WordPress has come a long way since it was first launched in 2003. It is the most widely used content management system that powers almost 40% of all websites on the internet.
If you have a WordPress website, it is quite essential to keep it adequately maintained. Once the site is updated and optimized, you can ensure its proper functioning.
Featuring a well-maintained site delivers a hassle-free user experience. But, if not maintained well, you are wasting your time and money. For a successful website, one needs to focus on more than just its content and design.
In this article, I will share the crucial WordPress maintenance tasks that you should perform regularly.
Why is maintaining a WordPress website necessary?
Your WordPress site consists of hosting, themes, plugins, and other software.
Hence, you should service your website as soon as a notification is seen on your dashboard. Also, it is important to back up when you add new content.
Creating a full backup of your site
There is always a risk of your data getting deleted or mistreated by others.
Backing up the website saves much time if something goes wrong unexpectedly. It gives you the ability to back up the complete site without much hassle.
WordPress backups are File and database backups. The File comprises plugins, themes, and other installation files. The database consists of website data like posts, comments, and more.
Additionally, you can back up your site either manually or automatically.
The majority of hosting services provide automated ones as a part of their service.
A few plugins like UpDraftPlus, BackWPup, BackupBuddy, or VaultPress can let you run with manual and automate backups. You can save all the files on your local computer, or an external HDD, or in cloud storage.
Keeping WordPress software, Themes, and Plugins up to date
Regularly updating your WordPress website is the most important thing you can do to ensure its safety and functionality. It’s not just the WordPress software that needs to be updated but also the themes and plugins.
Themes define the appearance and display of your website. One of the most popular websites is Envato Market (previously known as Themeforest). There are over 11,000 themes available on Envato Market.
Plugins extend the basic functionality of WordPress CMS to help users personalize it for their needs. As per statistical data collected from 2016 to 2019, there have been around 18,000 plugins published.
You can manually check them to ensure that everything is running in its latest version.
During this, it’s a good practice to delete plugins and themes which are obsolete. It can help to save more space and limit risks to your website.
Within your dashboard under Updates, you can make out the latest version of WordPress used.
Change your WordPress Password
Using a heavy, unique password ensures to keep your WordPress website safe. It is your first line of protection against unwanted access to your site.
A strong password is hard to memorize and difficult to hack. Thus, security experts recommend changing passwords regularly.
Optimize your WordPress database
This is an important task to undertake to enhance the database’s performance. With time, a large amount of data gets accumulated in your WordPress database along with plugins, draft posts and pages, media files, and other comments.
It ultimately affects the performance of your site. Additionally, restoring backups can become more difficult.
Delete Spam Comments
Spamming is quite a concern in WordPress. It is very crucial to look at these comments to check whether they are real or not.
The statistics state that WordPress gets 487 billion such spam messages every month.
We all are familiar with how they appear, but no one takes action to delete them immediately.
If you keep receiving them daily, it can be blocked and mass-deleted using a filtering service Akismet. It filters spam, trackbacks, and contact form messages.
Just make sure to check all the comments before deleting them. No legitimate ones must get caught incorrectly. Once finished, it can be bulk removed.
Optimize your images
Images added in your content takes a longer time to load than texts. It affects the site performance and slows down your pages. Probably, you’re not using all files from the media library that takes up more space.
That’s why it’s substantial to check them that may screw down the website performance.
Running performance tests
Optimizing a WordPress website to run smoothly is an eminent maintenance task.
Many users are enthusiastic about their website performance initially. But with time, they tend to skip these processes when new content gets added.
The factors that affect the site are hosting, themes, plugins, media files, and more.
The best way to find out the reason is to run performance tests. You can see how the site is operating along with the process of improvement. It enhances your site’s SEO Ranking, thereby helping to reach out to your target audience without any trouble.
It’s advisable to test the homepage and other content pages as well.
Check and fix broken links
For an excellent user experience, your site links must work. It includes external and internal websites, images, and videos.
At one point in time, all these may cease to exist. Some may have moved to other domains or URLs. Identify these as early as possible to avoid any confusion. It then becomes complicated for users to visit the site.
The tool Broken-Link-Checker helps to fix these issues on your WordPress website. It displays a table showing all the broken ones enabling you to update by removing them.
Check and fix 404 Errors
It is a prevalent problem faced by users on the website. It can be quite disappointing and frustrating for them with a bad user experience. The 404 error occurs when a requested page technically doesn’t exist on your website.
Sometimes it appears when a user types in a wrong site address that is quite normal. But it also occurs when the web page is no longer available.
Such errors can decrease the audience visits to your website.
For seamless navigation, try finding these and fix them as much as possible. Get professional help if required. The free plugin Redirection is a quick fix that will help you add a location to send traffic in the appropriate direction.
Check your WordPress forms
Creating beautiful forms in WordPress is pretty simple using plugins like WPforms.
Sometimes they throw a technical error and might stop working. A typical reason for this failure is a misconfiguration on your hosting server or an email service provider. As a result, you may stop receiving emails from them.
Thus, it’s imperative to check them regularly for their availability and functionality. WP Mail SMTP Plugin helps to alert you when no email is received.
Deleting page and post drafts
Over time, your WordPress site may get accumulated with post and page drafts that have never been published and reside in your trash. This unwanted junk can slow down your website.
Over a while, it’s a good practice to delete the scrap from the trash and keep your dashboard free of clutter.
Make sure that before you permanently remove anything, you don’t need it.
Clear WordPress Cache
Caching is storing copies of a file so that its content can be accessed quickly. It is one of the simplest ways to improve site performance for users.
When a website is requested from different clients, you can reuse the previously generated data to speed up new requests.
It also provides better search engine rankings and saves some of the server’s resource consumption.
Remove unused, old themes and plugins
While updating themes and plugins is critical, it’s equally important to discard those installed but not activated on your site.
You can delete them and download them if you decide to use them in the future.
They could be vulnerable to attacks and also incompatible with newer versions of WordPress.
Inspect Contact forms
You might have added contact us forms, but you may not receive emails to your inbox due to some error. There is no mechanism to get these notifications.
So, you have to test it manually and check whether the messages are delivered to the configured mail or not. Or reconfigure your mailbox of your web hosting with the forms.
Ensure security measures
Spammers, hackers, and several other threats are common for all websites.
It’s a protected site, but also prone to getting hacked. (Read: WordPress Hacked: What to do when your site is in trouble).
There is no guarantee of security just by installing plug-ins.
You need to review unusual activity regularly using a Firewall or other security applications.
In conclusion, the maintenance of WordPress is a bit tricky. As having a WordPress website is good, so does its maintenance.
Working and seeking more customers is possible only when you are refining your site regularly.
Performing maintenance tasks by following the practices described above is an effective strategy to fix errors on time. Else, the security and performance of your site could become compromised.
Furthermore, the above-discussed tasks will not affect the sales and traffic of your website. An individual must ensure that his/her website performs well by keeping the software up to date and safeguard against internet threats.