Why is website maintenance important?
- Sites get hacked: 61% of hacked WordPress sites are running outdated software.
- Only around 43% of WordPress websites are running the most current version of the software. Hackers know this and that makes WordPress websites an easy target.
- Surveys show that plugin vulnerabilities represented 55.9% of the known entry points reported.
- Software updates often include new features. If your software isn’t up to date, you’re missing out on that.
- If you can protect yourself against plugin vulnerabilities and brute force attacks, you are accounting for over 70% of the security problem, according to WordFence.
- Sites run slowly without proper maintenance.
- Sites break due to incompatibility between plugins, themes, etc.
- Google ranks outdated sites lower.
- When your site is outdated, it’s slower, ranks lower on search engine results and ultimately, visitors stop coming to your site.
What Does The Ideal Maintenance Schedule Look Like?
Security Monitoring, Malware Scans and Removal
Malware scans need to be run daily. If installed, malware does harm in a variety of ways: defacing the website, destroying data, committing cyber attacks from the user’s computer, modifying settings, and much, much more. Of course, it goes without saying that with daily malware scans, you must then remove any detected malware before it’s able to do harm.
Core, plugin and theme updates
Monitor traffic and search engine rankings
Search for broken links on your site
Check for search console errors/issues
Search for broken links on other websites
- Find a dead site
- Use Archive.org to find what the dead site looked like
- Find one of their well linked articles.
- Write an article that covers the same topic.
- Go to the editors of those linked sites, tell them about the dead link. then offer your article in that articles’s place
Test Site Speed
Review WordPress Setup
Once a year it’s good to take stock of your entire setup. This means taking the time to:
- Review your hosting provider. Does it still fit your needs? How does it compare to other options on the market?
- Review your theme and, if needed, check for alternatives that might look better, load faster and be easier to use.
- Review your plugins and search for alternatives that might perform better.
- Review any 3rd party services you’re using and make sure they’re still your best option — CDNs, analytics tools, CRMs, email marketing tools, etc.
Review Content For Updates
Use this opportunity to dig into your analytics and see which pages and posts are performing the best. Then optimize them with better calls-to-action and/or opt-in forms. You can also go into blog posts and update the content so that everything is current. This will be more appealing to readers and also to Google.
Renew Hosting, Domains, and Licenses
Goes without saying that you’ll have to renew these annual plans. Take this opportunity to determine if all these services are still your best options or if there are better services out there.
Declutter Plugins, Themes, and Media
Review what plugins and themes you have installed on your site. If there are unnecessary ones, deactivate them and then delete them. Same goes for files in your media library.
Your site does not need large images, in most cases. Large image files slow down your site and take up space on the server. Resize images to reflect the size you actually need them displayed at. It’s good to aim for around a 250KB file size. You should be using a plugin like ShortPixel that takes care of correct sizing when you upload the image.
WordPress Website Maintenance Best Practices
- Don’t apply major updates immediately. When WordPress releases a new core update, or a major plugin like WooCommerce or Yoast release major updates, wait a week or so before applying it. There are often bugs that require fixes that will be released in new versions the days immediately following.
- Ensure backups are stored securely off-site, not with your host. If your host goes down, you won’t have access to your backups.
- Always make sure you have a recent backup before applying updates
- Use visual regression testing when applying updates to check for aesthetic discrepancies.