Not sure where to start when it comes to WordPress maintenance?
Keeping up with your WordPress site’s maintenance is essential for its security, performance, and user experience. But with so many tasks to consider, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.
In this post, we’ll show you some key WordPress maintenance tips to optimize your website!
Does WordPress Require Maintenance?
WordPress is a powerful content management system, but it requires regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. This includes tasks like updating WordPress plugins and themes, fixing security vulnerabilities, and optimizing database queries.
By performing regular maintenance, you can prevent problems and keep your WordPress site up and running. Here are some of the main benefits of regular WordPress maintenance:
- Improved security: Keeping your WordPress software, plugins, and themes up to date comes with bug fixes that protect your site from security vulnerabilities.
- Increased performance: Optimizing your database and other aspects of your site can improve its loading speed.
- Reduced downtime: By fixing problems and preventing them from happening in the first place, you can reduce the amount of downtime your site experiences.
- Better user experience: A well-maintained WordPress site will be more user-friendly and enjoyable for visitors.
11 Necessary WordPress Maintenance Tasks
Now that you know the benefits of performing regular maintenance on your WordPress site, let’s show you how to do it! This way, you’ll have a solid maintenance plan that will boost your performance and security.
Before we get started, we’d recommend making any major changes on a staging site. Alternatively, you can enable WordPress maintenance mode. This can be done with a maintenance mode plugin like SeedProd.
1. Back Up Your Website
As a WordPress site owner, you won’t want to forget to back up your site. In a backup, you’ll save a copy of your current files and database information.
If your website’s server crashes, you could lose all of your data. When you have a recent backup on hand, you can restore your website to the way it was before the disaster, and you won’t have to start from scratch.
Here are some other reasons to back up your website:
- Protection against data loss from accidental deletion, hacking, or server failures.
- Quick restoration of your website in case of a crash or any unforeseen issues.
- Experiment with website changes without the fear of permanently damaging your site.
- Easy migration to a new hosting provider or server.
- Protection against malware or security breaches, allowing you to revert to a clean version.
- Confidence to update plugins, themes, or WordPress core.
With Duplicator, you can easily create new backups of your site. It will compile a copy of all of your WordPress files, plugins, themes, media files, and database tables.
As you’re creating a package, or backup, you’ll be able to customize exactly what data to include. Simply use the checkboxes next to each site component to include/exclude them from a backup:
To save time, you can also set up automatic backups. Duplicator allows you to create hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly auto-backup schedules:
This allows you to take one WordPress website maintenance task off your workload!
2. Perform Software Updates
Another important maintenance task is performing WordPress updates. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on security upgrades and new features.
Also, search engines consider website performance, security, and compatibility when determining search rankings. By regularly updating your WordPress website, you can maintain a competitive edge, improve your website’s SEO, and attract more organic traffic.
Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to manage new updates. All you’ll have to do is visit the Updates page in your dashboard:
Here, you can update your plugins, themes, and WordPress version.
Alternatively, your plugin updates will appear on the Plugins page. This allows you to update each one individually:
To update WordPress themes, go to the Themes page. You’ll be able to view information about each update and decide whether or not to go through with it.
3. Change Your Passwords
Although hackers can access your site through outdated software, you might be vulnerable in other areas. If your passwords are weak, you could be the victim of brute force attacks, malware, and data loss.
To boost your site’s security, make sure you’re using strong and unique passwords for all of these accounts:
- WordPress admin
- Hosting control panel
- FTP accounts
- Emails used for web hosting and WordPress admin
- Your site’s MySQL database
However, keep in mind that strong passwords could also become compromised. This is why it’s important to regularly update your passwords.
To help you get started, here is a helpful guide on how to change your WordPress password.
4. Delete Spam Comments
Any WordPress website will get spam comments at some point. These can contain harmful links or malware, posing a security risk to your website and its visitors.
By deleting these comments, you can clean up your website and protect the safety of your users. You’ll prevent visitors from clicking on malicious links that could compromise their devices or personal information.
To combat comment spam, most site admins use a plugin like Akismet. This tool will automatically review your comments and contact form submissions for spam:
Even with Akismet, some spam comments can fall through the cracks. It’s important to regularly check your comments, mark any spam, and delete it:
Sometimes, you could receive too much spam for you to handle. In that case, you can delete spam comments in bulk.
5. Optimize Your Database
Your website’s database contains crucial information like your posts, pages, users, comments, and WordPress settings. As your site grows, the database can get more cluttered with unnecessary data.
A bloated or poorly optimized database can slow down your site, leading to longer loading times and a frustrating user experience. By optimizing the database, you streamline the retrieval and storage of data, resulting in improved site performance.
Plus, a smaller, optimized database is easier to back up and restore. It’ll also make it easier to migrate your website to a new server or hosting provider.
WP-Sweep is a plugin that can instantly optimize your database. It’s capable of cleaning up spam comments, auto drafts, duplicated post meta, and more:
Once installed, WP-Sweep will show you exactly what needs to be optimized on your database. Then, you can clean up these areas with just one click:
By regularly optimizing your database, you’ll make sure that your website continues to operate smoothly!
6. Run an SEO Audit
To ensure your website ranks well in search engine results and attracts organic traffic, it is essential to regularly check your SEO. Here are some things you can do in an SEO audit:
- Identify broken links, crawl errors, and slow page speed
- Optimize on-page elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and keyword usage
- Evaluate your keyword strategy
- Update or remove low-performing and outdated content
- Monitor backlinks
To start analyzing your organic traffic, you can use data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If you want to see real-time reports in your WordPress dashboard, MonsterInsights can help:
MonsterInsights is the best WordPress analytics plugin. Once you connect your Google Analytics account, you can view information about how visitors are interacting with your content. This can allow you to boost traffic and conversions:
Using MonsterInsights, you’ll also see a valuable Search Console report. You’ll know what keywords visitors are using to find your site:
Additionally, All in One SEO is a plugin that will give you a full SEO audit checklist. It’ll provide actionable insights on how to improve your overall SEO performance:
Once you edit any post or page, you’ll see a list of basic SEO tasks. This can help you update existing content:
With these tools, you’ll rise to the top of search results!
