21 Essential WordPress Maintenance Tips You Must Follow
Updated April 11, 2022
Yes, Regular WordPress Maintenance is Essential!
Here at PixoLabo, we specialize in building top-rated WordPress websites for businesses, product brands, and organizations of all kinds. And it always amazes us that many business owners honestly believe their responsibilities end when they launch their business website.
Unfortunately, the opposite is the case. Any website is vulnerable if it is left unattended. And CMS sites like WordPress are especially vulnerable. These WordPress maintenance tips will help you keep your site all that it can be.
According to data from W3Techs, WordPress is used by 43.2% of all websites on the internet in 2022. WordPress hacks are also the most common.
Website maintenance is something most business owners don’t focus on; they have lots of other things to do as well! It is only when their site starts acting up that they begin to notice. Unfortunately, at that time, it may be too late to help your site. These WordPress maintenance tips will help you prevent that. All you have to do is implement them!
Why is WordPress Maintenance Important?
Like any system, your WordPress website benefits from regular maintenance. Over the course of daily operations, WordPress sites suffer from issues like malware, data bloat, unused plugins and themes, spam, and broken links. As such, you should be performing WordPress maintenance tasks regularly, fixing all these small issues before they snowball into a series of consequences like:
- Hacked website
- Data loss
- Revenue loss
- Legal issues
- Loss of visitors
- Plummeting SEO
What Happens If You Neglect WordPress Maintenance?
WordPress out of the box is excellent. Properly optimized and maintained, it can load a webpage in less than half a second! However, if you neglect WordPress maintenance, your website can become slow and cause random errors.
Your site may be exploited by hackers looking to take advantage of your audience and resources. Like running a business, WordPress websites need maintenance and support over time. And WordPress maintenance can be easy once you learn the basics. Our WordPress maintenance tips will show you what to do.
We suggest that you get into a regular habit of maintaining your WordPress website, say on a Wednesday afternoon. Of course, you can choose any day or time that is a bit slower for you. Use these WordPress maintenance tips to schedule tasks you need to perform.
As you will notice, you can automatically schedule some tasks, so you don’t have to deal with them. Others you will need to perform manually.
21 Essential WordPress Maintenance Tips
Perform Daily Backups
One of the most important steps you can take when looking to maintain a WordPress website is to set up regular backups to the cloud. However, bear in mind that if your site were to be compromised, a backup could also be compromised. Still, you’ll have something you can work from, and you won’t have to start from scratch after losing your website’s data.
Keep WordPress Updated
WordPress version upgrades are released regularly, approximately twice a month, and need to be installed as soon as possible. They usually contain patches, bug fixes, enhanced features, and other improvements. However, they also plug any newly discovered security holes, making them an indispensable part of your maintenance routine.
WordPress installs minor updates on your site automatically, but you can turn the feature off. Any major updates require your authorization, but often admins drag their feet on updating WordPress versions because any major changes can result in incompatibility issues with existing themes and plugins, and potentially break the site.
Note: As of the date of this post the current version of WordPress is 5.9.3.
Delete Outdated Themes and Plugins
Most WordPress websites that are slow and buggy have issues because they use bloated themes and have too many plugins. Any good theme or plugin will release updates to improve its code, which will enhance your website’s performance. Such updates can cause issues due to incompatibility, so it’s up to you to test and roll them out as required.
Vulnerable plugins and themes are the #1 reason WordPress websites get hacked.iThemes
If a plugin is no longer updated, maybe it is no longer supported by its developers. So it’s worth checking the last updated time in the view details section. If it has been a year or more since the previous update, you may want to consider removing or replacing such plugins with another.
Delete Inactive Themes and Plugins
Many people download extra themes or plugins that they use once or twice and then forget about these extensions on their WordPress site. Inactive themes and plugins may seem innocuous, but because you don’t use these extensions, chances are that you don’t update them either. So in case, there are any vulnerabilities on them, they wouldn’t be patched.
Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities nestled in inactive themes and plugins to gain access to your site. The best way to rid yourself of these vulnerabilities is to delete any extensions that you are not using.
Scan for Security Vulnerabilities
A critical aspect of regular WordPress maintenance is keeping your WordPress site secure. Performing a daily security scan is a must; you can use the WordFence plugin for this. If you notice something odd with your site, it may not be a technical issue. Perhaps hackers are using your resources to run their scripts, which can affect your website’s performance.
