The average business website is rarely updated or maintained correctly. Hundreds, even thousands of sites are built each year which just sit there month after month after month without ever being added to, updated, or maintained. Every one of these websites is just waiting for some hacker to take advantage of the lack of concern for security. Below are the steps required to keep a website updated, secure, and backed up. This is what our WordPress website maintenance packages are designed to do.
You are the master of your website’s destiny
If you are the webmaster of your website then you are 100% responsible for ensuring that your core files, plugins, themes, and any other files are updated and maintained regularly. You are also in charge of installing, deleting, optimizing, updating anything and everything on your website so if you want to ensure that your website is here for years to come, make sure you keep it up-to-date! Below is a checklist of things to attend to on a regular basis.
- Backup your database: There are numerous options available. You can install a plugin or do it manually via your server control panel if you have access. This is one of the most important items to attend to regularly.
- Backup your posts and pages: This is done when you backup your database but you can also export your content via the WordPress export function. This creates an “xml” file which can be used to import your files again into a new site. It great with text but sometimes images are a bit more difficult.
- Backup your server files: I always have a copy of my core WordPress files on my computer. You can use an FTP program and pull the files from your web server to your own hard drive. If you use a program like Dreamweaver or Microsoft’s Expression Web you can make changes to files locally and upload them to your website easily.
- Backup your theme files: Theme files are often updated and having a current copy is important for recoveries if something happens. With WordPress a good developer will use child themes to make most changes so that when updates are made your custom changes are not over written. Once again the database backup will take care of this but I like things separated. It makes it easier for me to work on specific areas of the website.
- Use a plugin to backup your entire website: There are also plugins that you can us to clone your entire installation including images, users, comments.
WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist
Visit Your Website
This, as silly as it might sound, is very important. You need to see that your site is performing correctly, pages aren’t getting errors, etc. If you don’t visit the site on occasion you may never know if it has been hacked or is simply down due to some kind of provider error. Installing a new plugin can sometimes cause page errors as well.
Update Your Blog
In the administrative back-end of your website you will be notified if your core files or plugins need to be updated. If everything as been setup correctly it is as easy as the click of a link to update everything. A good habit to get into is to backup your website before applying any updates or changes. You also have the option of contracting with us and using one of our WordPress website maintenance packages.
Check Loading Times
If you want your visitors to stick around and look at more than one page on your site it is important that each page loads quickly. The loading times of your website are very important. You want your website visitors to have a good experience when visiting your website. This means it needs to look good, navigate easily, and load quickly.
Check for Broken Links
One of my big pet peeves when I visit a website is broken links. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a link to something that interests you and you click on it and get an error. This also shows your visitors that you are a bit lazy when keeping your site up-to-date. They may begin to think, “If this is how you operate your website, how do you operate the rest of your business.” You never want a visitor to leave with a bad impression for any reason.
Delete Unused Plugins
If you are using WordPress or any other CMS (content management system) then you will have some plugins. You will most likely experiment with new plugins to add more functionality to your existing site. Sometimes you like them, sometimes you don’t. If you don’t then delete that plugin and the files that it places on your server. No reason to leave them there. They take up space and if you are not updating them they could become vulnerable to being hacked. As with any other change you make, back up your site before starting.
Delete Unused Themes
This is probably not something you will need to do if you had a company like Mann Clann Enterprises develop your website for you since the majority of our sites are custom built. However, many times as people try to get just the right look they load up multiple themes to see how they look and operate. Usually you end up with multiple themes that are not needed. Just like with plugins they can become vulnerable to hackers if not updated and take up valuable space.
Optimize Your Database Tables
In a content management system such as WordPress the database keeps all the information used to run the site. The tables of the database need to be optimized from time to time to keep the tables free from clutter and to help your site run a little faster. You want to be aware of what tables you database contains as well. Some plugins create tables in your database and if you delete them then they are just bloating the size of your database. These extra tables should be deleted. If you are not experienced then this is one area you should definitely get some help. You could easily crash your entire website by deleting the wrong database table. These types of services are included in some of our website maintenance packages.
Delete Spam Comments
This does not apply to all websites but if you update your site on a regular basis (and you should) then spam is inevitable. WordPress comes loaded with Akismet which is a spam filtering system. There are other options as well but Akismet does a pretty good job. You should make sure that the comments any filtering system you use does not actually delete or mark good comments as spam.
Check on Your Security
A big part of your website maintenance program is website security. If you are not diligent in keeping up with the security of your site (which includes many of the above) you could easily lose entire site from an entirely avoidable attack. There are manyaspects to WordPress website security but here are a some quick tips:
- keep core files and plugins updated as soon as they need it.
- change the admin user name to something other than “admin”
- do not make anyone else an admin on your site
- move your .htaccess file above the current directory
- install a security plugin to monitor login in attempts and file changes
- Ensure you use very difficult passwords
Every website we develop for our clients include these steps.
Every time you post a new article you need to see what effect it will have on your blog. For example you might not have positioned the image correctly or even set it to show up as a thumbnail for the homepage. There are many things that can go wrong.
One good example is when people have added <div> Tags into the HTML section of your WordPress post. If the code is not added in correctly and the tag is unfinished, you might find that your sidebar of your WordPress website now appears at the bottom of the page. This is what an open <div> Tag can do.
This brings me to my next WordPress website maintenance check-list item.
Check Your Analytics
Every site we develop for our clients includes Google Analytics. It is an excellent way to check traffic, demographics, time on site, landing pages and just about any other important statistic you need to know. This should be done on a regular basis.
Check Your Download Links
If you provide informational downloads to your visitors make sure that the download links are working correctly. I don’t know about you but it really annoys me when I go to download something and the link does not work.
Make a Website Maintenance Schedule (and stick to it)
Here is an example of a WordPress website maintenance schedule that you can adopt or use as a framework for your own.
- Visit your website
- Backup Posts and Pages
- Check your analytics
- Moderate comments
- Backup everything
- Plugin and theme updates
- Check broken links
- Check website security
- Check all social media links
- Remove spam and trashed comments
- WordPress core updates
- Backup the backup
- Check your stats in detail
- Delete unwanted themes and plugins
Hopefully this article will help you to understand the importance and necessity of keeping your website up-to-date. If you have any questions feel free to contact us. If you want someone to just do all of this for you then visit our WordPress Website Maintenance page and choose the best option for you.
Does your site need website maintenance? Let’s work together →