The topic of website maintenance is about as exciting as getting an oil change for your car. It’s not glamorous and definitely annoying to think about when you have 200 other tasks to complete in a day. Consequently it becomes something that gets put off time and time again, until one day (much like the car) your website breaks down on you. Your site is hacked, certain functions don’t work like they used to, or you lose all of your data and have to start from scratch.
If this is you, don’t panic! We’re all guilty of procrastinating tasks that don’t seem of high importance to us. If you’re looking for a little motivation as to why keeping up with your WordPress maintenance is important, here are 5 reasons to start revving up that engine.
WordPress is awesome for businesses of all sizes. It is flexible and user friendly because of the thousands of man-hours contributed by developers all over the World. It’s awesomeness however, makes WordPress also very susceptible to security breaches if not maintained properly. If you’re working with the open-sourced platform for your business’ website, be sure to check the following:
- Your WordPress version is kept up to date regularly (monthly if possible)
- Your usernames and passwords are secure (not ‘mydog2019’ – but something mixed with numbers, letters and special characters) and updated regularly
- You have a security alert plugin such as Wordfence installed in your site to alert of any suspicious activity (the basic Wordfence version is free and one we use for our own website).
2. Back Ups
Backing up your site simply means keeping a copy of your website’s files and database locally on your own device or cloud storage solution (such a dropbox). If you’re unsure of how often you should back up your website, think about how often you update or add new content or blog posts. If it’s every day, every week, or every month – choose a back up schedule that will be a strong fail-safe should your site need to be restored. Many hosting plans also offer auto-back up solutions for an additional monthly fee.
3. Google Rankings
Simply put, keeping your site up to date keeps google’s search engines happy. Even more, is staying up to date on google’s latest requirements for top ranking websites. In 2018 for instance, google began marking websites without an SSL certificate as “insecure”, ranking them lower than those with an SSL certificate. An easy way to know if you have an SSL certificate is by looking at your URL. SSL enabled sites begin with “https” (for “secure”) versus just http. If this is news to you, the better news is it’s an easy fix! You can easily purchase an SSL certificate through your host provider for a small annual fee and activate it on your WordPress site.
Most WordPress websites leverage some plugins to help with the heavy lifting and functionality of the website. Plugins may include contact forms, social media and marketing integrations, or e-commerce functions. These features on your website are developed by third parties, meaning every time WordPress makes an update, the plugin third party should be making one too (or at least every few updates to keep up). When your plugins are left without being updated, they can cause things to stop working on the front-end of your site, or worse, disappear all together.
Most recently we’ve seen arguably one of the largest WordPress updates to date – WordPress 5.0, commonly referenced as “Gutenberg”. With Gutenberg, the entire backend dashboard editor and experience has evolved like never before, creating issues with many existing WordPress websites built on the old platform (especially those that haven’t been updated in some time). To ensure your site is compatible with Gutenberg, make a full back up of your website before performing any live updates and test your site and its plugins locally to catch any issues ahead of time.
5. Maintaining site speed
In addition to updating your WordPress versions and plugins, it’s important to optimize and remove any un-used files in your database from time to time. This includes images and videos in your media library no longer in use as well as non-active plugins. Keeping your site running quickly is key for optimal user experience, especially in our mobile-first culture and less files means faster loader time.
Still not convinced into making maintenance a regular habit? Not sure how to get started? Shoot us an email, we love this stuff (oil changes, not so much).