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Is your WordPress website performing as well as it could be?

Because, unless you’re conducting regular maintenance you could have a whole world of headaches on the horizon. If you want to not just avoid these headaches, but ensure your website is actively supporting your business goals, you need to be performing regular maintenance.

Find out why WordPress maintenance is important, what you need to do, and why you need to do it, with upHost’s guide to WordPress website maintenance…👇

Why you should be maintaining your WordPress website

What can possibly go wrong with a WordPress website? Actually, you might be surprised at quite how much can go wrong… Buckle up and we’ll give you a deep dive on why you should be conducting regular maintenance work on your WordPress-based website.

As any webmaster or digital marketer worth their salt will tell you, it’s one thing to set up a WordPress website, and it’s another thing maintaining one.

Setting up a website is (generally) fairly straightforward. For many businesses, the hard work really starts once it’s online. We’re not just talking about keeping the copy updated and publishing regular blog updates. We’re talking about all those small technical tasks which are easily overlooked, but can have big consequences.

“What sort of consequences?!” we can hear you asking. Well, neglecting basic WordPress maintenance can lead to things such as:

  • Lowered security/increased likelihood of hacks.
  • Declining search engine rankings and reduced organic traffic.
  • Decreased user experience/conversion rates.
  • Increased page loading time.
  • Damage to your brand reputation.

That’s just the tip of the (unpleasant) iceberg…. If you’re breaking out in a cold sweat having read all that, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a series of straightforward, easy-to-follow steps that’ll keep your WordPress website in top condition.

What you should do to maintain your WordPress website

Okay, by now it’s hopefully clear that you do actually need to maintain your WordPress website.

Naturally, we understand you’re probably exceptionally busy with a million and one other tasks, especially if you’re working for a start-up or a rapidly scaling business. So, with that in mind, we’ve set out the absolute essential maintenance tips below. Nothing more, nothing less.

Backup your WordPress website regularly

Picture the scene. You’ve got to walk into the Boardroom and report that two years’ worth of website data, content and other information have all been lost. (Yeah, we just got that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach too 😭😩😱).

Well, that could very well be a scenario you have to play out in real life if you don’t get into the habit of backing up your WordPress site on a regular basis.

Yes, it’s not the most sexy of tasks and it won’t give you stunning figures or stats to show off to your colleagues or superiors, but it will help you avoid the sort of doomsday scenario we’ve painted above.

We recommend you backup your WordPress site at least once a month. If you have a larger corporate website, or very content-heavy website, then we’d recommend backing up more regularly (e.g. weekly). Generally, you should be able to back up your website via your hosting provider (er, hi! 👋), or by downloading a local copy of your site through FTP.

If you need some assistance backing up your site, then choose a plugin such as VaultPress which is a WordPress-specific backup plugin that offers a range of backup and restoration functionalities.

Update your core site, themes and plugins

This is another one of those maintenance tasks that’s not particularly exciting, but super important for ensuring the ongoing health of your website.

We’ve all been there. You log in to your WordPress CMS and your eyes are assaulted by several pop-ups notifying you that there’s a new core WordPress update, or one of your plugins need upgrading.

And, we’ve all ignored them (c’mon, don’t lie, you have, haven’t you 😜).

Well, it’s time to change your ways. On at least a monthly basis, set aside some time in your schedule to update your core WordPress, installed themes and plugins to their latest versions.

Optimise your site’s database

This is more of a tip for older sites, but it can still have value if your site is relatively new.

Why? Well, it goes a little something like this…

Your site’s database is where all of the site’s content is sorted. Think blogs, images, pages, videos, settings and more. As you add to your site over time, your database will become larger and larger.

As your database grows larger and larger, so too does the size of your site. If you don’t stay on top of the size of your site’s database, then your website can become ‘bloated’ and reduce in slower loading times.

During these days of Google Page experience (where site load time is now a key ranking factor), it’ll pay dividends to optimise your database.

If you’re worried that optimising your site’s database could be a massive task, there are plugins that’ll help make the job much easier. WP-Optimise is a plugin that will automatically optimise your database and clear records that are no longer required.

Some plugins will even help you remove spam comments, delete unwanted draft posts and even optimise your site’s underlying MySQL database tables.

