Yesterday one of our clients called to say something had gone wonky with their website – right out of the blue and for no seemingly good reason.  Needless to say, there was panic and pandemonium.

It was a site that Bouzane Consulting had built a couple of years ago. It was a huge success and the client was more than thrilled with the results.  After launching, we spent some time training two of the employees. The emphasis was on how to use WordPress, publishing great content, and how to effectively maintain the website.  With everyone feeling comfortable and ready to take over the reins, our job was done and we stepped away.

Unfortunately, so did the client. 

What can happen When Other Priorities Take Over

We see this sort of thing happen all too often.  There is a tendency for website owners to ignore the advice about maintenance and things go by the way side. Life gets busy. Other priorities take over and before you know it, the website is left to run itself. 

Suddenly, unexpected things start happening! 

In a best case scenario, it might be a matter of updating or reinstalling a plugin or optimizing the database.

In a worst case scenario, the website may crash and need to be restored or recreated.

Website Maintenance

Ongoing maintenance is necessary for a healthy, long-lasting website

All websites require at least some level of maintenance to keep them secure and well-functioning. And, while it does require work, it doesn’t have to be complicated if you know what needs to be done and attend to it regularly.

 

After putting a lot of time and resources into creating your website, it just makes good sense to maintain it properly.  It allows you to spot issues early on, fix them, and make sure that your website remains operative and beneficial.

Website Maintenance should be a part of your ongoing Business Processes

Some Best Practices

  • The first thing is to establish a schedule for routine maintenance activities. Just as you maintain your appointment calendar for meetings and major tasks, set time aside for your website. Block those times on the calendar.
  • Create a list of tasks that need to be done at various intervals and follow it closely to ensure nothing is missed.
  • Always check the work activity and security logs to see if there is anything unusual or suspicious going on.
  • Visit your site frequently and check all of your pages to make sure each one is loading without errors.  While that seems simple, those visits are a great way to catch potential issues.
  • Run a backup and make sure a previous version of your site is stored offline
  • Make updates to website software and plugins.
  • Write blog posts fairly regularly to keep your community engaged.

Maintaining your website

  • Check the work activity and security logs to see if there is anything unusual or suspicious going on.
  • Moderate comments to approve if appropriate and reply if a response is needed. Reject and delete comments that are inappropriate. Delete all spam comments.
  • Write new content (blog posts) regularly to keep your community engaged.  Steer away from old school language and write for humans not robots.
  • Keep the visuals fresh.  Even the smallest change can make a difference.
  • Audit and improve your content. Every page should have a purpose and a clear call to action.  If your content is stale, inaccurate, outdated, repetitious, etc. you lose visitors. even the smallest change can be beneficial. It is prudent to conduct periodic content audits to make improvements. Essentially, your goal should be to remove ineffectual content, merge anything that is repetitious and add new relevant information frequently.
  • Check all of your pages to make sure each one is loading without errors.  While that seems simple, those visits are a great way to catch potential issues.
  • Check for broken links and 404 errors and fix accordingly.  Quite often websites and social media sites are abandoned or changed by the owners meaning the links on your site are no longer valid. Other times there may be glitches that cause the link to stop functioning. There is nothing more frustrating to visitors than hitting a link that doesn’t work or presents a 404 error (page not found). If visitors cannot find the information they are looking for, they quickly lose confidence in your website and move on.
  • Test key forms to make sure they are functioning properly.
  • Ensure your website remains responsive to all size screens and formats and on all browsers.
  • Optimize your site’s database.  The database is where all your website files and content are stored (data, theme and content settings, etc.). Overtime it can accumulate a lot of clutter such as post and page revisions, transients, spam comments, etc. We recommend you do a sweep at least once a month to get rid of all the junk that has accumulated. Before doing a sweep, make sure you backup your site.

Use a plugin that will help you with that!

We recommend WPSweep or WPOptimize.

Do a site backup before optimizing the database

  • Review users and accessibility rights. It is important to the security and functionality of your website that users are granted the appropriate level of accessibility to the back end of your website. Check the user list each month to ensure any new users are legitimate and have access rights that have been approved by you.
  • Change your WordPress Password.  All the security tips and tests in the world don’t matter if a malicious hacker gets their hands on your username and password.  For that reason it is essential that you change your WordPress administration password once every now and then (every six months or so).  This action combined with other tactics such as limited login attempts should protect your site from brute force attacks. 
  • Backup your site at least once a month (more frequently if you are continuously adding new content). The backup ensures the data is safely stored should your site become compromised. Restoring it from a backup means the cost will be much less than if you had to recreate the site.
  • Ensure all software is updated (WordPress core, plugins and theme). Your website is driven by core software, an overall theme and dozens of plugins that enhance the functionality. Developers are continuously updating software – sometimes for improvements; sometimes to fix bugs; sometimes to address a security issue. If you want to secure your website and keep it functioning, addressing updates promptly is essential. A good web hosting company will provide automatic updates as new versions are published.
  • Keep up with trends in design and technology. Our blog, Choosing a WordPress Theme, provides more information on what to look for when designing your website.

wpASTRA Best Theme

State-of-the-Art! We recommend the ASTRA theme

Recommended Web Hosting Companies

Bouzane Consulting is an affiliate of Bluehost and Siteground.
Discounted prices apply when you link to either company through this website.

More Advanced Maintenance Tasks

  • Audit all plugins.  While plugins increase or enhance the functionality of your site, they can be a potential drag on the performance of your site and can be vulnerable in terms of security.  Review your plugins periodically throughout the year to ensure you are using only those that are essential to the site.  Unnecessary plugins should be deactivated and deleted.
  • Change WordPress Salts and Security Keys.  WordPress Salts and Security keys are like extra passwords for your site.  They are a cryptographic tool that helps secure your WordPress site’s login. The basic concept of changing your salts and keys periodically is to make it harder for a malicious hacker to access the backend of your website.

Web Maintenance at Bouzane Consulting

When we build your site, we install the tools that will help you handle WordPress maintenance. However, you have to stay on top of things, stay conscious of the best practices and set aside time to do the work involved.

However, if you do not have the time and you need assistance with website maintenance, we can help with that.  At Bouzane Consulting we have an ongoing maintenance strategy that follows best practices. We have a thorough maintenance schedule and systematically go through a predetermined checklist to make sure nothing gets missed.  Our maintenance and content management packages include all the tasks noted above as well as more advanced activities that add further value and protection to your website.

Quick Checklist

  • Check work activity and scan security logs
  • Moderate comments
  • Delete spam comments
  • Write new content and keep visuals fresh
  • Improve existing content
  • Ensure no broken links or 404 errors
  • Test forms
  • Ensure pages and content are responsive
  • Optimize your database
  • Review Users and accessibility rights
  • Change your WordPress login password
  • Do a site backup and store copy offline
  • Update WordPress, plugins and themes to newest versions
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