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Are you doing your regular WordPress maintenance tasks? If not you could be seriously limiting the potential of your blog. Or worse, putting it at risk of data loss or being hacked.
For anyone who’s spent tons of their time building their blog, perfecting it and discovering their audience. It could be devastating to loose it or have someone damage it.
So, what can you do to maintain your WordPress blog and prevent such horrors, as well as a bunch of other issues?
Well, there are several WordPress maintenance tasks that cover a variety of areas, such as security, SEO, website speed and more. All of which are crucial contributors to a successful blog.
And if you keep on reading, then I’ll talk you through 11 core areas to focus on.
Why 11? Well, WordPress maintenance consists of tons of little small tasks which can seem daunting. It is also really difficult to quantify them like this. But they can all be grouped together into bigger categories.
By focusing on each core area separately it will be more logical and easier to tackle each of these WordPress maintenance tasks. Especially without the overwhelm of thinking about 50+ small tasks.
But first, before we get into all the tasks. Let’s cover some of the basics.
- 1 | What Is Website Maintenance?
- 2 | What Is A Maintenance Mode?
- 3 | How Do I Activate My Coming Soon Page on WordPress?
- 4 | Why WordPress Maintenance Is Important For Your Blog
- 5 | How Do I Maintain My WordPress Website?
- 5.1 | WordPress Backups
- 5.2 | Updating WordPress Plugins, Core & Themes
- 5.3 | Comment Moderation
- 5.4 | Reduce The Bloat Of Your WordPress Database
- 5.5 | Check For Broken Links
- 5.6 | Delete Unnecessary Content
- 5.7 | Review Your WordPress Blog In The Google Search Console
- 5.8 | Update Outdated Content
- 5.9 | Test Your Website For User Experience
- 5.10 | Check Your Website Speed
- 5.11 | The Security Of Your WordPress Blog
- 6 | Round Up Of Your WordPress Maintenance Tasks
What Is Website Maintenance?
Well, it’s something every website and blog needs on an ongoing basis. Website maintenance is the process of performing certain tasks that help keep your website running effectively, smoothly and securely.
Including tasks like updating your WordPress core, plugins and themes. Creating backups, deleting unnecessary files and many more. Many of which can help prolong the life your website and improve the user experience for your visitors.
What Is A Maintenance Mode?
Often when you want to work on making changes to your WordPress blog. You’ll want to consider displaying a page to your visitors. So that they can see that your blog is undergoing maintenance rather than seeing an error message. That might make them think there’s something seriously wrong with your site. This is what many call a maintenance mode.
How Do I Activate My Coming Soon Page On WordPress?
Now, if you are wondering how exactly can you put your blog into a WordPress maintenance mode. Then it is something you can quickly and easily do within a few minutes by using a WordPress coming soon plugin. Make sure you check it out to see how to set one up step by step. You’d be surprised how simple it is and the basic features of the plugin are free to use.
Why WordPress Maintenance Is Important For Your Blog
So, why would you want to add the additional tasks of WordPress maintenance onto your already busy blogging schedule?
Well, there are many benefits of doing WordPress Maintenance. Some of which are:
- Faster load times
- Better security & lower risk of hacks
- Benefits and protection to your SEO rankings
- Enhanced user experience and perception of your website which can increase the likelihood of visitors returning
- Protecting your time and effort from loss, due to hacks, accidental deletion or any other data loss
But it is worth noting that WordPress maintenance does have a few downsides, like:
- Adding additional tasks to your already busy schedule
- Some tasks can seem technical and daunting, but don’t worry this post will point you in the direction of some valuable tutorials to make them super easy
- There’s a chance some tasks could cause errors, like updates. That can sometimes break your site. So you always need to backup beforehand!
How Do I Maintain My WordPress Website?
So, what exactly is involved in doing WordPress maintenance on your blog?
Well, there are many tasks. Some of which you may already be doing. And never really thought of them as maintenance tasks. But let’s go over each one so you can see everything as a whole.
WordPress Backups & Knowing How To Restore
This is the most important WordPress maintenance task that you need to do for your blog. You should at a minimum have a daily backup set up.
You may think that nothing will ever happen to your blog if you are careful. But the fact is, it can happen to anyone. And it is better to be prepared for the worst than sorry once it is too late.
