One of the biggest misconceptions about websites is that once it’s live, it’s not a concern anymore. Sites require ongoing maintenance to make sure they’re secure and up to date. If you’re stumped on what dependable website maintenance looks like, here are the top nine actions we handle for our maintenance clients and what you need to do each month to keep your website sound.
Update WordPress Core When Available
If you have a WordPress website, you will need to keep up with its core updates. A new version of WordPress is released roughly once a month, and many of them contain essential security patches. It’s vital that you stay on top of those updates to make sure you aren’t leaving any holes in your site. The lack of core updates to WordPress is the #1 reason that websites get hacked.
How we do it: We handle core WordPress updates though ManageWP or the website’s backend. Once the core has been updated, we browse through the site to make sure all plugins work as they should. You can perform these updates manually if you’d prefer, either from the WordPress dashboard or by using FTP, but be sure to have a backup on hand before you start.
Update All WordPress Plugins Immediately
Similarly, most popular WordPress plugins are updated once or twice a month. While these often have security patches in them, they also have updates to make sure they work with the latest version of WordPress. If you update WordPress to the newest version but have a plugin that is a few versions old, you’re asking for trouble.
How we do it: We use ManageWP for all plugin updates. While this solution can be expensive, their Orion product is one of our favorites. If you don’t plan to use ManageWP, you can also update plugins manually through the backend of your website.
Monitor Your Site with Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is the only way that Google will ever notify you about a problem with your site. Make sure you register your site with them so you can be informed of any issues. We covered this in our Meetup a while back, and you can view the slides and video here.
How we do it: Go into Google Search Console and set it up for your site.
Get Daily Backups of Your Website
Your hosting company likely makes backups of your site, but you can never be too careful. We used to back up all of our client sites weekly, but now we back them all up 1-2 times every day. If something goes wrong, you need to be able to restore your site to a functional state quickly.
Perform Daily Malware Scans
Malware scanning is another area that we used to execute weekly, and now we do every day. While it’s quite rare to see an infection if you keep things secure and updated, it’s essential that you’re aware of issues as soon as possible so you can limit the damage.
How we do it: We used ManageWP and MalCare for our clients. Products such as Google Safe Browsing and Spamhaus have solid APIs available, so we use them to help power our private scanner. You can always run a quick scan through the Sucuri SiteCheck to see if they detect any issues.
Optimize Your Site’s Performance
We work through our client’s sites every day to make sure spam comments and excess post revisions have been removed, as well as ensure the database is optimized to help things run as smoothly as possible.
How we do it: Again, we handle these through ManageWP, but we also optimize further through Imagify, an image optimization plugin that compresses the size of your images and speeds up your website. Outside of that, you can clean spam posts from your site manually from the dashboard (and using Akismet to help), clean post revisions with a plugin such as Better Delete Revision, and optimize your database by following this tutorial using cPanel/phpMyAdmin.
Use 24/7 Monitoring Software and Tools
We keep 24/7 monitoring on every site, checking at five-minute intervals, so we can be the first to know of any problems. A website going down typically is due to a hiccup with the hosting company and is taken care of automatically, but it’s good to make sure you’re aware of what’s happening so you can take the proper action.
Monitor and Fix Broken Links On Your Website
Broken links on your website can hurt both your search engine rankings and site’s analytics. We use a broken link checker to scan our clients’ sites’ links on pages and posts, as well as monitor their indexed pages regularly. If there are any broken links or unresponsive pages, we will be notified and address each link or page accordingly.
How we do it: ManageWP just came out with a new tool for this, and it has been beneficial to use for our clients. There is a Broken Link Checker plugin that can be added to your site, but many hosts don’t allow those kinds of tools on their websites.
Clear Your Site’s Cache
Lastly, clearing the cache not only allows you to load the newest version of your current website, but it also removes the old elements from bogging down your site speed. Your site’s cache should be cleared every 6-24 hours, depending on the kind of website you have, and can be done either through plugins or a hard refresh.
As you can see, website maintenance can be a timely task, but it’s something you need to make time for. If you would rather have your site maintained by a professional team who knows how to make sure your site has no vulnerabilities or issues, we’d be happy to tell more about our maintenance plans and what they all include. Contact us today to learn more about your options!