I’ve been working online since 2008, helping other bloggers and website owners with their website maintenance. When I starting working with a new client I always wonder while I wait for my first login to give me access what I will find on the dashboard of my client’s WordPress site.
Some of the most common things I’ve seen…
- No system in place to backup their database or site – how lucky they have been to not have something happen
- Numerous plugins needing to be updated
- WordPress needs to be updated
- Their theme needing updates
- 15 different themes in their theme section
- 25,000+ spam comments not yet dealt with
- Upwards of 10 deactivated plugins not being used but still on their website
- Multiple plugins that are doing similar things
- Using admin as their username with a too simple password
Website Maintenance Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult or Time-Consuming
Setting up a few processes or hiring someone to manage your maintenance can solve a lot of these issues.
This article is going to cover what you need to know to maintain your own site or maybe it might encourage you to find someone to manage it for you. Either way, you’re in the right place if you want to protect your website and keep it running smoothly.
Why should you care about maintaining your website?
Think of this, you wouldn’t buy a car and then never take it in for an oil change, would you? Eventually, your vehicle will run out of oil and will stop working.
Owning a website is similar. Today, owing a website means you need to take care of it and keep it running smoothly. Doing this will make the search engines happier, likely keep your website running faster, and also help to protect you from getting hacked. A neglected website or one that isn’t maintained is open to being hacked, which is what you don’t want!
A high-quality web host makes your maintenance tasks easier
Yes, it’s true. When I first started working online in 2008 there weren’t as many web hosts to choose from, but the same goes for how many websites were online as well. Things were simpler then (ah the good ‘old days – sheesh enough of that). Choosing your web host in 2008 could be done by finding the least expensive service that offered the biggest bang for those few dollars.
Today, it’s a different story. There are many different website platforms – like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla – plus many more DIY website owners and here’s where the trouble comes. These DIY website owners get their website online, then only take care of the fun stuff. You know blogging, social media etc and don’t think about what else needs to managed behind the scenes. Often these website owners are choosing a website host based on a “big name guru” that’s promoting the web host service so they can make tens of thousands of dollars per month in commission, but the harsh reality many hardworking bloggers and website owners are left feeling blue because they signed up for a service that is sub-par.
Choosing a high-quality web host is the first step in building a website maintenance program that will work for you in the years to come.
What To Look for In a High-Quality Webhost
Since I work mostly with website owners that have WordPress websites, I always recommend a managed WordPress host is going to be your best choice. Having a managed WordPress website host means that your website site is usually a site that is safer from hackers, viruses & malware! The web host will often to manage WordPress core file updates, plugin updates, backups & a full host of performance & security improvements. I only recommend two website hosts: WP Engine & SiteGround. While I encourage clients to go with WP Engine, it is sometimes out of their budget initially so SiteGround is a great runner up.
A Website Maintenance Checklist – The Basics
Once you have a high-quality website host, there’s still things you’ll need to do to make sure your website is running smoothly and maintained. If you are using a managed WordPress website host you’ll still want to monitor things to make sure everything is being managed and maintained on your behalf. So whether you have someone managing this for you or you’re doing it yourself, here’s what you need to be doing to keep your website in tip-top shape.
Here’s a list of the core tasks you’ll want to make sure you are doing.
Website Backups, Stored Remotely & Done Regularly
It’s important to have a few versions of your backup stored off-site. You could save them to Google Drive, Amazon S3 or Dropbox. Many backup plugins offer these as options. What you don’t want to do is have your backups stored where your website is stored. This won’t help you if you’re site is hacked or you lose access to your website host. I sometimes recommend that my clients have copies of their backups sent to them via email. If you do, be sure to save them yourself and store them remotely – not just on your computer.
How often should you back up your site? It really depends on how often you make changes to your site. If you write a lot of blog posts then make sure your database is backed up regularly is super important, simply set an interval that makes sense for how often you’re posting. At a minimum, you should be backing up your whole site (database, themes, plugins etc) at least 1 time per month, but more is better in my opinion.
Recommended: Updraft Plus for managing your backups.
Regular updates of your WordPress Theme & Plugins
It’s important to monitor your website and make sure that your theme and plugins are kept update. Plugins that are not updated are one of the most common ways that your website can be hacked, so it’s super important to make sure that you keep them updated.
Always backup your site before you do any updates and if you’re able to do your updates using a staging server even better. Using a staging server to manage your updates first allow you to review the plugins and ensure that you’re not having any conflict issues with your plugins which may cause issues with your website.
Keep WordPress Core Up-To-Date
As important, if not more important keep your WordPress Core up-to-date as well. Websites that are running older versions of WordPress leave the door open to hackers to hack your site or insert malicious malware on your website.
Note: Sub-par web hosting can be a dangerous place to hang out, especially shared web hosting. When you’re on a shared plan with a sub-par host it’s really only a matter of time before you’re website will be hacked. This can happen when someone else’s website that is sharing the same web server space is not maintained and hacked it makes it easier to do the same to your website.
Ready to migrate away for your current host? Send me a message to ask about my website migration package. You can do that here
Happy with your host & just need someone to take care of your site? Learn about my Website Care Plans.
What Else Do You Need to Do to Keep Your Website Maintained?
There’s a lot of other things you could and should be doing to keep your website running smoothly this includes:
- Checking your site speed and correcting any issues. Using a service like GTMetrix and Google Page Speed can help you see how fast your site is running. If it’s slower than 3 seconds on load time then you’ll need to get the recommendations fixed.
- Test your forms on your website. Is your contact form or any other form working correctly and are you receiving the messages. Use a different email address than the one you have set up in the form to test (I created a free Gmail account just for this reason)
- Regularly remove any spam comments, form responses & user accounts that shouldn’t be registered on your site.
- Do a regular check for broken links and either fix or redirect. I use this to check my broken links
- Every Quarter Test the website to ensure that it looks and displays properly on the most popular browsers and mobile devices
I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I encourage you to download my Blog Maintenance Checklist it goes into my recommended weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly tasks you should do with your website.
So there you have it the basics of keeping your site maintaining. I hope you found this useful and helpful. Hit me up on Facebook if you have questions.