Your WordPress website is like your car, it gets you from point A to B. It’s littered with tons of moving parts that just works flawlessly with each other in perfect cohesion. You know what else is similar to your car? Your business website, that’s right! Your website. Your WordPress website is your online car that drives lead, calls and customers into your business. It is also filled with tons of moving parts from your hosting to your theme and plugins.
That said, the same TLC (Tender Loving Care) you gave to your car, your website also needs. When you transmission or engine light comes on, the car is notifying you that it needs attention. When your WordPress plugins section has a little orange bubble next to it, it is doing the same thing. Notifying you of an update.
By now you can probably guess where this is going. When you stop maintaining your website just like your car, after a while it starts to deteriorate, it works against you by breaking down and costing you more money to fix than it was to maintain it in the first place. Now all of this can be avoided by putting measures in place to keep on top of your website.
What happens if I don’t have a website maintenance plan?
When you stop maintaining your website or don’t have a maintenance plan in place, many issues start to occur.
- Increase Security Risk
- Slows down your website
- Increase in link errors across website
- May impact your SEO
Another common issue that we see with clients that come on board is that, business owners like yourself try to manage their business and their website at the same time. This is:
- Difficult if you don’t know what you are doing.
- Time consuming as you may lack the expertise
- Very dangerous as you can break the website
Here is a ten point checklist that you can get started with today that can help you regain future time and also get a grip on your website, tremendously reducing the risk of a breakage or hack. Feel free to jump to the section that might most interest you using the quick listing below.
- Tip 1 – Backups to your website
- Tip 2 – Website Errors
- Tip 3 – Frequent Software Updates
- Tip 4 – Broken Links
- Tip 5 – Website Speed
- Tip 6 – Web Forms
- Tip 7 – Site Maps
- Tip 8 – Analytics & Conversions
- Tip 9 – Content Readability
- Tip 10 – Website Audits
Tip 1 – Backups to your Website
We can’t stress this enough, in fact, it’s one of the first things we do when a client comes on board with one of our maintenance plans. Your website files and database should be backed up automatically on at least a weekly basis. Why automatic? Well it’s it automated you don’t need to spend time doing it, just set it up and watch it run. This gives you time to focus on more important business task. Take it a step further, restore your backups at least once every six months. This ensures your backups are actually valid. Wouldn’t want a situation where your backups are useless! On top of that, you should also store backups off site or in a cloud system.
Tip 2 – Website Errors
The last thing you want as a business owner is to have a website that is working against you. To make sure this doesn’t happen, keep on top of any errors that may occur by checking your Google Search Console. Of course, we had to take this further, in one of our maintenance plans we include an AI that connects to your Google Analytics and Google Search console and provides you with actionable tips.
Tip 3 – Frequent Software Updates
With all of the moving parts in a website like WordPress, you want to keep the system up to date always. Why? Well these updates don’t only sometimes add more features, but they also help fix bugs, improve performance issues and compatibility issues. You want to apply updates for plugins (especially external ones) and security patches.
IMPORTANT: Never update your website without completely backing up your website first. If an update goes wrong, this backup is your saviour especially if your website if a high traffic one.
Once you have updated, be sure to clear any cache and check the functionality of the updated plugins to ensure that they are working as expected.
Tip 4 – Broken Links
The web is alive, links are changing and websites are being updated every second. If you are linking to external sources, you want to make sure that you execute a link checker to crawl through your website site and search for any broken links. Broken links can reduce your reduce search engine rankings and they also provide a bad user experience for your users. We offer this in our Maintenance Plans but you can use a free tool such as Online Website Link Checker to ensure your website is free of these bad links.
Tip 5 – Site Speed
It has been proven over and over that website speed is related to your conversion rate and that every second counts. Slow pages are frowned upon (yes including search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing) and often lead to high bounce rates. We do performance checks for all of our websites to stay on top of speed. You can do the same by using Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools or GTmetrix. These are top industry standard tools that allow you to check how fast your website pages will load along with recommendations on how to improve them.
Tip 6 – Web Forms
Forms are usually an important part of lead generation and need to be checked regularly for script errors or changes in destination emails. The connection to automation apps and email lists should be tested as well.
Tip 7 – Sitemaps
After maintaining your website or making an important update, you want to ensure that search engines can pick up on this change as soon as possible. This is where sitemaps come in. These tell search engines about the structure of your website. They also help with indexing your site with Google.
IMPORTANT: Always check to make sure your sitemap is up to date. You want to make sure any links to removed pages are gone and that newly created pages are available.
If you website is not automatically updating its sitemap.xml, you will have to submit it to search engines if necessary.
Tip 8 – Analytics & Conversions
There is nothing like having a website and having absolutely no idea if someone is checking it out and being converted. Make sure you check for tracking scripts on every page of your website especially is you have any static content. Be sure to test out Goals and Conversions rules you have setup in your analytics to confirm that everything is working as it should and is being recorded for analysis successfully.
Tip 9 – Content Readability
When your potential customers are reading your content, you want to make sure it’s super easy to read, very digestible and that there are no simple grammar errors. With content constantly being update, these things happen. Take some time to review your website content especially to pages that aren’t high traffic since less attention is paid to them. For the readability we recommend our clients to use Yoast for WordPress as it tremendously helps when writing articles by giving tips on how to make your content better SEO and readability wise.
As you can see in the above photo, these are the results we got from an article in its first draft. Yoast is able to analyse the content and show us sections that need improving. This itself goes beyond SEO and into making the content easily digestible, enjoyable AKA, making it a really good read.
Just starting out with Yoast, there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Every recommendation comes with a link that explains exactly what it means, how you can improve and why you should. There are even examples to help guide you through this writing process.
Tip 10 – Website Audit ( Bonus Tip )
To make sure your website is performing like a well oiled machine, we recommend doing a website audit to get a good idea of how your website stacks up against best practises for speed / performance, SEO, security and more. To do this you can use a tool like SEMRush right now to immediately see where you stand. You’ll find out information about your design, content duplication, meta title issues and more. All of which are critical to your website. You can also try out Free Website Audit.
By following these tips outlined above you can save yourself a lot of time, prevent unnecessary website downtime which will cost you money, help your Google ranking and much more. Of course this needs to be down regularly and consistently which still means you have to give up some time to do it. If you don’t want to spend time maintaining your website but instead, you want to focus on your business, check out website maintenance plans to see which one fits you.