Effective WordPress maintenance tips are crucial for keeping your website running smoothly and securely. In this blog post, we will explore some essential tasks that every site owner should perform regularly to ensure their online presence remains in top shape. Let’s start.
1. Perform Regular Backups
A full-site backup is one of the most crucial tasks in maintaining a WordPress website. This process creates a restore point that can be used if anything goes wrong with your site, such as encountering an error or getting hacked. By restoring to an earlier backup, you can save yourself time and effort that would otherwise be spent troubleshooting. It’s recommended to back up your website daily, which can be done manually by copying your site and database files to another storage location.
However, many managed WordPress hosting services offer automatic backups every day as part of their package. If you prefer not to use managed hosting, there are also plugins available such as UpdraftPlus that allow for easy creation of backups and scheduling automatic backups on any desired frequency. Regardless of the method chosen, automating this maintenance task is highly recommended since performing daily manual maintenance requires too much work. Additionally, periodic backups may result in significant data loss when restoring your website.
2. Update WordPress Core, Themes, and Plugins
Neglecting to update and maintain the core software and its components is a major cause of WordPress errors and security issues. Security-related updates are frequently released for major plugins and WordPress.org, as seen in their update logs. Using outdated software increases the likelihood of encountering errors. Fortunately, updating WordPress and its components is an easy task that should be done regularly.
To ensure your website’s security, check the Dashboard > Updates tab at least once a week. Execute all necessary updates for themes, plugins, and WordPress core. Although updating can sometimes lead to errors, having a solid strategy in place before performing multiple upgrades or updating to a new version can help mitigate risks. It’s also important to have recent backups available in case anything goes wrong. If possible, use staging functionality when updating your website. This allows you to test updates on a separate site before pushing them live. While some managed hosting providers offer automatic updates for WordPress CMS and its components, it’s recommended that you manually check for updates yourself since the process is straightforward.
3. Delete Unused Themes and Plugins
If you’re constantly updating a large number of WordPress plugins and themes that you don’t even use, it’s time to consider removing them. By deleting inactive plugins and themes, you’ll free up space, eliminate unnecessary entries from the WordPress database, and make maintenance tasks easier. It’s also worth considering reducing the number of WordPress plugins you have installed. Take some time to review your list of installed plugins if you’ve added several. Identify which tools are actually being used and remove those that aren’t. Using too many active plugins can sometimes slow down your website.
Additionally, having a large number of active plugins increases the risk of compatibility issues and security vulnerabilities. We recommend reviewing your list of active plugins every few months to keep it lean. If you frequently update your site, it’s surprising how quickly unused or unnecessary plugins can accumulate, so trimming them down is worthwhile in terms of performance optimization and security.
4. Regularly Check and Optimize Your Website for Speed
When you first launch a website, it’s crucial that every page loads quickly. However, as you make changes to the site and add new features or plugins, its loading times may start to slow down. This can be problematic because pages will take longer to load due to the increased amount of data they contain. To avoid issues with high bounce rates (which tend to increase after two seconds), it’s important that your page loading times remain reasonable – ideally under two seconds.
Fortunately, there are many free tools available for monitoring this metric. Some popular options include PageSpeed Insights (which also measures Core Web Vitals) and Pingdom Tools. By entering a URL into one of these tools, you can get a detailed breakdown of its loading time along with suggestions for potential improvements. This information is invaluable if you want to optimize your site’s performance and reduce loading times across all pages.
Here are a few ways to decrease the average page loading times:
To improve the loading speed of your website, there are numerous measures you can take. However, we suggest implementing the following changes as they tend to have a significant impact. It is recommended that you regularly check the loading times of important pages on your site and keep track of any changes. If you observe an increase in loading times, it could indicate issues with server load or site configuration.
5. Harden Your Site’s Security
WordPress security is crucial for any website, even if it doesn’t handle sensitive user information. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in your site to spread malware or spam. While WordPress is secure by default, there are steps you can take to further harden its security. The most critical task for securing WordPress is keeping the CMS and all plugins and themes up-to-date with the latest versions. These updates frequently contain important security patches that should be applied promptly.
A password manager is an essential tool for managing complex passwords securely. It offers several advantages that contribute to enhancing your WordPress security:
Enforcing Strict Password Policies
In addition to using a robust password manager like LastPass or Dashlane, it’s crucial to implement strict guidelines when creating new user accounts on your WordPress site. Follow these best practices for enforcing secure policies:
- Create Lengthy Passwords: The longer the better. Aim for at least 12 characters with varied complexity, such as uppercase/lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
- Update Passwords Regularly: Encourage users to change their passwords every three months. This practice reduces the risk of unauthorized access due to compromised credentials.
- Avoid Common Patterns: Passwords should not contain easily guessable information like names or birthdates. Instead, opt for random combinations that are difficult to crack.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable two-factor authentication on your WordPress site as an additional layer of security. This requires users to provide two forms of identification before gaining access – usually something they know (password) and something they have (phone).
6. Optimize the Database Often
To enhance the performance of your WordPress website, it is important to optimize its database by removing unused tables and rows. Often, when you delete plugins from your website, they leave behind unnecessary entries in the database which can slow down your site’s speed. However, manually navigating through the database and identifying redundant entries can be a challenging task. Therefore, we suggest that you create a backup of your website before making any changes to the database. If you have followed our recommendations for automatic backups, this should not be an issue.
Fortunately, there are several plugins available that can help you clean up your WordPress database without requiring manual editing. One such plugin is WP-Optimize which scans the entire database for orphaned entries and deletes them accordingly. Additionally, WP-Optimize also allows users to compress images and modify browser caching settings. We recommend using this plugin on a weekly or monthly basis so that any new bloats in the growing database can be minimized effectively with minimal effort on your part.