Every 39 seconds, there is a new attack somewhere on the web.TechJury
Enforce Strong Website Passwords
Website passwords are the second-highest reason for security breaches on WordPress. Weak or overused passwords are extremely common, and hackers often exploit this weakness. Brute force attacks are designed to guess password combinations by using bots to gain access to your site.
A complex 8-character password that took eight hours to crack now only takes five hours, while six-letter passwords can be cracked in three seconds.BusinessTech
In order to maintain a secure site, there are some password practices that you must follow:
- Use capital and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuations in your passwords.
- Make use of lengthy passwords
- Use a password manager to generate and store passwords
- Frequently update your password
- Do not repeat passwords across accounts.
Check User Accounts
The user accounts on your WordPress site are as vulnerable as the admin account. Hackers can gain access to your site through any user account by simply escalating the privileges and making their way into your site. Therefore, a large part of your WordPress site maintenance is to keep a track of all your user accounts and ensure that they are safe. You can do this by following these steps:
- Enforce a strong password policy across all accounts
- Use the principle of least privileges when assigning user roles
- Regularly delete old and inactive user accounts
- Enforce frequent updating of passwords
Optimize Your Database
WordPress revisions are helpful as they store versions of your content, which allow you to revert your changes should your content go wrong. However, these revisions and other data such as spam comments use up space in your database. They are loaded each time someone visits your site. Cleaning out such useless data can go a long way to improving the performance of your website.
Clear Database Trash
Your WordPress database is where all your content is stored. Every post, image, and comment on your website is stored in the database. Over time, this content can accumulate in the tables and start to slow down your site. So it is important to clear database trash from time to time. You can do this manually, but if your site has a lot of content, it will be difficult for you to determine manually which content is necessary, and which needs to be deleted.
You can simplify this process by using a plugin like WP Optimize which will automatically optimize your database tables and clear trash frequently to enhance your site’s performance.
Delete Unused Media Files
Media files enhance the user experience. Whether it is an image on a landing page, a video, or audio, media files take up a lot of space and affect website performance. But you can’t do away with them. The best way to deal with media files is to optimize them before uploading and to clear up any temporary media files that you don’t need anymore. Plugins like Media Cleaner can come in handy to clean up large sites.
Optimize Site Performance
One of the biggest reasons visitors leave a website is if it’s too slow to load. Thanks to the many tools and plugins available for WordPress sites, you can optimize your site to improve its performance. This includes removing junk data, optimizing images, and more. You can use a site-optimizing plugin such as Jetpack or WP Rocket to help you improve your site performance.
Fix Broken Links
Broken links can annoy visitors who are trying to find the information they require. Find these links before your users and the search engines, take action by fixing them, or if the pages linked no longer exist, redirect them to an alternative page. Regularly removing or updating broken links will not only make your website more user-friendly. It will also improve your search engine optimization.
Keep Your Content Updated
As your business grows, there are several changes that are pertinent to your customers. These changes may be recorded officially, but the only way for your visitors to know of them is through your website. Updating your site information such as the About Us page, contact information, and significant changes to the products and services is important to stay in touch with your customers.
If you have comments enabled on your website, then you need to moderate them. By going in and approving, responding, and marking spam, you’ll keep your visitors engaged and the conversation flowing.
Review Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Checking in on your analytics will enable you to see trends and check if you are meeting your goals. By identifying where your website needs improvement, you can make tweaks to test and improve gradually and then replicate the successes to different areas of your website. Therefore, you should review your website statistics on Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Your Google Analytics account can help you notice any major spikes in visitors on your accounts, and if it is from a particular region, without any reason, it could be a sign of an attack. Similarly, reviewing your Analytics can also help you understand what kind of content your visitors are engaging with, and help you improve your offerings.
Google Search Console also offers similar insights. Most importantly, the security issues tab on the Search Console alerts you if Google has detected malware on your site, and allows you to take care of it before your site is blacklisted. You can also review the keywords your audience is interested in, and use it to make your content more relatable and discoverable.
Review Your Site SEO
Your site’s SEO is an important factor in how your potential customers find your website. So, it is important to optimize for search engines. But this is not limited to optimizing new content and forgetting about it. You also need to review your old content and check for meta descriptions, meta tags, and tiles. Review your overall SEO practices quarterly to ensure that your process is in line with new Google updates as well.
Perform On-Page SEO
When it comes to on-page SEO, every page, post, and category should have a meta description. On-page SEO is easy to overlook. Performing an SEO audit will ensure that search engines understand your content so they can best find it and show it to people searching for your content.
