I believe it is important for my clients to gain sufficient understanding to successfully maintain their WordPress websites, at least for the non-technical actions that they may want to take, such as updating plugins, adding images, and checking the SEO of their website.
- It is extremely important to keep WordPress current, for security reasons, as well as for all the benefits of running the latest version of WordPress. Unless my client is using an outdated theme (which shouldn’t happen, if I’m working for my client) this is something that the client can do from the WordPress dashboard. To ensure that the process succeeds, it’s imperative to have a backup before performing the update, in case something goes wrong, which is rare, but good practice calls for measures to keep one’s website safe. Which leads to item 2…
- Backup is essential. Your WordPress installation may be hacked for any number of reasons, and your best defense, besides taking proper security precautions — this is one of my areas for work — is to be able to easily restore your site to a prior and clean condition. I recommend for my clients to pay a little extra to their hosting service to automate backup; this is a trivial cost and a huge help. I’ve used it to restore the Options database table when some crucial settings were inadvertently wiped. I also recommend a secondary backup that one can use to download a complete copy of one’s website, such as XCloner.
- Keep plugins updated. One of the most important vulnerability vectors for WordPress is outdated plugins that may contain weaknesses. It is easy to update plugins, and the client can read the details on each update before performing the install. However, if the plugin has received an extensive rewrite, or if there have been customized modifications of the plugin, or if the plugin has missed significant version upgrades, it may be better to ask me to do the update.
- Check your SEO. If your content or marketing strategy has changed significantly, it’s a great idea to run a free SEO website analyzer, such as SEO Site Checkup. Some of the recommendations may be things you can do yourself. More technical items might need my help for implementation. I can help with articulating strategy, such as finding the right language for your business content, selection of a solid theme that supports your business interests, speeding up page load times, and carrying out your marketing strategy. Here’s an example of an SEO report I created for a client. There are many more tools that you can learn to use and profit from, and I can provide guidance on how to use them. Remember that website SEO is only one part of your total SEO campaign, that may include advertising, social media, and value-added offerings, as well as content-tuning. No automatic instrument can take the place of a high quality SEO strategy.
- Optimize your images. A very significant part of SEO and for your visitors’ happiness is a quickly loading website. One major cause of slow-loading websites is unoptimized images. Most photographic and illustrative images are in JPG format, or “JPEG”, which offers many levels of compression. Images straight from your camera, or “high resolution” (high-res) images, are generally not suitable for placement on web pages. Fortunately, you don’t need to use Photoshop to optimize your images. Use free or low-cost software like JPEGmini or JPEG-Optimizer to reduce your image file sizes, and therefore speed up download of your images to a browser. If you are working with PNG images, then TinyPNG is a great tool.
These are a few important WordPress website maintenance activities that my clients learn about when they work with me.
WordPress Website Maintenance Plans
I’m also happy to offer maintenance plans for clients who can’t spare the time to do maintenance chores. Please contact me to learn more about my WordPress maintenance plans.