Much like a car, WordPress websites need regular servicing to ensure that they’re running efficiently, and to ensure they are working hard for the business both night and day.
Nevertheless – and we totally understand – a lot of small businesses are busy doing what they do best, and so their website isn’t always at the forefront of their minds; that is until it breaks!
Keeping your website well maintained is certainly a chore, especially if you’re not that techy, but it can help prevent downtime and the mad panic that follows trying and get it back up and running; which can also be a costly exercise if you have to get an expert involved!
Another benefit of keeping an eye on things is that a fully functioning website is not only good for your search engine ranking but it’s also important for the potential customer to be able to get to what they need quickly (without facing errors or broken links); both can have a beneficial effect on sales so it’s definitely worth investing the time in looking after your website.
What happens if you don’t maintain your website?
We see the effects of neglected websites daily; hacked websites, completely broken websites, payment gateways not working so customers can’t purchase items, broken links or missing images – even demo pages being shown to the public, reflecting badly on the organisation.
A website is a business asset, and should be treated as a valuable one, especially during times of social distancing when the online world is king.
How do you maintain a WordPress website?
Ok this is the most obvious one – you’ve probably seen all those plugin update notifications. They’re annoying, right? Or do you just ignore them completely?
Regularly updating the WordPress core, the themes and the plugins can help prevent security breaches – often updates include security patches to help keep the website safe from hackers.
More often than not, they include glitch fixes and fancy new features, and who doesn’t want shiny new things?
Delete unused plugins
This is something people often forget about, or they’re not sure if the plugin is being used or not and so avoid it. The plugins I see most often left inactive, just hanging about like a bad smell, are ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘Askimet’….do you have these on your website?
If it’s a deactivated plugin then it’s not in use and is just taking up space unnecessarily, and so unless you’re planning to reactivate it shortly it can be deleted. The same with themes that aren’t being used.
How to spot inactive themes and plugins
If you’ve had a website for a while, then it’s definitely worth checking for broken links, but don’t worry – there’s a plugin that will do it for you! We like ‘Broken link checker’ by WPMU DEV but there are other ones available.
This one makes it super easy to edit the broken link without having to track it down and you can say which areas of the site you want to check for broken links.
This is something that can be time consuming but worth it in the long-term. Take a look over the content on your website, starting with the pages that are most important, like the homepage, and check if all the information and data on the page is correct. For example, did you forget to change your business address on just one page? Have you left a team member’s details on who actually moved to new pastures eons ago?
Or is it just that you offer something completely different now but you forgot to update your services?
Another place to go through is your blogs. Google loves it when you review old blogs and ‘update them’ with new information – this could be redirecting the old post to a new updated version, or just updating the old one with correct information.
Check your SSL
An SSL certificate (or https) is the green padlock in the browser to say your site is secure. Sometimes things happen and it’s either not renewed or something on the page is stopping it working and so it will show your site as insecure.
If it’s not obvious by a massive warning stopping your website being displayed, it could be less obvious by the green padlock not showing up. If it’s the latter then try running it through whynopadlock.com to see what the issue is.
How to spot secure and insecure websites
Test contact forms and checkouts
Customers will probably tell you if something isn’t working, true, but regularly testing will stop these awkward moments; and the anxiety that sets in thinking about how many ‘potential customers’ you’ve lost if something hasn’t been working.
Sending yourself a test message via your contact form, testing your mailing list subscription form, or completing a test purchase from your shop, will quickly tell you if there’s a problem and will help you appreciate your customer’s journey through your website.
Hopefully you’ll have a security plugin on your website protecting all your data, and your users information…….if you haven’t then I strongly suggest you install one.
If you do have one, have you checked the settings recently? Is the plugin up to date? Does it have a ‘scan’ feature enabled so it will check the website for malware on a regular basis? Are the notifications going to the right person?
Are you passwords strong enough? Is it worth resetting them or setting up two factor authentication, if this feature is available?
An example of two factor authentication
Whilst checking your website security, it’s always worth checking your users to see if everyone with administrator, editor, author or contributor capabilities are people you want accessing your website’s dashboard. Did you accidentally leave on the team member, who left under a dark cloud, with full admin access? Or the previous web developer, perhaps?
It may be that they’re not the type of person to cause malicious damage but a. It’s against GDPR regulations to allow people access to any customer information that they do not need access to, and b. there is always the risk that they aren’t looking after their passwords safely and their user access is breached by a hacker.
Sometimes faults are missed – it happens! Especially if it’s on a page that’s not visited very often. It’s worth checking for faults regularly….the best time is just after you’ve completed some updates. Most faults are obvious as instead of the page you expect to see you, you’ll see lines of code instead – or something just won’t load at all.
The latter is very common with instagram feeds as they sometimes need to be ‘reconnected’ to the account.
And, the last thing to check is your page speed – is the site loading properly and quickly? Does your shop, portfolio or blog page take an age to show?
If it does load slowly, then it’s possible some of the images that you uploaded were a little bit big and the server is struggling to show them all at once. Plugins like ‘Smush it’ will resize and compress your images for you automatically to help with this.
If you need help with any of the above, feel free to contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help