One of the most important things for every blogger is to perform blog maintenance.
Indeed, no WordPress blog can last longer without proper blog maintenance.
It’s a fact, and it will never change.
Without maintenance, your blog will maybe last a year and will start dying. Visitors will notice and never come again.
Slowly, your blog will lose its place online for more useful blogs.
No maintenance = No traffic = No blog
So the question is:
What blog maintenance tasks should I do, and when?
By the end, you will know which tools to use, when, and how. And after using these tips, you will notice a significant improvement in your blog.
So let’s dive in!
Task #1: Update Plugins and Themes
Let’s start with one of the things you should do regularly.
I know you’ll say: “but it’s so obvious! Who doesn’t update their plugins?”
Sure, you may be right. But I have personally seen blogs or websites with old versions of plugins. Sometimes, the new version of the plugin was released a few months ago.
So, the question is:
Why do some website owners not update their plugins or themes?
Let’s see three reasons.
ONE: The blog continues to work normally.
Most of the time, outdated plugins don’t cause any issues in the beginning. So blog owners feel like not updating the plugin for a few days isn’t actually a problem.
TWO: Plugins that need updates usually continue to work normally. So, bloggers don’t feel pressured at all.
THREE: New bloggers especially are afraid because of all those warnings: “don’t update without backing up your blog,” or “use maintenance mode before updating your theme,” or “it can happen that an update will break your website.”
It’s pretty normal to think this way. But, let me give you some peace of mind.
One thing to remember is that themes and plugins are usually updated to improve performance and security. The company behind the tool might have noticed a fault or security issue that can break your site or facilitate hacking.
This is especially important with themes. A WordPress theme is a key component of your website, and it’s essential to take care of it.
Thus, the new update is intended to fix the issue.
Or maybe the last update caused some compatibility issues with other plugins.
Hence, the current update is here to fix it.
So, having outdated plugins and themes is seriously dangerous for your blog.
What’s then the best way to update your theme and plugins?
How to Update Plugins and Themes
First and foremost, it’s necessary to back up your blog (check task #2).
After the backup, go to your WordPress dashboard > plugins.
Check all the plugins that need to be updated and press update now.
Voilà! Your plugins are up-to-date.
What about the theme?
Updating a live website can distract online users by causing errors. It can also show them a weird page look.
And visitors coming to your website for the first time might think it’s the actual look or design. A weird view means no serious site owner. They will not come anymore.
So, how can you update your theme?
The best way to update a WordPress theme is to use a maintenance mode.
The maintenance mode displays a specific page to all visitors, telling them the blog is under maintenance and will be available shortly. It’s also better to do it when the traffic to your blog is very low.
It sends a strong message of user experience importance. But what tool can you use to display the maintenance mode?
You can use SeedProd.
Seedprod is a great WordPress plugin for blog maintenance. It comes with beautiful pre-made maintenance mode templates that you can also edit in your way.
After installing Seedprod, go to SeedProd > Pages > Set up a Maintenance Mode Page Coming Soon Pro > Enable Maintenance Mode.
It will take you to the templates page, where you can select the one you want or start designing from scratch.
Check out this post to learn how to install a WordPress plugin.
Now, if switching to a newer version crashes your site, users will not notice it until you solve the problem.
When should You Update Plugins and Themes
When should you update your plugins and themes? Every time
Update your plugins and themes as soon as new versions are available. Don’t wait for days or weeks.
The best time to make an update is to wait until there is less traffic to disturb the lowest number possible. And remember to back up your blog first.
Task #2: The Unavoidable: Backup Your Blog
You cannot avoid this.
A backup has the power to repair your blog or leave it broken. Backing up your blog means creating a copy of your blog that will be stored separately. You can then use the copy to recover a version of your blog if the blog is damaged or hacked.
Let’s assume that you have a live blog that attracts traffic. Let’s assume that you create a new page and add it to the menu bar. But something happens, and your blog behaves strangely.
Or you decide to create a new look for your blog posts, and after publishing it, things seem not to fit anymore.
What would you do?
Probably, you will delete it to solve the problem. But, what if it doesn’t? (Yes, it happens.) You’d be in trouble. Using a backup plugin is the best way to protect your blog while making changes.
These changes can be a new design or a plugin update. With a backup plugin, you can create a backup manually before making changes. And, of course, let me repeat it, you do the same before updating any plugins and themes.
And depending on the WordPress Backup plugin, you can set automatic backups every 4 hours, 8 hours, one day, etc.
What is stored?
Most backup plugins store your files (images, videos, etc.), database, pages, posts, comments, plugins, themes, etc. Basically, it saves the entire version of your site. So, not backing up your site means you might lose everything, from comments to content.
Having said that, what plugin can you use?
How to Backup Your Blog?
Use UpdraftPlus to back up your blog. UpdraftPlus is undoubtedly the best WordPress backup plugin, providing an excellent free version and an outstanding paid one.
Yes, starting with the free version is perfectly fine.
