You Need To Keep Your Site Maintained and Secure.
I recently got a new car because I lease, and my lease was up. The reason that I lease is that the hubs and I like a new car every few years because mechanics we are not. I can change the oil and the tires, but that's the extent of my car maintenance knowledge. So knowing I'm covered by warranty is essential in my book.
The best thing they ever did for cars was to add the maintenance reminder icons on the dashboard. Now I don't even have to think about when maintenance needs tending too. That's why we have WordPress support and maintenance plans offered here, to keep your site maintained.
To keep your car running like a well-oiled machine, you need regular maintenance. Your website is the same.
Each car I lease must have a maintenance plan. While I can change the oil, I'm not hip on rotating the tires and checking other fluids, gears, and such. I'm always afraid something will go wrong, or I'll miss something, so I leave it to the pros.
That happens to many WordPress owners; they are afraid to break the site when updated or adding to the site. So they do nothing. And so I become like emergency roadside help, getting a call to tow them out of a jam.
No need for that. We offer Back Pocket Support, but for the ultimate DIYer, here are seven things you can do right now.
1. Backup and Store Offline:
Backing up is like having insurance coverage on your car. If anything happens, your insurance kicks in to get you back on the road. But like insurance, all backups are not created equal. Backups are the first step to keep your site maintained.
To ensure you have the best-laid plan, you need to start with a good backup option. I recommend UpdraftPlus, but there are a lot of other great options available. With a program like Updraft, you can set backups to happen automatically.
Keep a schedule based on how much you update content. Here's a glimpse at mine:
Full site backup happens weekly or when changing your site, including running updates.
Database backup: daily with three backup versions available.
Manual backup: before any major updates or changes to my theme.
But backups themselves are not enough. You need to send those files to the cloud. Keeping the backup within WordPress on your server is like not having the backup at all. What if your host server crashes and you can't get access to anything. How would you be able to restore?
Sending your files to Dropbox, Amazon S3 or even Google Drive is simple with UpdraftPlus. You link your website up with your cloud account and tell Updraft to send your files once they are ready. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
2. Keep Out The Bad Guys:
Hackers are always searching for weaknesses in your site from outdated themes and plugins. They want access to your resources for free because who doesn't like free.
The number one reason sites get hacked is due to outdated plugins and themes. Because of vulnerabilities with these, hackers can easily plant destructive code. You should check your website for updates to plugins and themes.
While you're at it, take a look at the plugins that you are using on your site. Do you need them? Are they outdated? Were they created by someone reputable? Can a newer one take the place of several older ones?
3. Delete The Spam:
Spam comments are one of the most forgotten areas of your WordPress website. Before those comments have a chance to make it to your site, you need to stop them. There are several plugins available to combat spam, including Akismet, Antispam Bee, Anti-spam, or WP-SpamShield.
Depending on your website, you can receive hundreds of spam comments on any given day, which in turn created several entries in your database. Spam comments can cause you site speed to be slower. The more comments you have the more entries in your database. Keeping your database optimized is a great way to keep your site maintained.
Besides being annoying, there is no benefit to keeping spam comments around. Unless you're the spammer, of course, and one may slip through and give a backlink to your site.
4. Examine Your Frontend:
Your site is like your baby. You see it every day and are immune to things that aren't working or don't look right. It's a good idea to visit your site as a prospect or new visitor.
Start by opening a private browser. How do things look? Browse your site as a newbie would. Fill out the forms to make sure they are working. Click on buttons and links to see that they take you to the correct place. Open external links in new tabs or pages, so your user does not entirely abandon your site.
If you have a sidebar, is it overrun with widgets and fluff? It would be best if you made sure that all the elements of your website and pages contribute to your goals. Drop what you can that will cause a distraction.
And don't forget mobile devices. They have become a source of web browsing for many users.
5. Fix Broken Links:
Broken links cause 404 errors, which happen when a visitor or search engine bot goes looking for a page. It might not be a dealbreaker from Google's perspective; it does lead to poor user experience. You don't want to annoy your visitor.
It's easy to find dead links by checking your Google Webmaster account or a site like Dead Link Checker. Once you've found the broken links, you can fix them, replace them, or remove them.
To make sure your visitor hang around or find useful information, a custom 404 page will do the trick. A helpful 404 page will funnel visitors to things they may find valuable on your site.
6. Create Strong Passwords:
We know we need strong passwords, but that doesn't mean we always use them. I am surprised by how many clients come to me with the same password for every application.
While you need a secure password on your administrative account, it's just as important to insist on strong passwords for all users too. As much as your users might not like this, it's for their protection and yours.
7. Use SSL everywhere:
SSL certificates ensure that data transmitted from and to your site uses encryption. SSL encryption helps to keep your data secure, which means there's less chance it's spied on.
It would help if you used SSL on your site is you are collecting any data, including contact and opt-in forms. Many web hosts offer a free version of the certificate, so there is no reason why you can't have one. Plus, Google boosts ranking scores of those with SSL.
Another bonus is that when people see the little green lock in the browser, they tend to trust the site more. It's a small, subtle thing, but it's a thing none the less.
Wrapping It Up
It can be hard to stay on top of the maintenance of your WordPress site. These seven tips are the beginning to keep your WordPress site more secure and optimized.
If this list seems overwhelming to you, check out our maintenance programs. Whether you are looking for simple solutions or more support, we have an option for you.
So what do you think? Do you have any more tips to add or questions about keeping your site safe? Let me know in the comments below.