One of the easiest ways to set up your WordPress backups is to use the UpdraftPlus plugin. Which lets you easily set up daily backups to your Google Drive for free. Just make sure you know how to restore WordPress from backup as well as the backup process using this plugin.
As you should always check from time to time to ensure everything is working as expected. And so you know exactly what to do when you need it. Which will be a huge help when you are in the panic mode about the potential loss of your WordPress blog.
What you can also do, if your web hosting provider gives you the option. Is enable their backups as well. As it doesn’t hurt to have more backup options. But you should always have an additional option to your web host backups. Since you generally have less control over them. And even these can kind of backups can fail.
Basically, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
Updating WordPress Plugins, Core & Themes
Another important WordPress maintenance task, is keeping your WordPress updated. And by this I don’t just mean WordPress core updates. I also meaning keeping your WordPress plugins up to date. And your themes whenever possible.
Now, whilst updating everything is easy from the WordPress dashboard. As you can often see a little update icon appear at the top of the dashboard to the left of the comments icon. Or you can view updates through the Dashboard > Updates from the menu sidebar.
Updating your WordPress core, plugins or themes should be done with caution. And by that, I mean making sure you’ve backed up your WordPress blog first.
Sadly these updates can break your blog. So, it is important you have the option to temporarily rollback until it gets patched if you do come across any problems.
Should you avoid updates because of this? No, as they frequently contain security improvements. Which if left outdated can cause more harm as your blog could be exposed to hacks and malware. So the sooner you can update the better.
It is worth noting however, with major updates to the WordPress core such as 5.0. Many will postpone updating until a minor release comes out such as 5.0.1, 5.0.2 etc. This is a common practice and is perfectly fine. So long as even beginner bloggers understand that they should update sooner rather than later. Leaving your WordPress outdated for a prolonged period of time increases your risk of getting hacks. So do so at your own risk.
Respond To Comments A Few Times A Week As A WordPress Maintenance Task
Firstly, you’ll want to be answering comments you receive when you can. If you currently don’t respond to comments then I urge you to reconsider. Because even people like Neil Patel encourage this practice.
By responding to comments you are showing your WordPress blog and yourself to be active in the community. You are showing that you care about your visitors. And since visitors are the bread and butter of any blogger you definitely should care.
Remove Spammy Comments & Check Your Spam Filters
As a result of responding to comments, you’ll also be able to quickly remove anything that might have missed your spam filters. Leaving spammy comments on your blog is a good way to scare off visitors.
Don’t have a spam filter? Well, get one set up right now!
I recommend using the Akismet WordPress spam plugin and making sure you change the default settings to avoid real comments getting deleted and lost forever.*
What do I mean by this? Spam filters are an amazing way to cut through the spammy comments you might get on your WordPress blog. But they are not perfect and sometimes spam filters flag genuine comments as spam. Just because they wrote something that is generally not expected.
Since this happens, it is a crucial WordPress maintenance task to check the comments filtered as spam. Check there are no legit comments in here that you would love to see on your WordPress blog posts.
If you do spot any, ensure you remove them from the spam folder. Usually by approving them.
Once you’ve checked the comments. Don’t wait for the spam folder to empty itself after a certain amount of time. Empty the spam folder yourself. So that when you come back to check. You do not have to recheck old comments again. This will help keep this boring task as quick and as painless as possible.
Also, if you find that Akismet isn’t your cup of tea. There are a
Reduce The Bloat of Your WordPress Database
Next up, let’s look at some WordPress maintenance that involves the database.
Why You Need To Do Regular WordPress Maintenance To Optimize Your Database
Think of your brand new blog and its database
So, what I am trying to say. Is that overtime your WordPress database needs a clean from time to time. So that the build-up of rubbish can be removed. Once cleaned it will perform even better and almost like new. Your WordPress blog will be responding faster and be smaller in file size. A win-win for all, if you ask me.
What Are The Main Causes Of Bloat In The WordPress Database
And in case you are wondering, everything that is involved with your blog creates rows in your database. Such as every image, comment,
Every time you delete something a row in the database table is deleted, but the spaced used by this row remains. With lots of additional blank spaces in your
Even the spam comments you filter out and delete, can take up valuable space in your database!
Limit Post Revisions To Put A Cap On How Much They Bloat Your Database
Another major culprit of WordPress database bloat are post revisions. Unless you changed some settings. Every time you save and update to a blog post or page. A new revision copy of that page will be created in the database. Imagine all those frequent edits and saves you make whenever you write a new blog post. Probably dozens, yes?
