It’s not glamorous, profitable, or even particularly fun, but WordPress maintenance is an important part of your blogging strategy. Just as caring for your body gives you more energy and focus, regular maintenance helps your site operate at its best.
The 4 S’s of WordPress maintenance
Of course, the maintenance we’re talking about isn’t just cleaning up your dashboard notifications to eliminate those annoying reminders to upgrade this plugin or that theme. When you follow the detailed maintenance checklist below, it can have a measurable impact on the performance of your site.
With any type of development, there’s a tendency to add and tweak as you go. This is a good thing and helps a site (or app) grow with user feedback, and changing trends. But adding and tweaking can also make things a bit messy, which can ultimately impact the speed of your site.
For example, you might not realize that the new plugin you just installed has slowed down your site for visitors or that you’ve created a redirect on top of an existing redirect that now sends visitors through unnecessary page loads. While many of these things are discovered organically as you’re clicking around your site, many of them go unnoticed, silently impacting your site’s performance. Regular maintenance will help.
Security has been a big topic for us recently, and regular maintenance is an important part of keeping your site secure. Outdated plugins and extra administrator accounts can leave your site vulnerable to attack. Taking the time to review those is a great way to shore up your site and protect it.
Similarly, we strongly suggest automated backups, but technology can sometimes fail. Periodically checking to be sure those backups are running as expected ensures your site can be restored if something does go wrong.
Both speed and security impact your SEO rankings. Whether you’re actively working on SEO or simply focusing on quality content, it’s important to address these issues at their root so that the content you work so hard to create reaches more people!
(“The 3 S’s and 1 U of WordPress maintenance” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it.)
Finally, regular maintenance improves your reader’s user experience. How many times have you visited a page on your site only to realize that the information or links are outdated or irrelevant because of a change you made somewhere else? It happens to everyone! Making time to review your site at regular intervals lessens the impact those types of changes have on the user experience.
WordPress maintenance checklists
Hopefully we’ve convinced you of the importance of regular maintenance for your site! Now, take a few minutes to schedule the following tasks on your calendar, reminder app, or Trello boards. These checklists help simplify your maintenance tasks so all you have to do is walk through the list on your scheduled maintenance days, checking off each item as you go.
☐ Backup your site (don’t worry, you don’t need to actually do this every day; automate it with a plugin!)
☐ Run a one-time backup
☐ Update WordPress
☐ Update plugins
☐ Update theme
☐ Delete spam comments
☐ Empty trash (posts and comments)
☐ Delete older backups
☐ Run a one-time backup
☐ Clean the database with WP Sweep1
☐ Remove unnecessary plugins
☐ Review plugin settings
☐ Remove or downgrade unnecessary user accounts
☐ Delete outdated drafts
☐ Check for broken links
☐ Check Google’s Search Console
☐ Test your site on a variety of devices and browsers
☐ Click through sidebar links, static pages, social media links, etc
☐ Test email subscription form
☐ Test contact form(s)
Stepping through the checklist above will help keep your site running at its best, and your users coming back for more.
How do you approach WordPress maintenance?
Do you have scheduled tasks or reminders? What other tasks would you add to these lists?
With 10 years of experience as a professional blogger—and as a former Agathon hosting client herself—Mandi’s passionate about the good work Agathon does and sharing that message with more people.