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How to Maintain a WordPress Website Like a Professional

WordPress websites are awesome, but can be complex and time consuming to maintain; however, with the help of some tools and solid planning, you can maintain your site like a pro. The following is our list of the 7 most important tasks for maintaining a healthy, fast and secure WordPress website.

1. Backup your site regularly
2. Keep WordPress core, your theme, and plugins up to date
3. Secure your site with a good plugin
4. Keep the database optimized
5. Cultivate your website content
6. Actively manage your comments
7. Optimize your website for speed

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1. Backup your site regularly

This is one of the easiest and the most important things to do regularly. Although backing up doesn’t keep your site fresh and clean, it helps if anything goes wrong as you can revert to a previous version immediately.

I recommend you backup your WordPress site at least monthly. You should also consider backing up your blogs daily. If you run a corporate or eCommerce site, weekly or daily backups are essential. You can backup your site via your hosting provider or by downloading a local copy of your site through FTP.

WordPress also offers some fantastic plugins that will automatically backup your complete site. VaultPress is a solid WordPress plugin that offers the backup and restoration functionalities on the fly.

There are a number of options that make manual backups and restorations a piece of cake.

2. Keep WordPress core, your theme, and plugins up to date

Many website owners believe that once their website is built, it can be left alone and they only need to focus on the content.  Unless you have a full-service, premium managed WordPress hosting plan, then you must manage all the theme, core and plugin updates yourself. Make sure you do your research here. Most “Managed WordPress Hosts” do not take care of these updates and leave the task to you.

Why do I need to update my site?

WordPress is constantly evolving, changing and improving. And obviously, in order to change the features and improve security, the underlying software must be changed as well. While this is a great thing all the way around, all your site’s plugins and themes must be updated as well.

When should I update?

In short, you should update your site’s WordPress core, theme or plugins soon after the updates are made available. Security updates should be made immediately to avoid exposing your site to damage. Hackers use automated tools to scan millions of sites on a regular basis. These tools are looking for gaps in your site’s security. Once a gap is found, they can insert malicious code into your site, essentially taking it over. Security updates close these gaps, making it more difficult for hackers to exploit your site.

What to do before making updates

Be careful when updating multiple plugins. Often, plugins can conflict with each other resulting in your site crashing. The simple solution, backup your website before making any updates. If you have a problem with a buggy update or a conflict, you just restore the backup and start working on identifying the problem.

Outsourcing prevent problems sunnyhq

3. Secure your site with a good plugin

Many WordPress users don’t take the security of their site seriously (or seriously enough), even though it is one of the most crucial elements of your website. For those of you that have had your site hacked, you understand what a nightmare it can be in terms of the amount of time it takes and dollars it costs to repair (not even counting the loss of trust with your users). But again, like with most of these tasks, there is an easy fix; install a reliable security plugin.

In addition, you should consider using a Sucuri service to monitor your site. It will scan your site looking for malware or viruses in your themes, plugins or core WordPress. If any viruses or malware are found, Sucuri will immediately remove them from your site.

Recommended WordPress Security Plugins

iThemes Security is one of my favorites. First, it completes a comprehensive scan of your websites security environment, looking at each component and finds all the potential issues. Then it walks you through each step to resolve the issues.

It is very user friendly and helps you understand and implement good security practices. In addition, it has wonderful video tutorials that explain in easy to understand language how to setup and use the plugin.

Wordfence is one of, if not, the most popular WordPress security plugins with over 2 million installs. This adds a layer of protection for your website and prevents malicious attacks. It can be difficult to install if you’re not tech-savvy, but is worth it, so get some help from a developer.

More detailed security advice can be found at this post by our strategic hosting partner, WPengine.

Optimize Sunny HQ4. Keep the database optimized

A database is a place where all your site content is stored. It includes blog posts, pages, images, videos, setting and much more. As your site grows, your database begins to get bloated, which in turn slow down the speed of your site.

If you want to improve the performance of your site, you need to optimize your database. With the help of WordPress plugins (such as WP-Optimize that will automatically optimize your database and clears records that are no longer required), you can optimize the database of your site and enhance its speed.

The WPBeginner team has a great article about how to keep your database clean.

Maintain content regularly Sunny-HQ

5. Cultivate your website content

It is super important to make sure you’re constantly refreshing your content and maintaining it.  Delete all unused pages and posts, remove content that’s no longer relevant and freshen up good content that is outdated. This will ensure your message is always on point and that content stays relevant.

An important note about content – content based on current events and recent happenings will always be an important part of the content strategy for most of you. However, you should also consider making Evergreen Content a significant part of your mix. For those of you that haven’e heard the term, evergreen content is content that never expires and is always relevant to the reader (the term come from evergreen trees which retain their leaves year round). Often times it involves teaching a reader how to solve a problem or how to do something. The following are examples of evergreen content:

  • Case studies
  • Top 10 ways to…
  • Instructional “how to” articles or videos
  • Encyclopedia-like articles

Evergreen content is usually a bigger investment in time and money, but if done well it can help you rank higher in search engines and potentially drive traffic for years.

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6. Actively manage your comments

If you allow comments on your posts, make sure to stay on top of them. Keep the queue clear and the trash empty. When emptying the trash, make sure to fully delete the unneeded comments.  Regarding the much despised spam comments, don’t slack off. Make sure you have a system in place to get rid of them on a regular basis. If you don’t, over time you’ll have a real problem on your hands. If your comments receive a large amount of spam, consider using a plugin like Akismet. With over five million installs, Akismet is one of the most popular and reliable spam comment filters and moderators. It checks your comments and contact form submissions against their global database of spam and filters out those that look like spam – potentially saving you tons of time.

7. Optimize your website for speed

A fast loading website is really important for SEO, visitor retention, conversion optimization…the list goes on. The only way to know how well your site is performing is to periodically run speed tests. Speed test applications not only report on how you site is performing, but give you insights into how you can improve on it. Some improvements need to be made by a WordPress programmer or someone with the technical know-how, but many non-technical changes can be made yourself without the help of a developer.

If you want to attract (and keep) more visitors, you need to provide them with fast loading pages. The speed of a site directly affects the ranking of your site in search engines. In fact, Google places a heavy emphasis on fast loading sites in determining search results rankings.

Luckily, there is Google’s PageSpeed Insights that offers a tool to grade your site’s load time, and then offers tips to improve it. You can install this tool and improve the performance of your site within a few clicks. This is a great tool for maintaining your WordPress website.

Run speed tests monthly or at a minimum quarterly. If you are having issues with your site speed, you want to identify and correct them as soon as possible.

In conclusion, you don’t have to be a pro to maintain your WordPress site like a pro.

Website maintenance includes time consuming, sometimes intimidating, critical tasks necessary to get the most out of your site. If you have the resources, it can be a smart move and a big relief to turn over the responsibility to a pro; however, anyone can maintain their site like a pro with the help of solid plugins/tools and by consistently following a maintenance schedule.

If you’d like to turn over your WordPress maintenance to a pro, check out our WordPress hosting and maintenance plans or give us a call.

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