Let me hit you with a little truth bomb right off the bat: ALL websites need maintenance. But I’m going to specifically focus on WordPress site in this post.
Why do I need to maintain my site?
Just like a car needs the oil changed and the tires rotated in order to remain in tip-top order, so your website needs regular maintenance. There are two main reasons to maintain your site.
- To keep it functioning properly.
- To keep it from getting hacked.
What parts of my WordPress website need maintenance?
Just like there are different part of a house that need upkeep (electricity, plumbing, floors, yard), there are different parts of your website that need to be maintained. Luckily, WordPress makes it easy for non-programmers to understand. Also, I’ve provided links to my favorite tools to help.
NEVER PERFORM AN UPDATE WITHOUT DOING A BACKUP FIRST.
Oh yes, you must backup your site. If you’re lucky, whoever set up your website included a backup plugin. A plugin is a bit of software that gives your site additional functionality. There are many good backup plugins for WordPress websites, but if you don’t already have one, I recommend installing UpdraftPlus. It’s free from the WordPress repository and does a phenomenal job. There’s also a premium version you can purchase if you need more than a simple backup, but the free version is perfect for most website owners. You can even set it on a daily, weekly or monthly automated backup schedule.
Once you’ve backed up your site, you can proceed to the updating process.
Keep the core updated
The “WordPress core” consists of all the files that makeup the WordPress platform. They are updated several times a year in order to make the WordPress software more secure. WordPress will let you know in its dashboard when a new update has been released. Sometimes you will see a red circle with a number in your dashboard menu indicating an update is available. Sometimes you will say an alert appear as a banner at the top of your screen, so pay attention if something looks different.
Keep your plugins and themes updated
Because themes and plugins are created by third parties, they’re easy targets for hackers. When you dashboard alerts you that an update for a theme or a plugin has been released, backup your site and then click the update link(s). Don’t put it off for too long. It’s risky.
Delete stuff you don’t need
Ideally, you should only have 2-3 themes listed in your “Appearance” menu. (Usually a default theme, like Twenty Fifteen or Twenty Sixteen and your current theme. And maybe one other.) If you’re not using them, delete them. It’s the same with plugins. If you’re not using a particular plugin, deactivate it and delete it. Outdated plugins are a security risk. And too many plugins slow your site down, so only keep the ones you are actually using.
Stay on top of security
Update your passwords regularly. Don’t use the same password for every tool. Scan for malicious code. I recommend using the free Sucuri Sitecheck scanner. Sucuri is one of my favorite tools for scanning for malware. If it’s in your budget, consider getting an annual subscription to your site. No, I’m not an affiliate. I just really like their product.
And, as usual, please keep your computers and devices free of viruses.
The bottom line
A website that doesn’t work, doesn’t bring you customers. WordPress, its themes and its plugins, are continually being improved upon. Keeping your WordPress website properly maintained can keep site issues to a minimum while increasing security and providing your visitors with the best possible experience.