Well, there’s a solution to this. Consider setting revision limit to help keep things a bit more under control automatically if you regularly create new posts. You should still carry out WordPress maintenance on your database but with a limit on revisions you can cap the impact they have on your blogs performance.
Optimize Your WordPress Database With WP Optimize
To optimize your WordPress database there are several plugins which will do this for you. My personal favourite is WP Optimize as it is simple to use. Simply install, select your options and run. It will even run a backup for you if you have UpdraftPlus installed. Plus it has the option to schedule clean ups.
Check For Broken Links
As your blog grows you’ll have an increasing amount of both external and internal links. The more of these you have. The harder they are to check and the greater the chance is of them becoming broken. As websites and URLs get added, changed and moved all the time.
Broken links are terrible for your visitor’s experience. I mean how frustrating do you find it when you click on a link only to find it doesn’t work?
This is why the use of the Broken Link Checker plugin on a regular basis. As part of your WordPress maintenance can save you hours of work. Whilst keeping visitors happy and the overall quality of your blog high.
Or if you’d prefer, you could use the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find broken links instead.
Just one aspect you need to keep in mind. Run these checks outside of your peak traffic times. As the Broken Link Checker especially can be quite resource intensive.
Fix Or Redirect Broken 404 Pages
After you find broken links, you’ll need to figure out how to fix them. The Broken Link Checker plugin lets you update broken links on your WordPress blog. But for links coming in from an external website you’ll need to set up 301 redirects. Which can easily be done using the Redirection
Delete Unnecessary Content
Your WordPress maintenance tasks should also extend to deleting resources that you no longer need. There’s a wide variety of items you should delete, that you might not think about. All of which can add extra weight to your WordPress blog. Not only this but they can bloat your backups and suck dry the space available on your web hosting.
I’m talking about deleting any files you no longer need and use. As well as old themes. Just be careful not to delete parent or child themes if you use them though. You can also free up space if you disable and uninstall plugins you no longer use.
Try to delete images and other content from your WordPress media library that you don’t need. Ideally, try to do this as you go. As it can be difficult to identify what files you are using or not weeks down the line.
And you should also consider emptying the trash folders for posts, pages and comments. By default whenever you delete these they stay on the system for 30 days. In case you decide you want to restore them. This is a long time to keep such files hanging around. Especially since you should only be deleting files you are sure you no longer want.
If regularly going into your folders to carry out this WordPress maintenance sounds tedious. Then you can always consider adjusting the automatic trash emptying interval from 30 days. To improve how quickly trash gets emptied for you.
Review Your WordPress Blog In The Google Search Console
If you haven’t set up your WordPress blog with the Google Search Console yet. Then you are missing out on some crucial details that can help you with spotting SEO issues and what’s currently working for you.
This full and comprehensive guide to the Google Search Console is amazingly detailed but also lengthy. Whilst it is not a maintenance task on its own. It is well worth the read to make sure everything is set up correctly for your blog. You’d be shocked at how easy it is the mess this up. I know it was something I messed up when I was new too.
Whilst not specific to Google Search Console, typing into a google search Site:yourdomain.com can also give you an excellent idea how your pages look in the search engine for others. This quick search can help you spot issues with titles that are too long, missing meta descriptions or even hacked pages.
Oh, and did I mention? You should make sure to review your Title and Meta Description tags for all your posts and pages. Ideally, you should have set all of these when you first created them. But just in case you didn’t. The Yoast SEO plugin makes editing these a breeze. They even show you several tips on how to write and get the most of these meta descriptions.
Update Outdated Content
Ever browsed to a web page only to find the information grossly out of date? I bet you bailed off this page to somewhere else as soon as you noticed, right?
Well, this is why updating your content is a valuable WordPress maintenance task. In fact, there are many different ways you can update old blog posts to increase your traffic!
It is one of the most time consuming WordPress maintenance tasks compared to the others here. So, it is best to set aside some separate time just to focus on this.
Despite this though, it is time well spent. Think about it this way. It probably takes you much less time to update a post or page. Compared to creating new content from scratch. You are basically squeezing the most bang for your buck with your content this way.
Oh, and don’t forget! You’ll also want to update your copyright footer each year. This small section of your WordPress blog is easily neglected. So don’t forget about this few second WordPress maintenance task!
