Have you ever noticed your website not performing as it used to when you first launched it? Do you know that there’s a high chance that your website is vulnerable to security threats that you are not even aware of? Both of these scenarios can be scary for you as a website owner, administrator, or developer. But fret not, you can easily prevent these from happening if you perform WordPress maintenance tasks regularly.
WordPress is a powerful platform, powering millions of websites across the world. However, like any other website platform, it also requires regular maintenance to keep your website running smoothly, just like day one.
In this blog, we will share WordPress maintenance tasks that you should perform on a regular basis to achieve optimum performance and security. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
Table of Contents
- Understanding WordPress maintenance
- Preparation before performing maintenance tasks
- The 10 essential WordPress maintenance tasks
- 1. Update WordPress core, plugins, and themes
- 2. Backup your website regularly
- 3. Optimize Your database
- 4. Review and strengthen security measures
- 5. Check and fix broken links
- 6. Optimize images and media files
- 7. Monitor site performance
- 8. Regularly test all forms
- 9. Conduct SEO audits
- 10. Change passwords
- Frequently asked questions
Understanding WordPress maintenance
WordPress maintenance involves several tasks that enhance a WordPress site’s performance, security, and user-friendliness.
It includes simple tasks like updating your WordPress plugins and themes to more advanced tasks like optimizing your database. While updating plugins and themes makes your site more secure, optimizing the database makes it faster.
A well-maintained WordPress site will perform better on search engines and lead to more success than a website that is never maintained. If you are ready to perform WordPress maintenance tasks on your website, we’re here to help you out. Let’s start by sharing the preparations that you need to take before you get started.
Preparation before performing maintenance tasks
Not every WordPress maintenance task is the same, so you can’t set a single schedule for all of them. Moreover, the effects of the tasks on your website can also differ, ranging from minimal to high. That is why it is good to have a backup of your website before you go on to perform the maintenance tasks.
Create a maintenance schedule
As we already shared, no two maintenance tasks are the same. So you need to maintain a schedule to manage the maintenance. Most people perform low-priority maintenance tasks once a month, and more critical tasks like checking the security log on a bi-weekly or weekly basis.
Backup your website before making any changes
Another important thing to do before you start critical maintenance tasks is to back up your WordPress site. Tasks like optimizing your database, or deleting a file that has been compromised can cause devastating errors, and even break your whole website.
Backing up your WordPress site with a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus saves you from these kinds of unwanted situations. We recommend backing up your site before you start any maintenance task, because you know how the old saying goes:
The best backup is the one you never did!
Now that you are all prepared and ready to get your website roaring again, let’s share how to maintain your WordPress website in 10 simple steps.
10 essential WordPress maintenance tasks
Here comes the list of WordPress maintenance tasks you are here for. Keep in mind that the list is not ordered based on priority.
1. Update WordPress core, plugins and themes
Hackers are always on the move to find loopholes in WordPress plugins and themes to get their way into your website. To prevent that from happening, you need to keep your plugins and themes updated. These updates often include critical security patches, bug fixes, and features that not only reduce the risk of getting hacked but also enhance the performance of your website.
Make sure to also update the WordPress version (Also known as WordPress core update) to get more crucial security patches, fixes, and of course, new features.
You can also automate updates with Easy Updates Manager. This nifty tool lets you schedule updates and makes sure that all the updates are compatible with your current WordPress version.
2. Backup your website regularly
Backups are important not only before scheduled maintenance. You need to do it more often than any other maintenance task. You should regularly backup your site in case your website crashes or your website faces an unfortunate hacking attempt. The good news is that you can backup your WordPress site here for free with UpdraftPlus.
If you don’t have the time to back up your website every day, or at least a week, you can schedule backups to run automatically and keep your data stored in your preferred storage location.
3. Optimize your database
You store a lot of files on your WordPress site. Every plugin and theme that you install creates hundreds of files, some of which are only used once. And then, there is residual data.
Over time, these unnecessary files can clutter your database and slow down your website. That’s why your WordPress website care is not complete without database optimization, which can help your database run smoothly and significantly boost the speed of your WordPress site.
You can optimize the database manually through phpMyAdmin. But, if the manual process proves to be too complex for you, using a WordPress performance plugin like WP-Optimize can make the task a lot easier.
On top of database optimization, WP-Optimize can further improve website speed with its caching features.
4. Review and strengthen security measures
Website security should be one of the top priorities for any website owner. Regularly reviewing the security log can help you stay on top of any breaches or issues.
However, since there are no manual ways in WordPress to check security logs or to create a real-time security net for your website, using a WordPress security plugin like All-In-One-Security can help keep your website secure from any malicious attacks.
It also has a comprehensive reporting feature for you to check the logs while you carry out WordPress maintenance.
5. Check and fix broken links
There’s no doubt that broken links hinder user experience, but it also negatively impacts your website’s SEO. So it’s important to check for broken links as part of your WordPress maintenance tasks.
Tools like Screaming Frog and SEMrush can help you find a list of broken links on your website. Using an internal link plugin can help minimize the risk of broken links. This is because links built by the tool are automated, if a page is unpublished any links to it will disappear too.
6. Optimize images and media files
Large media files can slow down your website, increasing the page load time and thus negatively impacting SEO.
Like database optimization, compressing and optimizing images on your WordPress site can greatly improve page speed. Using lossy/lossless compression techniques can convert large images into compressed files that take up much less space.
7. Monitor site performance
If you have never run a performance test after launching your website, you belong to the majority of people. And it’s not a healthy habit to have!
Monitoring your WordPress site performance is one of the crucial tasks to perform during WordPress Maintenance. It gives you a clear idea of how your website is performing against the core web vital criteria set by Google.
Google PageSpeed Insights is the most popular tool to run performance tests on your website. However, don’t just limit yourself to the homepage. Instead, make sure to test all the important pages on your website.
8. Regularly test all forms
Forms are an important part of our websites. Think of all the ways you use forms on your website. From registration forms and contact forms to newsletter subscription forms. They are everywhere!
It is highly important that they work correctly. So make sure to test the forms during maintenance and ensure they are functioning and delivering submissions as expected.
To protect your forms from automated bots or scripts we recommend adding a verification method to your forms. This helps to verify the user is human without interrupting their browsing experience.
9. Conduct SEO audits
The modern web depends on search engines. How your website is ranking on the search engines pretty much defines how successful your website is. That is why no Website maintenance checklist is complete without SEO Audits, which give you a clear picture of how your website is performing.
Regular SEO audits can also help you find areas to improve on-page SEO, meta tags and more. You can perform the audits with most SEO tools, including SEMrush and Ahrefs.
10. Change passwords
In 2022, over 24 billion passwords were exposed by hackers. This is a frightening statistic and one that should encourage you to change passwords regularly as part of your WordPress maintenance.
Most of the breached passwords are reportedly weak or reused. Thus, you should always look to use strong passwords, and never the same password everywhere.
For an extra layer of security you should consider adding two-factor authentication to your WordPress site.
Regular WordPress maintenance is a must to have a quick, secure website with a great user experience. Whether you manage these tasks personally or with the help of a performance plugin like WP-Optimize, it is important to have a regular schedule to keep your site at peak performance.
So when are you carrying out your first WordPress maintenance task? Let us know in the comments!
Frequently asked questions
Now, let’s take a look at some common questions that people ask about WP maintenance and their answers.