Answer honestly: When was the last time you performed WordPress website maintenance? A month ago? Six months? A year? Far too many webmasters neglect the regular website maintenance tasks that are critical to sustaining optimal site performance.
Some businesses forget about website maintenance altogether until a serious problem or downtime occurs. By then, it’s too late, and fixing the issue becomes far more time-consuming and expensive than just taking care of preventative website maintenance in the first place.
If you aren’t up-to-date with WordPress website maintenance, don’t worry we have compiled a comprehensive WordPress website maintenance guide with information that every web admin should know, and we’ve got it all right here for you. Keep reading!
In our comprehensive WordPress maintenance guide, our experts at Connective discuss the fundamentals of site maintenance and why it’s so important. We’ll also give you actionable advice on handling routine maintenance as a website owner.
What Is WordPress Website Maintenance?
Every month, over 409 million people view 20 billion+ pages on WordPress, arguably the world’s most popular content management system. WordPress offers a world of possibilities, from personal blogs and e-commerce stores to portfolios, community forums, affiliate sites, and so much more.
As a WordPress site owner/admin, you have many responsibilities and tasks you must perform to keep your website running at peak performance.
Those tasks—also known as website maintenance—are critical. Having a poorly maintained website doesn’t just make your brand look bad; it detracts from your site’s user experience (UX). Remember, user experience is a significant ranking factor for Google if you want to be high in the search engine results pages or SERPs.
Why Are WordPress Website Maintenance Services So Important?
Like an engine, a WordPress web design consists of many parts working synergistically to create one powerful system. The software itself, hosting, themes, plugins, and content work together to create a functioning website. By following a maintenance plan or opting for regular maintenance services from an experienced agency, you can take a proactive approach to manage your website.
With WordPress maintenance, you’ll prevent catastrophic problems altogether or catch them before they have a chance to damage your reputation, your brand, and your bottom line.
The Ultimate WordPress Maintenance Plan
At Connective, we don’t believe in doing anything halfway. That’s why we provide comprehensive website maintenance services, and you shouldn’t accept anything less for your own site, whether it’s only a personal website for weekend blogging or an e-commerce site you depend on for your livelihood.
Read on as our team of website builders explains the components of a top-notch maintenance plan and how to keep your website running at peak performance.
1. Monitor for Downtime
One of the first components of a solid website maintenance plan is uptime monitoring. We use UptimeRobot, a top-rated uptime monitoring service that surveils over 6,000,000 different monitors for network downtime. UptimeRobot scans your website every five minutes for downtime, and your first 50 monitors are free. Plus, Uptime offers additional services, including:
- SSL certificate monitoring
- Ping monitoring
- Cron job monitoring
- Port monitoring
- Keyword monitoring
Essentially, the service works by monitoring your website and sending you an instant notification if it goes down. You can choose from various alerting methods, including voice call, SMS, email, Discord, or integrations like Twitter, OnPage, Zapier, Slack, etc.
UptimeRobot is a free uptime monitoring service. However, the premium version offers even more benefits, including maintenance windows, root causes of incidents, multi-location checks, recurring notifications, response times, and custom HTTP requests. It’s a valuable tool that should be one of the primary components of any website maintenance service.
2. Stay Current with WordPress, Plugins, and Theme Updates
Some web admins make a fatal mistake by neglecting to perform regular software updates. Maybe missing the first update didn’t affect your website very much, but it can cause catastrophic problems as time goes on and the updates pile up. Before you know it, core functionalities fail, and you can expect users to abandon your site quickly once they do.
Software updates are essential for more than just the core of your website. Any reputable agency will tell you that your site’s performance also hinges on updating your plugins and theme.
Additionally, your website structure should be up-to-date, user-friendly, and have a streamlined design to attract more site traffic. In fact, user experience and functionality are crucial to your website’s overall performance. How so, you ask? Consider these website statistics:
- 89% of online shoppers will switch to a competitor after using a web page with a poor design and user experience
- 70% of online consumers will abandon shopping carts due to a poor user interface design
- 90% of site visitors will leave a website within three seconds if they encounter a poor user experience
Those are huge numbers! Think about it: How much would a 70% abandon rate affect your current business? As you can see, functionality is a critical aspect of web maintenance services. Point blank, if you’re not keeping up with software updates, you’re taking a considerable (and unnecessary) risk.
3. Perform Monthly Backups
Backing up your website content and data should be a given. However, most people approach data backups with the same procrastination as they do regular updates. Everyone knows they need to back up their site content and customer data, but do they get it done as often as they should? Sadly, the answer is no.
We recommend backing up your website weekly, and large organizations should back up data daily. Every web maintenance plan for backing up data should have four fundamental principles:
- Regular backups (daily, weekly, etc.)
