Getting a new website designed and built is all kinds of exciting but that’s not the end of the story. To ensure your newly designed site continues to perform at its best, you need to stay on top of regular website maintenance. While maintaining your WordPress site is nowhere near as exciting as designing it, regular maintenance is a necessary part of running a digital business.
When was the last time you went into the back-end of your WordPress website? If you’re unsure of where to start or are overwhelmed by the thought of potentially breaking something, these 5 handy tips will help make regular website maintenance a breeze!
Your 5-step website maintenance to-do list
The first and most important step is to regularly backup your site. This is critical as it safeguards your site and your business if your site goes down, you get locked out or you get hacked. Backups are your website insurance policy – without one, if something takes your site down, you may need to start from scratch (and no one has time for that).
If your hosting provider does not take regular backups for you, the easiest way to backup your WordPress site is by installing a dedicated plugin. There are several backup plugins that make the process easy and give you complete peace of mind. All you need to do is install, activate and then regularly run them. We recommend UpdraftPlus (free), BackupBuddy (paid) and BlogVault (paid).
The next step is to check if any themes require an update. Depending on your website, you may be using one of WordPress’ free or premium themes or a custom theme designed by your developer. Either way, log into your WP-admin account and check the updates tab in the left side menu to see if any of your themes require an update.
Before updating your theme, quickly check that the update matches the latest version released by the developer (a quick Google search will help here). Then, start the process of updating each theme, one by one. Avoid updating them all at once – if one of the updates affects your site, doing them one by one will make it easier to know which theme update caused the issue.
Next on the list are your plugins. Plugins create magic on your site, doing all sorts of things, from making your site faster to building beautiful email optin forms. Like your themes, plugins require regular updates to ensure they continue to work as intended. In the back-end of your site, you can check their status by heading to the left side menu and selecting updates.
While plugins can make magic on your site, sometimes they can also create chaos, especially when an update has an unexpected effect on another part of your site. The golden rule of updating plugins is to do them one at a time. In between updates, check your site to ensure all is still running smoothly. If it’s not, deactivate the last plugin you updated to get back on track.
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After updating your themes and plugins, it’s time to check if WordPress itself requires an update. It’s always good practice to have a fresh backup of your site in place before you update WordPress, just in case something goes wrong with the update. Again, get started by heading to the left hand side menu in your dashboard and clicking on updates.
Most WordPress updates will be minor ones (e.g. 5.7.2), to update scripts, fix bugs and improve how the platform operates. Occasionally, a major update (e.g. 5.8) will be released which can play havoc with existing plugins. It’s generally better to wait until the next version is released (e.g. 5.8.1) before updating to ensure the big issues with the new update are resolved.
Once your WordPress site updates are out of the way, ensure you regularly check your site for useability issues. Some of these may be flagged by Google Search Console while others might come to your attention from site users. It’s always a good idea to hop onto your site to randomly check how pages are looking and whether forms and other features are working.
Here are some of the checks you should do monthly:
- Links (see if any are broken or need to be redirected)
- Forms (make sure they are working as intended and that you are receiving submissions)
- Mobile responsiveness (ensure your site works well on different mobile devices)
- Speed (do a speed test to measure the responsiveness of your site)
If you backup your site regularly and schedule in monthly updates and check-ins, regular website maintenance becomes just another manageable task. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult to do and ensures your site remains safe, secure and responsive for your new and existing customers.
Automate website maintenance with Naked Digital Marketer
If the thought of adding another thing to your overflowing to-do list is too much, give Naked Digital Marketer a nudge. We offer monthly maintenance plans that start from just $55 and include all the following:
- Daily backups
- Daily security scans
- Daily performance scans
- All plugin updates
- All theme updates
- All WordPress updates
- Monthly maintenance report
- Includes Google Analytics report
You can also choose our monthly care package that gives you all the above with the added plus of a dedicated 60 minutes each month to work on your site. Imagine having an experienced team to keep your site updated and deal with issues as they happen?