Your website is the modern version of your brick-and-mortar storefront. If your website isn’t updated and functional, you will likely miss out on traffic, sales, and opportunities. This can create a major headache as you try to reach increasingly digital-first customers in their shopping.
If you want to take your website maintenance to the next level, here are seven steps to healthy WordPress website maintenance.
- Update WordPress
Your first step is updating your WordPress software. There are two kinds of updates: core updates that update the base version of WP itself (which might be five or more years old) and plugin updates.
Core updates are always recommended, but not all plugins can co-exist. Make sure to check the plugin update requirements before updating.
If you are using an older version of WordPress, you should consider updating to the latest version as soon as possible. This is especially true if your site contains any kind of media (images, video, etc.) because there have been several major security updates for this since the original version was released.
- Check Plugins and Themes
There are two types of things to check for plugins and themes: functionality and compatibility. Functionality-wise, you should look at all of your plugins to see if there are updates available. Depending on the plugin, it might have a small bug fix or just need to be updated to work with the current version of WordPress.
If there are no updates available, you should check Google for any security vulnerabilities for that plugin in particular. Oftentimes, people will find exploits in plugins before the developers do.
As far as compatibility goes, you should check your site to see if any of your plugins are causing errors or redirecting links. If any of them don’t work any more (especially recently), it might be time for a change. There are plenty of great free and premium plugins available, so there is likely one that does what a plugin in question used to do.
- Check the Security of Your Site
Security is a huge concern for WordPress sites in particular because of all the vulnerabilities associated with older versions and plugins that either don’t get updated or have been discontinued. Fortunately, you can do many security checks to see if there are any issues during regular website maintenance.
If you have a managed hosting plan, your host will regularly check for security issues and most likely be able to fix them quickly, so this is usually the best option. This can be a costly monthly fee, but it is necessary to ensure that your site doesn’t get hacked or blacklisted in some cases.
If your site is on a shared hosting plan, you can also check for security issues yourself by using free or paid tools. Some of these are simply just automated checks, but many are more involved and will actually repair any issues found.
- Backups and Maintenance Plans
Maintenance plans are especially important if you don’t have dedicated hosting because they will ensure that your website is checked often and backups are always made.
Maintaining a regular backup schedule can save you a lot of trouble if anything should happen to your site, whether it be hacked, the server goes down, a big traffic surge, or other issues. If you don’t have any backups saved from that day or time, then you’ll have to start from scratch.
If you don’t have a backup, you can pay a monthly fee for a service to constantly save your site or build your manual system. Some people will use the FTP to regularly download their WP directory and then upload it if anything happens. This is also what managed hosting plans do behind the scenes, which is why they’re a better option for those on a budget.
- Check for Updates on Other Sites and Services
There are often updates for other sites and services that work with your WordPress site. This can happen for any number of reasons, such as plugin updates or security issues. It’s essential to stay up to date with these things as well.
If you use an email marketing service such as MailChimp, Aweber, or others, there’s usually a way for them to notify you of any updates if you sign up for their mailing list. Just make sure to check your spam folders in case any don’t go through!
If you use any other services such as storage, analytics, or anything else that connects to your website, be sure that there aren’t any updates available. In particular, Google Drive and Dropbox files can cause significant issues if they suddenly stop working because of an update.
- Boost Your SEO
Finally, you should boost your SEO if you’ve been neglecting it. There are many ways to go about this, but one of the most popular is writing higher-quality content that people will want to read and share.
With the ever-growing list of changes and advances in technology, staying up to date is a must. Keeping your site updated is the best way to ensure that it stays safe and that you can continue using any integrations or add-ons you need for it to function properly.
If you would like to learn more about the steps necessary to keep your WordPress website maintenance up to par, speak with a WordPress website developer. A developer can help you choose the best ways to keep your website safe and secure as well as quickly update it when necessary.