By Princess Jones
If you power your small business website with WordPress, you’re in good company. It’s one of the most popular website platforms out there. It’s versatile, allowing you to use it for online retail stores, blogs, landing pages, and many other purposes.
But as useful as WordPress is, it also requires you to maintain your installation quite regularly. Often, the website disasters we hear about could have been prevented with regular maintenance. Here are some monthly tasks to keep your small business’ WordPress website running smoothly.
Security is the biggest concern for your small business website. If your website isn’t secure, nothing else matters. Often, your security risks come in the form of outdated themes, plugins, and WordPress installations in your website. Although we’re talking about monthly website checks, updates are really a daily task. Sometimes users complain about keeping up with the updates for websites, but they really only take a moment to complete. Besides, visiting your site every day should be a part of your routine. If you don’t, you may not realize it’s been compromised before your customers do.
Backups are another major factor in the security of your website. If something terrible happens to your website, you can always take it back to the last backup to get it up and running. If you don’t have a backup, you’re screwed. Consider using an automatic backup, which you may find in your hosting plan or in a third-party plugin. Keep at least three backups on hand. They should spaced out over significant amounts of time. For best results, keep copies in a local location and a cloud based storage system.
Your WordPress website is a living, breathing thing that is often growing and evolving. You may try on themes for a week and then no longer need them. Plugins run their course of usefulness. Files that were absolutely necessary for one iteration of your site are now just dead weight. The bigger your site, the harder it is to keep it loading quickly.
Unnecessary files can become security risks. Recently, one of my Facebook groups of entrepreneurs were talking about a rogue plugin that had been causing trouble with nearly 100,000 sites. It used to be a good tool for creating different types of posts — video, quote, text, etc. But that plugin hasn’t be necessary for years because the basic WordPress installation now includes those features. If the website owners had been ditching old or unnecessary plugins every month, they wouldn’t have to worry about that rogue plugin at all.
To avoid this, make it a point go over your website each month and ditch any dead weight. Uninstall any plugins or themes that you don’t need any more. Make sure that any unnecessary data in your database are gone. Consider using a plugin like WP-Sweep for help with that.
Ideally, your small business website should be a balance of form and function. If you don’t have the function part down, you’re not doing your customer base any favors. For instance, there’s nothing more frustrating than navigating to a restaurant’s website to check their menu, only to find that the link to the menu doesn’t work. Small things matter.
To check for functionality, just take a little tour around the front end of your WordPress site each month. Click all of the links to make sure they go where they should. Test the forms and verify that they send the information to the correct places. Does your pop-up plugin work the way you intended it to? How fast is your site moving? Are all of your images showing properly?
For best results, have several people do this on different devices and/or different web browsers. At the very least, make sure you’re logged out of your website and/or you’re using the incognito mode on your browser.