WordPress sites require ongoing maintenance and care. Learn how to keep your site updated and secure.
Software Updates – WordPress, Themes + Plugins
There are three areas of your site that will require updating — WordPress core, themes and plugins.
The frequency of updates depends on the developers of each piece of software and when they release a new version.
- Have a recent backup in case the update breaks your site in some way and you need to roll back
- Test your site to make sure everything still works properly and as expected
Log in to your site once a week and perform any updates or turn on auto-updates. Check out this comprehensive post on updating plugins, themes and WordPress.
Your web host may offer backups, but for additional peace of mind, set your own backups to be stored in a different place than where your website files live.
UpdraftPlus is a free plugin that allows you to take and schedule backups. Set both the file and database backups to occur at least weekly and keep at least 3 backups. Back up to Dropbox or Google Drive. Read more about using UpdraftPlus and watch a video on how to set this up.
Some hosts may not allow UpdraftPlus, so check with your host to determine what backup plugin can be used.
Once you set backups, they should be taken automatically. Check now and again to make sure the backups are running properly.
There are several ways to optimize your site on an ongoing basis.
Database optimization involves the cleanup of post revisions, trashed posts, spam comments, transients and orphaned data. Use Advanced Database Cleaner and schedule a database cleanup daily, weekly or monthly.
If you allow comments on your posts, try Antispam Bee or Akismet. Spam comments will be marked as such and then Advanced Database Cleaner (as described above) will actually remove those comments from your database permanently.
If your site doesn’t allow comments, use Disable Comments to block all comments.
A caching plugin may help speed up your site. WP Rocket (paid) or Autoptimize (free) are great choices. If your host recommends a specific caching plugin, you may want to try it as well.
- SG Optimizer for sites hosted on SiteGround
- Proxy Cache Purge on sites hosted with Pair Networks (managed WordPress hosting)
- LiteSpeed Cache for sites on a LiteSpeed server
An image optimization plugin also helps your site speed by compressing images. ShortPixel and WP Compress are great options.
There are a number steps you can take to secure your website such as limiting the number of administrator users and forcing users to have strong passwords. Plugins like Wordfence can help secure your site further and scan your site daily for issues.
Some hosts may not allow Wordfence, so check with your host to determine what (if any) security plugin can be used.
Services like UptimeRobot can alert you if your site is down for any reason. Get a text, email or Slack message when your site goes down so that you can investigate.
So far we’ve talked about maintenance from a back end perspective, but keeping your WordPress site up-to-date on the front end is just as important as keeping it up-to-date on the back end!
Here are a few tips for making sure your content is fresh:
- Check that your contact information is current
- Test your forms to make sure they are working properly
- Review your home page to make sure all information is correct
- Run a broken link check and fix any broken links you find
- Update any services or products that may have changed
- Add to your portfolio or blog
As part of my WordPress care plans, I include all of the above, plus:
- Access to premium plugins
- Time for tasks each month (such as helping you update your services, portfolio or blog)
- A detailed monthly report
- Google Search Console monitoring
- But mostly — peace of mind that if you have questions or something goes wrong, you have someone to contact
Maintaining your WordPress site isn’t difficult. By setting up the above and putting eyes on your site regularly, you’ll be way ahead of the game!