A fresh copy of a WordPress blog works so smoothly it seems it’s about to take off. Especially if you are already used to your own blog you have for months or maybe even years. Over time a WordPress blog grows bigger and becomes cluttered, which will slow it down. However, regular maintenance will keep your aged blog in a good condition.
Here are 7 simple maintenance tips to keep your blog “in shape”:
1. Backup Regularly and Keep More Than One Version
Recommended: Daily and Weekly.
Unexpected and bad things happen when you have your own site. This is not a vague possibility, it’s a certainty growing stronger the longer you stay “in business”. Even if you have a tiny blog and you only post once a month, more or less.
Since I have Adrian’s Hub from 2014, I changed three web hosting providers and was forced to use my backups more than once.
So, having regular backups is not optional, not a matter of preference, but the first safety and maintenance tip you should implement.
You should have daily backups if your hosting allows the option from cPanel (or using another tool for such a job). But that’s not enough. Let’s suppose your site gets corrupted and you only notice the day after it happens. Your daily backup will contain the corrupted version of the site, which is not useful to you.
That’s why you should also make weekly backups. I don’t recommend that you keep these backups on the server for two reasons: you can lose access to the backup if the server fails or gets hacked, and the second less important, it takes up space. If you lose access to the server, you may or may not recover your backup, depending on your hosting provider, but it will take time.
The backup should be saved on your local computer and, for safety, on the cloud (OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.). Additionally, never keep only the last backup, save at least three of the most recent ones, and always keep backups before and after major events (like changing your theme) longer.
2. Install Updates When They Are Released
Recommended: When They Are Announced in the Updates Menu.
You should install updates to your WordPress blog, the theme you use, the installed plugins and widgets, as they become available. The most important reason for this is to patch discovered and fixed security loopholes before they are used on your own site.
Then, it’s a way to keep your site up to date with recent mainstream technologies, as much as possible.
Sometimes the early decisions you took regarding your blog affect the way you can take these updates.
The most clear warning I want to give you is about the theme you use. I’m not going to enter into details about how to select a theme for your blog, because that might be a blog post by itself, but take into consideration these two elements:
1. a free theme can stop be developed at some point, leaving you with vulnerabilities, while in a premium theme you generally have direct access to the developer for support
2. if you want to customize your theme deeper than using the options available in your admin interface, don’t change theme’s files, because you’ll lose your modifications at the next theme update. You need to create a child theme first, only then customize it.
3. Only Keep the Plugins and Themes You Need
Recommended: Themes – Once and at Every Theme Change; Plugins – Monthly.
One of the reasons many WordPress blogs are cluttered and slow is their owners use too many, bad coded or resource demanding plugins. Plugins, just like the theme, need to be picked carefully, and anything in excess deactivated and uninstalled.
It is best to only have one theme installed (two if you have and we count a child theme). Everything else should be deleted because at best they use up space and contribute to the database clutter.
Don’t try out plugins and then forget them installed, or worse, activated! Only keep what you use. I have 15 plugins on my blog, 6 of them deactivated. I’m seriously considering 2 of them should be removed as I will unlikely use again.
Some plugins are very useful, but should only be activated when necessary, then deactivated. Here’s an example: P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) plugin helps you identify the load time of the WordPress core, your theme and every plugin. It can be a good indicator of the worth of a plugin. Is its added value worth its load time? Perhaps you were already on the verge whether to keep it or not.
4. Clean Up and Optimize WordPress Database
You’d be surprised how much garbage piles up in your WordPress database: spam, trash, drafts, revisions, and more. And yes, keeping them slows down WordPress.
And after you clean up the database you need to optimize it, because after significant changes to the database, it becomes slower.
If you know your way around the WordPress admin area you can do most of the clean up yourself. And from the phpMyAdmin tool, for example, you can optimize your database.
But, for simplicity, and for a number of extra options that would need more work, I recommend WP-Optimize plugin, which you should only activate once a week to do this maintenance job.
5. Optimize Images on Your Blog
Images represent the most utilized resource on many blogs. On my site, in the last 24 hours requests for images represented 50.3% of the total requests.
So, if images are not optimized on your blog, you might have a problem.
An easy to use and efficient tool to bulk optimize your blog images is WP Smush plugin. You don’t even have to activate and use it often. Once when you install it for the big impact, then once a month or even quarterly if you are blogging every once in a while.
6. Check Your Site for Broken Links. Creating Redirects.
Recommended: Depends on Activity, More Often For Active Sites.
Broken links on your site are bad for two reasons: the experience of users who click on them and the robots which try to crawl your site.
It would obviously be difficult for you to find these broken links by browsing your site. But there is a plugin called Broken Link Checker which can look up these broken links for you.
The plugin works by searching for broken links (including broken images and videos) in the background, but I don’t like it this way, because it will unavoidably slow down the admin area. I prefer launching it from time to time (as in, let’s say, monthly), and let it do it’s job, then deactivate it.
The broken links you can either delete, ignore or maybe create 301 redirects (permanent) for them.
One more thing here that has nothing to do with broken links but it has to do with SEO. If you decide to delete a page or a blog post (or change its permalink), create a 301 redirect for it. This way when someone tries to access the removed page, it will be redirected to the URL you desire. Same thing if you make the page or post private, except you should add a temporary redirect.
I prefer doing this from the
.htaccess file, but there are plugins to create redirects too.
7. Test Your Site as a Regular User
Recommended: Every Once in a While or When You Add/Remove Something (a plugin?) That May Affect the User Experience.
We as blog owners usually see our blogs while we are logged in as admins in WordPress. But sometimes errors are only visible to visitors, that’s why it’s important to make this exercise and browse your site without being logged in as admin.
It also pays to be attentive to your blog archive, banners and links that are displayed on the site. You might forget to update something that looks really bad at first impression. I know I have plenty I already noticed and haven’t taken care of yet.
I hope these simple maintenance tips are helpful to you. If they are or you’d like to share your own please use the comments below and let us know!