7. Delete Unreferenced Files
As your website expands, it’s likely that you’ll accumulate a plethora of files on its server that are redundant. Images tend to be the most common offenders in this regard. Many pages require multiple images, and it’s easy to upload files that may not be used later. This leads to hundreds of unutilized files taking up valuable space on your server, which can become problematic for both storage and backups. Most hosting plans come with limited storage capacity, so keeping WordPress unused files doesn’t make sense.
Moreover, complete site backups include every file present on the server along with the entire database. If there are numerous unreferenced files present, creating backups will take longer and result in larger backup sizes. To avoid these issues altogether, we recommend checking your WordPress media folder periodically (every few months) to see if any images or other types of files aren’t being utilized anymore. In case they’re not needed anymore, feel free to delete them from your server entirely.
9. Test Your Forms From Time to Time
Forms are an essential component of any website, particularly for online stores. They offer a fully interactive experience to users and enable them to submit information or requests easily. However, if a form malfunctions, it can hinder the flow of new leads, support inquiries, and payments. Therefore, it’s crucial to test your forms regularly by using them as a regular user would and verifying that they work correctly.
Typically, after submitting a form successfully, you should see a confirmation message indicating that the submission was successful. If you don’t receive such messages upon submitting your forms or fail to get email notifications when someone fills out the form (in cases like contact forms), there may be an issue with its functionality. To minimize downtime on your site due to faulty forms, we recommend testing all critical ones at least once every month. If you stop receiving notification emails about new submissions suddenly, this is often an indication that something is wrong with one of your forms. In such instances, act quickly by running tests on the affected form(s) until everything works as expected again.
10. Regularly Check and Optimize Your Site for Mobile
The prevalence of mobile devices has brought about a significant shift in the way people browse the internet. As a result, it’s highly likely that most visitors to your website are accessing it via their smartphones. Despite this, when envisioning web design, you may still picture layouts optimized for larger screens. As such, any modifications made to your website’s design and functionality must be compatible with mobile devices. Fortunately, this is relatively straightforward nowadays since many WordPress themes are designed with mobile responsiveness in mind.
Updating Broken Links
Regularly removing and updating broken links improves user experience by ensuring seamless navigation throughout your WordPress website. Keeping track of these changes also allows you to identify trends, meet goals, and enhance overall performance. In this section, we will discuss some useful tools for identifying broken links on your site and effective strategies for fixing them.
Tools for Identifying Broken Links on Your Site
To ensure a smooth user experience, it is important to identify and rectify broken links on your website. Several online tools can help you find any issues with the links on your WordPress site:
- Broken Link Checker: This free tool scans your entire website to detect any dead or non-functional hyperlinks.
- W3C Link Checker: Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), this tool provides detailed information about link errors found in HTML documents.
- Ahrefs Site Audit Tool: A comprehensive SEO audit tool that identifies various technical issues affecting your site’s performance, including broken links.
Strategies for Fixing Broken Links Effectively
Once you’ve identified the problematic links using one of the above-mentioned tools, it’s time to address them. Here are some best practices for fixing broken links on your WordPress site:
- Replace the link: If you find a broken link pointing to an external resource, search for an updated URL or a similar resource that provides the same information. Update the hyperlink accordingly.
- Delete the link: In some cases, it might be best to remove the broken link altogether if it doesn’t add value to your content or if there’s no suitable replacement available.
- Create redirects: For internal broken links, consider setting up a 301 redirect in WordPress to guide users from outdated URLs to relevant pages on your website.
- Contact webmasters of linked sites: If you notice that several of your outbound links are consistently breaking due to changes made by other websites’ owners, reach out and request updates or provide alternative resources for them to use as replacements.
In conclusion, implementing regular WordPress maintenance tasks such as backups, strong passwords and security measures, updating broken links, image optimization techniques, and testing website navigation across devices and browsers can help ensure your site’s performance is running smoothly. By following these best practices, you can optimize your WordPress site’s loading times and improve its overall functionality.
At Amadeus Consulting, we offer comprehensive web development services to help you stay ahead of the competition and optimize your WordPress site for success. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve success online!
Contact us today to schedule a consultation for optimizing your WordPress site!
FAQs in Relation to WordPress Maintenance Tips
How to Maintain a WordPress Site
To maintain a WordPress site, it is important to perform regular maintenance tasks. These include:
- Performing backups regularly
- Updating plugins and themes
- Ensuring strong passwords and security measures are in place
- Fixing broken links
- Optimizing images for faster loading times
- Testing website navigation across different devices and browsers
Tools like UpdraftPlus can be used for backups, while plugins like Smush can help optimize images.
How to Fix Maintenance Issues on WordPress
If you encounter maintenance issues on WordPress, the first step is to identify the problem areas. This may include outdated plugins or themes, broken links, or slow-loading pages. To fix these issues:
- Update your software to the latest versions using the dashboard’s updates section
- Use tools like Broken Link Checker to identify broken links and address them accordingly
Does WordPress Need Maintenance?
Yes, regular maintenance is essential for any WordPress website to ensure optimal performance and security. Maintenance tasks include:
- Updating core files along with plugins/themes
- Monitoring uptime
- Securing against malware attacks
- Optimizing databases/images
- Checking mobile responsiveness and cross-browser compatibility
- Maintaining SEO best practices
Is WordPress Easy to Maintain?
WordPress is relatively easy to maintain due to its user-friendly interface that allows even non-technical users to manage their websites effectively. The platform offers numerous built-in features alongside an extensive library of free and paid third-party resources (plugins/themes) which make it easier than ever before to keep up with ongoing changes in web technologies and security standards.