Not sure how to handle a site migration without impacting your current ranking? Check out our guide on SEO migrations.
7. Optimize Images
Images are often the largest elements on a web page, and if they are not optimized, they can significantly slow down your site’s loading speed. Slow-loading pages lead to higher bounce rates, where visitors leave your site before it fully loads.
By optimizing images, you can reduce their file size without compromising visual quality, resulting in faster loading times. This improves user satisfaction and encourages longer page visits.
To make this WordPress site maintenance task easier, you can install an image compression plugin. EWWW Image Optimizer will automatically compress and scale images as you upload them to WordPress:
However, you may already have a huge Media Library of unoptimized images. In this case, you can download all your images and use a third-party service to optimize them.
With Duplicator, create a package and select the Media Only tab. This will download your Media Library as a zipped backup file:
Then, feel free to run your images through a compression tool like TinyPNG. At this point, you could also migrate your Media Library to a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
8. Fix Broken Links
Broken links create a frustrating experience for visitors while navigating your website. When users click on a link and end up on a 404 error page, they may perceive your site as unreliable or unprofessional.
As you’re managing your website, you’ll need to monitor the status of your links. If you point to web pages that don’t exist anymore, it’s time to delete or update the link.
Chances are, there are a lot of internal and external links on your website. To find any broken ones, we’d recommend installing Broken Link Checker. This tool automatically scans for broken links and allows you to fix them immediately:
Instead of manually clicking on every link on your site, you’ll see a list of new broken links. Then, you can quickly redirect them to a functioning web page:
For more information about this process, check out our tutorial on how to fix broken links in WordPress!
9. Optimize Performance
Page load speed is a critical factor that affects user engagement, search engine rankings, and conversions. Studies have shown that even a one-second delay in page load time can significantly impact bounce rates and user satisfaction.
If you frequently visit your site’s front end on your computer or phone, you might think it loads fast. However, your browser cache could be misrepresenting your actual loading speed.
To check your site’s performance, try the IsItWP speed test. After you enter your website’s URL, you’ll see information about your loading time, page size, and number of requests:
Keep in mind that your page speed should be under 2 seconds. If it’s significantly higher, you might need to upgrade your hosting plan, install a caching plugin, or clean up your database.
To help you get a high-performing website, follow this guide on how to increase WordPress speed and performance.
10. Check Your Security
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll need to boost your site security by changing passwords and performing updates. It’s also a good idea to check your access and error logs for any unauthorized or unusual activity.
Additionally, you can consider installing a security audit plugin. Sucuri is a popular option that includes a Website Firewall (WAF), malware scanning, malware removal, uptime monitoring, and other helpful security features:
If you want to fully evaluate your site’s security on your own, you might like this comprehensive WordPress security guide.
11. Test WordPress Forms
Whether you’re a blogger or an ecommerce store owner, you probably have a form set up to receive user feedback. However, your form might suddenly stop sending emails.
By routinely testing these forms, you can ensure that visitors can easily engage, provide feedback, make inquiries, or complete transactions. If you notice that one isn’t working, start troubleshooting the issue immediately.
Usually, you can solve issues by switching from the PHP mail() function to SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). This might seem complicated, but the WP Mail SMTP plugin automatically does this for you:
With WP Mail SMTP, you can connect your forms with your favorite SMTP service. Using reliable options like SendLayer, Office365, or Gmail (G Suite), you’ll make sure visitors receive emails after they submit your form.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I maintain my WordPress site?
You can maintain your WordPress site by regularly updating WordPress core, themes, and plugins to the latest versions to ensure security and compatibility. Additionally, perform routine backups, monitor site performance, optimize the database, and regularly scan for malware or security vulnerabilities.
Why is maintenance important in WordPress?
Maintenance is crucial in WordPress to ensure the security, stability, and optimal performance of your website. Without it, you may face poor loading speed, compatibility issues, higher bounce rates, decreased search rankings, and other issues.
Is it difficult to maintain a WordPress website?
No, it’s not difficult to maintain a WordPress website. You can automate many tasks like backups and updates. Plus, there are beginner-friendly plugins that can help you optimize your database, bulk delete spam comments, optimize images, and monitor security.
If you don’t want to install too many plugins, you could find a third-party WordPress maintenance service provider. Options like WP Buffs and Maintainn will take care of updates, backups, and security monitoring for you.
How often should I back up my WordPress site?
Your backup frequency depends on how often you update your website’s content. If you have a large website with high traffic and a consistent blog posting schedule, you may want to create daily backups. However, static sites only have to be backed up once a month.
How do I know if WordPress is in maintenance mode?
If your WordPress site is in maintenance mode, it displays a message that it is “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.” This tells your visitors that you’re fixing a bug or adding tweaks to your web design, without showing them a 404 error.
You can also create a custom maintenance page using a landing page builder like SeedProd. This plugin has pre-made templates for coming soon, maintenance mode, and 404 pages.
After all of these WordPress maintenance tasks, your site will be fully secure and high-performing!
Do you want to leave your website maintenance to the WordPress experts? You may like our guide on the best WordPress maintenance services.
Need to save time by automating site backups? Download Duplicator Pro to easily create automated backup schedules!