- Complete data backup
- Separate storage locations
- Easy access and restoration
Your hosting provider should also perform regular backups of your site, but we recommend having a fallback plan just in case. For example, you should execute monthly backups of your database and files on Google Drive or another external site. Or you can follow the 3-2-1 rule: Create three backup versions of your website, then keep two versions local on different devices and one version offsite.
If you haven’t yet experienced large-scale data loss from your website, you’re lucky—but it’s only a matter of time. Here are three primary risks that webmasters face if they fail to back up their site regularly:
- Loss of previous work
- Expensive data restoration
- Loss of customers and revenue
Are you ready for the worst part? The consequences you face from data loss by failing to back up your content and website are 100% preventable. Luckily, you can reduce your risk drastically by using website maintenance services.
4. Install a Security Scanner
Another element of comprehensive website maintenance services is security. For WordPress sites, we use the security scanner Wordfence. With over four million activations, Wordfence is an excellent security scanner for WordPress and includes a malware scanner and endpoint firewall.
The Wordfence team provides 24/7 incident response, and its security scans have blocked over 7,853,194,497 attacks. The scanner also checks for a diverse range of malware and vulnerabilities that could harm your website, including:
- SEO spam
- Code injections
- Malware content
- Bad URLs
- Malicious redirects
- Broken links
The best part about Wordfence is that it integrates perfectly with WordPress and provides comprehensive protection right at the endpoint of your website. It also features two-factor authentication, a login page with CAPTCHA, and other security measures to prevent hackers or attacks.
The Wordfence dashboard gives you a centralized overview of your website’s security information, like real-time traffic for humans and bots, 404 errors, login/logouts, city-level geolocation, and reverse DNS.
Undeniably, regular security scans are a vital factor in any website maintenance plan and can prevent costly issues like data breaches. For more information about why WordFence is an excellent choice for WordPress websites, check out our WordFence plugin review.
5. Renew Your Domain Name
All website owners must choose and purchase a domain name for their site, which defines its URL address. For example, Yahoo’s domain name is Yahoo.com. However, your website domain name won’t last forever. Luckily, a domain name isn’t that expensive, but there’s a catch: if you fail to keep up with the payments, someone else could purchase your domain name and use it for their website.
As such, domain name renewal is another aspect of website maintenance that you can’t afford to ignore. In fact, losing your website’s domain will devastate your traffic, page visitors, conversions, and, ultimately, your bottom line. In essence, you would be handing over all the success from your digital marketing and hard work for someone else to profit from, and nobody wants that
6. Test Forms for Deliverability
Arguably the most crucial function of WordPress websites is email. From new user registrations and admin notifications to contact forms and password resets, email deliverability directly affects your site’s performance and functionality. You’re in trouble if your website stops sending emails and you don’t discover it immediately.
Therefore, your website maintenance services should include testing for deliverability to prevent email malfunctions. For example, you should frequently test to ensure that users are getting emails and that site admins receive notifications and alters. Likewise, if you run an e-commerce site, place a test order to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that your site offers a seamless shopping experience.
7. Keep Your SSL Certificate Up-to-Date
Secure Sockets Layer certificates, or SSL, ensure that you have a secure website for visitors and customers. Staying up-to-date with your site’s security and SSL certificate should be a no-brainer for any web admin. However, it may surprise you just how many people disregard this critical aspect of website maintenance.
You can check your website’s security by looking at the URL: Does it contain “HTTPS” at the beginning? Do you see an icon of a closed padlock in the address bar? You can click the padlock icon to view more information about your SSL certificate, such as its expiration date.
One popular SSL option for WordPress sites is the Really Simple SSL plugin. It automatically identifies your website’s settings and configures them to run over a secure HTTPS encryption. Really Simple SSL offers free, one-click SSL activation, although you can upgrade to the premium version. For more information, check out this support page from WordPress about SSL certificates.
8. Utilize Google Search Console and Analytics
As you already know, your website’s ranking in search engines significantly affects online visibility, organic traffic, conversions, and more. Most webmasters use marketing strategies that include search engine optimization, or SEO, to increase their page ranking in the SERPs. Your website’s SEO impacts how successful you are at reaching your target audience, and one of the best ways to optimize your site is through Google Search Console.
If it isn’t already, Google Search Console should become part of your website maintenance and SEO strategy. Search Console provides many valuable tools, such as measuring SEO traffic and performance, identifying site issues, and reviewing index coverage. Although there are other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, let’s be real: Google is the most important and, therefore, where you should focus your attention.
At Connective, we also include Google Analytics within our website maintenance services. After checking Google Search Console for errors or issues in your core web vitals, page experience, and security, we use Analytics to ensure that it’s still collecting data from your site.
For example, we’ll perform an inside check for 404 errors and either fix them on the spot or set up 301 redirects to eliminate any user experience or site performance issues. Google Analytics also provides valuable website maintenance tools like funnel reports for page visitor tracking, goal conversion, scrolls, outbound clicks, search queries, and your ranking on Google Search.
