By Kayla Walters
Building a website on WordPress is a quick, easy, and fairly inexpensive way to start building your brand. It’s an attractive option for business owners because WordPress offers endless customization and automation that will help you sell services and products online.
However, just like a car, websites should be viewed as an investment, and they need frequent maintenance to keep them running smoothly and effectively. Websites that are not updated regularly can lead to broken parts, inaccessible content, and the worst-case scenario—security breaches that lead to hacked websites!
If you’re a DIY website owner and you want to keep your website safe, healthy, and secure, here are eight tips for giving your website the TLC it deserves.
Keep your website safe and secure
Update WordPress plugins & themes.
Keeping all the little add-ons (known in the WordPress world as “plugins”) that power your website up to date is the single most important task in maintaining your own website.
WordPress and its plugins are always being updated to provide you with tools to better create, market, and maintain your website, but these updates often have to be initiated by you. It’s as easy as clicking a button, but remember to back up your site first.
Manually back up your website.
Before you make any changes to your website, you’ll want to protect your precious work by making a copy of it in case anything goes wrong. Once you have a backup, you can easily restore content to your site if an update goes wrong and causes an error.
Most reputable website hosting companies offer daily backups of your site, but it’s never a bad idea to have a tangible, secondary backup just in case! I recommend using a free plugin like All-in-One WP Migration to easily create a backup and download it to your computer for safekeeping. I create manual backups of my own business website once a week and store the file in Google Drive so it’s always at my fingertips if I need it.
Change your WordPress login URL.
One simple change you can make to ensure your website is more secure is to change the login URL you use to access the back end of your website. By default, WordPress sets the login page URL to www.mywebsitename.ca/wp-login.php. Because everyone knows that, those URLs are easy targets for hackers.
Use a plugin like SiteGround Security or WPS Hide Login and change that “wp-login.php” URL to any phrase that’s easy for you to remember and unguessable by hackers!
Use a security plugin.
Why worry about all this security stuff on your own when you can install a plugin to do the hard stuff for you?
Plugins such as Wordfence or Sucuri monitor your site for vulnerabilities, inform you when site updates are needed, prevent brute force login attempts by hackers, and perform simple malware scans. Both plugins are completely free; they also have a paid upgrade that will give you even more security and in-depth scans of your site.
Keep your website healthy
Keep page content up to date.
Want to keep your website healthy and ranking as well as possible in search results? Keep the content on your website accurate, and update it as frequently as possible. If search engines recognize that your site isn’t being updated, it will hurt the rankings of all the pages on your site.
Keeping your site up to date could be as simple as sprucing up the wording on a page or adding a new blog post or a new photo to a gallery.
Review and fix broken links on your website.
Have you ever visited a website and noticed a link doesn’t work? Maybe an entire page is missing or an image isn’t showing? These are called broken links, and they can happen when you update plugins, change content, or clean up your media folder.
Unfortunately, these broken links can hurt your website’s SEO ranking, and we don’t want that! An easy way to monitor your website and fix broken links quickly is with a plugin like Broken Link Checker. This plugin will monitor your website and send you an email if it finds any links that need fixing. Easy peasy!
Optimize and clean up media gallery.
Are you constantly uploading new pictures to your site? Chances are you’re uploading full-resolution photos that are large files— especially if you’re uploading iPhone photos.
Large image files can slow down the loading speed of your website and lead to a decrease in your SEO ranking, as search engines penalize pages that take too long to load.
Before uploading a photo to your website, use a site like Image Resizer to compress your photos so they retain their quality, but their file size is much smaller.
Make sure you’re also cleaning up your media gallery and deleting any photos that aren’t being used any more. Your website will be much easier to back up when it’s smaller. This maintenance task also helps keep your website as small as possible—many hosting companies have a limit on how large your website can be.
Remove spam comments.
Do you allow comments on your blog posts or pages? If so, chances are you’re receiving a lot of spam comments. These can build up over time and add to the size of your website. Remind yourself to delete these at least once a month.
Want to prevent them entirely? Install a free plugin like Zero Spam to filter those pesky spam bots so you stop getting all those annoying emails.
Websites aren’t a set-and-forget marketing tool. They’re an ongoing investment that thrives with a bit of TLC. Set aside an hour once a month to perform these maintenance tasks, and your website will thank you. Add a recurring event in your calendar so you never forget to keep your site up to date!
Want to learn more about the plugins mentioned in this article? Head over to GoodCheerDesign.com/resources for a full list of these downloads and more information about how I can help you maintain your website with a monthly WordPress Maintenance Plan.
Kayla is the owner of Good Cheer Web Design, and she specializes in building handcrafted WordPress websites for women entrepreneurs and women-focused organizations across Canada. She’s been designing and maintaining websites for over fifteen years and loves working with women who are ready to automate, streamline, and scale their businesses online. And when she isn’t glued to her laptop, she loves exploring the city with her dog, Gus.