Staying in Check: Keeping Up With Important Regular Maintenance Tasks (Part 2)
In last week’s post we looked at the importance of keeping your WordPress site in top-notch working order with a few simple maintenance tasks that you should be performing on a regular basis. From backing up your files to keeping on a schedule of updates to your theme, plugins and other programs to remembering to always change your passwords, there are lots of ways to keep your site purring along and, more importantly, to make it safe from hackers, malware and the like.
Once again thanks to the clever people at wpbeginner.com, here’s part two of the list, with another six tips and tools. And at the risk of being redundant, keep in mind that staying on top of these regular maintenance tasks is the best way to avoid a crash of your site and, if catastrophe does strike, the easiest and most efficient way to get back up and running quickly. And remember this as well: perform these various maintenance tasks at least every three months, or every six months for less busy sites.
- Often a user will look for a page that doesn’t exist anymore on your website, and the program will give said user the “404 error.” This usually happens because of a mistyped URL address, but sometimes the error message appears because the page is no longer available, and this gives a bad impression to visitors to your site. So track and redirect 404 errors immediately to a stable page and check your site regularly to be sure they aren’t reoccurring.
- Like the 404 error pages, you may find that, as you add more and more content to your WordPress site, certain links you’ve created to take readers to other sites are no longer viable as they’ve moved or have just disappeared. So it’s important to find and fix broken links as soon as possible, as having too many can affect search engine rankings, bounce rates, page views and more.
- It may sound scary and a bit daunting, but consider adding a content and SEO “audit” to your list of regular maintenance tasks. This means looking through your content and reviewing what’s working and what isn’t i.e. what are your visitors looking at and what are they ignoring. The best way to do this is to start with Google Analytics and Search Console, which will show you where your visitors are coming from and how they’re interacting with your site. And by doing something simple like updating content you may find that more users are being converted into customers or subscribers. Check out Yoast SEO as well, where you can set up specific keywords and have the program analyze your content for those words.
- When it comes to images on your site, always remember that they take longer to load, which decreases how fast your overall page loads. And it may be that images in older articles that aren’t getting much attention anymore are the culprits. So add a media library review to your list of must-do tasks and optimize your images at least twice a year (there are some great plugins that do all the work for you). This will ensure old and outdated pictures—and those that are just too large and can be reduced in size—aren’t slowing down and hampering the user experience.
- To really keep your site safe, remember to regularly check your security logs and search for unusual activity. This includes going through your access and error records, especially if you find that your site is slowing down or your search rankings are plummeting, as this could mean your site is under attack. And if you really want to be proactive grab a plugin such as Sucuri, which offers firewalls at various levels and price points that can protect your pages against the most common threats.
- Lastly, you may find that, as you perform these regular maintenance tasks, your site slows down a bit, especially if you’re running a check for broken links or optimizing your image and media library. But don’t panic: even if you see a bit of a slowdown and perhaps some errors popping up, it’s fairly normal and will get resolved once you’ve completed your maintenance duties. But if you’re really worried, put your WordPress site into “maintenance mode” or run tests during your low traffic times.