9. Verify Speed and Page Load Times
Ask any digital marketing or web design expert: the speed at which your website loads should be information that you always have on hand. Improving page load times and speed are integral to website maintenance and have a considerable effect on your website’s overall performance and success. Consider these eye-opening statistics about webpage loading speed:
- Slow-loading websites cost $2.6 billion in annual losses
- 83% of page visitors expect a website to load in three seconds or less
- 53% of mobile device users will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load
- Just one extra second of page load time can drop sales by up to 27%
- Improving page load speed from eight seconds to two seconds can provide a 74% increase in conversion rate
We don’t need to rattle off more website statistics for you to know that slow load times hurt your brand, business, and profits. Also, speed is a significant algorithmic ranking factor on Google and other search engines.
Fortunately, you can quickly check your website’s performance using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool, which provides an in-depth breakdown of your page speed and how to improve it. You can also check out this WordPress tutorial on performing a website speed test. You may also want to try WP Rocket, another tool that can speed up your website.
10. Remove Spam Comments
Whether it’s a blog post, a social media post, a product review on an e-commerce site, or any other platform that allows comments, you’re guaranteed to encounter spam. Spam comments aren’t just annoying; they harm your site’s reputation, so removing them should be a component of your website maintenance plan.
But how do you define spam? Generally, spam is any comment that doesn’t relate to the original post. Though motivations vary, many spammers post comments to generate backlinks to their websites. Some web admins consider comments like “Great!” or “Thanks for this post!” as spam, but it’s your decision.
While you may think spam is just annoying, you’d be wrong. A website with lots of spam doesn’t generate the same level of trust or credibility as one without spam. Additionally, spam comments are a major red flag for crawler bots and can harm your ranking in the SERPs.
Did we forget to mention that comment overload can also slow down the speed of your website? As you can see, checking for spam comments and removing them as fast as possible is another essential part of regular website maintenance.
11. Perform Regular Database Repair
You don’t have to be an expert in web maintenance to know that regular WordPress database repair is a crucial task. Your database is the beating heart of your website and stores all of your content and data, including:
- Post types
- Web pages
- Blog posts
- Plugin settings
The more data you have within your WordPress database, the slower your web server will retrieve that information. Also, regular database repair and website maintenance reduce the risk of crashes and network downtime. Fortunately, we compiled a list of actionable advice for site owners regarding WordPress database repair:
- Use a plugin to remove bloat from old blog post revisions
- Use a plugin to remove spam comments
- Backup your database regularly
- Minimize unused tables
- Activate the WordPress built-in optimization tool
- Ensure that you have the correct database credentials
12. Update and Refresh Content
In the world of digital marketing and SEO, there’s a common phrase you may have heard before: “Content is king.” Content creation is likely already a part of your brand’s digital marketing campaigns, but it includes more than just adding new blog posts to your website every week. Your website maintenance tasks regarding content and marketing should also include the process of updating and refreshing old posts.
Ideally, you should try to post evergreen content. However, that’s not always possible. Ensuring that your website has relevant content is a large part of web maintenance and running a successful site. For example, you may want to peruse old blog posts to check for inaccuracies, outdated information, and broken links.
When we say “content,” that includes updating your meta titles and page descriptions, which are the blurbs you see directly below your website ranking in the SERPs. Writing title tags may not be fun or glamorous, but it’s a crucial aspect of website maintenance and one that you should never neglect.
13. Evaluate Your Web Hosting Service
Does your website use web hosting or WordPress hosting? Standard hosting providers offer services such as VPS hosting, cloud hosting, and shared hosting. WordPress hosting is a form of traditional web hosting, but one that’s specifically for WordPress websites.
Ultimately, it’s your decision which hosting you prefer but choose wisely. You should not skimp on web hosting, even if your budget is small. It’s worth it to splurge or spend a little extra on a high-quality hosting service, giving your site faster performance, improved user experience, and stronger security.
Remember, as time goes on and you add new content, posts, videos, etc., the size of your website will increase, which will impact overall speed and performance. Therefore, you should evaluate your current hosting provider at least once yearly as part of your routine website maintenance and upgrade your service if necessary.
Final Thoughts on WordPress Website Maintenance Services
As the owner or manager of a WordPress site, you have a long list of tasks and responsibilities regarding website maintenance. Whether you perform the maintenance yourself or opt for professional website maintenance services, it’s important to address the routine tasks necessary for smooth and seamless performance.
A slow, outdated, or error-prone website isn’t just bad for your reputation; it has major consequences on your conversions and profits.
At Connective, we understand the importance of website maintenance and everything it involves, from hosting and SEO to security and regular updates. Our web designers and developers aren’t just experts; we’re also talented and passionate about helping our clients succeed in the digital marketplace.
Contact our team at Connective today to learn more about our WordPress website maintenance services and how we can drive results and success for your brand. To start the conversation, call us at (818) 570-5620!