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WordPress Maintenance Tasks to Perform Regularly

Updated on Nov 24, 2022

When you have a WordPress site, you must perform some maintenance tasks on a regular basis. Your goal is to make your website as unlikely to break as possible. A broken or slow website can quickly turn off visitors and potential customers. You will experience an increased bounce rate, which will result in lower search engine rankings and, potentially, a snowball effect of decreasing the traffic to your site. Avoid anything that could lead to a broken website.

Regular maintenance tasks will keep your WordPress site optimized and running at peak performance. In this post, we will discuss the most important WordPress maintenance tasks in detail.

This post includes:

Why Maintenance Tasks are Crucial

Many newcomers believe that building a website is a one-time task that requires a one-time investment of effort, time, and money. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Let's take a look at the components that go into creating a WordPress website.

  • WordPress Core CMS;
  • WordPress Web Hosting;
  • Plugins;
  • Themes;
  • Creator’s content.

The way these components interact determines whether you have created a great site or a bad one. Creating a website from an idea in your head is the beginning of running a successful website. The following critical step is maintenance.

To ensure that your site runs smoothly, all of the above components must be checked on a regular basis for any maintenance issues. If you have a busy website with a lot of traffic, you should check it more frequently. It is ideal for performing 4-5 site audits per year. If your website does not receive a lot of traffic, checking it twice a year should suffice.

The List of Maintenance Tasks

Manually Backup Your WordPress Site

Having a backup remotely stored in a location of your choice can prove life-saving. In case your website breaks or something accidentally gets deleted while you are making changes to your site, having a backup will ensure that you do not lose it completely.

You could accidentally delete an essential part of my site, and sometimes you may forget to renew the hosting of a website you don’t use too often, and all of it would cost you a lot of your time, money, and mostly the effort you had put in.

There are various plugins for WordPress that will automate this process for you. In case you are the forgetful kind, these tools will schedule spot-on backups for you. Some excellent plugins are:

  • Updraft Plus;
  • VaultPress (Jetpack Backup);
  • WordPress Maintenance Tasks;

However, you should not rely solely on the plugins. You must run the plugin manually every now and then to create a manual backup. Plugins frequently become out of date and cease to function automatically. This could result in the loss of your entire website. As a result, it is best to run a backup manually every now and then.

You should also think about investing in better web hosting plans that include a remote location backup option. Many web host providers provide reliable backup solutions to alleviate your concerns.

Update Your WordPress Files

WordPress releases CMS updates on a regular basis, which update all of the core files that you may be running. All files and folders in the central WordPress installation will be affected by the upgrade process. This includes all of the core files that are required to run WordPress. If you make any changes to those files, your changes will be lost.

When WordPress releases a new update, you will be notified via your admin dashboard. WordPress has its own one-click install feature, which is the simplest way to update WordPress. If for some reason, this does not work, you can manually update WordPress.

You've probably seen the "Briefly Unavailable" error message several times while trying to open a website. This is not an error message but rather a WordPress notification page. This occurs when your update installation fails, and your website remains in maintenance mode due to an error.

Usually, when an update is installed, this message is briefly displayed as WordPress turn on maintenance mode for your website for a few seconds. Once the installation is complete, WordPress will automatically delete the maintenance file to disable maintenance mode. However, sometimes due to a slow hosting server response or low memory issue, the update script will timeout, thus interrupting the process. When this happens, WordPress does not get a chance to take your site out of maintenance mode.

This error can be solved very quickly by simply deleting the .maintenance file from your site’s root folder using an FTP client such as FileZilla or the cPanel File Manager.

Optimize the WordPress Database

If you've been using WordPress for a while, you've probably accumulated a lot of junk in your database that needs to be removed as soon as possible. Post revisions, spam comments, trash, transient options, orphaned metadata, and so on are examples of junk. This useless data will increase the size of your database, which will increase the size of your website backup. This has an immediate impact on your upload, download, and restore times.

Cleaning up this unwanted data reduces the size of your WordPress database, allowing for faster backups, easier restoration, and improved database performance. To make this process easier, you can use any plugin. Many plugins allow you to configure and optimize your data with a single click.

WP-Optimize is an excellent plugin designed specifically for this purpose. The plugin was created by the Updraft Plus team. It also allows you to reduce the size of your images.

Unnecessarily large images consume a significant amount of space in your database. This can assist you in freeing up more disk space.

Reset Passwords

The primary access point to your website is the login page. The first line of defense against unauthorized access is password protection. You must create a unique and strong password. A strong password is made up of alphabets, numbers, and special characters.

