Show your website some love with routine maintenance
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I’ve been working with WordPress for over 10 years and has it ever changed!
Once a simple blogging platform, WordPress is now so powerful and flexible that it’s been chosen for 40% of the world’s websites.
All that advanced technology needs to be maintained to keep working properly. Gone are the days when you could just check for updates once in a while.
If you didn’t realize your site needed to be maintained, or you’ve just been hoping nothing goes wrong, better late than never, right? To help you get started, I’ve listed below some of the most important routines associated with any WordPress site.
If you have regular steps in place to keep your site secure and running smoothly, that’s fantastic! Review my list below to make sure you’re not missing anything.
Website & Database Backups
Backing up your site regularly is most important, because if anything goes wrong, the backup can usually be restored to bring everything back to the way it was. If you don’t already have a backup system in place, you need to get on that as soon as possible.
Set up a backup system using a WordPress plugin or third-party service. Backup services may also be available with your hosting plan, either as a standard feature or paid add-on. (It’s included with my Managed WordPress Hosting Plans.)
Make sure your system allows you to schedule automated backups. I recommend daily backups for most sites, more for active ecommerce sites or blogs. An old backup won’t do you much good if it doesn’t include your latest changes, blog posts, or sales from your ecommerce store.
It’s also advised to run a manual backup before you make any changes to your site.
It’s essential that you know how to restore a backup, in case you don’t like the changes you’ve made or if anything goes wrong. You just never know when a plugin update will create a conflict with your theme or another plugin, causing certain functions or features not to work, or bringing your site down entirely.
I recommend logging into your WordPress dashboard every week to deal with any notifications or other messages. This will usually include plugin updates, and may include theme updates, WordPress core updates, or notices of other actions to be taken. If you’re not sure what something means, ask someone before you start clicking on random links.
At the same time, review the front end of your site to make sure everything still displays correctly. This is especially important after running updates.
If anything is going to take more time than you’ve scheduled in your weekly routine, add it to your task list or hire a pro to look after it for you.
Adding new content on a regular basis will do wonders for your search engine positioning. That’s one of the reasons that blogs are so popular. To see what “regular” might mean for you, read The best blogging schedule for your business.
Whether you intend to blog or not, other sections of your website will need to be updated whenever you introduce a new product or service, stop offering something that’s listed on your site, or change your prices from what’s published. Failing to stay on top of these changes will mean that:
- You won’t get the full marketing value out of your website
- You’ll spend more time giving updated information to potential clients on the phone or by email
Receiving an award, earning a new credential, or being mentioned in a major publication are all important details that you may wish to add to your About page.
Other site additions might include photos of recent projects, client testimonials, or further information about your business.
Broken Links Check
If your website has a lot of links to other websites, whether on a Resources page, your blog posts, or even your blog comments, odds are high that some of those links no longer work.
Broken links are frustrating for website visitors and can even harm your SEO ranking, so it’s a good idea to check them once a month.
If you’ve been blogging for a long time and have never checked them before, you may feel overwhelmed by the number broken links you have. Don’t sweat it, just deal with as many as you can at the time and continue next time. Increase the task frequency, if you’ve got the time, until you get a handle on it.
Once everything is up-to-date, you may be able to cut your routine back to every two or three months.
Although WordPress itself is free, there are costs involved in owning a WordPress site. These include:
Make sure you’re aware of your yearly subscriptions: what you have, what they’re for (so you don’t renew something you’re not even using), the cost, the vendor, and the renewal date. And make sure each vendor has your current contact information (and credit card information, if you’re on auto-renew) so nothing expires unintentionally.
Maintaining a WordPress site requires other periodic tasks, such as:
- Keeping the database clean
- Checking Google Search Console errors and issues
- Testing page speed
- Monitoring traffic and search engine rankings
Some tasks don’t need to be completed as often as others, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. When you establish routines to handle them on a regular basis, you greatly minimize the likelihood that anything will go wrong when you’re not paying attention.
If this all terrifies you, my Peace of Mind Care and Hosting Plan may be just what you need. It includes most of the routine tasks listed above, and the others are available at a very reasonable price.
I hope you find this post helpful! I wrote it as my contribution to this month’s Productivity & Organizing Blog Carnival, a pet project of mine since 2009. Be sure to check out the many submissions I received from my readers!
If you have a blog, consider participating in a future edition. It’s not just for organizing and productivity pros!
I do some of this myself. And I am fortunate enough to have Janet as my Website Caregiver for things I can’t figure out or don’t think of. Thanks for this list, Janet!
My pleasure, Hazel!
As you know, I have a SquareSpace site, not WordPress. I don’t have an official website caregiver and sure wish you serviced this other platform. Some of the things you mentioned I do, like updating regularly. But the place I’ve fallen short is checking for broken links. Periodically, I’ve experimented with some platforms that identify broken links, but I find them frustrating. Plus, I have a lot, so as you mentioned, the task feels overwhelming. That’s on me. It’s not a reason to ignore the problem, but I will admit, it’s not on the top of my to do list either.
I agree, that process is a lot of work, especially when your list of broken links is separate from your website so you have to look them up separately. It feels good to get it done though!
I do a lot of this, but have to admit I haven’t worked on my broken links. You’ve inspired me to make this a goal for 2023. I’ve got to get on this one!
You’ve been blogging for a long time, so you probably have more than you think!
Thank you for sharing your knowledge! 🌺
You’re welcome! It’s always nice to meet other Janets. 🙂
Yes, it sure is! 🤗