Years ago WordPress websites were much simpler to operate and maintain. The website was set to work until something went wrong, as well as the number of different vulnerabilities was much smaller. Decades have past and look how WordPress had changed! It became much more complex and got lots of useful features, still being a great platform to easily build your website on.
A perfectly prepared launch is equally important to the scrupulous maintenance. It is a tedious daily work, and perhaps it is really difficult to reach all the aspects being the only one who takes care of the website. WordPress is a tool, and as any tool, it requires some periodic service. Like a good axe has to be sharpened, and strings on the guitar rewired, WordPress also has to be maintained. It allows the website to be efficient for a longer period, be less vulnerable to the hacker attacks, and perform much better.
Check the most important points on maintaining your WordPress and learn how to perform the regular services for your website:
Update to the latest stable version
Let’s start with the basic things. Updates are coming pretty fast, some of them are minor, some of them bring lots of changes. Since the 3.7 version, WordPress got automatic update function, which is suitable for the most websites, but not for all. Keep it in mind, if you are using some third party plugins or themes (not from WordPress.org), you should check the compatibility with a new WordPress version. If the core of your WordPress has been customized, you also fall to that group. In that case, it is better to control updates manually.
Automatic updates are not recommended. The automation here is twofold, as well as giving you more free time, it gives you less control over the updates, which can lead to the unpredictable crashes.
But, independent of the situation, you have to keep your WordPress updated to the latest stable version. According to the WordPress.org statistics, only 55,4% of all website owners updated to the 4.9 version, with 12% using 4.8 version. It looks not that scarifying until you realize that 32,6% still use old versions. What is wrong with using outdated version? Well, among all the problems with compatibility you will be vulnerable, which will affect your security in future.
Set the maintenance mode
One more thing you should be aware of. When you are updating any of the components of the website, your website goes off. Since WordPress the core files updates appeared, maintenance mod appeared. The maintenance mode is a special screen that serves as a 503 redirect. WordPress creates it automatically via a special file .maintenance. You can create that file in the core of the WordPress by yourself, setting the time the screen will be shown. Also, there are special plugins, that are used to create the same redirect. By default, the file is created and deleted for the time the updating process is finished.
Why is that important? At first, it is confusing for the visitors to stumble upon not working website. Secondly, remember about Google bots, that may crawl your website during the update. 503 redirect tells the bots to crawl your pages when they will be available after the update, without any harm to your SEO ranking.
Backup your website
You probably hear it all the time, and we would remind you one more. Backups are the rescue plan for your website in case of the hacker attack. You can backup your WordPress via the hosting provider. There are many plugins, that can perform backups for you automatically on a daily or weekly basis. Here are some to perform the work you:
It is also necessary to make backups manually before doing any major updates of the core files, theme or plugins.
Keep your plugins and themes up to date
Every WordPress website has a theme and at least 2 plugins. As well as the core files, they need to be updated as well. Authors of the plugins and themes offer regular updates to make them compatible with the newest versions of WordPress. You should also check if all the plugins you use are not conflicting with each other. Before the test, pay attention to the previous topic and make a backup that you can restore if something goes wrong. It is necessary to keep the theme and plugins up to date not only for compatibility but also in terms of security. Outdated components open vulnerabilities as well as outdated WordPress.
The order to update all the components goes from the smallest to the biggest, therefore, you should go in the following order:
- Your plugins;
- The theme;
- The core of the WordPress;
Delete unused plugins
Plugins are the second important and most intriguing component of every WordPress website. Contrary to the WordPress concept, plugins are useful, sometimes vital, and it is possible to minimize their quantity. As we had already figured out, the fewer plugins the better. But still, many websites collect the plugins in their database, and the quantity seems scarifying. Side by side with the fact, that plugins bring a lot of useful functions and features, they make a strong impact on the website performance. The last thing you can do to move on from the dead point is deactivate the plugins you don’t use and delete them.
Spring-cleaning in your database
WordPress all over its life cycle stores every piece of your content in its database. Those include the content you need now, and all the post revisions, deleted posts, spam comments and unused categories and tags. It may seem a drop in the ocean, but after years of usage, just image what a mountain of garbage is laying in your database! It slows down your website with the time, so that is why it is necessary to clean it up time to time.
You can easily clean up and optimize the database of your WordPress with the help of WP Optimize plugin. The plugin is built by the same team as UpdraftPlus mentioned above. Before optimizing the database, make sure you have made a backup of your website. Then, proceed to the installation of the plugin, that will show you a list of operations to run, which you can uncheck if necessary.
Monitor the analytics
Monitoring the analytics of your website is important because it is a method to observe the result of your work. You should keep your eye on the key metrics to see if the website brings the best user experience and performs how it should. Google Analytics and Google Webmasters Tools are the instruments, that allow to find the problems before they do some harm and to see whether your website is maintained good enough.
Performing daily and weekly tasks are fairly enough to make your WordPress working pretty good. And it is affordable doing even if you don’t have any support and struggle over all those tusks in one person.
We missed one topic, that we already discussed in our previous material: dealing with the spam. It is also really important to clean up the spam or even disable the comments. For the rest of the topics, that is it.
The final thought of the article I want to state, that, it is better to focus on the dynamic growth of your business and the website in a long perspective. So that, upgrading would become the same task as maintaining.