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WordPress Maintenance Tips To Keep Your Site Running Smoothly

Maintain Your WordPress Website

Many Clients want to maintain their own website - or they initially think they do.   What I have discovered is that the road to Maintaining Your Own Website is paved with good intentions.  Also what I have discovered is a WordPress Website that isn't maintained WILL FAIL.  It may not fail right away - failure is imminent.

Wowsers Web Design offers an annual website maintenance plan - $540 for 12 hours.   CLICK HERE to see what it covers.

1. Update Your Site Regularly. Yes. It’s That Important

Yes, this might be the least sexy tip in the history of WordPress. But it’s also one of the most important things you can do to ensure the safety and functionality of your site.

In Sucuri’s Hacked Website Report 2017, We are seeing an interesting shift in the number of out of date, vulnerable versions of WordPress at the point of infection. At the end of Q3 2016, 61% of hacked WordPress sites recorded outdated
installations, however, this has since decreased. In 2017, only 39.3% of clean up requests for WordPress had an outdated version. Those vulnerabilities are fixed as soon as they’re found…but only if you update.

For example, a recent REST API vulnerability affected hundreds of thousands of WordPress sites. But all of those sites could have been spared if they’d immediately updated to WordPress 4.7.2 when it was released.

And it’s not just the WordPress software that needs to be updated, you also need to stay on top of plugin and theme updates. Just three outdated plugins accounted for 25% of the hacked WordPress sites in Sucuri’s analysis. Again, the plugins had actually already patched the security problems…users just didn’t update.

So, make the Updates tab your friend. It tells you everything that needs to be updated – all you need to do is click the button:

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Keep an eye on WordPress updates

WordPress version: WordPress regularly updates its core version either with slight changes or with huge changes just to make sure it is safe and perfectly optimized for search engines. It’s essential for you to have the latest version of WordPress whenever an update is rolled out. But make sure to take a full backup of your sites whenever you update, install or delete a plugin to keep your content intact.

Update plugins: Whether you use 10 plugins or 20 plugins, keep an eye on the updates on all of them. Few plugins get updated frequently so keep their latest version to avoid further glitches using them.

Delete inactive plugins: If you are not using a plugin for a while, delete it right away. Not only it saves your blog’s bandwidth but increase your security levels of your site as well.

Don’t use plugins which haven’t updated over 2 years: As a rule of thumb, whenever you want to install a new plugin, make sure to check when it was last updated. If it was updated over 2 years back, don’t even think about using it no matter how good the plugin is. You never know which hacker injected unknown or harmful files into it to get into your sites.

2. Run Regular Backups (And Actually Make Sure They Work)

With luck, nothing bad will ever happen to your site. But your site’s data isn’t something you want to leave up to luck. So…take luck out of it and run regular backups. Don’t fall prey to backup myths telling you that you don’t need one.   the best solution is the ensure that site is backed up through your hosting account or through a service like Codeguard.com.   You can also use a backup plugin like UpDraft that can back up in a file on your hosting account and through a subscription you can back up to a cloud storage.

But beyond just “running” a backup. You also need to ensure two things:

  • Your backups actually work. Even huge companies like British Airways don’t always make sure their backup processes work…which can cause problems.
  • Your backups are available.

To solve the first problem, you should at least periodically try to restore your backup to a test server.

Additionally, try to keep backups for different time periods. Your backup won’t be any help if it has the same problem as your live site.

3. Check For Falsely Flagged Spam Comments

While nowhere near as dire as the previous suggestions, you’d be surprised how many quality comments get accidentally flagged as spam. Most of the flagged comments that you’ll encounter are indeed spam, but I bet you come across a few genuine comments that are worthy of being saved. I usually find one or two each time I check!

Note – I would’ve put this further down because it’s a minor thing…but if you try to complete it after the next step, there won’t be anything to check!

4. Clean and Optimize Your Database

When you first install WordPress, your database starts off so clean and tiny. But as you start “living” in your site, your database starts picking up all kinds of junk. It’s like dust in your house. You didn’t do anything to “cause” the dust…but it still accumulates and makes everything look dirty.

Posts revisions, transients, table overhead, spam comments, and more do that to your database. Each individual database entry isn’t a big deal…but combined (like those specks of dust), they can make your site a big sluggish.

Thankfully, they’re easy to clean up. All you need to do is run a plugin like WP-Optimize. Nothing to configure – just install, head to the sidebar ... all the way at the bottom→ WP Optimize and clean up your various tables:

4.  Optimize your website for better speed

Website speed is critical. No one likes slow loading sites. Google loves fast loading sites. That’s why you always need to focus your time and energy on optimizing your site for faster loading times.

Here are few essential things to do to boost your website speed.

Optimize databases: Generally you need to use phyMyAdmin from your hosting control panel to access and optimize your website databases. But that’s too complicated especially if you are a beginner with zero technical skills. That’s why so many bloggers prefer using WordPress plugins such as WP clean up to clean and optimize their databases. Consider using it if you want to quickly deleted all the unwanted data (post revisions, spam comments etc) from your databases to speed up your site speed.

Optimize images: High resolution images are good but if they are too large in file size, they can dramatically slow down your website loading times. Either use online tools to optimize your images or install image optimization plugins such as WP Smush to boost your site loading times by optimizing your images.

Use a faster and reliable web host: Did you know your hosting affects your website speed?  Yes, that’s true. Using CDN enabled web hosting services such as Site Ground etc can quickly load your web pages. So invest money in getting a web host that loads quicker rather than saving money on getting a cheap web host that kills both your rankings and website speed. 

