Stop yourself right there if you think that a website is a “set it and forget it” kind of deal.
Creating and sustaining a WordPress website are two very different things.
When you’re building anything in the digital arena, it still needs to be maintained like a car in your driveway. WordPress website maintenance is often an administrative task that is overlooked by business owners (much to their detriment).
Your website is an intricate system of checks and balances that needs to be updated continuously. In other words, WordPress maintenance is essential to keep your message fresh and functioning and to maintain a professional image for your business.
Your best bet is to have an expert on hand to scrub and maintain your WordPress site, but it is also important to understand exactly what should be reorganized and checked. The following are a few places to start your WordPress maintenance mission:
WordPress Website Backup
Always back up everything. Even with anomalies like the cloud and open-source sharing, you are still at risk of losing massive amounts of data if anything happens to your WordPress site.
Before you perform any WordPress maintenance, your absolute very first step is to ensure you have a fresh backup version stored somewhere else. Any compromise of your data through hacking or other issues can be relieved with the duplicate site. As you continue to add data and content, it’s a good habit to backup your website regularly.
Make sure you always install the latest version of WordPress. Much like any open-source software, WordPress is continuously updating and improving its core structure. That means you need to stay abreast of these changes lest you have parts of your website become nonoperational.
If WordPress sends you an e-mail saying its changing a part of the core foundation, it’s best to look into exactly how that can affect your business set-up. (Chances are it may not have any effect at all).
WordPress Plug-In and Theme Updates
Every little accessory you add or “plug-in” to WordPress has to be maintained and updated continuously. A plug-in is a tool meant to increase functionality on your site, but if it is broken, it will actually do the opposite.
Much like any software program, coders write these plug-ins and update them often. If this happens and you are not aware of the update, the old version of the plug-in you have may stop working—or worse, mess with the operations of your site. A good practice is to check and update your plug-ins at least once a month to avoid this mess and a possible loss of business.
Additionally, you should make sure your theme files are updated. Your theme is the core design files of your WordPress site. Just like plug-ins, designers work on these codes and continuously update them, so if you are using an out-of-date theme, you might also lose functionality.
Since WordPress 3.7 was released, minor security and maintenance are applied automatically. Some people choose to remove these, but this would be working against yourself. Hackers love to infiltrate WordPress and they take their security very seriously. It’s important to understand the vulnerabilities to your site and the necessary precautions to protect your intellectual property.
Once you have updated all of your plug-ins, you should go through the back end and clean up any that you are no longer using. Although it may seem harmless, leaving those dead plug-ins around can actually affect the speed and function of the page.
Also, make sure to check all of the links that are displayed on the site to see that they are working properly. A dead link on WordPress is a surefire way to drive traffic away from your platform.
Lastly, cleaning out any spammy comments will help everything run smoother. WordPress can be inundated with advertising at times, so combing through the comments will ensure you aren’t spamming your site visitors.
Everyone is incredibly busy in this modern digital landscape and it can be tough to remember the simple gestures of housecleaning; however, the internet is a magnifying glass and your company sign is on the front door. People pay attention to everything.
The maintenance WordPress requires can be minimal as long as you stay on top of it. If you have broken links, spammy comments, or outdated tools on your site, people will be turned off immediately. Judgments happen swiftly in the digital realm so it’s better to be prepared than sorry. Security risks can cause nightmares and end up costing a lot to fix down the road if ignored.
At Carlson Communications, we pride ourselves in providing prompt, professional follow-up service on our clients’ websites. While some agencies focus solely on producing websites and, once a site is launched, moving on to the next client’s website, we prefer to establish long-term relationships with our clients to ensure that the investment in their website and internet marketing is a key component in their marketing campaigns.
If you have any questions on how WordPress maintenance can affect your bottom line, give us a call. We love to talk shop.