As a website owner, we’d bet you’ve poured your heart and soul into building your WordPress site.
From the very beginning to the launch, it’s a journey filled with creativity, lots of planning and plenty of hard work, all to make your vision a reality.
But have you ever wondered what happens after your website goes live? Many people think once their website is up and running, they can sit back and relax. Rest on their laurels, so to speak.
While we’re all for putting your feet up now and again, here’s the truth: To keep your WordPress website running smoothly and effectively, regular maintenance is crucial.
In this ultimate guide, we’re going to explore why it’s important to maintain a WordPress website and how to do it right.
Why is it Important to Maintain a WordPress Website?
It’s an open book that maintaining good health is crucial.
That’s why we brush our teeth to rescue our smiles from becoming a dumping ground for stray snacks, keep up with regular exercise, and catch enough shut-eye to steer clear of the whole ‘daytime zombie’ vibe.
Regular WordPress maintenance is just as important.
It ensures your website remains secure, functions smoothly and stays up-to-date with the latest features. Neglecting this upkeep can lead to security vulnerabilities, sluggish performance and potential disruptions in user experience.
Let’s look a little deeper at each, plus a few more.
Regularly maintaining your WordPress website is essential because it ensures that your website is secure. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t you wouldn’t leave your front door unlocked in a busy neighbourhood. In the digital world, failing to maintain your site’s security is like leaving that door wide open to potential threats and malicious actors.
And this happens. A lot.
In fact, in today’s digital landscape, cyber threats target a business’s cybersecurity infrastructure every 39 seconds, underlining the critical importance of security. When a security breach occurs, a cascade of bad things can happen. We’re talking about everything from comprising customer data to potential identity theft, unauthorized alterations or even erasure of website content.
And on top of all of this, your business’s reputation may take a hit, leading to a loss of income. To add to the complexity, there are the costs associated with the urgent need to repair your website.
Now, this isn’t meant to be alarming. We don’t want to scare you! Rather, it’s to emphasize that taking proactive steps to maintain your website’s security is not just a smart choice. It’s a necessity.
WordPress, specifically, is a popular platform (45 per cent of all websites on the Internet in 2023 use WordPress). As such, it’s a prime target for hackers who have nothing more productive to do with their free time.
By keeping your WordPress installation, themes and plugins up to date, you can minimize the risk of these security breaches and protect your website and its data.
When you log in to your WordPress admin dashboard, you’ll often see notifications about available updates. Look for a red circle with a number inside it, usually near the “Updates” tab on the left-hand menu. This indicates the number of available updates for your core installation, themes and plugins. The official WordPress website also typically publishes news and updates. Check the “News” section for announcements on new versions and features.
■ Performance Optimization
In addition to security, maintaining your WordPress website also helps to improve its performance. Regular updates to the core WordPress software, themes and plugins often include bug fixes and performance enhancements.
By staying up to date, you can ensure that your website runs smoothly and loads quickly. ‘Cause yup. Speed is the name of the game when it comes to websites. In fact, according to some recent stats, one in four visitors would leave a site that takes more than four seconds to load. That’s less time than it takes to swipe left on a dating app!
But equally important is making sure your website delivers a great user experience. If your website is difficult to navigate or lacks engaging content, visitors are more likely to bounce away, potentially leading to missed opportunities for conversions, engagement and brand loyalty.
Keeping your WordPress up to date ensures you are also compatible with the latest browsers and technologies, preventing display and functionality issues.
It may help to imagine your website is like a smartphone.
If you’ve ever had an app on your phone that suddenly starts acting weird or crashes, it’s a bit like that with your website.
Web browsers, like apps on your phone, change over time. If your website isn’t updated, it might not work properly with the new browsers or devices people use. And if that happens, they’re much more likely to exit your site without a second thought and head right on over to your competitor’s website that has been updated and gives them a better overall user experience.
Keeping your WordPress website in good shape is important in today’s online landscape. Search engines, like our friend Google, favour websites that stay fresh and offer top-notch content.
Let us break it down for you:
First off, search engines are all about giving folks the latest and greatest info. So, if your website’s regularly updated with new stuff, search engines see that as a big thumbs up. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, we’re active, we’ve got the latest info, check us out!’
