Your website is the gateway to your online presence, connecting you with your audience worldwide. And maintaining your website is essential for customer satisfaction, whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise.
It’s not enough to launch a website and call it quits. You wouldn’t endorse driving tens of thousands of miles without regular oil changes or swapping tires as needed. Similarly, your website requires regular maintenance to provide visitors with the best experience possible.
Failure to perform regular WordPress website maintenance will result in slow load times, security vulnerabilities, and even a lack of functionality or integration. And all of these issues could cause lower search engine rankings.
The solution? Keep reading. Here’s what you’ll learn:
- What is WordPress website maintenance?
- Why is WordPress website maintenance important?
- How to run a performance test on your website
- What does WordPress website maintenance include?
- How do you perform WordPress maintenance?
- How do you create WordPress maintenance plans?
- Are there alternatives to doing the maintenance myself?
- Final thoughts: WordPress website maintenance made simple — 7 essential tasks
What is WordPress website maintenance?
WordPress website maintenance is the process of optimizing for user experience, including website speed, software updates, and cybersecurity. Regular maintenance is essential for improving your website’s speed, safety, and search engine rankings.
Why is WordPress website maintenance important?
Here are the key reasons WordPress website maintenance is essential:
- Improved website speed and performance.
- Better website security.
- Enhanced user experience.
- Greater search visibility.
Regardless of your business size, you’ll always need to incorporate some WordPress website maintenance tasks.
With WordPress running 43.2% of all websites, hackers are more likely to target your WordPress site than websites using a different content management system (CMS).
Neglecting website maintenance results in slow load times, broken links, and even security vulnerabilities. And putting your website in maintenance mode or using a staging website could protect your business from these consequences.
According to WordPress vulnerability scanner WPScan, there have been 38,566 vulnerabilities in WordPress at the time of writing. WordPress plugins are responsible for 92% of those vulnerabilities.
The best prevention is website maintenance. For example, plugin updates and replacing old themes are crucial to maintaining website security.
And website maintenance can improve your search visibility. Google says its algorithm favors lightning-fast, secure, and fresh websites instead of outdated, slow, and vulnerable websites.
Plus, all these components tie into a better user experience — meaning you’ll build better, longer-lasting relationships with your customers. Why? Visitors prefer fast load speeds, get frustrated by broken links, and opt for secure websites.
Let’s explore some practical and simple ways to maintain your website.
How to run a performance test on your website
Before any WordPress website maintenance work, you’ll want to test your website's performance. Here, you’ll establish a baseline for broken links, images, and potential loading issues.
The results you receive after a performance test will influence which aspects of website maintenance you focus on.
If you’re a large enterprise that gets a lot of daily traffic, you should consider running tests each month or each week. And if you’re a smaller business with less traffic, you could do it quarterly or even semiannually. At the very least, don’t completely avoid performance tests.
How do you run a performance test? First, choose between using a WordPress plugin or Google PageSpeed Insights.
Why you’d choose a WordPress plugin
MonsterInsights is an example of a WordPress plugin that’ll show you every piece of data you’d want to know about your website. The plugin provides insight into your page speed, load times, and real-time analytics.
You can also use MonsterInsights to improve your technical search engine optimization (SEO) by revealing broken links, broken images, and other performance issues. You’ll stay on top of any potential problems with your website if you create a habit of running performance tests with a plugin.
Plugins like MonsterInsights also help streamline your WordPress website maintenance process and make it painless. Most performance test plugins have free versions with paid upgrades.
Other popular WordPress plugins offer similar functionality, including:
Get fully managed WordPress hosting
Power your site with the industry's most optimized WordPress hosting
Why you’d choose Google PageSpeed Insights
Google offers a free tool called PageSpeed Insights. It analyzes your website’s speed and performance, then generates a report with suggestions for optimization. Importantly, it examines both the mobile and desktop versions of your website.
While the features aren’t as comprehensive as on a paid WordPress plugin, PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to start with. Any baseline performance test is better than doing nothing.
What does WordPress website maintenance include?
WordPress website maintenance might not initially be at the top of your to-do list. But there are a few bare-minimum maintenance tasks that deserve your attention:
- Perform regular software updates.
- Check for broken links and images
- Review website analytics.
- Edit or update content yearly or semiannually.
- Do website backups.
How do you perform WordPress maintenance?
Now that you know why maintenance is important, let’s take a look at how to do these tasks yourself.
You may want to assign tasks to different members of your team. For example, marketers could handle the technical SEO and Google Analytics tasks. And your website developers or information technology (IT) team could take care of the more technical issues, like website security.
How often should you perform maintenance?
It depends. A rule of thumb is to base your maintenance frequency on how many visitors your website gets.
The more daily visitors you have, the more that maintenance will impact your customers’ user experience. With high traffic, it’s best to do maintenance weekly. But if you have a small business website, you could do it monthly, quarterly, or even semiannually.
