How to maintain your WordPress website with our maintenance checklist
In this article, you will learn how to maintain your WordPress website by performing maintenance tasks. This resource will be particularly helpful for new business owners using WordPress on a limited budget. It is a comprehensive checklist that will help them keep their site secure.
This how-to includes:
- Why you need to maintain your WordPress website and take care of it
- Which plugins to choose to help you perform these WordPress maintenance tasks on your website
- Things to know before you start the maintenance process
- 11 weekly tasks to do the maintenance on your WordPress website
- 4 monthly tasks to perform on your site
- 9 quarterly tasks to do on your WordPress website
- 6 yearly tasks to execute on your website
- How we can help you
Let's dive right in.
1. Why you need to maintain your WordPress Website and take care of it.
A WordPress website is like a car: there are a lot of moving parts that need to be checked or replaced regularly to avoid any trouble... For example, if the maker made a mistake on one of the engine parts, it does a recall to fix it. Well it is the same with WordPress. Developers regularly check the code and if they find a problem, a bug or an issue they need to fix it by sending out an update. If you don't do it, it can break your website or worse, your site can be hacked and used for malicious activities. WordPress is an amazing Content Management System and you can do a lot with it:use it for e-commerce, write a blog, show your work, build a community around your passion, connect you with the rest of the world, but you need to take care of it.
The good news is that WordPress as a library of has thousand and thousand of plugins, and which some of them can help you do the maintenance of your WordPress Website.
Further readings: Why You Need to Make WordPress Maintenance a Priority
2. Which plugins to choose to help you perform these WordPress maintenance tasks on your website
You will need at least those 7 free plugins and one free online service for the maintenance tasks plus one optional if you have more than 1 site to maintain:
- UpdraftPlus for backups, so you have a safe rollback solution in place in case something goes wrong.
- WP-Optimize to remove all junk in the database and clean up all those spam comments.
- WordPress Maintenance Mode Plugin so your visitors don't see any errors when you execute your maintenance, especially if you have an e-commerce site.
- Sucuri Scanner Security to audit, scan and improve your security on your WordPress website.
- Broken Link Checker to check all the links on your site and remove the broken ones.
- Redirection Plugin to check any 404 errors (page doesn't exist).
- Uptime Robot (a free service) to check that your site is always online.
- Optional: if you are maintaining more than 1 site and want to do it from a central dashboard, you can use the MainWP dashboard and install MainWP child on your sites so you can have an overview and see the maintenance that needs to be done.
Further readings: 7 WordPress Maintenance Plugins You NEED to Download
3. Things to know before you start the maintenance process
Before you touch anything, navigate to your site in Incognito mode and check a few key pages and make sure that there is no issue and that everything is working fine. We are using a Chrome extension called Open Multiple URLs, so we can copy/paste all the important URLs we want to check to open them in one click (a very efficient way to check your site). Next, we want to check that you have a FULL backup. If not, install the UpdraftPlus free plugin and do a backup right away. You can leave it and schedule a weekly or daily backup depending on how many times you are making changes on your websites. When all the above is done, check the log details for each update (WordPress core, themes and plugins) and note if it is a major update (1.X to 2.X or 1.1 to 1.2, for example). Those kinds of updates can break your site. When in doubt, you can check the support tab on the WordPress plugin repository and see if there are any comments on issues with the last update.
4. 11 weekly tasks to do the maintenance on your WordPress website
Before doing your WordPress website maintenance, you can optionally put your site in maintenance mode using the plugin mentioned above.
- Check to make sure that a recent backup has been done on your website and that it is stored safely off-site (UpdraftPlus plugin)
- Perform any WordPress plugin updates
- Perform any WordPress theme updates
- Perform any WordPress core updates
- Run a security scan (Sucuri scanner plugin)
- Check that all pages are loading without errors (Open Multiple URLs Chrome extension)
- Check all forms on your website to ensure they are working correctly
- Remove spam comments or form submissions (WP-Optimize plugin)
- Check for broken links (Broken Link Checker plugin)
- Check for any 404 errors (Redirection plugin)
- Review uptime logs - If there are any significant downtime periods, talk to your hosting provider to find out why (Uptime robot free service)
Further readings: 11 Weekly Tasks To Help Maintain Your WordPress Website Properly
5. 4 monthly tasks to perform on your site
- Test the loading speed of your website using GTMetrix or Pingdom Tools. If your website is loading in over 2-3 seconds, it needs optimizing.
- Review the security scans from the last month and ensure that all issues are resolved.
- Check that your website statistics are being saved in Google Analytics or the tool of your choice.
- Check how your website is performing in the search engines. Are you visible locally?
6. 9 quarterly tasks to do on your WordPress website
- Review your website - Is there anything that needs improving?
- Do you have any new content to add? Is anything outdated?
- Graphics and photos - Are these all up-to-date? Do any of these need to be updated to newer versions?
- Check your meta titles and meta descriptions - Have you correctly set each of these on every page?
- Does each of the pages of your website have a clear Call to Action (CTA)?
- Are all the forms on your website user-friendly and giving a clear success or failure message when used?
- Test your website to make sure it’s loading well and is responsive across computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices
- Test the health of your backups by restoring a backup on a staging website.
- Review uptime logs - Are there any worrying trends with your hosting provider?
7. 6 yearly tasks to execute on your website
- Renew your domain name(s).
- Check your hosting contract and make sure it’s the most suitable one for your business.
- Update the copyright year in the footer of your website.
- Review each page on your website and make sure that your content is still accurate.
- Review your website and marketing strategy for the year ahead and reflect on the data from the year that has gone.
- Consider updating the design of your website to better suit your target audience.
Further readings: 6 Annual WordPress Maintenance Tasks To Keep Your Website Running Smoothly.
8. How we can help you
WP Expert is offering care plans or maintenance plans to take care of your website for you. We have years of experience with WordPress and we know the in and out of it. Your investment with us will buy you peace of mind. More information about our care plans here: https://wpexpert.ca/care-plans.