WP-Optimize Plugin: . Nothing to configure – just install, head to the sidebar ... all the way at the bottom→ WP Optimize and clean up your various tables:

5.  Optimize Images on Your WordPress Site

he primary goal of formatting your images is to find the balance between the lowest file size and an acceptable quality. There is more than one way to perform almost all of these optimizations. One of the most popular tools ways is to simply compress them before uploading to WordPress. Usually, this can be done in a tool like Adobe Photoshop or Affinity Photo. Some of these tasks can also be performed using plugins, which we will go into more below.

The two primary things to consider are the file format and type of compression you use. By choosing the right combination of file format and compression type you can reduce your image size by as much as 5 times. You’ll have to experiment with each image or file format to see what works best.

Choose the Right File Format

Before you start modifying your images, make sure you’ve chosen the best file type. There are several types of files you can use:

  • PNG – produces higher quality images, but also has a larger file size. Was created as a lossless image format, although it can also be lossy.
  • JPEG – uses lossy and lossless optimization. You can adjust the quality level for a good balance of quality and file size.
  • GIF – only uses 256 colors. It’s the best choice for animated images. It only uses lossless compression.

There are several others, such as JPEG XR and WebP, but they’re not universally supported by all browsers. Ideally, you should use JPEG (or JPG) for images with lots of color and PNG for simple images.

Image Optimization Plugins You Can Use

Thankfully, with WordPress, you don’t have to do all of the formatting or compression by hand. You can use plugins to do at least some of the work for you automatically. There are several plugins that will automatically optimize your image files as you upload them. They’ll even optimize images that you’ve already uploaded. This is a handy feature – especially if you already have a website filled with images. Here’s a look at some of the best plugins to format your images for better performance.

It is important though that you don’t solely rely on the plugins themselves. For example, you shouldn’t be uploading 2 MB images to your WordPress media library. This can result in eating up your web hosts disk space really fast. The best method is to quickly resize the image in a photo editing tool beforehand, and then upload it and use one of the following plugins to reduce it further.

These are just three of many Image Optimization WordPress Plugins.

6. Check for Broken Internal and External Links

Broken links are bad for user experience and, to a lesser extent, SEO. They make it harder for humans to use your site and robots to crawl your site. They’re difficult to find manually…but with the right tool (Broken Link Checker), you can instantly sniff out every single broken link on your WordPress site.

While the plugin does have some advanced settings, for most sites, you can just install it and head to Tools → Broken Links:

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ou can hover over each link to quickly edit it or remove the link.

Because some people say that Broken Link Checker can slow down the wp-admin dashboard, I recommend only enabling the plugin specifically when you want to check for broken links.

7. Monitor Your 404 Pages and Set Up Redirects

404 pages are what your visitors see when they land on a page that doesn’t exist (like, say, from a broken link).

While you can control broken links on your own site, you can’t control them on other sites. That’s why it pays to monitor your 404 page traffic so you can find missing pages and, if necessary, 301 redirect them to the proper page.

While you can use Google Analytics to monitor your 404 pages, I think a simpler solution for beginners is the Redirection plugin:

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8. Check Your Site’s Page Load Times

If you’re like most webmasters, you probably read a post about how to speed up WordPress, implemented the tips, improved your page load times…and then called it a day. Does that sound like you? I know was guilty of this at some point.

But would you notice if your site slowed down in the future? We have a tendency to think of our site as “optimized,” even though optimization is a continued process, not a one-time thing.

You might add a new plugin that slows things down. Your host could make some switch knocks down your performance…who knows? The only way to find out is to periodically test your page load times. Using a tool like Pingdom, it only takes a few seconds and you get peace of mind that you’re still fast.

9. Test Your Forms…the Right Way

I cannot stress this tip enough. Testing your forms is massively important if you’re running any type of business. And it’s not just testing your forms, it’s testing your forms well.  Test the form when you are NOT logged into the website.   Test it also using different browsers.

10. Secure Your WordPress Website

Most new website owners don’t give much priority to securing their WordPress sites. To maintain a WordPress site effortlessly, you must secure your site from hackers.

There are basically two most common attacks will happen to hack any WordPress site.

  1. Sending “special HTTP requests” to your server
  2. Using “brute force” (password guessing)

To avoid both these security attacks and to safely secure your WordPress sites from hackers, here are two most powerful plugins you must install. The best part is, they both are free.

WordFence Plugin: Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that were built from the ground up to protect WordPress. Our Threat Defense Feed arms Wordfence with the newest firewall

Read Also:   Has my site been hacked? How to Check

Limit login attempts plugin: This plugin is essential if you want to save your site from password guessing (Brute force attacks). This will limit the login attempts and block the IP’s of the systems who tries to password hacking.

WPS Hide Login Plugin:  WPS Hide Login is a very light plugin that lets you easily and safely change the url of the login form page to anything you want. It doesn’t literally rename or change files in core, nor does it add rewrite rules. It simply intercepts page requests and works on any WordPress website. The wp-admin directory and wp-login.php page become inaccessible, so you should bookmark or remember the url. Deactivating this plugin brings your site back exactly to the state it was before.

11. Perform a Thorough Content and SEO Audit

Next thing you need to include in your regular maintenance tasks is a thorough in-depth review of your content. This is where the data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics comes in.

Google Analytics shows you where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your website. This data allows you to discover content on your website where users are coming but are not converting into customers or subscribers.

Google Search Console shows you Search Analytics which helps you find search keywords where your site appears in the results. You can sort it to show you keywords where your site can easily rank higher by updating those articles.

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If you are using Yoast SEO, then you can set particular keywords as focus keyword, and it will analyze your content for that keyword.

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12. Get Someone to Perform the Maintenance For You

While it’s possible to do everything yourself, Wowsers Web Design WordPress Website Maintenance can take some of the more tedious work off your plate - so you can concentrate on running your business.   

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

 

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