You’ve surrendered under the pressure to invest in a responsive website for your business – now what? A fantastic looking website is key to the success of your business, provided it is well-maintained at all times. Technology is always advancing, and software always updates to deliver the latest versions. Add to that the fact that your business information and marketing strategies are ever-evolving, and you may be faced with the daunting task – unless you’ve invested in a website maintenance package, of course – of keeping your site fully functional.
If your developer didn’t offer a maintenance package, or if you didn’t opt to take one, you can still ensure your site functions as it should with the tips below. Don’t let a lack of knowledge stand in the way of a healthy website. After all, in the cybersphere, your website is your ultimate salesperson.
Why Scheduled Website Maintenance is So Important
A change here and a tweak there can change the way something works on a different page of your site and sometimes you may just not know what needs your attention and what doesn’t. Some of the things that are important as part of regular maintenance, include ensuring that:
– Everything functions as it should. That means that the site displays properly across different devices and that all the links, forms, and other widgets deliver a user-friendly user experience.
– Information is current. Nothing is worse than being excited about a sale or an event and the site is drastically out of date when you arrive.
– The site is secure from hackers and other security breaches. Security software must be updated regularly, especially if it houses personal and financial data.
– It can easily be found by your potential target market. That means that it must meet the latest search engine optimization best practices.
In this post, we’ll check out some of essential website maintenance tasks you should perform on a regular basis to keep your site healthy. It applies directly to WordPress sites, but most of it will apply to other sites as well. These tasks are easy enough to tackle on your own, even if you have limited experience with WordPress.
11 Website Maintenance Tasks to Keep Your Site Healthy
1. The WordPress Core System
WordPress is the core of your site, and it is important to install all of the regular updates in order to keep hackers at bay. Your hosting company probably offers an auto-update option with the installation. If you’re a beginner, be sure to check the auto update box.
2. Security Check
Knowing what to look for is key to keeping your site security in tip top shape. This checkup should be done on a monthly basis, before backing up your site:
Use Sucuri to scan your site’s status. It will check whether your WordPress is using the latest (most secure) version, check blacklist status and scan for malware.
Google “site:yourdomain.com” to pull up most of your site’s indexed pages. Read the meta descriptions to ensure that your site was not injected with new spam meta descriptions.
Visit a decent amount of your site’s pages to make sure that they look as they should, with no unusual texts, and that links are pointed to the right pages.
If you’re using WordPress with Genesis or Elegant Themes, you obviously understand the importance of secure and well-coded theme. However, you can keep it secure by ensuring that you install all the updates when they become available.
4. Your Database
A database is much like your home, in the sense that it requires regular cleaning. Your database contains everything from themes to plugins and comments. WP-Sweep is a handy tool for keeping your site running smoothly, as it cleans up and organizes your database.
Don’t forget to always backup your database first!
WordPress offers close to 40, 000 plugins to add functionality and customization to your site. However, since anyone can develop a plugin, they may not always benefit your site. When choosing a plugin, ask yourself the following questions:
– Was it developed by a reputable company?
– Is it compatible with your version of WordPress?
– Do they offer support?
– How many active installs does it have?
Just as with keeping your website information current, it is important to keep your plugins up-to-date. You will receive notifications when they need to be updated, and you should delete any plugins that you are not currently using from your “installed plugins” folder. We recently wrote a couple of love letters to plugins on our blog, check them out:
6. Functionality Check
We mentioned user-experience earlier, and that’s where the importance of functionality comes in. When you review the functionality of your site, be focused, as it is easy to overlook small details that make a big difference. Let’s take a look at the important aspects:
7. Responsiveness Check
Test your site on a variety of devices to ensure that it displays and functions as it should. Browserstack.com can do quick test across multiple browsers and devices, but manual testing always gives that extra peace of mind. Of course, this job is much easier if you have a responsive site.
8. Navigation Test
Have you ever been on a site where you clicked on a navigation element, and it doesn’t work as it should? Perhaps it goes to the wrong page, or worse… nowhere! What do you do? You click away, of course, but you don’t want that to happen on your site, so be sure to check that it works as it should.
9. Forms Test
Forms plugins must be updated regularly, and you should test it once a month, and whenever you work on your site. If your forms don’t work, you may miss out on business. Check the forwarding address, too.
10. 404 Errors
Ever search for a page, just to be told: “Oops, the page you’re looking for can’t be found”? That has a negative effect on user experience, so you need to find such errors and fix them. You could use an SEO spider to fix this.
11. Page Speed Checkup
Google considers page load speed as an important factor in user-experience, and as such, in ranking. You can check your results on Google PageSpeed Insights, and use the following best practices for designing a fast website:
– Register with a hosting company that supports content delivery networks.
– Use a professional, well-coded theme.
– Optimize your images using smush.it!
– Test page speed before and after installing new plug-ins.
You see, it’s not that hard to maintain your site. These eleven tasks will ensure that your site works as it should, and it won’t even cost you any money – just a few hours a month. Don’t have the time or inclination? Invest in website maintenance services.