Essential WordPress Maintenance

Often a forgotten task, WordPress maintenance is essential for keeping a healthy website. Without it, many issues can occur such as slow load times, buggy code, poor security and a drop in Google rankings.

To keep on top of maintenance, we’ve listed below a few tips to keep your website running smoothly:

Please note – It’s important to know what you’re doing when performing these tasks. If you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend proceeding without the help of a web developer. These updates may cause themes or plugins to stop functioning as intended. Do a complete website backup and seek help before proceeding.

Run Daily Backups

WordPress has many plugins to perform this and most can set to run automatically. Two popular plugins on the market are Updraft Plus and BackupBuddy. They have similar features so try them both and see which one works best on your website.

Activate Maintenance Mode

Before proceeding with the tasks below, it’s important to activate maintenance mode. This will take your website offline as you tinker behind the scenes. There is a native way to activate it using the .maintenance file or there are plugins available. If you’re not comfortable using FTP, I’d use a plugin below.

Update the WordPress Core & Plugins

There are many benefits of keeping the WordPress core updated, the most important include:

Improved Security

With WordPress powering 23% of all websites it has become a target for hackers. As WordPress is open-source, anyone can study the code and find vulnerabilities. Each update released by WordPress contains fixes for these.

Bug Fixes

There have been times I’ve been working on a website and it wasn’t operating as expected. After tinkering with no results, I’ve found a simple update has fixed the problem. Bugs are common and to avoid issues, keep the WordPress core, plugins and themes updated.

Latest Features

Each major release of WordPress comes bundled with new features. Many of these make your WordPress experience a better one. Updating will result in greater efficiency and reliability.

How to Update WordPress

WordPress has a notification system which displays the amount of updates currently available.

How to tell if there are WordPress updates available

Clicking on Dashboard → Updates will take you to the correct page. Once there, you should see a page like below (its appearance can change from time to time).

WordPress updates landing page where you can update the core, theme's and plugin

Click Update Now and the latest version will install. Once complete, you will see a “Welcome to WordPress” screen detailing what’s new. Below is an example after upgrading to WordPress 4.8.

WordPress welcome screen after update

If you’re using WordPress 3.7, all minor updates (for security and bug fixes) are automatic, so that’s one less worry.

How to Update Plugins

To update a plugin, click on Plugins in the dashboard menu.

You will see a list of plugins and if an update is available, there will be a message saying so. Click on update now and follow the prompts.

How to tell if there are updates for each WordPress plugin

Disclaimer – Updating plugins is a common cause of a broken website. Make sure to have a backup handy before proceeding.

Optimise Database

An active website will have a large database which can effect website load times. To keep it running efficiently, it’s important to use a database optimiser. Most run with a single click, so it’s quick and easy to use.

Prevent Spam Comments

Poor quality comments can become a problem. Most often they’re spammers, hoping to build backlinks to their own website. They have no value and need to be removed. This can be time consuming, so to prevent this, use an anti-spam plugin. This will watch the comment submissions and filter them, without you having to do it manually.

Check Security

Keeping the WordPress core and plugins up-to-date is a good first step in fighting malware. To secure the website further, install a security plugin. While features between the plugins differ, they all have a common goal, to keep your website safe from hackers.

Run Speed Tests

Users are more likely to stick around if the content they need loads fast. Over time, new plugins, images, pages, posts, videos and other items can increase the load time a website. It’s important to track how this extra bloat is effecting the speed of your website.

The easiest way to check is by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Enter the URL into the box and click Analyse. Google will then scan the mobile and desktop version of your website and score it out of 100. The best part, Google will provide you with a list of recommended fixes to solve each issue. You can go through and tick them off, resulting in a faster loading website.

Wrapping Up

We understand that the above can be a daunting task if you aren’t familiar with WordPress. For those looking for help, we can perform the above tasks on a monthly basis for a small fee. Send us a message to get started.

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