In this post, we will take a closer look at why we need website maintenance, best practices and the many benefits of doing it regularly.
Security vulnerabilities have affected many plugins recently, including the big ones like Jetpack and Gravity Forms – this has got some people worried. Whilst I’m not a cyber security expert, I do know the most important aspects of your website’s security is to update everything regularly. Not enough importance is placed on regular website upkeep, to the detriment of many websites. A poorly maintained website is unsafe for its users and will generally perform badly. In some cases, poor maintenance can crash a website and allow it to be easily hacked.
There are five clear reasons why you should keep every aspect of your WordPress website up to date.
- Enhanced Performance
- Added Features & Functions
- Increase Security
- Bugs Fixes
- Ensure Compatibility
These are all important but there is no doubting your website security should be your top priority. Done properly and you’ll be rewarded with a higher ranking in search engines, compared to a poorly maintained, out-of-date website.
Security is key to ranking well in search engines.
Okay so what do you need to do and where to start? It is not just WordPress that needs to be regularly updated, there are three aspects you need to consider:
- The WordPress CMS
- Your Theme
- All Plugins
This can be accessed and updated from one place, your ‘Updates’ screen, accessed via Dashboard > Updates.
To help you complete these important updates, we have prepared an easy-to-follow checklist for you. We are going to introduce you to the most important aspects of your site that need maintaining. The main areas you should consider for a good maintenance routine are:
- Backup your website
- Update your WordPress CMS, theme, and plugins
- Boost website health
- Check comments
- Audit the whole website
- Optimise your database
First things first, backup. This is an essential part of website maintenance but often the most neglected. Why? Because a backup ensures your website’s longevity and can offer you peace of mind. You know somewhere out there, your website – or at least a version of it – is safe. Automatic backups are quite easy, but it is important to test your backups monthly to ensure they work. We recommend using the plugin Updraft to complete your regular backups automatically.
Update your website
WordPress is a popular choice for website developers and owners alike, the main reason is it is always up-to-date. The latest software updates are released regularly – from the core to the theme and the plugins. With regular checks and updates, you can ensure these are finely tuned and perform at their best. Without regular updates, you run the risk of code conflicts and out of date elements, which can render your website useless.
When you’re installing these updates, make sure you update in the correct order. We recommend WordPress CMS first, then theme and finally, your plugins. Whilst not a 100% guarantee, this method is considered to be the best way to minimise time-consuming plugin conflicts.
Now that your CMS, theme, and plugins are all updated, you will need to turn your attention to your content. Updating your website regularly with new products, services, developments, and news are things you need to do. Keep your website dynamic as Google loves it when you regularly add content.
Last but not least, check for any broken links, test your contact form, and if your social media sharing widget directs people where it should.
Security for website health
The most important thing for website health is securing your website from hackers. This can be a big concern for anyone with an e-commerce website or one that gathers information/leads from their visitors. Your website should not be vulnerable to attacks, and your sensitive information should be safe. We recommend installing the popular security plugin WordFence and that you take the time to invest in your website’s security.
Check for SPAM comments
Nobody likes SPAM – the email kind, some people actually like the meat. Whatever your thoughts on it, I think everyone agrees that receiving it is annoying. SPAM comments are kind of the same thing, but posted on your blog or webpage comments section. The right comments help with your search engine ranking, it shows your content is engaging and interesting to readers. But, how can you limit the amount of SPAM your website receives? The best way to deal with them is with a SPAM filter like Akismet. It is easy to install and the API key is free.
Audit the whole website
Of course auditing a whole website takes time, but regularly reviewing your web pages is a very good idea. The time it takes to complete this will depend on the size of your website.
A good place to start your audit is with your forms, and call to action buttons, especially those that are points of sale. It is also good practice to review your contact details to make sure everything is correct. There is nothing worse than discovering your ‘contact us’ button has stopped working.
Lastly, check your analytics. Your website should have measurable data so that you can gauge its performance accurately. You’ll need to set your KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and measure your website’s SEO ranking vs your SEO efforts.
From time to time, you will need to change some things to adapt to a given trends or a new ranking measures. Regular reviews of your analytics will make sure your website is performing at its best. Tip: Place all this data into a simple spreadsheet to compare it against subsequent months.
Try to keep yourself in the loop when it comes to the changes in Google’s algorithm and trends. Not knowing these can be devastating for your website’s search engine ranking. An example of which is Google spliting it’s indexing, placing more importance on websites that work correctly on mobiles and tablets. Your website’s ranking will be heavily penalised if it is not responsive and mobile-friendly.
Optimise your database
Last but not least, optimise your media library. If your website is busy, it will grow fast. Images especially are uploaded continually and you will need to delete any you don’t need, and optimise the rest. This will improve your site’s loading speed and reducing risk of potential errors. Think of it as a spring clean for the whole site!
Hopefully, this post will have shown you why it’s important to maintain your website and what you need to do to keep it updated. A routine website maintenance schedule will keep your website performing at its best. Although time-consuming, regular maintenance is worth the investment.
If your focus is like most entrepreneurs… on your business, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. AA Marketing can keep your website in tip-top shape for you. We offer you a simple and stress-free solution to website maintenance, check out our support plans for more information.