And secondly, high-quality content is where it’s at. If you’re serving up awesome, well-researched and engaging content, it’s like a magnet for visitors. They stick around, and search engines notice that.
But it’s not just about impressing search engines. When you keep your website fresh and full of great content, you’re also doing wonders for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a bit like making your website a superstar in the search engine world. Fresh content is a crucial part of that because it keeps everyone happy – both visitors and search engine bots.
■ Website Backups and Recovery
Data loss. Hacking. Hardware failure.
Three scary words, we know. But it’s important to ensure you prepare for these and other worst-case scenarios that can (and do) happen. And so, backing up your WordPress site is a critical part of website maintenance.
Think of backups as a safety net. They create copies of your website’s content, databases and configuration settings at a specific point in time, ensuring that even if the worst happens, you can restore your site to a previous state.
So, don’t wait for the unexpected. Make website maintenance a priority and rest assured that you’re taking a proactive stance in the face of an ever-evolving digital landscape.
■ Better Analytics
Regular website maintenance can also help you integrate and maintain analytical tools to track your website’s performance, user behaviour, and other important metrics.
Imagine you own a cozy little bookstore. You know it’s essential to keep an eye on how well your store is doing. To have a good handle on how many books you’re selling, which genres are popular, and what days people visit the most.
This is a lot like what website owners need to do for their online space.
First things first, to make sure your bookstore is doing well, you count how many people come in, right? On your website, you need to know how many people visit and what they do. This is where website analytical tools come in.
And just as you want to know which bookshelves people browse the most in your store, website owners want to understand what pages visitors view the most. Are they reading blog posts, checking out product pages, or visiting the “About Us” section?
Next, imagine you have some books that are flying off the shelves and others that collect dust. On your website, you can use analytical tools to see which content or products are popular (bestsellers) and which are not (slow movers).
And these are all just for starters! Analytics can also help you optimize your website, spot trends and make smart business decisions.
By prioritizing website maintenance, you proactively navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape, ensuring the safety, efficiency and growth of your online space.
Tip: Check out this Beginner’s Guide to Web Analytics for more on the basics.
What are the Benefits of Properly Maintaining a WordPress Website?
So, we’ve covered why maintaining your WordPress website is important. But what are the benefits?
As it happens, you’re going to see a lot of similarities between the two, but there are some distinctions between them.
Let’s explore these similarities and differences in more detail to gain a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of properly maintaining a WordPress website.
■ SEO Benefits
One of the biggest advantages is improved SEO.
Search engines like Google consider website speed, security and user experience as important ranking factors.
By regularly maintaining your WordPress website, you can optimize these areas and improve your search engine rankings, driving more organic traffic to your site.
■ Enhanced Website Functionality
As new features and improvements are released, updating your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins allows you to take advantage of these enhancements and provide a better user experience for your visitors.
Whether it’s a new contact form plugin or a performance optimization tool, keeping your website up to date ensures that you are utilizing the latest and greatest tools available.
■ Disaster Recovery
We’re all familiar with the adage, ‘It’s good to be prepared for the unexpected.’ Surprisingly, though, we often leave the house without an umbrella when storm clouds loom or forget to pack snacks for our cranky toddlers during a day out.
And let’s be real: who wants fuzzy hair and public tantrums?
The same principle applies to your website. Being ready for the unexpected is crucial. You must prepare for unforeseen disasters – data breaches, server downtown, hacking attempts and server hardware failure – to strike.
We could go on and on (and on!) but we don’t want to keep you awake tonight.
Our point is this: in a world where digital presence is often as crucial as physical preparedness, safeguarding your website against these unforeseen disasters is not just a good practice – it’s a necessity.
By taking the time to prepare and maintain your online presence, you’re not only protecting your digital assets but also ensuring a smoother, more resilient, and reliable online experience for your visitors and customers.
■ Cost Savings
Preventative maintenance for your website is kind of like getting regular check-ups with a doctor. It involves routine tasks such as software updates, security checks, and performance optimizations to identify and address issues before they become critical.
One key advantage is its cost-effectiveness. By investing a little time and effort in preventive measures, you can avoid major problems down the road. Think of it as fixing a small leak in your roof before it turns into a costly ceiling replacement. In the context of websites, this means that spending resources on regular maintenance is considerably cheaper than dealing with extensive repairs or recovery efforts.
