on a regular basis can improve your website’s performance.
- Drafts and post revisions: If you have an active blog, you might have a lot of drafts and post revisions that are clogging your website. You might want to have a weekly review and delete the unwanted stuff to keep your website optimized.
Once you delete a plugin or a theme, you should always clear your database tables, to ensure a smoothly running website!
5. Check for broken links
Broken links can have a negative impact on your website since it stops search engine robots from indexing your site. This might happen when you are trying to migrate to a new web host, domain name, or server! It is important to find them and fix them immediately.
Clicking on a link and encountering a 404 error page can be incredibly frustrating for a user. Make sure you use a 301 redirect to redirect web pages with broken links to other similar pages. Keeping an eye on Google Search Console for any errors is the key here. You can use tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to quickly check the URL status codes.
You should also check your sidebar links and blogrolls frequently to get rid of dead/broken links and also do away with content that is not relevant!
6. Check your download and social media links
To make sure your site is accessible and usable, keep checking your download links regularly. The same holds true for your social media links – since these can influence your site’s ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Check your affiliate links and keep them up-to-date to make sure Google doesn’t penalize you, and you don’t end up losing traffic and sales.
7. Conduct a website speed audit
Keep checking your site’s page speed and loading time – they help in enhancing the user experience, and also result in increased traffic and sales! You can use Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool or try GTMetrix or Pingdom.
8. Test for browser and device compatibility
If your website runs on multiple browsers and devices, you will need to check its compatibility on each of them, to make sure you don’t lose out on traffic. In 2019, we shouldn’t even be talking about it, but your website needs to run flawlessly on mobile!!! While testing your website on actual devices is the ideal scenario, you can also use Chrome’s own mobile device toggle to emulate mobile devices. To do so, simply:
Step1: Right-click on any blank area on your webpage > select Inspect Element
Step 2: And then Click on the Toggle Device Toolbar option…
Step 3: And select any device you’d like to emulate your website on… Or use Edit to create a custom one!
9. Use fresh, optimized images
Using optimized images is useful for delivering content at a faster rate, resulting in improved search engine indexing, and greater user experience! Additionally, make sure you keep your header, banner and site images fresh at all times. Visual elements help garner interest in the website, and refreshing them from time to time is just good sense!
10. Check email opt-in, contact forms, and overall navigation
If you depend on email opt-in and contact forms for lead generation, check on its functionality on a daily basis. Also, make sure navigation links on your site are all working since these are essential for glitch-free user experience.
11. Review Google Analytics and check Google Console tools
Google Analytics will provide an insight into how well the website is working, as well as suggestions on how you can get it to work better. Reviewing it on a weekly basis is advised. Google Console gives you information on how the website is faring SEO-wise – it provides vital information about the site’s backlinks, keywords, search queries, broken links and more. Keep an eye on the GA and GSC dashboards to ensure there is no issue with either of them and you are able to get the required insights from them.
12. Review meta title, meta description tags, and your on-site SEO
Your site’s CTR (click through rate) depends a lot on how optimized your meta title and meta descriptions are. Make sure you review them from time to time. Make sure you know what a perfectly optimized site looks like! Your on-site SEO would comprise of best practices like adding internal links to your post, sprinkling keywords in your articles, using SEO-friendly URLs, having H1/H2/H3 tags in your posts, etc. These aspects need to be reviewed periodically to ensure all these points are being incorporated.
13. Review your ‘About Us’ page
Almost every reader will go through the ‘About Us’ page on the website since it helps them know what your company is all about, and will form an impression based on it. Keeping it updated is crucial.
14. Check your site’s feeds
RSS feeds automatically update subscribers each time you update the site or add new content. It is vital to keep an eye on these feeds to make sure you don’t lose any traffic. Although this is sort of dated, a lot of users still use RSS feeds. So you better not ignore this. And more importantly, a lot of apps, notify users of new blog posts via the RSS feeds. So… you get why it is important!
15. Disable trackbacks and pingbacks
Trackbacks are a way to notify legal blog systems that you’ve linked to them. Think of them as the acknowledgements or reference added at the end of a research paper or a book!
A pingback is a type of comment created when you link to another blog post where pingbacks are enabled. To create a pingback, just link to another blog post. If that post has pingbacks enabled, the blog owner will see a pingback appear in their comments section that they can approve. While they are good to improve traffic, they are slowly becoming outdated. They can cause a lot of spam, and are best disabled!
16. Define ‘Auto Save Interval’
We mentioned earlier how unchecked post revisions can cause your database to be overburdened. By defining the autosave interval in your wp-config.php file, you will be able to limit the number of revisions per post, thereby optimizing your database.
17. Disable the ‘Debug Mode’
Prevent error messages from being published on your live site by disabling the debug mode.
18. Check web host statistics
Periodically check up on the server uptime, bandwidth usage, disk space, and CPU throttling – this can be crucial to ensure that your site is running optimally!
19. Renew hosting and domains
Don’t want any ‘downtime’ time on your website? Make sure you renew the hosting and domains.
20. Increase the memory limit
The memory limit in WordPress is set at 32MB by default. As your business grows, it is important to review and increase your site’s memory limit, to seamlessly upload images, videos, and other files.
21. Check the Ads on your website
If you display ads on your site, make sure you review them periodically, to prevent them from harming your site’s SEO and conversion rate. Your CTR can be affected by irrelevant, objectionable or redundant ads.
22. Run the site through a check-up plugin
If you want to know how your site is performing, and how secure it is, running the site through a WP health checkup plugin of good repute is critical. It will help you identify all issues in a jiffy! You can try the WP Health Plugin (formerly My WP Health Check). That’s it… that’s the list! Pretty short and sweet, eh?
Following these steps faithfully should make your site a lean, mean, profit-making machine! Keep this list handy, and watch your WordPress website bloom!