Since it first became available in 2003, WordPress has been responsible for millions of websites. The popular content management system (CMS) – actually the most popular CMS – is virtually uncontested.
This is because WordPress is extremely accessible, and its potential is seemingly endless. The CMS has proven to be the perfect solution for solo entrepreneurs, SMBs, and Fortune 500 enterprises alike.
That said, WordPress isn’t a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it solution. You will have to do a certain amount of WordPress maintenance over time to ensure your website continues operating optimally.
4 WordPress Website Maintenance Tasks You Must Carry Out
Fortunately, WordPress website maintenance is just about as easy as you’d expect from this user-friendly CMS.
However, the important thing is that you actually do it. If your company’s website runs on this popular CMS, here are the four maintenance tasks you should be carrying out regularly to ensure its ongoing operation.
1. Always Update WordPress to Its Latest Version
Without a doubt, the easiest WordPress website maintenance task you can carry out on a regular basis is simply conducting necessary updates.
The most obvious reason for always updating WordPress is so you don’t miss out on any new features. Sure, sometimes these features are incredibly subtle, so much so that you may not even notice the update making much of a difference. Other times – as with the new WordPress 5.0 – the changes will be substantial.
By regularly updating your WordPress site, you’ll also have an easier time adjusting to these changes, as they’ll happen incrementally. If you wait too long, the changes may be dramatic enough that they affect how you’re able to use your site until you become caught up.
In fact, in some cases, companies have put off their updates for so long that they actually had to start over with a new site because, after enough updates have gone by, it can be nearly impossible without risking data loss.
Another extremely important reason not to put off this simple type of WordPress website maintenance is because it’s necessary for security purposes. Any time the company realizes that a hacker has successfully identified a vulnerability in its platform, it releases an update to solve the problem.
Until you update your site, it will remain vulnerable to hackers, so, though this task might seem relatively inconsequential, it’s actually one you should treat as a major priority. Your website and reputation are at stake.
2. Back Up Your Entire WordPress Site
For many of the reasons we just covered, another vital WordPress website maintenance task is to regularly back up your website.
While it’s unlikely to ever happen, you’d hate to lose your site because of some unexpected circumstance and have to start over from square one. That would truly be a worst-case-scenario. Just the cost of trying to get caught up to where your site once was should be enough to make any business owner take this task seriously.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to carry out this task on your own. Most hosting companies will offer this as a service or, if you hired someone to design your site, they should be able to help. There are also a number of WordPress plugins for backing up your site.
Before you begin downloading too many plugins, though, be sure to read the next maintenance tip.
3. Declutter Plugins and Deactivate (or Delete) Those You’re Not Using
One of the many reasons so many business owners have turned to WordPress is because of the countless plugins available for creating a customized, highly-functional website. With more than 50,000 WordPress plugins to choose from, it’s understandable that many people go through several before they find the exact one they want for their sites.
The problem with this is that most business owners don’t remember to go back and uninstall the ones they’re no longer using. As a result, plugins can easily become a major source of costly clutter that slows down your WordPress site. And Google ranks slow websites lower than fast ones.
They also all need to be updated, just like WordPress. Unfortunately, when you have a large number of plugins this can be a problem, especially because major vulnerabilities may be attributed to just one or two. For example, according to Sucuri, which looked at WordPress cyberattacks in 2016, just three plugins (TimThumb script, RevSlider, and GravityForms) were responsible for 25% of successful attacks because they were out of date.
Now, you can deactivate a plugin without risking the same fate. This way, the plugin is still available if you ever decide you want to try using it again.
However, at the very least, a regular part of your WordPress website maintenance list should be decluttering all the plugins you’ve installed.
4. Doublecheck That Your Forms Are Triggering Emails as Planned
Whether it’s for a lead magnet, your newsletter, or some other purpose, most companies’ websites feature forms that visitors can fill out with, among other things, their contact information. Yet again, there are many form plugins for WordPress, too.
They’re obviously very important assets for any companies using them. That’s why, if you’re one of them, it’s equally important that you regularly go back and doublecheck that these assets are working properly.
Unfortunately, sometimes, due to a misconfiguration issue with your WordPress hosting provider or email service provider (or both), you might find that your emails aren’t sending to recipients who have signed up to receive them.
Hopefully, you’d hear from one of these would-be recipients if that were to happen, but it’s not worth the risk to simply hope. Instead, manually test each one to ensure emails are being triggered as designed.
Turning WordPress Website Maintenance into a Priority
As you can see, carrying out regular WordPress website maintenance doesn’t need to be time-consuming, or even costly.
Just set yourself regular calendar reminders to audit your plugins, check your forms, etc. to break down your maintenance plan into easily-managed pieces.
Treating it as an ongoing priority will give you peace of mind knowing that both you and your visitors will enjoy a smooth-running, fully-operational website.