It is best not to use alphabets and numbers in any specific order, but you must keep it memorable so that you do not write it down. Despite the use of a strong password, hackers may be able to gain access to the website.

Make it a practice to keep changing your passwords regularly. You can reset all your passwords once every six months. It includes the login credentials of your WordPress Admin and database, SSH and FTP accounts.

To keep a strong password, you can follow these rules:

  • Include numbers, capitals, special characters (@, #, *, etc.)
  • Ten characters – minimum (50 characters – ideal)
  • Can include spaces and be a passphrase (just don’t use the same password in multiple places)
  • Change passwords every 120 days, or 4 months if possible (still better to have a strong password for longer than changing regularly a relatively weak password).

Fix 404 Errors

Simply put, when a user visits a website and lands on a page that does not exist, the website displays an error message, 404 error not found. The most common reaction your target audience will have is to leave the website and look for an alternative.

A potential customer was turned off by the 404 error on your website, but why does this happen? It most commonly occurs when a visitor types an incorrect URL or lands on a page that is not currently created on your website but has some rudimentary link that leads to it. It's also possible that there was a page that no longer exists but has a dead link floating around the internet.

You can address this by either showing the visitor a personalized message or redirecting them to a relevant page on your website. Using a plugin is an easy way to create a redirect link to these missing posts and pages. You can use Redirection, a popular WordPress redirect manager. This free plugin quickly and easily creates and manages redirects without the need for Apache or Nginx knowledge. You can use Redirection to redirect any URL if your WordPress supports permalinks.

Inspect all WordPress Forms

Many website owners underestimate the value of contact forms and other forms they place on their sites to interact with their visitors. Many times, the forms are not working properly and are not sending responses to the configured email address. This should not lead you to believe that you have low form engagement. Perhaps something is wrong and you simply need to fix it.

You must test your forms and manually send a message to ensure that it is delivered to the configured email address. If the message is not being delivered to your email, you must reconfigure your web hosting's email with the forms.

You can also optimize your forms to improve performance by rejecting spam and preventing users from sending incorrect data through forms. This will greatly help you by filtering the responses you receive. You can add data validation and a human check field to your forms, such as captcha codes, reCaptcha, and so on.

Review Comments for Spam

Spam comments are the most vexing to deal with. To keep your comment section clean and relatable for your audience, go through and delete every idiotic comment. Many people visit your comment section and leave spam on their products, pages, videos, and so on. According to Akismet statistics, the number of spam comments generated in one month is 6,208 times that of legitimate comments. This means that WordPress will be bombarded by 487 billion spammers.

If you don't keep your posts free of spam comments, your search engine rankings will suffer. Akismet is a powerful tool that can prevent 99% of spam comments from appearing. It will keep spam out of your comment moderation queue automatically.

You may notice that the plugin occasionally places legitimate comments in the spam section. As a result, it is prudent to manually review the comments for spam on a regular basis. However, if you receive thousands of comments, you can use the batch delete all spam comments feature.

If you've had your WordPress website for a while, you might notice that some of the outbound links to other websites, pages, and posts that you put on your website no longer work. This could be because those other websites and pages no longer exist or have moved to a different address entirely.

You may also include broken images, incorrectly formatted links, or misspell your own links. These broken links typically display a not found error, resulting in an inconvenient user experience. It significantly raises the bounce rate, affecting your search engine rankings.

Make fixing all broken links a part of your maintenance routine. You can use SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console to find broken links and mend them.

Optimize Your Images for WordPress

The majority of your site's weight is made up of images. Typically, people upload images without optimizing them for their blog's dimensions and size. The image will be reduced to the dimensions of your blog when displayed, but it will still take up more space in the database. As a result, before uploading your images to your website, you must optimize them.

This will help you lose weight and speed up your page load time. Visitors are also turned off by slow-loading images. The WP-Optimize plugin allows you to optimize and reduce the size of your images for WordPress.

Run Performance Tests Regularly

Many developers only run performance tests after they have finished building the website. Website owners rarely run performance tests on their sites as time passes and other activities take up more space.

Make checking your website for performance issues a part of your maintenance routine. We have repeatedly stated that faster-loading websites not only improve user experience but also improves search engine rankings. As a result, make sure to run performance tests on a regular basis. Check performance not only for your homepage but also for pages that receive the most traffic or engagement.

Conclusion

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of why it is critical to perform regular maintenance tasks on your WordPress website. A site that performs better, loads faster and has no broken links is essential for providing a satisfying user experience. If your website is performing well, it will improve your search engine rankings.

Create a website maintenance routine and follow these steps to keep your site running at peak performance.

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