Crucial WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly

March 5, 2021
Roy Emmerson

When talking about WordPress benefits, the main focus tends to be on how easy the website building process is on this platform. WordPress can help you create an online portfolio, online store, or any other website.

However, building and maintaining a website are two vastly different things. The real work begins just after the site is up and running. And it’s not even about creating and promoting content, but the deceptively simple task of keeping your site alive.

Neglecting basic measures to maintain the site can lead to many unpleasant consequences:

  • Increased page load times;
  • Reduced security;
  • User experience degradation;
  • Low positions in search engines.

On top of that, a site that doesn’t get the care it needs simply becomes chaotic and complex to use. Without proper care, it simply won’t perform at its best, as it was intended. As you can see, regular maintenance is a must.

So in this article, we want to tell you what tasks and at what intervals you should perform to keep your WordPress site running like a well-oiled machine. After all, by performing even a few small maintenance tasks regularly, you will ensure protection from big troubles in the long run.

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Basic Maintenance Tasks for WordPress Site

Before we get to regular basic maintenance tasks, we should mention one that you face at unequal intervals, which is, however, one of the most important. This is keeping the WordPress engine up to date.

  • Always install the latest version of WordPress. Not only does this give you access to new features and code updates, but more importantly, it also fixes security gaps in the site. In fact, untimely updates are one of the most common reasons why a WordPress site can be hacked. Always make sure your site is running the latest version of the WordPress engine and all of its components.
  • Develop a habit of keeping up with the latest news about the WordPress platform. The official blog will always keep you up to date on what’s happening in the world of WordPress, including news about new versions of the engine. You’ll also see a message in your WP dashboard when the engine is ready to be upgraded.
  • Don’t forget about plugins and themes. Of course, everything that applies to the WordPress platform as a whole is also true for its components. Thus, outdated plugins and themes are a major gateway for hackers trying to take over your site. For this reason, plugin and theme developers release regular updates to their products to make sure they work with the latest version of WordPress and continue to remain secure.

As a major WordPress release approaches, you’ll see a lot of update notifications on the plugin page (the admin menu). However, we recommend that you update the engine first, and only then move on to component updates. This way, you’ll lower the chances that a conflicting plugin/theme will crash your site. This way you minimize the chances of breaking the website and having to hire a developer. And don’t forget to backup your site before updating.

Should You Automate WordPress Update Process?

Starting with WordPress 3.7, minor security and technical updates are done automatically. Although you can turn this feature off, you should not. It’s extremely unlikely that security updates will bring your site down, but they are guaranteed to keep it safe from hacker attacks. So, it’s wise to update automatically once it’s possible.

What about enabling automatic updates of the engine itself, as well as plugins and themes? The answer is that if you do this, you risk crashing your site without even knowing about it. Thus, we don’t recommend you to do this.

By the way, did you know that you can replace the standard WordPress maintenance mode screen with a custom version to make the wait more enjoyable for your site visitors? Well, you can.

Daily Site Maintenance

  • Timely day-to-day feedback. Online blogs live because of reader participation. Your quick response helps keep the conversation going and gives your readers a sense that their opinions are taken seriously. Therefore, your feedback is a daily necessity.

If someone spends time to write some insightful comment on an article you’ve published, it’s a huge compliment, certainly worthy of recognition! You can set a certain time in your day to respond not only to comments but also to emails and social media posts. Two times a day will be enough to respond to all these things quickly, without having to constantly check the site for new comments.

  • Site Backup. No matter how you find out about an update release, always backup your site. Regular backups are the cornerstone of proper site maintenance on WordPress. In case something happens to the site, a fresh backup will help you fix the sorry state of affairs and avoid cybercrime attacks.

For any site with decent traffic, a daily backup is a good idea. This way, you eliminate the risk of losing the latest content and comments if the worst has already happened.

The best solution for implementing this: find a good hosting provider who will do these backups for you. Another option: install suitable software that backs up and sends the data to a remote server automatically. Actually, you should do this anyway, for backup purposes.

Free WP plugins to help you do this:

We guess you might as well want to know that investing in premium solutions like BackupBuddy, Duplicator Pro, or VaultPress is very much worth it.

Weekly Site Maintenance

Now let’s move on to slightly less urgent tasks. The next ones are also crucial, even if not to be performed on a daily basis.

Site Front-End Checking

Never forget that your site is for visitors and users. When you visit your site too often, you can easily miss things that aren’t working as they should. Thus, it makes sense to put yourself in the visitor’s place from time to time.

Every week or so, use an Incognito tab to visit your site. Are all the important web pages working properly? How well does everything look and work in the mobile version? Can a new visitor understand the purpose of the resource and how to work with it?

Also, check if everything you see on your site is actually necessary. You might not need twelve widgets in the sidebar – maybe five is quite enough? Regularly examine site elements to see if they are helping or distracting visitors from doing what you need them to do. In other words, eliminate anything unnecessary.

Analytics Check

A weekly review of your site’s statistics will show you: what’s working and what’s not; what content is popular with readers; your visitors’ behavior, and more. This information will help you tweak your strategy and content for even greater success in the future.

It will also let you know about your site’s “health condition” and alert you if something goes wrong, e.g. Google penalties, before they become a serious problem. Some metrics can be reviewed daily, but at the very least, we’d recommend doing this once a week.

Spam Comments Removal

WP newbies are constantly surprised by the number of spam comments their sites receive. They may even respond to them and leave them on the site just to discover the reality later.

Depending on the amount of traffic, your site will receive anywhere from a few dozen to several hundred spam comments per day. Therefore, in addition to installing anti-spam plugins like Akismet, Antispam Bee, or Titan Anti-Spam & Security, it’s important to remove spam comments on a regular basis. Removing spam once a week will probably be enough.