Neglecting essential tasks like updates, security patches, and content refreshment can also lead to your website becoming slow, susceptible to security breaches, and outdated in terms of both content and design. Ignoring these factors can result in a loss of visitors, customer trust, and ultimately, revenue.
What Things Need to be Updated and Managed in WordPress?
There are several components of a WordPress website that need to be regularly updated and managed.
Think of them as essential gears in a well-oiled machine, each requiring regular attention and care to ensure the entire system runs smoothly.
The “gears” include:
■ WordPress Plugins
Think of a WordPress plugin as a mini-app for your website. It’s like adding a new feature or function to your site without having to be a computer whiz. Plugins can do all sorts of cool things, like adding contact forms, social media buttons, or even helping your site load faster. They’re like puzzle pieces you snap onto your website to make it work better and do more stuff.
Now, picture this: when the app on your phone gets an update, it usually fixes bugs, makes it run smoother, or adds new features, right? Well, it’s the same idea with plugins. Updates for plugins usually do three big things:
- Security: They help keep your website safe from bad people who want to mess with it. It’s like locking your front door to keep your home safe.
- Performance: Updates can make your website work faster and better, like giving your car a tune-up to run like a champ.
- New Features: Sometimes, updates bring cool new stuff to your website, just like getting an upgrade on your phone to try out fun new apps.
■ WordPress Themes
Think of a WordPress theme as the “look and feel” of your website. It’s like choosing the outfit for your site. Just like you decide what colours, fonts and layouts your website will have, a theme does the same thing for your website.
Imagine you’re decorating a room. You pick out the paint colour, the curtains and the furniture to make the room look cozy, modern, or stylish, depending on your taste. In the same way, a WordPress theme helps you pick the colours, fonts and layout of your website.
For example, if you want your website to look like a sleek, professional magazine, you’d choose a theme that gives it that elegant appearance. Themes make it easy to change the style of your website without needing to be a design expert.
Why is it important to keep the theme updated?
Well, think of it like this: a WordPress theme is like the wardrobe of your website. Just as you change your clothes to stay in style and ensure they stay in good condition, your theme needs updates to keep your website looking sharp and functioning well. These updates are like getting your website a new, trendy outfit for each season.
Now, picture what happens when you don’t update your clothes.
They might go out of fashion (ARGH, the horror!), get worn out, or start to look a bit shabby.
Similarly, if you skip theme updates, your website might start to appear outdated, have compatibility issues with the latest web technology, or even become vulnerable to security threats. So, updating your theme is like giving your website a fresh, stylish look and ensuring it stays up to par with the ever-changing online world.
■ WordPress Core
Think of WordPress like a big, fancy cake, and the core is the most crucial part — the cake itself.
It’s the main ingredient that makes everything work. It includes all the essential stuff for creating and managing your website: the structure, the way you add and edit content, and the basic tools.
You can think of the WordPress core as the foundation of your website, like the sturdy base of a cake. Without it, your website wouldn’t exist. All those fancy decorations and flavours you add to the cake are like the themes, plugins and other customizations you can put on top of the WordPress core to make your site unique and interesting.
But without the core, there’d be no cake to decorate!
Keeping the WordPress core updated is crucial for your website’s health and security. Here’s why:
- Security Shields: The WordPress core updates often include patches and fixes to protect your website from sneaky online troublemakers. These updates help lock the virtual doors of your site to keep hackers out.
- Bug Busters: Bugs are like little errors or glitches in your website’s code. When you update the core, it’s like fixing those little imperfections that might slow down your site or mess things up. It’s like giving your car a tune-up to make it run smoothly.
- New Features: Imagine your favourite apps on your phone. They keep getting better with new features, right? The same goes for the WordPress core updates. They bring new and improved tools, making it easier to build and manage your website. It’s like getting a cool upgrade for your phone.
- Compatibility: The web is always changing, and the core updates help your site keep up. Just like you need the right keys to start your car, your website needs to work with the latest web standards and tools. Updating the core ensures everything fits together well.