Put your WordPress website into maintenance mode
Before your website sees downtime, you’ll want to alert visitors and set up a distinct landing page. It should include when your website will return online. The landing page should also attempt to leave a positive impression on visitors.
To put your website into maintenance mode, download LightStart, a WordPress website maintenance mode plugin. Through the plugin, you can design your landing page, display how long maintenance will take, and provide a positive user experience while your website is down.
Now you’re ready to perform maintenance.
Update your plugins, themes, and WordPress core
Outdated plugins and missing WordPress theme updates can cause vulnerabilities, glitches, and compatibility issues, making them a top priority for maintenance. This step is essential for security monitoring because getting the latest version helps protect against hackers.
You can find WordPress updates in your dashboard on the left side of your screen, right under Home.
Back up your website
Backing up your website is crucial to preserving your website’s content and data in case of a hack or deletion mishap.
You have several backup options. You can use WordPress plugins like UpDraftPlus, save the data to a hard drive, or upload data to the cloud. If you choose the manual backup option, you’re responsible for remembering to back up your website at regular intervals.
Optimize speed and performance
Slow loading times destroy your website’s user experience. That means it’s essential to keep your website speed high.
Your load speed should ideally be under five seconds, with the optimal time for an ecommerce website being between one and two seconds.
Here’s where your baseline performance test will be useful. Analyze the data you received from your WordPress plugin or Google PageSpeed Insights.
Is your page load time slow? You could simplify your web design, compress website content, or set up page speed waterfalls.
Repair your technical SEO
Technical SEO is search optimization for robots, not humans. It’s how Google crawls your website. And if Google can’t crawl your entire website, some of your pages won’t show up in the search results — you’ll miss out on all that traffic.
Duplicate content, broken links, and broken images are among the factors that hurt your technical SEO.
To fix these issues, you’ll need to look at a performance test from your WordPress plugin or a tool like Google Search Console. The audit will tell you which parts of your website can’t be crawled, so you can fix the issues.
Monitor website security
Website security is vital for all businesses — not just businesses that hold customer data. You don’t want to be vulnerable to cyberattacks. To protect yourself, you can install a WordPress security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri.
These plugins have features like security scans, malware removal, firewall protection, brute force attack protection, and even backups. Performing a regular malware scan will help keep your data safe and security breaches rare.
Delete unnecessary files, plugins, and software
Over time, your WordPress website is likely to fill with unnecessary software you stopped using or is outdated. All of this clutter can slow your website down on the back end. If you run regular performance tests, unnecessary files won’t be an issue.
You can navigate through your dashboard and see which plugins you still need and if any are worth deleting. The first place to start is the list of inactive plugins on the dashboard.
Review Google Analytics
Although you likely review Google Analytics data regularly, adding it to your WordPress website maintenance schedule is a good idea. It will help you better understand how visitors interact with your website and identify any areas for improvement.
You also can see any traffic fluctuations that occur.
How do you create WordPress maintenance plans?
Follow these steps to establish a consistent, reliable WordPress website maintenance plan:
- Determine how often to do maintenance: Depending on your monthly traffic, choose a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually maintenance schedule.
- Assess your website’s current state: Get baseline data by running a performance test.
- Assign maintenance tasks: Assign tasks to the appropriate team members.
- Monitor, adjust, and iterate: Over time, fine-tune your maintenance based on data from performance tests and iterations.
Are there alternatives to doing the maintenance myself?
If you don’t want to do these maintenance tasks yourself, you have a couple of outsourcing options.
Outsourcing to an agency
If you don’t have the time to do website maintenance consistently, outsourcing to another company might be the best option. It’ll handle any WordPress maintenance tasks like backups, performance tests, security measures, uptime monitoring, and regular software updates.
To find WordPress experts, start by researching credible companies with experience working with businesses similar to yours. Then, compare prices and services to see what’s needed on your end.
Outsourcing with software
You can automate a lot of the technical aspects of WordPress website maintenance with software — all you need to do is check in every so often.
For example, using a WordPress web hosting provider like Nexcess takes several maintenance tasks off your plate. You can rest assured knowing your website is hosted on quick, secure servers while routine maintenance tasks, like backups and core updates, are done automatically.
All you have to do is monitor your analytics and fix technical SEO errors like broken links, broken images, and general on-page optimization.
Final thoughts: WordPress website maintenance made simple — 7 essential tasks
Providing a positive user experience is one of the most critical parts of your online presence. By performing regular WordPress website maintenance, you’ll improve user experience and build trust with your visitors. It could even help boost your search engine rankings.
This maintenance includes tasks like performance testing, updates, backups, and security measures. If you’d prefer to outsource these tasks, Nexcess can help.
Our fully managed WordPress hosting plans include automatic software updates, daily backups, WordPress support, and advanced security features.
Whether you’re a large enterprise with hundreds of servers, a blogger, or an ecommerce business looking to stay on the cutting edge of your industry, Nexcess has the perfect solution for you.