In this Article, we Cover the Best Practices for Maintaining a Healthy WordPress Website
First on the agenda of best practices for maintaining a healthy WordPress website. If you own a WordPress website/blog chances are you’ve had to update plugins or even the core PHP framework during the course of your website’s life. If you haven’t done this yet please look into it right away because you could have a slew of problems brewing, or better yet give us a call to look at it for you. 702.904.4262
Updating WordPress Plugins
Updating plugins is a standard form of house cleaning for keeping your WordPress website healthy and live on the internet. However, before you get started updating there are a few things you need to know before pressing the ‘update’ button in the plugins settings of WordPress. Below is a list of items you’ll want to get familiar with.
Backing up Your Website Files
Before you start making any changes to WordPress, this includes but is not limited to updating plugins, adding plugins, updating WordPress database files, updating your PHP framework. Prior to doing any of this, you’ll want to make a full backup of your website. Website backup services should be provided by most website hosts; however, if your hosting provider doesn’t offer this service you may want to consider switching to a hosting company that offers. See our hosting plans for more information.
You can also do this yourself, however, doing so is contingent on the level of access you have to your website files. One thing you’ll want to check is if you have Cpanel access to your website files and database. This website UI (cPanel) makes it easy to do website backups and gives you a high level of control over your website assets. Again check with us for a cPanel with a backup solution.
For more information on backing up a website in cPanel, see this article. How to backup a WordPress website with Cpanel.
Backing up Your Website Database
I covered most of this in the last section but this is still very important when maintaining the integrity of your WordPress website. Arguably the most important thing when it comes to the information contained on your website.
As the database contains all the posts, sales, users — and just about anything else that makes your website worth something. Remember this—data is King of the web world. So make sure this bad boy is backed up and updated often.
I cover this more in the article I mentioned above.
How to backup a WordPress website with Cpanel.
This method, however, is often limited as you cannot do automatic backup scheduling through cPanel, so you’ll have to do this manually. The best way to schedule backups is through your hosting provider or WHM aka root access of your website server.
Keeping Your WordPress PHP Version Up To Date
Like backups, this will need to be done on a server level. It can be done either with cPanel or WHM. If you do not have access to these levels of your website. You will need to request this from your hosting provider. Please note, they may require a fee to do this update and it also may end up crashing your website, so be prepared with the backup and know how to reinstate your website to a previous version in the instance where the website goes down.
If you are not experienced with backups or moving website files for that matter, I would strongly recommend hiring a professional to help with this. Let me know if you need help—we do this all day.
I know this sounds scary, but malware is just something we have to deal with on the web. Literally the first day the web was started malware and scams started. They go hand in hand. With that said, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the malware and virus headaches.
Running consistent malware scans on your website with either a free or premium service is one of the best ways to stop malware and viruses before they start. There are a number of tools to use. For instance, we use a free solution on most websites as a basic measure and we have premium software for more advanced websites. The free service we use is called Wordfence.
Broken Link Maintenance
Broken links are a clear sign of an unhealthy website and will end up killing your website’s authority, integrity, and ultimately ranking on search engines. However, as you may know, checking broken links on your website can be a downright impossible task, especially if your website contains a lot of information.
For that reason, I recommend a plugin to detect broken links on a WordPress website. The plugin is called, fittingly, ‘Broken Link Checker‘ not very original but it does help keep your website healthy and thriving.
Thus far we’ve talked mainly about back of house, well, housekeeping. For good reason, because it is usually the stuff you can’t see that may kill. Now we’re going to take a little about aesthetic and content factors that may lead to an unhealthy website.
First on the agenda is spelling corrections on your website, however, like broken link checking this can be a difficult task for most website owners. But never fear another plugin is here! The plugin is called ‘WProofreader’. It checks your website for spelling errors in I believe 6 different languages, displaying the corrections in a popup as you type.
Another big factor, in addition to spelling that can hurt your website’s health, is grammar. The above plugin can also help with this, however, I have not tested this version. It’s a pro feature, meaning you would need to purchase the plugin. Here is the link if you’re interested in trying it out. ‘WProofreader Pro Plugin’. Again, I haven’t tried this version, so please let me know in the comments if you’ve happened to have tried it and what you thought of the plugin.
Website Image Health
Website images can cause some serious bloat on your website. This bloat can cause your website to slow down to a crawl. There are a few ways to tackle your website images’ bloat problem. First I would run a speed test or better yet, maybe three:
Now based on that speed test, the three-speed test tools will give a list of items to fix. I’m betting, unless you have an image optimization system in place, one of the first problems will be image optimization. You’re probably serving HUGE images.
Ways to Solve your Image Bloat
There are several ways to solve image bloat on your website. You can ‘a’ go through each image with a fine-tooth comb, pulling the image scaling it down, and then uploading the optimized images, not to mention image types.
Typical images we now see on websites are jpg, jpeg, or png, however, there are better digital formats that load faster than the before mention, including WebP which was developed by Google. This file example is compressed and optimized for digital use and renders faster in devices, most pressingly mobile devices, which are usually much slower than a hard-wired desktop when using cell data to surf the web.
Option ‘B’ is yet another plugin, and before you leave me an angry ‘anti plugin’ comment, I know plugins can cause bloat, but unless you have the wherewithal to execute this code on your own, you’ll need to stand on the shoulder of plugin developers who developed these codes for you. Here is a plugin that can optimize images. WPSmush. It will do a number of images for free and if you have more than the allotted free amount they have a premium version with more capability.
WordPress Page Caching
This another issue where a plugin is going to come into place. But first, what exactly is caching and how does it help your website health and speed. In short, website caching will speed up your website, leading to better performance and higher rankings in search engines (aka SEO).
That’s all for now, cheers. Join our mailing list for more helpful information about keeping your website top-notch.