WordPress Maintenance – 7 tasks that need to be performed regularly
The majority of the customers get a new website done, make it live and then simply forget about upkeep and maintenance. A website is just like a car (especially a database website or an E-commerce store).
Like your car, it needs regular updating so that it gives the best speed and performance, remains secure from hackers and confirm to the Google Web Vitals.
There are hosted platforms like Shopify that take care of all these aspects but they will bill you monthly for this service (It is included in the monthly payments you make to them).
In the case of a WordPress/Woo Commerce website, many clients can do the basic upkeep like updating the core plugins or updating a new WordPress version. It is perfectly fine and provided you take regular backups you can do such small tasks to update your website.
But there are certain tasks that can harm your website, can crash the database and distorts the working of the website if not done properly. Even a single plugin mismatch can hamper the working of your website.
The majority of the clients had never worked with WordPress, had no time to carry on such activities on their own and there are certain tasks that are beyond the capability of o regular WordPress user.
For these, you need a trained developer who knows what he is doing and who can upkeep your website so that there is hardly any downtime.
Here are a few important tasks that come under the expertise of a trained WordPress/WooCommerce developer. Without knowing what you are doing, you can do more harm to your website than the good. WordPress maintenance is not for the weak-hearted.
1. Update PHP versions
WordPress site work uses PHP themes/framework. The PHP team is constantly releasing updates to the language. In order for your website’s scripts and templates to work correctly, you need these new versions installed on your server.
This is an important task and if there mismatch between PHP version, theme or plugin files, the website can go down/crash thus needing many hours to make it live again either by re-install from a backup OR by finding the bug. So, this is a very crucial update and it often goes bad if not done by a trained developer.
2. WordPress core updates
WordPress is a popular content management system for blogs around the world, is continually updated by its core team to provide more security and stability in their software as well as adding exciting new features that you can use on your blog or website.
WordPress updates come every few weeks with new features and bug fixes. It is really important to keep your core files updated with the latest releases. Moreover, each release adds more functionality to the system and only a trained developer knows what can be done by the latest functionalities associated with each release.
3. Regular Backups, Theme and Plugins update
Did you know that WordPress Theme and Plugins updates are important? Keeping your site up to date will help avoid hackers, which in turn can save lots of time on repairs.
With more than 19 million users around the world- so it’s inevitable that someone has considered how best to break into these sites. Hackers take
advantage of vulnerabilities in code such as outdated themes and plugins. Updating them regularly gives everyone peace of mind.
Your WordPress developer will also take regular backup of your site. No doubt, there are free plugins that can do the task but a typical maintenance guy will make sure that the backup he just took is fit to be used in order to restore the site.
Many times, the backup is taken by the plugins that fail to restore back the website when needed.
4. Keeping the database in shape
Your WordPress website has two parts. The website that you see and the database that runs behind the website. It is the database that stores all the entries in the tables and it is very important to keep it in shape.
Keeping your SQL database in good shape requires a healthy balance between maintenance and patience.
There are many factors that can affect the performance but any immature or poorly written queries will be sure to make it even more challenging for things to work smoothly.
One way to deal with problematic databases is by performing regular backups (and making them available offline), tuning, monitoring resource utilization and upgrading packages.
Looks awful and hard to understand? It is not for everyone to mess with databases. So, makes sense to take the help of a trained developer.
5. Run performance tests to keep up a great speed
Run performance tests to maintain your WordPress website. A
well-performing site can attract more traffic and enhance the user experience.
Based on how much time your site takes to load is one of the important factors that Google considers in order to rank websites. A good score is that your website home page should load between 3-5 seconds.
Moreover, recently Google implemented Core Web Vitals which takes into consideration three important factors for an overall user experience.
A performance test will optimize your website. They will load fast, good for user experience and it adds a lot of value where a user is able to finish his shopping in no time and do a quick checkout if the page is super responsive.
6. Find 404 errors and fix broken links
404 simply means when a page is not found ( being deleted, taken off or URL changed). At the same time, we often change URLs or links and forget to update links within the website.
It often leads to a bad user experience when suddenly your visitor sees a “Sorry, 404 page not found….” warning.
At the same time, too many 404 errors and broken links mean your SEO efforts are doomed. It is very important that your sitemap (file submitted to Google for indexing) and the actual URLs of your site are perfectly in tune.
Many times clients change permalinks without knowing the repercussions. They simply alter the whole URL structure of the website.
So, regular maintenance will take care of all these issues.
7. Study server log files
So many times, clients have no knowledge that their website is under attack or had been hacked. They realise it when speed goes down, third party content starts displaying on their site and suddenly website links start taking people to spammy sites.
You will be penalized by Google for this, your ranking will be dropped and people will see a warning message to beware of your site as it may contain malware.
A trained maintenance guy will study the security and error log files in the server to keep an eye if there had been any attacks on the website, what are the backdoor loopholes that a hacker is trying to exploit and plug in to keep the website safe.
Hackers often add entries to the .htaccess file and it is very hard for a layman to understand what it means.
So, a WordPress maintenance guy will take care of these vulnerabilities.
To sum up, there are certain maintenance tasks that are a bit easy and anyone having a basic understanding of WordPress can do it. If not done in the right way, even a plugin update can crash your WordPress site.
Majority of the time and in order to keep your site updated you need to hire a maintenance professional so that tasks that run behind the site on your server can be taken care of.
Spending a few dollars on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis means your website is running on the latest files, it is optimized to perform better and your site is also safe from malware and hacking attempts. Read more about WordPress maintenance on WordPress.org