Think that once you’ve got your website you can sit back and relax? Think again. Most of us know that WordPress offers a lot of advantages for everybody who wants to have a blog or a website. It’s free, it is easy to use, it has great community support and it offers an enormous amount of plugins. Not surprisingly, WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. Over 40% of the CSM based websites use WordPress, but maintaining your WordPress website is a must.
Most of us know that WordPress offers a lot of advantages for everybody who wants to have a blog or a website. It’s free, it is easy to use, it has great community support and it offers an enormous amount of plugins. Not surprisingly, WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. Over 40% of the CSM based websites use WordPress, but maintenance is a must.
Apart from all these great qualities of WordPress, there is still a important task to fulfill after your project is set up – maintenance of your website.
Maintaining your WordPress website is not only good to keep your website up to date, but it is really necessary to keep your website safe from hackers.
This list aims to help in maintaining your WordPress website:
1. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Make regular backups
First of all you need to back up your website frequently. You need to back up the website database, images and plug-ins. The backup should not only be stored into your WordPress files, but outside WordPress as well. WorPress offers plugins that can help do the job for you. For example the plugins: “Simple Backup”, “BackWPUp” or “Wordprss Backup to dropbox”. You can even have these plugins send you a backup copy by email attachment on regular basis. If you would like to read the WordPress manual about backups, please have a look at: codex.WordPress.org/WordPress_Backups
2. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Update WordPress.
WordPress is constantly evolving and regular software updates occur often. Always download the newest version to keep your website running smoothly. Keep in mind that you need to check your website afterwards, as the software of the new version might cause problems with the activated plug-ins, that could be designed for previous WordPress versions.
You can find the latest version of WordPress at WordPress.org
3.Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Update plugins (every month)
Plugins makes the life a web designer much easier. But these little pieces of software are being renewed all the time. Updates help the plugins to keep on doing what they are supposed to do and guarantee that they operate well together with WordPress updates. Make sure you have all updates on your active plugins downloaded at all times!
4. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Avoid 404 errors
404 errors will ruin your Google ranking. Another reason to avoid them as much as you can is that 404 errors would make your website look neglected and unprofessional. A good tool to help you with this is the plugin “broken link checker”. It will scan your website daily if you want to and will send you the list of broken links via email. Very easy to set up and very important to keep your site in optimal condition!
This example shows you how to fix a 404 error:
First of all, you install the plugin “Broken Link Checker” and change the setting to ask for a list of broken links sent to by email regularly.
You can find all details behind the broken links right on your WordPress dashboard. It will explain you which URL is broken, the status of this link, and where to find this broken link on your website.
In my example above you can see that there are a lot of broken links turning up in the comments given on our website. I will leave them for the moment and continue with an example of how to fix a 404 error in one of our posts. I will pick the one called “Havoc Inspired” (havicinspired.co.uk/archives/ ) found in one of our interview posts with a visual designer called Ryan Taylor.
I copied the broken link and try to find it on our website (command + F). I found it in the blog in the ‘Thank you’ section.
I googled to check what happened with company “Havoc Inspired” and guess what? Ryan joined another company called “No Divide”.
If you go to your broken link list section in wordpress you have the option to edit the broken URL. I changed it for “nodivine.us/havocinspired”.
Last but not least you need to check if the new link is working in all browsers, so I returned to the website to check out the links: it works! One less 404 error on the site!
5. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Manage your permalinks
If you do regular updates of software on WordPress, make sure the permalinks used on your website are still working. And if you give the permalinks an actual name, instead of an ID code or number, this will make your website so much easier to read for your visitors and will be of benefit for your website’s ranking on search engines.
Here is where you can edit your permalinks in WordPress:
One nice extention tool that helps scan your website on link errors is: Chrome Link Checker. This extension will color all the links on your webpage, depending on wether the links are broken, giving problems or valid. It runs very quickly!
6. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Delete spam in your blog comments
If visitors can leave comments on your website, it’s good to know that comment spam coming in will be stored in your database as well. The storage of comment spam is useful to detect recurrent senders of spam messages or to filter down incorrectly classified spam comments. However, the amount of comment spam can add up in time and is unnecessary weight in your database, so delete it regularly.
There a many plugins that can help clean spam from you site. “Askimet”, “Cleantalk” and “Spam Comments Cleaner”.
Keeping your comments sections free of junk makes your website look more professional. If you want to read more about different plugins for cleaning spam check out this article: premium.wpmudev.org/blog/stop-wordpress-comment-spam/.
7. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Keep your WordPress files and folders clean.
If themes or plugins are inactive in WordPress and not displayed by WordPress, this does not mean that they are removed from the webserver. All inactive software in your WordPress account, in fact, still will be executed by the web server. To keep your website up to speed, you will need to take out all unused software and content from your WordPress account. You should delete the non-used items, like images, from your media library as well as inactive plugins and old themes.
8. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Check the speed of your website.
Another important point of interest for keeping your websites in good shape is the overall site performance. If your site needs too much time to load you might loose the interest of your visitors. Luckily there are tools that can help you to analyze your site’s performance. One easy to use tool is Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Another tool often used by professionals is www.pingdom.com
9. Maintaining Your WordPress Website – Check ALL your forms to make sure they work.
From time to time its required to review all forms used on your website. Especially if you are updating software on your webpage, you need to check if all information put into your website actually reaches the back office too.
I hope this list will help you keep your website in top-working form. Creating a website in WordPress is one thing, but taking good care and nourishing your ‘baby’ throughout it’s lifetime is a very important task for web designers and should not be overlooked.