WordPress maintenance is an essential part of a business owners responsibilities when protecting their WordPress website investment.
As a business owner, we are often stretched with tasks to complete on a day to day basis. Most of the time there is no schedule available to help you with any of these tasks and we all learn by trial and error. One set of tasks we need to perform on a regular basis is the maintenance of our WordPress based website.
In my line of work, I see so many websites break or fail due to lack of maintenance and I can’t help but think that all this can be avoided. I know most business owners are not technical people and if they are that’s great. Majority of cases business owners especially in the micro, small and medium based space simply do not understand the tasks that need to be completed and when. Even more true is the fact that many business owners don’t realise who is responsible for this maintenance.
In this article, we will look at the daily, weekly, monthly and annual tasks that typically go hand in hand with your WordPress website maintenance. This may seem like a lot of work once you see the list but if you get into the habit of performing these tasks then you are protecting your website investment. We will also show you some solutions and provide some tips for keeping on top of this maintenance.
Daily WordPress Website Maintenance Tasks
When it comes to making sure your website is performing optimally all year round there are four key tasks you need to make sure you are on top of as a business owner. Those four key tasks are as follows:
- Performance Monitoring
- Uptime Monitoring
- Security Monitoring
- Website & Database Backups
Checking and measuring the performance of your website on a daily basis allows you to see when things are slowing down on your website which may indicate something is not working as intended. Another reason for monitoring performance is that the slower your website is the less likely it is to convert visitors to customers. There are several ways to monitor your website and we recommend utilising a tool such as Pingdom Speed Test.
Uptime monitoring is a great way for you to know whether your website is online and available for guests to visit. This monitoring will effectively notify you if your website goes offline so that you can contact your hosting company for assistance. There are quite a few tools that can perform this task however, we recommend using a tool such as Uptime Robot.
As long as there is an opportunity to make money by exploiting others there will always be a need to monitor your website security. There are multiple types of website security tools on the market that will check your website on a regular basis and report back any security-related issues. There are many tools that work remotely to scan your website such as Sucuri SiteCheck that are great for performing an external scan however you can also look at installed security products such as WordFence security for your WordPress website.
Website & Database Backups
It’s always a good idea when you invest in something be it a product or a website that you protect that investment. One of the biggest ways you can protect your website investment is to take and perform regular website and database backups. You can do this from your hosting control panel whether cPanel or Plesk or you can perform the task using a plugin on your website such as Updraft Plus. Regardless of the method for backup, you need to make sure they are completed daily and stored in a location away from and not connected to your website.
Weekly WordPress Website Maintenance Tasks
Alongside the daily tasks outlined above you also need to invest time in completing the weekly tasks outlined here. These weekly tasks are critical to the ongoing stability of your website and help to make sure that the maintenance of the site doesn’t get away from you. The regular weekly tasks you need to make sure are completed on your website are as follows:
- Plugin / Theme Updates
- WordPress Framework Updates
- Malware Scans
- Visual Inspection
Plugin / Theme Updates
Plugins and themes are what gives your WordPress website it’s functionality and it’s look and feel. Just like your main website these individual components need constant maintaining and updating. The reason for these regular updates is to prevent security issues and visual issues from plaguing your site and compromising the website’s overall integrity. This task is typically performed from within your WordPress administrator dashboard.
WordPress Framework Updates
Just as with your plugins and themes the actual core program and code for WordPress also needs regular maintenance and patching. WordPress is a versioned piece of software which means there are major and minor releases of the platform that need to be updated when available. These updates are also completed using the WordPress administrator dashboard.
Cautionary Note: Whilst I feel in most cases performing minor framework updates is completely a task you can complete yourself; I recommend unless you know what you’re doing that you seek help with major update versions. WordPress versions typically look like the following “version 5.2.1” the first two numbers typically signify the major versions and significant updates and the third number typically the minor updates. As a general guide if the last number changes it should be safe to update yourself if the first two change simply, reach out to your host or website developer and see if they can help.
Just like your daily security check scans you also need to perform a weekly malware scan. Fortunately, the tool we suggested Sucuri SitecCheck will take care of this for you as well. Just make sure that you run this scan as part of your weekly routine also.
This is by far the easiest maintenance task you can perform yourself each week. All you have to do is visit your website and check that all the pages appear to still be looking visually the same and that all links and buttons are still taking visitors to the intended destination. If you find something out of the ordinary or not working contact your website developer for assistance.
Monthly WordPress Website Maintenance Tasks
Now that you’re on top of your daily and weekly website maintenance it’s time to look at the tasks that take priority on a monthly basis. These tasks once again focus on general site health, performance and more importantly website growth and optimisation. The key monthly tasks you need to perform as a WordPress website owner are as follows:
- Monitor Traffic & Search Engine Results
- Clean & Optimise Your WordPress Database
- Test Your Website Loading Times
- Search For Broken Links & Correct Them
- Check Google Search Console For Errors & Issues
Monitor Traffic & Search Engine Results
This is a task that will help you to understand the visitors to your website and your overall growth. This is about reviewing your website analytics and breaking down the overall trends both good and bad. By performing this task you will be able to make educated decisions around the future direction of your website and make adjustments to your content as needed.
