Just today I was meeting with two of our clients about their WordPress installations. I'm pretty vendor-agnostic about content management systems. WordPress's overall popularity has really helped it since most third-parties will integrate with it, and the themes and plugin ecosystem is as good as you can get. I've developed quite a few WordPress plugins, myself, to assist our clients and support the ecosystem.
That said, it's not without its issues, though. Because it's such a popular content management system, WordPress a primary target of hackers and spammers everywhere. And, because of its ease of use, it's quite easy to build a bloated installation that causes sites to grind to a halt. With performance being so critical nowadays to usability and search optimization, this doesn't bode well for many sites.
That said, it's great that there are folks like BigrockCoupon that have developed comprehensive infographics to help WordPress adminstrators. Their infographic, WordPress Website Maintenance Checklist, has over 50 essential tips and practices for website owners to schedule into their workflow to prevent issues.
Here's My WordPress Maintenance List
The infographic has quite a few more items, but if you cover these you're way ahead of your competitors! I also maintain a list of the best WordPress plugins that we've tested and implemented… be sure to bookmark it!
- Backup Your WordPress Database – Before you do anything with WordPress, make sure you have great backups that are kept offsite. This is why we use WordPress Managed Hosting with Flywheel. They have automated and manual backups with one-click restores. We never had to configure or enable anything… they were always there!
- Give WordPress a Checkup – Run your site through WP Checkup and you'll find a ton of things to clean up with your site. Not every issue is going to severely impact you – but every little optimization counts!
- Website Speed Audit – Utilize Google's PageSpeed Insights to analyze pages for speed issues.
- Check for Broken Links – Having used a number of online tools, I've never found anything better than Screaming Frog SEO Spider for crawling sites for broken links. The infographic recommends adding a plugin to do this, but that can degrade your performance and get you in a bit of trouble with your host.
- 301 Redirect for Broken Links – Outside of our clients hosted with WPEngine, which has its own redirection administration, all of our clients run the Redirection plugin.
- Upgrade WordPress, Themes, and Plugins to the Latest Version – This is just essential nowadays given the security issues. If you're one of those folks that are worried upgrading a plugin may break your site, you may want to look for a new plugin. All developers have the opportunity to test their themes and plugins on upcoming WordPress releases.
- Delete Spam Comments – I'd highly recommend getting Jetpack and subscribing to Akismet to assist with this.
- Delete Unused Themes, Images, and Active, Unused Plugins – Activated plugins add more code to your site when publishing. That overhead can really slow down your site so your best approach is to do without.
- Clear Versions and Trash – The smaller your database, the faster the queries to pull content. Be sure to clean page and post versions as well as deleted pages and posts regularly.
- Website Security Monitoring – Flywheel We're not big fans of security plugins, I'd recommend going with a great host instead. Their team stays on top of security without the performance overhead of a plugin.
- Optimise Database Tables – If you've installed quite a few themes and plugins, most of them leave data behind in your database. This can add to performance issues and increase load times since unused data may still be queried and loaded whether it is visible or not. The plugin listed is quite old, I'd recommend Advanced Database Cleaner.
- Images Optimization – Uncompressed images can severely impact the performance of your site. We love Kraken and its WordPress plugin for compressing our images.
- Check Email Opt-in and Contact Forms Functionality – Gravity Forms We once got a complaint from a prospective client that their newly launched site had forms but they hadn't received any leads. When we checked out the site, we found that the forms were dummy forms and anyone who may have contacted the company submitted but the data never went anywhere. Painful! We use it with EVERY client!
- Review Google Analytics – It's always surprising to our clients how few of their pages are actually indexed by search engines or even read by visitors. We especially appreciate User Flow, the report that shows how people are navigating through your site.
- Check Google Search Console – Analytics only shows you who actually arrived at your site. What about people who viewed your site in a search engine result? Well, Webmasters is the tool to see how Google views your site for health, stability, and in search results. Keep an eye on the errors data and try to correct them as they pop up.
- Update Your Content – In the writing of this post, I updated at least half a dozen posts that I was referencing to ensure they were kept up to date. You'll be surprised at issues on your site that arise – like links to external sites that no longer exist, images that may have problems, and just outdated content. Keep your content fresh so it's shared, indexed, and of value to your audience.
- Review Title & Meta Description tags – A great way to optimize your site for search engines is to install and configure the plugins. Titles will help your page get indexed properly for the content its revealing and meta descriptions will entice search engine users to click through on your listing result.