Launching a website is usually the result of many hours of planning, design, copywriting, photography, development, and testing. And even though it feels like the end of a big journey, it also marks the start of a new, almost never-ending activity: website maintenance.
It happens everywhere in life, to extend the life of something you own, you need to pay attention to it, keep it up to date, repair it when it is broken, and let it go when it is time to get a new one.
You buy a new car, and you already know there is a service coming up after a certain distance or time. If you buy a house, you will need to paint it, clean the aircon and mow your lawn regularly (every week if you live in the tropics!).
The fact that it is a brand-new website, doesn’t mean that it can be forgotten about or wait for a few years to have a look under the bonnet.
Quite the opposite. It is important to pay close attention, especially during the first few months, to make sure everything is running smoothly. And naturally having a maintenance plan in place is key to ensuring it lasts longer and avoids bigger issues in the future.
Website maintenance – tasks by frequency
The following task list has the intention of grouping some of the most common WordPress maintenance tasks according to their frequency.
However, depending on the scenario, any of these could happen more regularly.
For example, it might be important to check traffic and analytics information if a new advertising campaign is running or tune up the SEO if a new competitor appears or Google updates its search algorithm.
Daily website maintenance tasks
While you don’t want to be working on your website every day, particularly if you are not a web development agency, there are certain tasks that can happen behind the scenes that require no human intervention.
And perhaps the most critical one is backups.
Having daily backups is a key component and an enabler for any other maintenance task as it will allow you to roll back if something goes wrong or if your website has been hacked.
Similar to insurance cover, you won’t need a backup until something happens to you.
Some hosting providers include daily backups as part of the plan, while in some cases you might need to set up a plugin to enable this feature.
Weekly website maintenance tasks
Keeping your website up to date.
As websites become more open and interconnected with other platforms, keeping your WordPress site up to date has become even more essential. This includes updating themes, plugins, and the website core on a regular basis.
The main reasons to do this are:
There are more than 90K attacks per minute on WordPress. Having outdated versions increase the chance of being a victim of hackers.
- Access to the latest features.
Premium plugins and themes are constantly evolving and adding new features (or fixing bugs). As a user, you can take advantage of these new features.
Similarly, as the WordPress core evolves, plugins need to change and evolve at the same time. Updating themes and plugins regularly ensures your website won’t have many problems as time goes by.
Monthly website maintenance tasks
Performance and SEO check.
If your site is up to date, and it is backed up, you can relax knowing that the critical elements are taken care of.
But, as you update your website and technical elements change, it is easy for these to have a negative impact on performance.
Equally, as new content is added to the website and the search environment changes (Google rankings, reputation, competition, content, etc), it is critical to check and tweak any performance and SEO technical components.
Your website isn’t the only source of information, you can identify problems and opportunities using Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Every 6 months website maintenance tasks
Update forms and add new functionality.
Web forms are probably the easiest way to get quality leads on your website. And even though these don’t tend to change too often, it is important to check if these are optimised and working properly.
This includes checking recipients, auto-responders, email delivery, fields (including or removing), anti-spam features and entry management.
Naturally, depending on the number of leads you receive you might need to perform this more regularly.
Similarly, as your business evolves and your website is more grounded, you might want to consider adding new functions to your website: a new lead generation form, a quoting system, or online payments.
Annual website maintenance tasks
Full website check.
After one year of running your website, you will have enough data to understand users’ behaviour and new business needs.
Simultaneously, your website should have evolved and could have potentially develop problems.
These could be severe, such as an upgrade going wrong or as malware installed on your website. Or simply broken links or images not loading properly.
A full website audit will allow you to identify all issues and define a plan to fix them.
This includes fixing 404 errors and broken links (internal and external), 301 redirects, image compression, removing unused plugins and themes, deleting spam comments and form entries, removing old admin users and accounts, reviewing error logs, running a malware detector, deleting old backups, etc.
In most cases, if these tasks are executed routinely, it will become easier to evolve and extend the life of your website.
Annual checks will be almost effortless to execute if you have a daily, weekly, and monthly plan in place.
Neglecting maintenance isn’t wise. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about your car or your website.
And finally, if you watch enough YouTube videos, I am sure you will be able to change the oil of your car, but in most cases, it is easier and less expensive if you leave it to the experts.