There is a range of things you can do to maintain your on-page SEO. Start by optimizing your images and including alt text, and adding links to your content. Include references to show that you have done your research, and ensure that your keyword for a particular page or post appears in the first 100 words.
Perform Regular User Experience Testing
It’s essential to check the user experience of your website to ensure that everything is working as expected. A usability audit should include checking your site on different devices and browsers for bugs and testing your forms to ensure deliverability. You should also test your navigation to ensure that each link goes to its intended destination.
You need to look at UX in a holistic manner. What does a customer see when they first visit your site? Where do you want them to head once they visit a certain page? What do you want them to think of your brand? Once you answer these questions, your website’s UX will become a lot more refined.
Make sure that navigation across your site is smooth. No links, forms, or opt-ins are broken, and visitors can find what they are looking for easily. This will help you boost conversions and improve your brand image tremendously.
Check Device and Browser Compatibility
We’ve already discussed why website performance is important. An average visitor is only willing to wait 3 seconds for your site to load and wow them. But sometimes, your site may perform well on a desktop browser, but not on a mobile device. Similarly, websites can perform differently on different browsers.
Therefore, it is important to periodically test your site performance on different devices and browsers to make sure that the user experience of your site is uniform for all visitors.
Check Downloads and Social Media Links
If you offer downloads on your site or give out social media links, you need to make sure that these links are functional. Sometimes, due to changes or updates, provided links and downloads may be broken. This can severely hamper the user experience of your visitors and make them question your business’ credibility.
Visit your site from an incognito window and make sure that all the links lead to the right webpage, and that all the downloads are available without any issues.
Review Your WordPress Hosting and Domains
Your web host has all the server details about your WordPress site. It is a good practice to periodically check on this information to ensure that there are no issues. The first thing you need to check is whether your server usage has been regular. A spike in server usage without a sustained increase in visitors could be a sign of a brute force attack. It will also inform you if your web hosting plan is working for your website.
Also, check if your hosting plan and domains are paid for. Often admins lose track of renewals and end up getting their site suspended. It is best to pay for the long term in advance, but also keep a track of your hosting plan and domains annually.
Performing WordPress Website Maintenance Yourself
WordPress maintenance is an overlooked aspect of running a site, but if you want your site to be an asset that brings you customers and revenue, you need to ensure that it is performing at its best.
Nearly 50% reported suffering a financial loss due to hacking, with one in eight saying the loss was more significant than $5,000.GoDaddy
Performing regular maintenance and updates on your WordPress site is much more time and cost-effective than a complete rebuild after your website crashes or gets hacked. Getting in the habit of regular WordPress maintenance is not difficult. If you do this weekly, it will only take you a few minutes. We recommend that you set aside a half-hour a week to perform updates and maintenance on your site. Most likely, it will take you less than that!
How Often Should You Perform WordPress Maintenance Tasks?
Different WordPress maintenance tasks require to be undertaken at different frequencies. Some tasks such as scanning your site or taking backups are needed to be done daily, whereas tasks like checking on your hosting plans and domains can be done annually.
To help you stay on track with WordPress maintenance we have created this simple guide:
- Scan your site
- Make a full backup of your site
- Update themes and plugins as needed
- Update malware definitions
- Identify and delete spam comments
- Clean up and optimize database
- Optimize site performance
- Fix broken links
- Check for WordPress updates and update as needed
- Review Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools (if applicable)
- Review overall user experience (UX)
- Review and delete/replace unused or outdated plugins
- Review your SEO performance
- Update site information
- Review user accounts
- Review user accounts and passwords
- Check device and browser compatibility
- Check your hosting plan, usage statistics, and domain registration, and update as required
If you are unable to follow these WordPress maintenance tips, you should check to see if your web designer or host offers a website maintenance plan. And sign up for it! If your current service provider does not provide this service, find one who does. To have a worry-free online presence, you must follow our WordPress maintenance tips regularly.
Do You Need Help with WordPress Website Maintenance?
Do you need help keeping your WordPress website updated and running smoothly? Our team of WordPress experts will be happy to help you with this. But, first, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.
If you are unsure how WordPress maintenance supports your business objectives, let’s talk! Our team will listen to your concerns, evaluate your needs, and develop a list of things you need to do to support your online presence.
Are You Performing Regular WordPress Maintenance?
Are you maintaining and updating your WordPress site regularly? If so, has it improved your overall website performance and functionality? If not, what prevents you from performing WordPress maintenance? Do you have anything to add to our essential WordPress maintenance tips?
Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And help your audience with their WordPress website by sharing these tips with them!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!