Get rid of unused plugins

We’ve just spent a great deal of time talking about how great some plugins can be when it comes to maintaining your WordPress site (and, that’s true! The ones we’ve detailed above are webmaster lifesavers!🙏).

But, it’s well worth conducting an audit of all of your site’s plugins to identify ones that could be deleted.

Too many plugins, outdated plugins or plugins from dodgy third-party sources can all have a detrimental impact on the performance of your website.

Once you’ve identified the plugins that you don’t use anymore (and there will be some!), you should first deactivate them before deleting them.

It’s easy for plugins to build up on your website (it easily happens when installing them is as simple as one or two mouse clicks). So, put some time aside on a quarterly or half-yearly basis to audit and delete unused plugins.

Monitor your site’s security

WordPress is one of the world’s most popular CMS’s. The numbers vary but approximately 60% of all websites that have a CMS, use WordPress. That’s a truly staggering number, and testament to how popular and trusted WordPress is as a platform.

However, this popularity does come with a downside.

There’s a huge community of naughty people who make it their living to break into, hack and generally disrupt WordPress-based websites.

Therefore, shoring up the security of your WordPress website should absolutely be part of your regular maintenance schedule.

In addition to the usual things like ensuring you have a SSL certificate for your domain, you should install a reliable security plugin on your site. Popular security plugins include iThemes Security, Wordfence Security, SecuPress and others will all protect your site from hackers with just a few clicks.

Plugin security

It’s important to note that some malwares or viruses will piggyback onto themes or plugins and use them as a ‘backdoor’ into your website.

To prevent this from happening to your website, you should consider using Sucuri to monitor your website. Such a service will monitor your website for the presence of unwanted malware or virus invaders and eliminate them 💣.

Track your site’s speed

So far, many of our recommendations have been reactive – such as ways to protect your site from hackers, keeping it updated at appropriate times etc.

However, some of your maintenance should be proactive too.

At the moment, there’s a great deal of chatter about Google’s Page Experience algorithm update. It covers a huge range of different factors (far too many to go into detail here), but one of the changes that grabbed the most attention is the fact that page loading speeds will now be counted as an important ranking factor.

So, one way to stay ahead of the game (well, your competitors anyway), is to monitor your page speeds on a regular basis.

Before you start asking how on Earth you do that, don’t worry. Google has provided you with a tool to do exactly that (and it’s free! 😎). Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool will tell you how fast your site is, and what you need to do to fix it.

It’s not one of those tasks you need to be doing all the time, but it’s worth scheduling into your website’s maintenance schedule on a quarterly basis.

Keep control of user accounts

Becky had access to your site a few years ago when she was doing some web admin for you. Does it really matter if she still has access? She’s probably forgotten her login details right?!

Let us spell it out for you. YES! IT. DOES. MATTER.

User accounts that have ended up in the wrong hands are one of the many ways in which nefarious individuals manage to hack WordPress sites.

If you don’t want to fall into this trap, then you want to keep a close eye on who has login details to your website, revoking access when people leave your business and ensuring that only essential permissions are granted to each user.

Each user should have their own username and login to the website. Not only does that keep the website more secure than using one generic set of login details between multiple people, but it’ll provide more of an audit trail should anything go wrong.

A note on passwords

Whilst we’re on the subject of passwords (and we don’t mean to nag, honest 👀), you should be changing these on a regular basis.

We know it’s a pain, but the consequences can be much more severe than 20 minutes spent doing some password admin. You should aim to change the password to your WordPress admin area, FTP or SSH accounts and your WordPress database password on a regular basis (bi-monthly is one of the most regularly recommended time periods).

Of course there’s a bit of a paradox here. Strong passwords can be hard to remember, but writing them down on a scrap of paper on your desk kinda defeats the purpose of them. If you’re looking for a solution, try using a password manager such as LastPass or Keeper.

Make website worries a thing of the past with upHost

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to maintaining your WordPress website. But, did you know that upHost is more than just a source of WordPress maintenance advice?! That’s right, we also offer a whole host (geddit?!) of website hosting and maintenance services, ideal for start-ups and fast scaling businesses.

Find out more about our WordPress maintenance services today


upHost Tech Team

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