■ WordPress Website Backups
Picture your website as a magnificent sandcastle on a sunny beach. You’ve invested a ton of time and effort into building it, and by now, you’ve got sand in your hair, places you didn’t even know existed, and a bit of a sunburn because you were so engrossed in creating your masterpiece that you forgot to reapply sunscreen.
But it was all worth it because your castle is a work of art.
It’s got soaring towers, charming drawbridges and a shimmering moat – all the bells and whistles that transform a mere pile of sand into a sandcastle. You’ve even added creative touches like foraged leaves for that extra touch of décor.
Now, a backup is like taking a bunch of photos of that sandcastle from different angles, so if pesky waves suddenly wash it away, you can easily rebuild it exactly as it was.
Without those backup photos of your sandcastle, you’d have to start from scratch, gathering sand grain by grain. That’s a ton of work and stress you can easily avoid with up-to-date backups! So, think of your backups as your trusty insurance policy for your digital creations, ensuring that the castles you’ve built with care can always be rebuilt, no matter what.
■ WordPress Page Speed Optimization
Updating your WordPress page speed optimization is like making sure your car runs smoothly.
When your website loads slowly, it’s like driving a car with a flat tire – frustrating and absolutely not fun.
People might leave your site before it even fully loads, and you lose visitors. In fact, every one second delay reduces user satisfaction by 16 per cent!
Plus, search engines like Google prefer websites that load quickly because it gives users a better experience. So, by keeping your website’s speed optimized, you make sure people stay, search engines like you more, and everything runs smoothly.
It’s a win-win-win.
■ WordPress Caching Updates
A WordPress caching update refers to the process of refreshing or clearing the cached data on your website. Caching, in simple terms, is like taking a snapshot of your website’s pages and storing them temporarily.
This snapshot helps your site load faster for visitors because it doesn’t need to generate the entire page from scratch every time someone opens it. Instead, it can quickly show the pre-saved snapshot, like flipping to a bookmarked page in a book.
Now, why is it important to update or clear the cache regularly? Think of it like this:
Imagine you have a recipe book, and you often bookmark your favourite recipes to find them quickly. Over time, you keep adding more bookmarks as you discover new favourites. But if you don’t remove old bookmarks when you’re sick of those recipes, your book becomes cluttered, and you might struggle to find the recipes you actually need.
The same goes for your website’s cache. As your site changes and updates, the old cached data might become outdated. If you don’t clear it, visitors might see the old version of your site, missing out on the new content or features. So, updating or clearing the cache is like removing old bookmarks from your recipe book, making sure your website always serves the latest and greatest content to your visitors. It’s essential for keeping your site up to date, fast and providing a great user experience.
Tip: Take some extra time to learn about how to clear your site’s cache.
■ Check for Broken Links
Checking for broken links in WordPress is crucial for maintaining a user-friendly and well-performing website. Broken links are links that no longer lead to the intended destination, resulting in the dreaded “404 Not Found” error.
Here’s why it’s important to spend some time checking for broken links:
User Experience: Broken links frustrate visitors and make your website appear unprofessional. When users encounter broken links, they may leave your site, leading to a higher bounce rate and lower engagement. “A broken link can cause problems for your site as well as your reputation,” explains GreenGeeks. We don’t want that for you – or for your website!
SEO Impact: Search engines like Google consider broken links as a negative signal. “Google has said that a site’s internal link structure is considered a critical ranking factor, which means that broken internal links can cause a site to miss out on search engine traffic,” explains 321 Web Marketing. In other words, they can harm your website’s search rankings and visibility. By regularly checking and fixing broken links, you can improve your site’s SEO performance.
Website Reputation: Broken links can damage your website’s reputation. If other websites link to your broken pages, it reflects poorly on your website and may discourage others from linking to you in the future.
Customer Trust: Having broken links undermines your credibility. Users may question the reliability of your information or products, leading to a loss of trust and potential customers.
To check for broken links in WordPress, you can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker. This plugin scans your website for broken links and notifies you so that you can fix or redirect them. Regularly running these checks and promptly addressing any broken links will help ensure a smooth user experience and maintain a positive online reputation.
■ Database Management
Effective database management in WordPress is truly essential for several reasons that directly impact your website’s success.
