Even though your website appears spick and span, it doesn’t mean it’s presenting optimal performance. You need to regularly perform maintenance on your WordPress site. Maintenance can vary from monthly, weekly, to even daily activities. Yes, it will take a lot of time, but it’s essential for improving the quality and security of your website.
What is WordPress Website Maintenance?
WordPress maintenance refers to consistently checking your website for issues and keeping it updated. The goal is to consistently improve the quality of your website. Quality pertains to the security, usability, page speed, SEO, and conversion rate of a website.
Don’t know where to start? Follow this curated WordPress maintenance guide:
Components of Website Maintenance
- Website Security
- WordPress Backup
- Staging Site
- WordPress Files Updates
- Page Speed
- Fix 404 Errors
- WordPress Database Optimization
- SEO Audit
Security breaches are a common threat that can easily wreak havoc on your business. Problems such as implanting viruses, stealing information, and website blacklisting are major concerns. Your website will be shunned from the SERPs (search engine results pages), never to see the light of a screen display again…okay, a little dramatic, but you get the point..
That’s why as a website owner you need to be proactive, not reactive. Basic security hardening plugins on WordPress can strengthen your login page. With features such as setting password expirations, limiting login attempts, and two-factor authentication, your account will be better protected.
A website backup is a duplication of all your website data. The importance of a site backup cannot be stressed enough. Your website is susceptible to software failure, malicious attacks and human error, to name a few. If by any means you cannot access your site, you can potentially lose everything. A site backup is a life preserver because a copy of your data will still be in your possession. Unforeseen threats to your website will be more like a bump in the road rather than an empty tank of gas.
A well liked WordPress backup plugin is Jetpack Backup. This plugin offers incredible website data security that has real-time cloud backup syncing to an off-site location. Also, Jetpack Backup scans your backup copy for malware so it doesn’t slow down your site. Although it may be pricier by starting at $9.95 ranging to $49.95 per month, it’s well worth the peace of mind.
Your site doesn’t need to be out-of-service when it’s under construction. A staging site is a copy of your site that is used to troubleshoot before it goes live. Here, you’ll be able to fix technical issues and catch any errors. Feel free to experiment without worrying about breaking your live site. Plus, editing on a staging site will not slow down your website unlike direct website maintenance tasks.
Creating a staging site can be accomplished through your WordPress hosting provider, for instance, WP Engine. Another way to create a staging site is with a WordPress plugin. To name two – WP Staging and WP Stagecoach.
WordPress Files Updates
WordPress themes and plugins need to be updated frequently. You can break entire pages while running a security risk if a plugin breaks. Therefore, your website should always display the newest versions of your WordPress files. In response, this will improve performance and SEO.
In order to maintain your site, WordPress core, plugins, and themes can all be updated through WordPress itself. This can be done automatically through the WordPress dashboard, however, it is recommended to visit the WordPress Updates page to manually check for updates from time to time.
In a world of instant gratification, a web user won’t hesitate to return to the search engine if a site is taking too long to load. Once a viewer clicks the link to your site, the milliseconds matter.
When conducting WordPress maintenance, there are some key components to adjust when increasing loading speed.
- Optimize images. Keep image size in between 80kb and 120kb. WordPress can auto compress your images.
- Host videos on third parties. Videos are a great marketing tool, however, they can jeopardize your website performance. Instead, post it on a third party, like YouTube, and link to it. It will improve load time as well as SEO.
- Limit plugins. Too many can slow your site down. Narrow down your selection to reap the benefits.
- Compress CSS files. Reducing the size will improve the quality of your site.
- Use cache. The WP Rocket plugin will decrease load time, and improve SEO and conversion rates.
Optimizing individual pages will push your entire site in the Google algorithm. To make your efforts most effective, check the homepage and popular web pages on your site first.
Overall, a faster loading site is beneficial for user experience and SEO. Expect a decrease in bounce rate and a spike in higher quality leads.
Fix 404 Errors
A 404 error appears when your browser cannot find the page. A variety of issues can cause this such as a mistyped URL, a technical cache mishap, or Domain Name Server (DNS) settings problem.
This is frustrating to the user and this error has a negative impact on the site as a whole. That is why you must search for broken links during website maintenance. In the meantime, create a custom 404 error page. This will allow you to directly communicate to visitors who come across a broken page. Explain that your site still works and there is only a problem with that specific page.
WordPress Database Optimization
Your database is the hub for all the data your website collects. This includes all your content, comments, users, settings, and more. It holds a tremendous amount of important data, but it also collects a lot of clutter.
This unnecessary data needs to be cleaned up to optimize database performance. WP Optimize is a plugin that is perfect for getting the job done. It removes post revisions, deletes spam comments, and even schedules automatic clean up. It makes a huge difference in aiding your site to run smoother.
Performing an SEO audit will allow you to gather a better understanding of your website funnel. Two reputable softwares that can help you analyze your website are Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Google Analytics shows which places your visitors are coming from and their activity on your website. Using this data can help you discover pages that are drawing traffic, yet have low conversion rate. This can mean there’s an issue with the user experience. A link may be broken or a plugin license may have expired. Analyzing the correlation between traffic and conversion is essential for website maintenance.
In order to discover search keywords where your website appears on the SERPs, use Google Search Console’s Search Performance Report. In fact, you can sort the keywords to see which ones are most effective for attaining clicks. Place those keywords in your title tag, headers and body text. This will easily help your web pages visibility and competitiveness on the SERPs.
As technology continually advances, so should your website. Following this guide for WordPress maintenance is an effective way to stay ahead of the curve.