I take WordPress maintenance very seriously. But unfortunately, after starting a blog, most people don’t. Instead, they wait until they’ve been hacked or their site breaks.
To keep your blog performing at its best and safe from hackers, or as I prefer to call them, dirty little gremlins, you need to perform regular maintenance tasks.
In this article, I will share 8 WordPress Maintenance tasks, that in my experience, you should prioritise and do regularly to keep your blog secure, loading fast, and online for your audience without interruption.I take WordPress Maintenance very SERIOUSLY. But most people don't. They wait until their #blog gets hacked or breaks Click To Tweet
Why WordPress Maintenance Is Important
If you’re running a WordPress blog-based online business, then your blog is the engine, so to speak, that powers your ENTIRE online business.
Through your content, you use your blog to establish yourself as an expert in your niche and grow an audience. You also use it to build an email list and to sell your products and services.
But just like a car, your blog needs to be looked after properly, or it will breakdown. And if it breaks down, you’ll have no way to generate new leads and make sales. And if you can’t generate leads and make sales, then you don’t have a business.
Makes sense, right?
So, to that end, let’s take a look at the WordPress Maintenance tasks you need to prioritise, and why they are important.
1 Backups and Restores
Although backups don’t directly impact the performance of your blog or prevent site hacking, this should be your TOP priority because if your blog is hacked or it breaks due to a software update or human error, restoring a recent backup is generally the fastest way to fix it.
You should store backups safely on encrypted servers, away from damage. If you store backups on your server and your site is hacked, backups on the server can be compromised and you won’t be able to restore them.
You can use a plugin like BackWPup to backup your site and push it to external storage like Dropbox or Amazon s3.
2 Security Monitoring
According to Sucuri’s latest Hacked Website Trend Report, the percentage of hacked WordPress websites increased from 83% in 2017 to 90% in 2018, which is huge compared to other platforms like Joomla (4.3%) and Drupal (3.7%).
Clearly, WordPress IS an easy target for hackers, so it’s important to monitor your blog for vulnerabilities that can be exploited to gain access to your site, for malware, and for malicious code.
To help with security monitoring, you can install a security plugin. I recommend Wordfence.
3 Perform Regular Security Audits
Installing a security plugin and using an SSL certificate will help protect your site from hack attacks and alert you if vulnerabilities, malware, and malicious code are found. But the plugin alone, is not enough to keep those dirty little gremlins out.
To ensure your site is fully secured, first you must:
- Remove / replace the default ‘admin’ username.
- Use strong, unique passwords for all user accounts.
- Delete unused plugins and themes.
- Replace (& delete) abandoned plugins with suitable alternatives.
- If available, upgrade to the latest php version.
- Disable file editing from the WordPress dashboard.
- Delete the WordPress README file from your server.
- Remove inactive site users.
- Add new salt keys to the wp-config.php file
By completing the tasks above you will make it significantly harder for hackers to gain access to your site. That said, website security is an ongoing process, not a one time fix.
To keep your site fully secured long-term, you need to repeat the action steps above periodically, and check security plugin logs for file changes, too.
4 Test and Apply Software Updates
I cannot express the importance of doing this! Tens of thousands of WordPress websites are hacked every year because site owners do not keep plugins, themes and WordPress core up-to-date.
By updating plugins, themes, and WordPress core on a regular basis, you are 56 percent less likely to be hacked. But you must be careful …
Sometimes when updating WordPress, themes, and plugins, software conflicts can break website functionality or even worse, cause the white screen of death.
Granted, software updates don’t always break a site. You can go months without experiencing any problems, but when you least expect it, a conflict will occur.
If you have a backup when that happens, great, you can restore it. But that’s only a temporary fix!
After restoring the backup, you’ll need to know what caused the conflict so your site doesn’t break again the next time you update it.
To prevent this from happening, ALWAYS test updates on a staging site first. If you’re unable to create a staging site through your host, you can use a plugin like WP Staging, or you can create one manually which is my preferred method.
5 Uptime Monitoring
If your website goes offline it’s unlikely your web host will let you know about it. By the time you realise your site is down several hours, or even days later, it’s too late. You’ve already lost lots of traffic and subscribers, and money if you sell products and services on your blog.
If you notice that your blog is going offline frequently for no apparent reason, I recommend moving to a better web host.
6 Performance Scans and Optimisation
Nobody likes a slow website, right?
Heck, 43% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and a tiny 1 second delay in load time can lead to a 7% loss in revenue, lower search rankings, higher bounce rates, and 11% loss in page views.
Running regular site speed checks makes it easier to catch website changes and external factors that can slow down the load time of your blog.
7 Optimise Your WordPress Database
Your WordPress database is like a filing cabinet. It stores all your content, including posts, pages, comments, revisions and spam comments, and settings for your themes and plugins.
Every time you edit and publish a page or post, install a new plugin, update software, approve comments and delete spam comments, and more, your database gets larger. And a large database slows down your site because it takes longer for your server to retrieve the information that it needs from the database tables.
Deleting old data that’s no longer needed such as post revisions, spam comments and trash, helps keep your site loading fast. You can use a plugin like WP Optimize.
8 Find and Fix Broken Links
And finally, like slow websites, broken links (internal and external) are bad for SEO and user experience, so you should monitor your site for 404 broken links.
If Google runs into broken links on your site, the search engine assumes the content no longer exists – so it won’t be indexed and shown in search results – which means you lose traffic.
And if your readers click on a link that takes them to a 404 not found page, they’ll likely leave your site and go look for the information they need somewhere else, which means you’ve just lost a potential email subscriber or customer.
You can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker to find and fix broken links.
How Often Should You Do Website Maintenance?
Now that you know which essential WordPress Maintenance tasks you should prioritise and do frequently, you may be wondering just how frequently they need to be done.
The guide includes my website maintenance checklist, organised into daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks, to help you get started. Print it out and keep it near your workstation for easy reference.
If you found this article useful, share it on social media. Let’s show those dirty little gremlins who’s boss. 😉