I always say that having a website for your small business is like having another employee. If you hire a living, breathing person to work for you, you have to “maintain” them. In other words, you have to keep up with them, communicate with them, analyze their performance, give them resources and tips to improve their performance, and fill them in on new things happening with your business. Without consistent communication with your employee, they won’t turn out to be very helpful.
A website is the same thing.
You have to maintain your website, not only to make sure it performs well but to make sure it’s healthy and safe from hacks.
Here’s a list of items you can perform on a monthly basis to keep your WordPress website well maintained. No one has time to be working on their website each and every day, so maybe set one afternoon aside each month to perform these tasks.
If you have a WordPress website, you have plugins. When you log into your site, you probably see a number in a red circle beside the word “Plugins”, indicating your plugins are out of date. All you have to do to update them is go to your Plugins page, find the highlighted plugins, and click the link prompting you to update them. Done! In almost all cases, you won’t have to do any further work to update your plugins.
WordPress itself comes out with new versions all the time. Each version is an improvement on the one before. Many WordPress installs will update automatically. But you can always check for a new update by going to Dashboard > Updates after you log in to your WordPress site. If there is a new update for WordPress available, this page will prompt you to click the blue Update button.
Update Your Theme
Whether you have a free or Premium WordPress theme, you will need to update them in the same way as you updated WordPress. Again, sometimes they will update on their own but usually not. Go to Dashboard > Updates and check the Themes area of that pages. Sometimes you may see that a theme you aren’t using needs to be updated. Go ahead and update that theme. even if it’s inactive, it’s still coded on your host that is out of date and can be a point of weakness that a hacker would love.
Updating plugins, WordPress, and your theme is very easy. But if you want to make it even easier, I suggest ManageWp, where you can update ALL these things with a single click, all from one Dashboard. And it’s totally free!
Test Contact Forms
If you have any contact or inquiry forms on your site of any kind, it’s a good idea to test them once a month to make sure they are functioning properly. You’d hate to lose leads due to a form that isn’t working right or is sending submissions to the wrong email address. Simply send a quick test form to yourself and make sure you get it!
Update Promos and Deals
Chances are, you offer promotions and discounts sometimes to bring in new business. If you don’t, maybe consider it! A website is a great place to showcase any promos or sales you have going on. Many companies rely on a monthly rotation of promos so things are constantly changing and new offers are constantly being released.
Publish a Blog Post
If SEO is a focus for you, even if you just want to build some brand trust between you and potential buyers, blog posts are a great method. For SEO purposes, I personally suggest a post a week. But a post a month is fine if you’re busy or don’t feel like you have much to say. Your monthly website maintenance check is a great time to reflect on the past month and maybe answer a question you’ve been hearing a lot in a blog post. If you’re curious about how to write good posts, read this one about how to use content to build your brand.
Run a Malware Scan
Check with your hosting provider to see if they offer any malware scanning tools that find malicious code that could bring down your site. Siteground, for instance, has a daily tool that searches for errant code in your site, as does ManageWP as I mentioned earlier. If you run monthly scans starting in January, for example, if you find something amiss in April, you know that everything up until March was fine and you can know to go back to a backup from before April. Which leads me to…
Take a Backup
Both ManageWP and Siteground offer amazing backup tools. I prefer the one on ManageWP. You can choose monthly manual backups or pay for daily ones. If sometimes happens to your site, you only have to pick a date and press Restore. The program takes care of restoring the site to a healthy version for you. Daily is best, but you’re taking backups at least monthly, you’ll be able to restore your site if something goes wrong.
Things happen as you make changes to your site. Especially f you have more than one person who alters and edits content, mistakes can happen. Once a month, it’s a good idea to simply click through your site and make sure that all the links you have on the site go to the proper places. Or, you can simply use a free plugin! I recommend Broken Link Checker, which does exactly as the name suggests. It scans your pages, posts, comments, and custom fields and finds any links that don’t work, images that are missing that may have gotten deleted, and redirects that are not functioning properly.
Test Site Speed
There are lots of different factors that can affect site speed. You typically want your site to load in 3 seconds or under. It’s not enough to just visit your site and see how fast it loads. Because you visit your site more often than most visitors, you browser saves information about eth website to load it faster to you. The experience of new visitors may be different. My favorite tool for testing site speed accurately is called Pingdom. The Pingdom Website Speed Test is so easy to use; you just type in the URL of your site (you have the option to test from different places in the world) and hit Start Test. The tester will show you exactly how long it takes your site to load, as well as other, more detailed information about what exactly is causing your site to slow down.