Let’s begin with an analogy to best illustrate the importance of WordPress Maintenance and Security. Most of you have likely owned at least one vehicle in your lives. If you haven’t, lucky you, be glad you’ve never had to deal with … maintenance. What happens if your car breaks down? You can’t get where need to go. You very well may end up stranded on the side of the road 25 miles away from the nearest mechanic, needing to get towed to the shop where you’ll receive an expensive estimate that may be more expensive than the vehicle is even worth. Your WordPress website is very much like your personal vehicle. It will take your business to where it needs to be, but without proper maintenance and care, you could end up on the side of the virtual road. Staring at your competitors racing past, wondering what the heck you’re going to do.
Similar to your vehicle, your WordPress website requires continued maintenance to run properly, so it can continue to function and serve you and your clients without issue. Maintaining websites can be tedious and technical for most. So let me break down the areas you should be focusing on to keep your website running smoothly.
You don’t really appreciate the importance of having your website regularly backed up until disaster strikes. Website backups are essential for disaster recovery. While WordPress is a stable platform it is not infallible, especially if you’re not keeping up to date with your WordPress maintenance. Having a full backup of your WordPress website will prevent you from having to start from scratch in case your website goes down or gets hacked. While you can store these backups on in WordPress itself, it’s best to have a cloud backup plan in place. These backups are kept offsite so even if your website can’t be accessed, it’s never beyond recovery.
Next to backups, WordPress security are an important concern. The Internet has some pretty malicious people on there. Who, for whatever reason, think they have something to gain by hijacking your website, or inserting dubious code that’s sits waiting. This can make your life, and your customers’ lives a lot less pleasant. I always recommended to go with a WordPress managed host for your website. However if a managed host is out of your price range, plugins can be used to beef up security on your website. Either method you choose, adding an extra layer of security to WordPress is a great step towards protecting your business.
A big part of WordPress maintenance is keeping WordPress’s core software and its diverse array of plugins and themes updated. This is the best way to ensure your website continues to function smoothly. Developers regularly release updates and do so for many different reasons. When they detect that their software is vulnerable to malicious threats; when a WordPress core update breaks some aspect of their plugin functionality; or any other reason. Whatever the reason may be, WordPress updates are vital to the health of your website. If you regularly update your website, updates become easier to perform on an ongoing basis, making an extraordinary difference in how your website performs and functions. However, updating the software isn’t as easy as it sounds. With a website of any complexity, a plugin update can easily break your website if you aren’t careful. For example, sometimes updating a plugin makes it incompatible with another plugin causing a problem with your website. That’s why it’s necessary to have someone who knows what their doing, extra points if they’re the person who knows all the software in your website inside and out.
Regular malware scans help uncover any small issues so they can be fixed before becoming a big problem. Think of a malware scan as the check engine light in your car. Your car’s computer system detects a problem or irregularity and informs you there’s an issue. You take it to a mechanic for inspection and they either, a) tell you it’s no big deal and you’ve nothing to worry about, or b) confirm you have a problem and that you need to take care of it right away. Malware scans do the same thing. Performing regular scans is one of the key aspects of squashing website hacks before they spread.
Is that it for WordPress Maintenance?
Not really. The list above just covers the essential aspects of keeping your site working properly, however there’s still more things you should do to keep your website in excellent shape.
Uptime monitoring makes you the first to know when your website is offline. No hosting company has an uptime of 100% (it’s false advertising if they claim otherwise). Monitoring uptime ensures you get your website back up and running as fast as possible.
Broken Link Checking
When people click a link on a website, they expect it work. Having broken links on your site not only frustrates customers, it shows a lack of care and attention to your business. Regularly checking your site for broken links will eliminate issues, and could prevent your users from clicking away to your competitors.
Have you ever browsed a website and clicked a link that led nowhere? Of course you have, everyone has encountered a broken link at one time or another. It’s frustrating, and reflects a lack of care and attention to your business. Checking for broken links tells you if your website is linking out to URL’s that do not work, while detecting 404 errors tells you if someone is trying to access a URL on your website that no longer exists.
Security Audits / Site Hardening
Performing a security audit is a great way to discover underlying security flaws. Do you have an ‘admin’ user on the site? Do you have an SSL installed? Is your PHP version up to date? Addressing vulnerabilities (site hardening) will do a great deal for keeping your website secure for the long haul.
The above is a comprehensive list of what you should be implementing when it comes to WordPress maintenance and security. If any of this seems daunting — I don’t blame you. Luckily, I offer all these services so you don’t have to! Subscribing to my WordPress Maintenance Services will proactively prevent problems without you needing to do anything at all, saving you and your business time and money in the long run.