Just like a dependable car, your website needs regular maintenance. Once you build your website with the latest features and updates, you are free to focus on your business. That’s great. However, if your website stays in its current state for weeks and months without any continual maintenance, the site’s safety and performance will suffer.
Regular maintenance of your WordPress has several advantages.
Regular monitoring will ensure that your website is running in top-notch condition.
Regular updates will boost the website’s security system and improve the loading times. This will have a direct impact on the website’s SEO rankings and reduce the bounce rates. Speed optimisation enhances user experience, huge criteria for search engine rankings.
What happens if you do not maintain your WordPress website on a regular basis?
- Page loading problems
- Security threats
- Poor SEO ranking
- Better user experience
Let’s now explore the various aspects of WordPress maintenance and what it takes to maintain a WordPress website.
Let’s delve in!
Why Do I need WordPress Maintenance Plan?
Small businesses and startups usually have in-house personnel who conducts their WordPress maintenance, updates, and security checks, such as:
If you are into eCommerce, regularly update the pricing, latest images, and features of the products that you are selling so that clients receive all the latest updates.
Better social media shares
When your product pages are updated, clients are more likely to connect with your social media pages. You will receive more shares on social media and you will spend less time answering queries of customers.
Your WordPress website is also your business branding. It reflects your way of working, and your approach towards your business. So take time to scrutinize your website content, update your logos and brand information and ensure that your website reflects impeccable working conditions.
Neglected websites are the perfect target for cyber threats, hacking, and malware functions. Regularly update your website to prevent security breaches.
WordPress updates protect your website from security threats and make your site more functional. When a new update is released, read the details of installation and ensure that it is properly installed and applied to your WordPress site. We will discuss these updates in detail in the following section.
Although a cost-saving practice, in-house website maintenance has its undersides. When you run your organization’s WordPress maintenance, there could be a few risks involved. You might not be aware of all the advanced updates and necessary checks. Leaving out certain aspects could pose a threat to your website’s security measures.
Considering this scenario, it is best to seek the services of a qualified WordPress maintenance expert who is experienced to conduct thorough maintenance of your WordPress website.
Conducting A WordPress Maintenance
For conducting simple WordPress tasks, a basic understanding of WordPress skills is sufficient. But for advanced-level maintenance checks, you will require an experienced WordPress professional who has knowledge and control of the CSS, PHP (WordPress core), and HTML, along with an understanding of object-oriented programming and command-line interfaces.
For heavy maintenance tasks, you need to put your website into ‘maintenance mode ‘. Also, design a concise plan about the tasks that need to be achieved during the maintenance process. You must ascertain what areas have to be accessed before the maintenance commences. Start by conducting a performance test, audit your content and SEO, using reputed analytics tools(Google Analytics). Check your website’s speed to determine whether the optimization is needed.
The WordPress Maintenance Plan
To put your website into ‘WordPress Maintenance Mode’, you need to plan. This is since when the website is in ‘maintenance mode’, visitors can not visit your website. Hence, plan meticulously in advance so you lose minimal traffic.
This is the greatest disadvantage of switching to the maintenance mode, you lose out on potential clientele and subsequently, the eCommerce sales. However, the advantages of switching over the website into the maintenance mode are manifold:
- You can peacefully manage and tweak your website settings, perform updates, add new templates and plugins, without your website visitors knowing about the maintenance.
- You can fix any shortcomings like broken links
- With regular updates and maintenance, your SEO rankings will remain intact. Thereby, the search engines will not index any changes to your website that look unfinished.
Activating the Maintenance Mode
When you start an update, WordPress automatically puts the website into the ‘Maintenance Mode’. For manually activating it, edit the WordPress’.htaccess file on your server. You construct some coding to redirect all traffic to maintenance.html. Users can customize the maintenance page by coding to style the HTML and CSS.
Alternatively, you can also use a plugin like WP Maintenance Mode. Additionally, customize the maintenance notice to inform your visitors that the site is under maintenance, by putting a message like ‘will be back soon ’.
We will now have a look at which maintenance tasks are vital aspects of your WordPress Maintenance Plan:
A WordPress website backup saves vital information when something malfunctions in the site. It’s like your insurance, keeping you safe by protecting you against security threats and cyber-attacks. Even when there is an emergency, you can always restore the previous version of your website through your backup. Some experts believe that updates on WordPress websites should be done daily.
There are two types of updates:
- Manual Backups
As a business/website owner, you can manually update your website if you have access to the server it’s hosted on. Using your managed WordPress hosting provider’s cPanel or DirectAdmin, you can run a built-in backup.
