Most people know that they should probably be doing something to maintain their WordPress site. But, most users are not quite sure what these steps should be. Unlike a car, a WordPress site doesn’t necessarily come with a maintenance manual – so we are often left to figure this out for ourselves when we delve into the wonderful world of WordPress.
Knowing this, we decided to put a post together that could help!
So, without further delay, we will share 10 of the most crucial maintenance tasks that we believe should be performed regularly on any WordPress site. Some of these may be more well-known than the others, but you should probably put thought into all of them on at least a semi-regular basis to keep your site running optimally and at maximum efficiency.
The Basics: Understanding The Need For WordPress Maintenance
WordPress is a complex system that is made up of many different parts. WordPress hosting, plugins, the software itself, themes, your own content, text, images, etc… all of these elements make up your website… but in order to continue to work well, all of these different parts need at least some degree of regular maintenance.
As a general rule, you will want to run crucial maintenance tasks every 6 months if you run a low-traffic site or every 3 months on a high-traffic site.
With that being said, here are some of the most important tasks that you should make sure to complete at these regular intervals.
1… Create A New And Complete Backup Of Your Site
WordPress is amazing for a lot of reasons… and one of the reasons that it is so awesome is because it gives you the ability to completely backup your entire site without putting you through much trouble or hassle. Backing up your site regularly can save you so much time if something really unexpected goes awry… and it is super important that you do it!
Not only is it important to keep your backup up-to-date, but automatic backup plugins do not always work perfectly… so manually backing up your site is a necessity as a part of regular maintenance, just to make sure that you don’t end up losing stuff that you thought was safe.
This may seem like common-sense, but you would be surprised at how many people skip this crucial maintenance step. It is very important that you keep your WordPress version updated. It is also important that you keep all of your plugins and themes updated as well.
You can find out what parts of your site need to be updated by going to the WordPress Updates page. There, you can manually check all of your themes and plugins and can make sure that everything is running the latest and correct version.
3… Regularly Change All Of Your Passwords
This might seem like a pain… but get used to it!
Your password is the single most important defense your site has against unwanted intrusions – and keeping all of your passwords strong, fresh, and changed regularly can do a lot to protect all of your accounts.
You should change the password for not just your WordPress site, but also for your database, your admin area, and your SSH and FTP accounts as well.
4… Delete Spammy Comments
We all know what they look like. And we all know that they can be a nuisance. But… we don’t always know that they should be deleted.
Well, they should be deleted.
If you deal with more than a few regular spam comments on your site on a daily basis, then it will probably do you a lot of good to use Akismet to help you block and mass-delete spammy comments. This will save you a ton of time and hassle. Just make sure that you check the spammy comments first before deleting, just to make sure that some legitimate comments didn’t get caught in the filter by accident.
Then, just delete them so that they are no longer taking up space. Simple as pie!
5… Optimize Your Database
A lot of the data that gets saved on your site ends up in the WordPress database. And over time, this database can accumulate and gather a lot of needless, unnecessary data. This can affect your site’s performance and can make restoring backups more difficult.
In order to fix this, you should optimize it on a regular basis. Optimizing allows you to clean it up, defrag it, and improve its performance. We like to use the WP-Optimize plugin for this. It’s a free download on WordPress.org, and does the job quite well!
6… Test All Of Your Forms
Creating beautiful forms on your WordPress site is pretty easy, thanks to the wealth of plugins that your disposal. But… sometimes, they might stop working, due to a technical error. Most of the time, the reason for this lies in a misconfiguration on the server, or with the email service provider… but either way, when it does happen, you may stop receiving the emails from these forms.
And that is obviously problematic.
So make sure to test all of your forms regularly, just to make sure that they are still working correctly. If you find a problem, you can then at least fix it before you lose traffic or visitors because of it.
7… Get Rid Of 404 Errors
This can be an especially troublesome problem for WordPress sites because it can really affect the quality of your service and can create a lot of frustration for your user base. This basically happens when a user requests a page that doesn’t technically exist on your site.
They will get a 404 error page… and it is very frustrating!
These types of errors occur for a number of reasons. Sometimes they happen because a user types in the wrong web address, and there is nothing that you can do about that. But, they can also happen when a page is no longer available on your site, for some reason.
So tracking these pages and fixing them is important. We really like to use the free Redirection plugin for this. It does a good job and is available on WordPress.org.
8… Test Your Site’s Performance Regularly
Optimizing a new WordPress site so that it runs smoothly is usually at the forefront of a developer’s mind when he or she first designs and launches it. But over time, this crucial element is sometimes forgotten.
As you install new plugins, add new content, and change your site, you may be gradually changing how well it runs as well… all without realizing it.
To fix this problem (or to keep a problem from hurting your traffic), you should perform regular performance tests. Keeping your website fast and efficient will help you to maximize the benefits of your traffic and to provide the best experience for your users.
And the best way to do this is to test not just your homepage, but also all of your most popular content pages and important pages as well. Boosting your WordPress speed and performance will give you the best shot at building real, quality traffic… because it will really cut down on user frustration and will give your readers another reason to come back.
9… Fix Broken Links
This is a problem that will grow over time. Links to existing sites may fail if that site moves or goes offline. But even links that are not external can cause problems. Misspelled links will obviously take users nowhere, and poorly formatted links can also be problematic.
To maximize the site experience for your users, it is important to regularly check for (and fix) broken links. You should be doing this on a regular basis.
10… Check And Optimize Your Images
Images published in or with your content can be especially taxing on your site’s performance because they can take longer to load and slow down your pages.
Whenever you upload and publish photos, you probably already know that keeping them within a standard size is important – but there may be times when you don’t realize that photos or images may be too big, or slowing down your pages for some other reason.
This is why it is important to regularly check your site for images that may be hurting its performance. Fixing these can do a lot to help speed it up and make your WordPress site better for visitors and users.
You can often accomplish this faster by going through your library and checking the sizes of new images that you didn’t check last time around.
Apart from these tasks, there are a few WordPress maintenance services that you can check out.
Hope this post was helpful. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section 🙂