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August 16, 2021

What Every Business Should Know About WordPress Website Maintenance

A WordPress website isn’t something you can ‘set and forget’.

Even if you feel like you’ve put in a mammoth effort getting your website up and running, populated it with great content and visuals and are getting a good response to it, it is still an asset that needs constant maintenance and upgrading.

Just as a property needs ongoing TLC to hold its value, your website also needs continual attention so that it keeps delivering the goods.

If you want to discover how to maintain your website so that it keeps performing optimally for your business, this article is essential reading.

The four most important things to do in terms of website maintenance are to update WordPress Themes and Plugins, back up regularly, uninstall unnecessary plugins and themes and make sure your website is user-friendly.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail:

  1. Update WordPress Themes and Plugins regularly

It is imperative that you update your website as soon as new versions of WordPress are released.  Not only is it crucial from a site security perspective, but it’s also essential from a user experience point of view.  New features and bug fixes are added all the time in these updates and will lead to improvements in your website’s security, stability, navigation, visual appeal etc.

These updates are very simple to install and can be done directly from your dashboard.  Before you do so however, it’s advisable to backup your site first.

How to update your WordPress site:

When you log in, check next to ‘Updates’ to see if there are any current updates (it will be shown as a number) and click on the ‘Please Update Now’ button which will take you to the ‘WordPress Updates’ page.  All the information on any updates to your WordPress core, plugins and themes will be shown here and when you click on the ‘Update Now’ button, your website will update automatically.

  1. Uninstall plugins and themes that aren’t necessary

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering over a quarter of all websites.  It’s easy to set up, easy to use and offers exceptional functionality and its vast array of customisable plugins and themes make it incredibly versatile for both businesses and individuals to use.

But there’s a flipside to these thousands of options.  Because they’re free, easy to install, configure and use, it’s easy to accumulate too many of them.  And then we forget to uninstall the ones we don’t use.  The problem is, these add bulk to your code and can slow your site down.

There’s also the risk that a plugin or theme on your site is running outdated code because the author isn’t updating it regularly.  Rather keep your website clean, lean and operating efficiently by uninstalling unnecessary or superseded plugins and themes.

  1. Back-up your website regularly

Doing backups are a bit like flossing your teeth.  You know you should floss daily as the consequences can be severe, yet most of us aren’t particularly diligent about doing it.  It’s the same with backups.  Failure to back-up can be disastrous.

It is really, really important to back up your website regularly, particularly if yours is an e-commerce site where data is added every day.   And as mentioned previously, you need to back-up prior to installing any upgrades or making any significant changes.

How to backup your WordPress site:

You can either back up by installing a plugin from your WordPress dashboard or do it manually which will require some technical expertise.  If you go the plugin route, BackUpBuddy or Updraft WordPress plugins are both good ones.

Here’s how to back-up manually.  Remember, a complete backup includes website files and the website database.

  • Log in to your CPanel or WordPress Hosting Control panel.
  • Click on ’File Manager’.
  • Click on the ‘public-html’ folder. (This houses all your website files).
  • First click on ‘Select All’ and then click ’Compress’ to zip them into a single file.
  • Select the zipped file and press ‘Download’. You can then close the File Manager.
  • Go to your CPanel home, find the ‘Databases’ section and click on ‘phpMyAdmin’.
  • Select your database, then click ‘Export’. This should download your database to the hard drive on your local computer.
  1. Ensure your website is user-friendly

A top priority for any WordPress website owner is making sure it provides a good user experience.  The site needs to load quickly, be easy to navigate, be intuitive, responsive and importantly, be mobile-friendly.

Remember, Google has introduced a new holistic ‘Page Experience’ ranking factor which includes things like mobile friendliness, web safety, intrusive pop-ups, loading speeds and mobile-friendliness.

These are some of the things you should be doing:

  • Checking for broken links – both internal and external.
  • Checking your website speed. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is a good way to audit your site for unnecessary plugins, images that aren’t properly optimised, slow loading JavaScript etc.  A caching plugin like W3 Total Cache can also help optimise your website speed.
  • Checking mobile accessibility. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a good way of seeing how well your website is doing.

A few hours every month is all it takes to keep your WordPress website up to speed (pardon the pun!).   Yes, the system is very versatile and functional but a little effort on regular website maintenance will go a long way in ensuring your site is healthy, secure, attractive to visitors and that it sends the right signals to the search engines.

If search engine rankings are important to you, then search engine optimisation will be important to you.  And if you’re keen to learn some effective tools, tips, tricks and techniques that will boost your online visibility and have your website at the right place in Google, have a look at The SEO School.

The SEO School is a new modular online course which teaches participants the fundamentals of SEO (with lots of insider secrets too) and enables them to implement elements of SEO as they progress through the modules.  It was designed by experienced SEO specialist, Karen Dauncey and you can find out more at https://theseoschool.com.

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