Congratulations! Your website is uploaded and live on the internet, your potential customers can browse your blog articles and products, and now you can stop worrying about the site for the next 2-3 years. Um…allow us to break your cheering party, but having launched your website does not mean you can just leave it unsupervised.
Any responsible webmaster (that’s you, the owner and administrator of your website) keeps checking the back-end, monitors user comments and performs regular maintenance operations. After all, your website is a part of your business and you continually improve it. Why would you leave one of your most valuable sales and marketing assets without proper care?
There are many things which may go wrong with a website. But even when it runs smoothly, you should still perform various preventive maintenance tasks. These are some of the tasks you should perform every month if you want to keep your website available for all visitors and operating as it should:
- Check for WordPress and Plugin Updates
Most websites are currently built on WordPress. This is an open source platform which continues to receive bug fixes and improvements. Once every few months a new version of WordPress is available, but this does not mean that you should not perform this check every month. Ideally, you should install this update as soon as it is launched because it certainly contains important security and functionality changes.
You should also check for updates for all the plugins installed on your website. An outdated plugin could become a backdoor for a hacker to compromise your website.
- Backup Data
Most hosting services do not offer automatic database updates. In this case, you should do that manually. Why is it so important? For example, if your website crashes for any reason, a recent database backup can be quickly uploaded to restore your site. If you did not perform any recent backups, you will have to re-upload your site, piece of content by piece of content.
- Remove Unused Media
Did you upload five product photos but only three are actually displayed on the website? The other two must go. Unused media (photos, audio and video files) bloat your website’s storage space and make it difficult for you to properly maintain it.
These files take up storage space which you could use to add a new product or a new website page. Plus, you could get a search engine confused when they browse the contents of your website.
- Check for and Remove Broken Links
Broken links are very upsetting both for visitors and for search engines. Visitors cannot access the content they wanted (they receive a 404 – Page Not Found message) and search engines cannot index your website properly, which in turn hurts your organic ranking. Since the search engines do not find the content which should be there, they will drop your website’s rankings.
There are many reasons why broken links occur:
- A typo in the link structure
- You moved a page to another location but you forgot to edit all links pointing to it
- You replaced a file (photo, audio, video) with another one with a different name
- You removed a plugin, but left links pointing to it in your website content
There are various online tools, some of them free, which will scan your entire website in a few minutes and indicate all broken links which need to be fixed.
- Check the Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a key tool for every webmaster: it offers recommendations and warnings every time something is wrong with your website. For example, if a shady competitor tries to point a large number of unrelated links to your website in order to downgrade your ranking, you will find out about this in the Google Search Console. If the robots.txt file is not properly configured to allow Google spiders to search and index your website, you will also be notified of this in the console.
Checking your website status in Google Search Console should be a routine operation for you. It will help you identify problems before they become disasters to your SEO and marketing efforts.
Finally, you should have a security plugin and monitor the messages and warnings it sends you about hacking attempts to your website. Certain vulnerabilities may require you to change your backend access password in order to prevent unauthorised access to your website database.