Additionally, you can also reduce the number of links allowed per post, create a list of ‘blacklisted’ words, set up a comment moderation system, and restrict comment privileges to registered users.

Sorting Drafts and Emptying Trash

Sites filled with a large number of content creators often accumulate dead content in the form of drafts, post ideas, and articles that have simply been forsaken. They clutter up the workspace, both yours and that of your content providers. It’s time to fix this. Here’s what you should do:

  • Regularly delete posts and pages that will definitely never be published to free up important resources.
  • Don’t forget to set a time interval for cleaning the Trash in Wp-config.php so that discarded items are removed in a timely manner.

If you’re the only content creator on the site, one revision per month will probably be enough.

Monthly Maintenance

Although the intervals between these activities are longer, this doesn’t mean the content of the list is any less important.

Removing Unused Plugins and Themes

It’s not uncommon for people to try several different plugins before they pick one that they’re completely happy with. However, in search of additional functionality, people just as often forget about installed but unused plugins.

For this reason, plugins are some of the most common contributors to cluttering WordPress sites. Unused themes can also contribute. Thus, next on our list of site maintenance tasks is a monthly review of WordPress components, to find the ones that can be removed.

What are you actually using? What is still fulfilling its purpose? Do you really need every single plugin you have installed? Remove anything that is stale and/or irrelevant.

Database Optimization

The MySQL database accumulates unnecessary data over time, so maintenance should also extend to this part of your site. We recommend that you install a plugin that can schedule regular database cleanup, such as WP-Optimize.

Malware and Signs of Hacking

No one wants their site to get hacked but the risk of this occurrence is an inherent part of the reality on the Web. The best strategy to prevent such mishaps is to scan the resource with the appropriate software. By regularly checking your WP site for malware and signs of hacking, you can fix potential problems before your site gets hacked and falls under search engine sanctions.

You can try the following tools for regular site security checks: Sucuri SiteCheck, WordFence, GOTMLS, Quttera Web Malware Scanner.

If you follow basic security measures, you can probably relax a little every two months.

Updating your Portfolio

If you’re using your website to advertise any services, it’s important to keep your online portfolio up to date. You offer tons of wonderful products or services, but if potential clients only see the fruits of your long-standing efforts, they may think twice before addressing you.

To prevent this from happening, ensure you check if you need to add something to the site once a month. Better yet, make updating your portfolio mandatory at the completion of each project. This way, your site will always reflect your best work.

Quarterly and Annual site Maintenance

Finally, we get to those site maintenance activities that you don’t need to do every month, however, they still need your attention to keep your WordPress site running flawlessly.

“Dead” or broken links refer to those links on your website site meant to lead to any web pages on your or any third party website but don’t actually lead anywhere. The reasons may be various: the site has moved, the URL contains a typo, the link structure has changed, or simply because the web page no longer exists.

Users who click such a link see a page with a 404 error (page not found). In general, broken links are not that critical. They are not directly harmful to your search engine ranking. On the other hand, such links do not improve the user experience and are one of the fastest ways to increase your bounce rate, which ultimately worsens your position in search engine results.

Fortunately, the free online Dead Link Checker tool https://www.deadlinkchecker.com/ helps detect broken links so you can take steps to eliminate them. Alternatively, you can also use Screaming Frog, Beam Us Up, or view the “Scanning Errors” report in the Google Search Console. Once you’ve found a broken link, you can change, replace, or delete it.

For inbound links, use the Redirection plugin. It tracks links leading to a non-existent page and allows you to redirect them to more appropriate URLs. There’s no need to check this every day (once every few months will be enough), unless, of course, you notice some major problems in the site’s analytics.

Personal Data Update

Every few months, it also makes sense to review your personal data to see if it still provides accurate information about who you are and what you do. After all, changes happen not only online but in real life as well. Maybe the purpose of your business or the focus of your WP site has changed. Maybe it’s your email address or some other life circumstances. Either way, your website should reflect this.

Therefore, as part of site maintenance activities, you should regularly check the information on the “About Us”, “Contact Us”, and “Privacy Policy” pages, to see if they’re still up to date.

Compliance with Modern Standards

It’s no secret that web technologies are constantly evolving, and on the Web, everything gets outdated faster than anywhere else. Technologies such as HTML and CSS are constantly being updated, so it’s worth checking to see if your site meets current standards.

Summary

Maintaining a WordPress site isn’t that difficult, and maintenance is the necessary evil. By not taking care of your resource on a regular basis, you risk ending up with a slow, insecure, and chaotic website that is confusing both for visitors and administrators alike.

The main administrative tasks can be summarized in the following list:

  • Monitoring site performance and stability;
  • Troubleshooting occurring failures and errors;
  • Setting up data backup and recovery;
  • Diagnosing hack attacks and preventing consequences;
  • Maintaining communication with the hosting provider.

On the other hand, what could be more satisfying than a fast website load, steady business growth, and higher search engine rankings? Isn’t it all worth your effort?

The above recommendations provide you with a step-by-step plan for creating your own website maintenance schedule. Make one, follow it, and reap the benefits.

What site maintenance activities are standard for you? Is there anything you can add or recommend? Let us know below in the comments!

Roy Emmerson
Roy Emmerson is a Media Relations Coordinator at TechTimes.com and content-strategist of Market Business News. He started several companies and failed, and then learned from his mistakes to have several successful and very profitable projects. Roy is focused on making a difference with the content he develops and curates.

About the Author

Roy Emmerson
Roy Emmerson is a Media Relations Coordinator at TechTimes.com and content-strategist of Market Business News. He started several companies and failed, and then learned from his mistakes to have several successful and very profitable projects. Roy is focused on making a difference with the content he develops and curates.