Firstly, let’s talk about performance. A streamlined, well-optimized database can work wonders! It significantly boosts your website’s performance by slashing those pesky load times and enhancing response times, making the user experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Now, onto the subject of security. It’s an absolute must! Keeping your WordPress and plugins up to date, clearing out any unused themes or plugins, and implementing solid security measures act as your website’s guardian against vulnerabilities and potential cyber-attacks. It’s like having a superhero cape for your site.
Speaking of growth, scalability matters. Managing your database efficiently means your website can handle growth and increased traffic without breaking a sweat. No slow-downs or crashes here, just smooth sailing even as your site expands.
Moreover, reliability is key. A well-maintained database significantly lowers the risk of data loss or corruption, ensuring your website stays as reliable as your favourite coffee shop opening at the crack of dawn, serving that perfect cup every time.
And guess what? Even Google gives a nod to a speedy site with its SEO rankings. SEO loves a fast-loading site. Optimizing your database not only improves load times but also elevates your search engine rankings. It’s like a secret booster for your website’s visibility!
To complete database management in WordPress, you need to follow these steps:
- Backup your database: Before making any changes, it’s essential to have a backup in case something goes wrong. You can use plugins like UpdraftPlus or manually export your database using phpMyAdmin.
- Optimize your database: Over time, your database may accumulate unnecessary data, slowing down your website. Use plugins like WP-Optimize or WP-Sweep to remove unused data, optimize tables and improve performance.
- Update WordPress core and plugins: Regularly updating WordPress core, themes and plugins ensures compatibility, security and performance improvements. Staying up to date reduces the risk of vulnerabilities and ensures smooth functioning.
- Remove unused plugins and themes: Unused plugins and themes take up space in your database. Get rid of them to reduce clutter and potential security risks.
- Clean up spam comments: Spam comments can increase the size of your database. Use plugins like Akismet or Antispam Bee to filter and delete spam comments regularly.
- Limit post revisions: WordPress stores revisions of your posts, which can bloat your database. Limit the number of revisions by adding the following line to your wp-config.php file: define(‘WP_POST_REVISIONS’, 3);.
- Monitor database performance: Use a plugin like Query Monitor to identify slow queries or performance bottlenecks. Optimize slow queries by adding indexes or rewriting inefficient queries.
- Secure your database: Protect your database by changing the default table prefix, regularly updating passwords, and using a security plugin like Wordfence or Sucuri.
Are There WordPress Management and Maintenance Services That Can Help?
If handling all the nitty-gritty tasks of maintaining your WordPress website feels like a tad bit too much on top of your already overwhelming schedule, fear not. There are WordPress management and maintenance services out there ready to lend a hand.
These services take on the tech stuff — updates, backups, security checks, and making your site run smoother. So, while they handle all that, you get to focus on what you do best.
When you’re on the hunt for a WordPress management and maintenance service, a few things are worth considering.
- Check their reputation, how much experience they have, and what customers say about them.
- Find a service that’s all about regular backups, keeping things secure and making your site perform at its best.
- Choose a service with proven top-notch customer support. It’s a must in case you ever need a hand or have questions.
How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a WordPress Website?
Maintaining a WordPress website can cost differently based on a few things.
To start, you gotta think about the web hosting expense. Good hosting usually asks for a monthly or yearly fee. Also, if you go for fancy-schmancy themes or plugins, buying and renewing licenses might add to the cost.
If you opt for a WordPress management and maintenance service, that’s another cost.
The price might change depending on what service level and features you want. But, keeping your site in good shape can actually save you money over time by avoiding security issues, site crashes, and…dare we say it…? Lost income.
The Importance of Ongoing Maintenance for a Thriving WordPress Website
In conclusion, maintaining a WordPress website is not optional but essential for its success.
Regular updates and management ensure security, improve performance, enhance user experience and boost search engine rankings. By monitoring website performance, managing content and considering professional WordPress management services, you can keep your website running smoothly and effectively.
Remember, proper maintenance does come with a cost, but it is an investment that pays off in the long run. By prioritizing ongoing maintenance, you can ensure your WordPress website thrives and continues to meet the needs of your audience.
So, don’t neglect the maintenance of your website. It’s the key to unlocking its full potential.