You could conduct your backup, which does not have to be associated with a server software or WordPress plugins. For this purpose, you must have an idea about navigating your WordPress site’s database. Manual backup involves the following steps:
- Log into your server
- Download and compress all your folders and loose files to your chosen location
- Automatic backup
Running automatic backups is, of course, a much easier option. Hosting providers will provide this service where they will schedule the backup and store the files. If ever, you need the backup version of your website, they will produce the specific version.
Paid backups, though available, are hefty in the pockets, especially for smaller firms and startups. Secondly, if you hire someone to perform the backups, you will not have any control over your files. If your website files have strategic importance where you would like personal control and monitoring of your files, opt for the manual option.
And if you want a double advantage, use plugins that enable you to automate your backup while still having better control of your files! Boldgrid and UpdraftPlus are two examples of such updates. Also, do check reviews from previous users about the performance of the plugins before opting for one.
Firstly, outdated software is the most vulnerable spot for cyber attacks and security threats. Hence, it is vital to periodically update your website, especially when:
- WordPress themes or plugins are updated with extra security and added functionality features
- WordPress launches a new version of its software(many features no longer function in the older version, so update regularly)
While WordPress automatically updates for smaller updates, you can also enable WordPress to update itself automatically for:
- Important version updates
- Your chosen theme and downloaded plugins
A word of caution, though automatic updates make life easier, they involve significant risks.
Sometimes when new updates and plugins are launched, there could be initial glitches in their seamless functioning. In this case, wait for a couple of weeks when a new tool or update is launched. Meanwhile, developers can run the software on different systems and test their efficiency in real-time. Thereafter, when positive reviews about the new software start pouring in, you can install these updates manually.
Website Security Monitoring
WordPress powers almost 1/3 of the entire web fraternity. Its widespread popularity and usage, along with its open-source code feature have made WordPress vulnerable to hackers and cyber threats. Timely updates to the website are one of the most proactive security measures that you can take to protect your website against security breaches.
Website security entails certain maintenance measures, ranging from regular backups to periodically revising your website’s password. And your website security monitoring must not stop here. You must periodically review your site’s access and error logs to detect any suspicious activity on your website.
If you are negligent, your site might be under attack before you know it. What happens when a virus or malware manages to sneak into your system? Apart from losing valuable data, it may also lead to a slow down or a drop in your rankings. Go for regular hack cleanups, including malware removal, identify the weak spot, and keep a watchful eye over your website. Opt for a security audit plugin like the iThemes security scanner to perform checks regularly.
Security updates are also very important. But again, are these updates compatible with your website and would not disrupt its interface and functionalities? This could be a matter of concern. Precisely for these reasons, you must perform updates on a WordPress staging site and in maintenance mode first. That way, you be relaxed that your website’s workability is intact.
Security updates can be precarious and ideally should be performed by a WordPress professional who has adequate knowledge in the concerned field.
Website loading time can make a significant difference in your traffic. Performance updates ensure your site’s loading speeds remain high so that visitors don’t have to wait for long.
Statistics reveal that about 46% of users won’t revisit websites poorly performing websites.
Performance updates involve the following tasks:
- Optimizing your database, content, and images
- Clearing your cache using a caching plugin
- Testing WordPress forms
- Identifying and fixing broken links
- Identifying 404 errors and correcting them
- Removing plugins and coding commands that are no longer in use
- Clearing spam comments from blog posts
- Engage with readers by replying to unread messages and comments
Some Final Fixes
Before your complete your WordPress maintenance tasks, you must check all aspects before your website is back in functional mode. For example: As you must have updates on certain plugins, check for the overlap in their functionality and remove the unwanted ones. Also, remember to revalidate your website after making changes to the coding or the style sheets.
Finally, review your revamped website and ensure that it fairs well on two parameters:
- Elevated user experience
- Higher ranking on browsers and search engines
Once you are convinced that all checks have been covered, you can get your website up and running once again!
As we wrap-up
When there are hundreds of WordPress websites operating in different business segments, You have to be on top of your website maintenance game. All the hard work that you have put in to set up the website and gain business clients cannot be lost by neglecting the maintenance and updates of your website. Perform regular cloud backups and security maintenance to ensure that your website is in top condition.
For complex security and maintenance updates, it is best to entrust these tasks to experts. Hire professional WordPress agencies or freelancers who have great market credibility and ample experience to carry out your WordPress website maintenance.