Clean & Optimise Your WordPress Database
By cleaning and optimising your WordPress database you will be helping to maintain a healthy website. Your database automatically stores a range of information such as previous versions and revisions of your pages and posts. It is also recommended to delete any trashed pages and posts. You can perform this task from your WordPress Administration dashboard and many tutorials are available for completing this task.
Test Your Website Loading Times
As with the daily performance monitoring tasks you simply need to check the performance of your website using one of the recommended tools and measure your load times vs your ongoing load times. If load times have begun to slip now is the time to make any adjustments to your website optimisation.
Search For Broken Links & Correct Them
Just like performing your weekly Visual inspection now it’s time to make sure all the links work throughout your website. You can perform this task manually or utilise a third-party platform or plugin to complete this check. Broken links are links that do not connect to the destination page, post or file and as such will hurt your overall search results and frustrate your website visitors.
Check Google Search Console For Errors & Issues
You need to make sure your website is connected to search console and then monthly login and check if Google is reporting any issues or errors on your website. The types of issues you may get here could include indexing issues (where a page or post may not be featured correctly in search results), security issues (issues such as broken SSL certificates or your website being used by hackers for scams) and many other errors and issues.
Annual WordPress Website Maintenance Tasks
We are on the home stretch and if you have been keeping on top of your daily, weekly and monthly tasks it is now time to look at those items that need completing on an annual basis. Annual items are a little bit different in that they are often items that affect your overall strategy and the protection of your intellectual property. The main tasks you need to complete annually are as follows:
- Review WordPress Setup
- Review Content For Updates
- Renew Hosting, Domain, SSL Certificates and Software Licenses
Review WordPress Setup
Each year you need to review your overall WordPress setup this includes checking that the design, layout, pages, forms and all other structural items are still working for your business. Ask yourself questions about what has changed from a design perspective is the site still relevant does it need a design change. Is the content on your site dated has your business moved, added or removed products and services and does the site still reflect your business needs. If your website fails in any respect of this check it’s time to sit down with your website designer or developer to update your online strategy.
Review Content For Updates
Your website survived the above structure check now it’s time to check the content itself and create updates to that content. Your content is key to the success of your website from a search aspect and therefore needs to be kept current and in alignment with your online strategy. You should always look to refresh your content annually at a minimum, this is especially critical if you do not create regular content such as a blog.
Renew Hosting, Domain, SSL Certificates and Software Licenses
Each year there are key items needed just to keep your website functional. In most cases these are items like the hosting the website is stored on, the domain name visitors type in to get to your website and the SSL certificate that protects your website data. You may also need to make sure that the premium themes and plugins used on your site are fully licensed so that they can be updated both for security reasons and new functionality. Sometimes your website designer or developer will have allowed you to use their license whilst you’re paying for a maintenance and support service or care plan but when you are no longer paying for those they can and often will withdraw the developer licence used.
Conclusions and Solutions
When it comes to keeping your website maintained it can seem like a hard slog and yes, there are a few steps involved but compared to having the website you spent potentially thousands of dollars on fail. In this article we have outlined the steps and regularity for performing all of your website tasks, we have also provided you with some suggestions on tools you could use for some of the steps. Ultimately it will come down to time vs money when it comes to your website.
You are faced with basically answering whether it’s more cost-effective to do the maintenance yourself or pay some to complete the maintenance for you. If you are going to perform the tasks yourself simply follow the schedule and information we have provided here, and enjoy having your website performing at its peak moving forward. If you are prepared to focus on what you do best and operate your business by paying someone else to do the maintenance, there are always options available.
Care Plans are a great way to pay an ongoing monthly subscription and have someone else take care of the details. Conceptual Creative do offer these care plans as do many other companies. The other type of support you may need or could use for this task is ad hoc support where you pay as you go or prepay for the assistance you need. No matter which way you go if you plan to have someone else assist you with the maintenance you should expect to be paying some sort of subscription-style package. From experience, we currently manage the maintenance for more than 20 websites and their owners typically find the service much easier than doing the tasks themselves.
If you’re looking for assistance or support with your website and not sure where to start, drop us a line and we will be more than happy to give you some pointers and discuss options for your specific needs.
This article outlines the daily, weekly, monthly and annual website maintenance tasks your business needs to perform on your WordPress website.
- There are 4 daily tasks that include Performance Monitoring, Uptime Monitoring, Security Monitoring and Website & Database Backups.
- There are 4 weekly tasks that include Plugin / Theme Updates, WordPress Framework Updates, Malware Scans and Visual Inspection.
- There are 5 monthly tasks that include Monitor Traffic & Search Engine Results, Clean & Optimise Your WordPress Database, Test Your Website Loading Times, Search For Broken Links & Correct Them and Check Google Search Console For Errors & Issues.
- There are 3 annual tasks that need completing including Review WordPress Setup, Review Content For Updates and Renew Hosting, Domain, SSL Certificates and Software Licenses.
You can choose to complete these tasks yourself, delegate them to a staff member or pay a professional to complete them using either a care plan or ad hoc support solution.