WordPress Maintenance Checklist: What You Should Watch Out For
No matter if you’re a newbie or an experienced webmaster, WordPress maintenance is always a key factor when it comes to improving the quality of your website.
When using WordPress as your site’s engine, creating the website, and not taking care of it afterward won’t be enough. Your WordPress should be a well-oiled machine that’s always at your service.
Especially if you want to make a living off your content, you should create a checklist to go off of when taking care of your website. This article should help you with that.
Why Maintenance Work is so Important
If your website is supposed to add to your income, or even make up its entirety, you need to maintain it. A lot of things can happen quickly, without us noticing.
Only activating a plugin can already destroy parts of your theme’s design. You could also become the target of a hacker. A lot of things can happen, so pay attention to your WordPress and maintain it.
You can’t just leave your website alone for a longer period. Treat it like your care, and it will be of excellent service to you. Thus, here’s my checklist for you.
WordPress Maintenance Checklist: What to Watch Out For
If you’ve already realized some of these aspects, that’s great! But maybe, there will still be a few aspects that you don’t have on your list. Let’s begin:
1 – Look at Your Website Like a Visitor
Sounds weird? It is an essential aspect, though. Most of the time, we only see the admin area of our website, and barely look at what our visitors get to see.
But that’s very important, as it allows you to see if a plugin destroys some parts of your design, or if it is not tied into the website design properly.
It’s also possible that the user friendliness could use some improvement. If you notice something in that regard, make sure to fix it immediately. Your website is not for you, but for your visitors.
2 – Create a Child Theme
Whenever you want to make significant changes to your theme’s design or add a new function via the
functions.php, you should use a child theme to do so. If you do that, your changes remain after a theme update.
3 – Create Proper Backups
Having a backup of your internet presence is crucial! WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, making it a favorite in the hacker community. Every day, WordPress websites are being attacked, no matter how small and insignificant they may be.
Thus, make sure to have a working backup of your site. From my experience, it’s advantageous to store the backups on the same server as your website.
Most free plugins work like that, though. You also need some extensive knowledge on recovery. I recommend subscribing to VaultPress for that job. Even newbies can use it quite easily.
Currently, it costs $3.50 a month. You can either recover the entire website with one click or individual files. I’ve been using this service for years, and it has always been constructive.
4 – Keep WordPress, the Theme, and the Plugins Up to Date at All
The three worst WordPress security gaps are called WordPress, plugins, and themes. Let me explain:
WordPress Core: with every new version, the security gaps of the previous one become evident. Because of that, you have a real safety issue if you don’t update quickly, so you shouldn’t be surprised when the friendly neighborhood hacker abuses the gaps.
The Plugins: The code quality of the plugins from WordPress’ free index isn’t something to write home about, as there is no real quality control for the inclusion of a plugin into the index. Thus, you should only choose the plugins that are regularly updated.
Attention: plugins that are not active pose a significant security threat as well. You should delete them.
The Themes need regular updates as well. Use a child theme to assure that your updates remain after a design change. You should delete the themes that you’re not using. They are a threat to your security as well.
Take care of all updates regularly, and your website will be a lot safer than before. Delete unused themes and plugins.
5 – Optimize the Loading Time of Your Website
The loading time of your site should be as low as possible. There are two reason why continuously improving your speed is advantageous: the faster the site, the better your rank in the Google search. And if your website loads quicker than the competition, you’ll appear before them in the search results.
The second reason is improved user-friendliness. A bit earlier, I mentioned that you don’t run the website for yourself, but for your visitors. The average user is impatient, and, when your WordPress site loads too slowly, he’ll leave it and won’t return.
Google likes to keep the ceiling at a loading speed of 1,5 seconds. However, an average WordPress website takes about 4 seconds to load. Eighty percent of this can be blamed on excessive use of plugins, with the leftover twenty percent being due to not optimized images.
Delete all plugins that you don’t need. Toys like sliders suck up lots of speed while annoying the visitors. Optimize your images regarding measurements and file size before using them in articles. Look into things that speed up your website.
Testing the Loading Time: The Pingdom Tools
The Google Page Speed Tools are not the right tool for a speed optimization, as they don’t show the loading speed. For that, use the Pingdom tools. There, you get to see the real speed, as well as things you can improve. Enter your URL, and select »Test from Stockholm, Sweden«.
6 – Check Your Links Regularly
You’ve probably never checked the function of the links on your website. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Nonetheless, broken links are a real problem. Having broken links means losing valuable SEO points, as Google also evaluates the user friendliness of a website.
Your visitors do that too, and nobody likes to click a link that can’t deliver the desired information.
Make sure to check your links regularly. You can use a plugin for that; I recommend the plugin Broken Link Checker.
7 – Check and Optimize Your 404 Error Page
Users get to see this part of a website rather often. They’ve either entered a wrong URL, or a link doesn’t work anymore. Of course, the content could have been moved as well.
Especially because users get to see this page now and then, optimizing it is very useful for you. This is the page that determines if you will lose the visitor or not.
Most themes offer a template for the error display, it’s called
404.php You can open and edit this template using an HTML editor. Integrate a search function, and list your best posts. A link to the sitemap shouldn’t be missing either.
8 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This part is easy to forget, although it’s one where you can score a lot of points for Google. A lot of SEO plugins already have this part integrated; like Yoast SEO, for example. Below the text editor in WordPress, you’ll find the designated box.
9 – Post New Content on a Regular Basis
The more articles you post, the more visitors you’ll get. That’s logical, as that means you’ve placed more articles in the Google search. To turn Google visitors into your regular readers, you should post new content consistently.
One article a week is consistent. So is one article every 14 days. It only depends on you doing it regularly, allowing your readers to rely on it.
10 – SEO: Revise Your Content Regularly
Once you’ve written a couple of articles, you have a good foundation for additional SEO and user points. I strongly recommend revising your old posts regularly, keeping them up to date.
The higher the number of current articles on your blog, the easier you will be found in the search results.
Brian Dean from Backlinko only writes one article a month, but keeps all of his posts up to date. This gets him top spots in the ranking for a couple of keywords. Your visitors will be impressed as well, as all the information you provide is relevant.
11 – Test Your Forms Frequently
Almost every website offers a contact form. Some use a much higher number of forms for all kinds of purposes. It would be highly disadvantageous for you if these forms didn’t work.
To avoid that, check if the forms can send emails and if they might end up in the email client’s spam folder. While you’re at it, also update your admin email address.
If the address is not up to date anymore, you won’t be able to receive emails from your website. Plugins like Contact Form 7, for instance, use the admin email as the recipient address.
Now you know the 11 aspects that are essential for a regular maintenance of your WordPress website. Work off all items on the list, and set dates to repeat some of them.
Check for new updates twice a week, revise your articles once or twice a year, and post new content reliably. If you do so, there’s nothing in the way of your website’s success.