How to Maintain and Update Your WordPress Website or Blog

WordPress is a remarkable framework for making a site or blog. One caveat of a dynamic content management system is that every site needs regular support. The way to keeping up a WordPress site or blog is to develop a schedule to keep it as comprehensive yet simple as possible. Go to your calendar and pick a date or day of the month. Make an entry called “site maintenance” and give yourself 30 minutes. On the off chance that you already do this month to month, it ought not take that long. This is what you need to do during your “maintenance time”.

File backup.
You’ll want a backup of all the images and files you have uploaded. There’s several ways to do it, with lots of good information on the WordPress website. For most sites, for our sites, we set up an automatic weekly backup of your files. If you are not getting a weekly email, check with me.

Database backup.
I have database backups emailed weekly too; I just check my email to make sure the backup is there. (You can set a filter that moves each backup email into a storage folder automatically when it arrives in your inbox.)

Plugin updating.
When you see a number on your Dashboard next to the Plugin list, then there’s a plugin that needs to be updated. Plugin updating is easy, but it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the update may implement important security fixes. On the other hand, it might conflict with another plugin. It’s smart to check out the plugin home page before updating, to see what’s new and different, and see if anyone else has had any problems. If it looks ok, then update the plugin and choose “upgrade automatically”. This will deactivate the plugin, upload new code, and then activate again automatically.

WordPress updating.
WordPress also updates its software frequently. The process is similar to updating a plugin. Here’s what I do. I update all of my plugins first, and then I update WordPress. I don’t always update as soon as it alerts me because I want all of my plugins to be compatible. Otherwise they will “break” and I might need to find another plugin to do the same function that works with the upgraded WordPress. Make sure you have a recent backup before you upgrade your WordPress version.

Check for spam comments.
Easy: from your Dashboard, scroll down to Comments. Click on the Spam button and delete all. I don’t waste any time checking to see if any marked spam might be real, they are few and far between, and consist mainly of “Great post!” comments which don’t add value. Be sure to keep your spam blocker for Comments plugin active. I have used Akismet in the past, but its no longer a free option.

Check stats.
While traffic to your website fluctuates daily, over the course of weeks and months, your traffic should be relatively smooth. For most websites I try to install a Google Analytics plugin because it’s simple, effective and informative. You can check your stats from your Google account or right on your website. In addition to the traffic counts, you want to know which sites are referring users to your site and what keywords are users typing that bring them to your site. Make sure you incorporate those keywords into your posts and pages to bring more traffic to your site. If you have questions on this, let me know. You can also review my post called “How to Find Keywords for your WordPress Website”.

Check your links.
Sometimes, plugins can interact in strange ways with each other. You should check critical functionality any time you change the configuration of your site or blog, say, by installing a plugin. If you don’t check it after you install a plugin, then check it during this regular maintenance time. Make sure your links work. If you have a contact form, fill it out and send it to yourself. You should not have any problems, but you should make sure you don’t have any broken links. You know it’s frustrating when it happens to you on other sites, so try to keep yours up-to-date.

Reciprocal links.
Along with regular marketing strategies for your blog or website, don’t forget to ask for reciprocal links, commonly called link-backs, to grow your “mindshare”. For example, if you are a member of an organization and you put their logo and a link to their website on your website, make sure YOU are listed as a member on their website too. Same goes if you frequently recommend a product or service, and they recommend you, ask them to put your logo and a link to your site on their blog or website. It helps build traffic. Try to inventory your links and link-backs when you do this routine maintenance. Think to yourself, “Have I joined any clubs or organizations lately or do I regularly recommend another site where it might be beneficial to add them to my site and ask they add me in return?”.

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Maintaining Your WordPress Site

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