Test Your Website For User Experience
How often do you browse your WordPress blog? Do know that all your navigation works? Have you tested it yourself?
All of these and more, are make or break points for your visitors when they visit your WordPress blog. Which is why you should regularly browse your own blog using a range of different browsers and devices.
Here’s some points to focus on:
- Contact & Newsletter forms
- Social Media buttons
- Load time
- Download links
- Comment section
- Ads & Popups
All of these and anything else you can think of that your visitors interact with on a daily basis. You’ll want to check every so often. When you check these aspects of your blog make sure to do it in a private tab or incognito mode. As well as test with different browsers and if available your smartphone and tablet.
You’ll never know if everything works as expected. Or whether there is something giving your audience a negative experience. If you never check out the experience of browsing your blog. Which is why this WordPress maintenance task is so vital. And yet so easily forgotten about.
Check Your Website Speed
Another crucial aspect of your WordPress blog you should check, that is a bit more elusive to track is your website speed.
Do your blog pages load fast? Are they loading in under 3 seconds? But not only are these questions important. But has you speed stayed fast? Or has something you’ve changed had a knock on effect without you knowing?
Optimizing your website speed is important for your blog’s success. But many people stop once they hit the magic number they are aiming for. The thing is though, your website speed can still change after you’ve optimized it. Which is why it is a vital WordPress maintenance task to check up on it.
Adding new plugins, changing how you create your images, changing your host and more can change your blog’s load speed. But if you don’t monitor it. You won’t know if these changes are for the good or hurt your blog instead. Some might simply have no effect at all.
How To Track Your WordPress Blog Website Speed Efficiently
So how do you track the speed of your WordPress blog?
Well, it’s simple. Just test your blog pages in a website speed test every so often. In fact, if you can do one, both before and after you install a new WordPress plugin. Then you can quickly identify any bulky ones before they significantly impact your performance.
What You Can Try If Your WordPress Website Speed Is Slow
And if you do find your website speed to be slow, consider rethinking your plugins. Or try adding a cache plugin if you haven’t already.
Also, you should definitely make sure you optimize your images. Reducing image sizes for the web is one of the biggest ways to reduce page load. There are even WordPress plugins that can help you automate this WordPress maintenance task. Just make sure you are using the right WordPress image compression plugins, as they aren’t all made equal.
Plus there are many more WordPress-friendly ways you can optimize your website speed, even if you are a beginner.
The Security Of Your WordPress Blog
Finally, one massive and super crucial WordPress maintenance task you should undoubtedly do, is your security.
Believe it or not, not all malware or hacks are obvious. There could be malicious code sitting on your WordPress blog without you even knowing it.
So, what can you do to help prevent and spot such problems?
Well, the first thing to do. Is to have a security plugin like WordFence Security or All In One WP Security & Firewall. Use one of these plugins to do scans of your WordPress once a month. They’ll also add some additional day-to-day protection too.
You should also consider checking your website through the Sucuri Sitecheck on a monthly basis. As it only takes a few minutes and will also give you some specific security tips for your blog. That you might have missed setting up when you started your blog.
Another WordPress maintenance task you should do frequently to prevent security issues. Is to regularly change passwords and remove any old accounts that are not being used anymore.
You should also try to lock-down your WordPress admin login. As it can be prone to brute force attacks. You can also find tons of other mistakes that people miss when they start a WordPress blog. That includes more security, SEO, optimization tips and more. But these are more like one-off tasks though. Rather than WordPress maintenance tasks that should be repeated on a regular basis.
Round Up Of Your WordPress Maintenance Tasks
So that’s it! All of the WordPress maintenance tasks you should be doing every so often on your WordPress blog. Plus tons of tips and some extra tutorials to help you get started even if you are a WordPress beginner.
WordPress maintenance isn’t difficult. But it does require a little time and effort to help keep your blog in tip-top shape. All of this will pay for itself though. As your audience and blog traffic can truly benefit from some of these tasks. Whilst others will help protect the hard work you put in.
So do yourself, your blog and your audience a massive favour and start implementing some WordPress maintenance tasks into your blogging schedule. Start off small and work up to the more time consuming tasks.
And if you’re already doing some of these tasks already. Then that’s amazing stuff! You should totally keep on going. I know that some of these tasks are not the most fun. But hopefully, the brilliant benefits will be enough to motivate you to stick with them.
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