Today I wanted to start a series of posts designed to help you tweak and improve your wordpress websites.
But before we talk about changes that you make when you first build a website, lets talk about some things we need to think about for your websites that are already up and running.
WordPress maintenance really isn’t much work at all, thanks to its many inbuilt features. However, there are a few things you should do to keep it running as smoothly as possible.
1) Back Up
Just as with anything stored on your computer, it’s important to back up anything stored on the internet. This may not technically be a WordPress maintenance task, but it’ll make things a lot easier to put back together again should things go wrong.
Firstly, you should backup your database. This is the element of your website that stores the posts, pages and settings, but it doesn’t store your design and uploads. To back up this portion of the site you can automatically email the file to yourself using a WordPress plugin – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-db-backup/. This pretty much makes it a hands-free backup method.
Now you need to backup the files and the design. To do so, login to your website using FTP software or your cPanel file manager. Copy the whole of the “wp-content” folder to your machine and you’ll have everything saved that you need in the event of a problem.
2) Checking Plugins
Every time you install a WordPress update you’ll need to check that all of your plugins are still working. The newest version of WordPress means you can automatically update your plugin whenever there’s an update available – just follow the instructions from your dashboard.
Another thing you’ll want to do is deactivate and even delete the ones that your site isn’t using. All that these unused plugins do is slow down your site and take up disk space, so doing this can help improve the way it runs for your visitors and the search engines.
3) Updating WordPress
The latest versions of WordPress will now notify you when there’s a new update available. It’s important that you perform this number one WordPress maintenance task, as these updates often improve your blog’s security. Remember to always backup your blog before you update!
4) Check Your Links
If you link to other websites or affiliate products on your blog, make sure you take some time to check that the links are still working every now and again. Pages are changing on the internet all the time, so you don’t want your links to end up going nowhere. The Broken Link Checker plugin is an excellent, automatic tool for this purpose -http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/broken-link-checker/
5) Improving Security
If you haven’t taken extra measures to improve your site’s security already, then you may want to do so now. Change your password so it’s not the same as any other passwords you use, and switch the username away from “admin” (hackers know to use this default username!) You can also install plugins such as Secure WordPress to further boost security – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/secure-wordpress/
Now you can see that regular WordPress maintenance really needn’t take hours of time! There are tools and plugins available to help. Make sure you use them, because you’ll regret it should anything happen to your website!