WordPress is fairly self-sufficient. Left to its own devices, it will give good service for years. But WordPress does benefit from a little attention now and then. If, like me, you’re a tinkerer and enjoy testing out new plugins, switching themes occasionally, and changing the way your site is organized, things are going to get a bit messy over time.
It’s a good idea to set aside an hour every month to run through a simple maintenance checklist.
I’m not including updating in the task list because you should be doing that as a matter of course. WordPress now does minor updates automatically in the background, but you should keep an eye out for manual updates. If it’s not up-to-date, your site is at risk from security vulnerabilities.
Checking For Broken Links
If you move content around, WordPress will usually handle the changes properly, but sometimes old links will end up pointing at nothing. Links to external sites can also be broken if webmasters at the other end make changes.
Too many 404 errors is bad for both users and SEO. Google doesn’t like sending its users to sites that are littered with broken links.
The Broken Link Checker plugin will go through the links in your posts, pages, and comments. If it finds broken links, it’ll send you an email or add them to a list in the admin panel.
Make Sure You’re Up-To-Speed
Google PageSpeed Insights is an excellent tool for ensuring that nothing is amiss. It will inform you of any speed degrading issues and tell you in general terms how to fix them.
Verify Your backups
For a site owner, there’s very little more disheartening than discovering that backups don’t work after a disaster. Backups should be verified regularly by carrying out a test restore.
You obviously can’t do this on your production site. I like to test my backups on a WordPress instance I set up purely for that purpose, either on a test installation at my web host or on a local WordPress instance running in MAMP or XAMPP.
Remove Unneeded Plugins
Plugins can slow a site down and they increase the surface area of potential security vulnerabilities. If you aren’t using the features a plugin provides, you should uninstall it.
Validate HTML And CSS
As I’ve said already, adding plugins and changing themes will alter the code that your site sends to browsers. Many issues will be invisible to users, but Google will see them. It’s not a huge deal to have code on your site that doesn’t validate — validators are very strict; Google and web browsers are quite forgiving, but it’s best to clear up any particularly egregious problems.
If you keep up with these tasks, you can be confident that your WordPress site will stay in tip-top condition.
About The Author
About Graeme Caldwell — Graeme works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, http://blog.nexcess.net/.