In fact, UpdraftPlus is so good that it’s among the best WordPress plugins I recommend. After installing and activating the plugin, go to the Updraft Backup page on your WordPress dashboard.
Then, click Backup Now to back up your blog. After running the backup, UpdraftPlus will save all your website files.
Your backups will be available on the same UpdraftPlus page. If you want to reverse to an older version of your website, just click Restore on the preferred backup.
When Should You Backup Your Blog?
Set automatic backups; once every 24h is enough if you have a small or new blog. If you publish content every day or sell a product on your blog, use less than 24h so that you can recover any loss.
If you have an eCommerce or sell stuff, use less than 24 hours, preferably the lowest time range depending on your backup plugin. And don’t forget to manually back up your blog first whenever you update or make changes to your blog.
Task #3: Give The Best Experience Possible - Check Your Blog Speed
It’s an essential step.
Bloggers tend to forget this because they only focus on writing new content and practicing SEO and social media tips. When you start a blog, you certainly have crucial things in mind: speed, traffic, money, blog content, etc.
Speaking of content, you only had a few blog posts then. But things have changed!
Because your website has more plugins, posts, pages, images, and comments, speed can get affected. And since website owners are not always on the front page, they don’t notice anything.
Thus those who suffer are visitors. They spend seconds to minutes waiting for a page to load completely. They get exhausted and end up leaving.
You lose people; you lose money.
Here are some pages to test speed for: Home, the About page, all the pages on the menu bar, and at least the 20 most-read posts. Don’t worry. You don’t need to buy a tool to check page speed. In fact, one of the best tools you could ever use is totally free.
How to Run A Speed Test For Your Blog?
Step 1: Open a page and see how fast it loads.
Step 2: Regardless of the result, use a dedicated tool.
One of the best tools to use is Google PageSpeed Insights.
Step 3: On Google PageSpeed Insights, enter your URL and click Analyze.
The results will display the mobile version first and its score.
You need to improve speed on both the phone and laptop versions.
Step 4: Verify your page speed.
Step 5: Review all the issues and follow the instructions.
In case you don’t understand some instructions, contact your hosting provider to see if they can help.
If it’s not part of their tasks, you might have to contact a developer.
Step 6: After making the necessary changes, rerun the same page speed to see if it’s okay now.
Step 7: Finally, if everything is good, proceed to the next page.
When to Run A Speed Test For Your Blog?
At least every 90 days.
So many things certainly changed from the last speed tests. Don’t wait for years to run the next tests. Every six months, run the entire site speed (Al the pages and posts if you can).
Do you remember that I mentioned checking the top 20 posts only?
But what if you have more than 20?
Well, checking the 20 posts and the main pages should typically take 10-20 days, depending on your workload. If you have more than 20 posts, add the five next top posts when the task above (the 20 posts) is completed.
Let’s go to the next tip.
Task #4: Optimize Your Database And Delete Post Revisions
It sounds very technical and scary.
But nothing to be scared about.
WordPress database is where all the necessary website data is stored: usernames, passwords, posts, pages, and comments.
These are all important data that you don’t want to lose.
Nevertheless, unnecessary data is often created.
For example, whenever you edit a post, a “post revision” is created and stored in your database.
And add to this trashed posts/pages, spam and trashed comments, and unapproved comments.
Thus, optimizing your WordPress database means cleaning unnecessary data.
But is it safe to clean your database?
Only unwanted and unnecessary data will be removed.
It helps reduce your database size and speed up your blog.
How to Clean Your Database?
Use a WordPress speed optimization plugin.
But in this example, we will use another excellent and popular plugin: WP-Optimize.
Here is how to clean your database using WP-Optimize.
Step 1: First, back up your blog.
Nothing wrong should occur. But backing up your blog is an extra layer of security.
Step 2: From Your WordPress dashboard, go to WP-Optimize and click Database.
Step 3: Check everything you want to optimize.
By default, WP-Optimize checks all the necessary database optimization tasks for you. Deselect what you don’t want. Moreover, other tasks are not selected by default. Only choose them if you fully understand them.
Finally, click Run all selected optimizations.
When should I Clean Up My WordPress Database?
At least every two months.
You can manually clean up your database using WP Rocket.
Or, you can set automatic database cleaning, and WP Rocket will take care of the rest.
Task #5: Update Your Blog Content
Publishing new posts is good, but updating old posts is the key to relevancy.
In your niche, readers indeed like current trends. Some topics are not so affected over time, but others are.
For example, if it’s 2021 and I google search for “Best SEO tips,” I wouldn’t like to read a 2019 post.
Ideally, the best time will be at least 2020. I need current tips, tips that are working RIGHT NOW. For the reader, updating content tells them that they are getting the latest information they need. For you, you make sure the gap between you and your niche is small.
How to Update Your Content?
There is no need to use a tool to update your content.
Just go to Dashboard > Posts
Step 2: Select the post that needs an update
Step 3: Make the necessary changes, maybe the title, part of the content, or adding new content to the post.
Step 4: Press Update.
When Should You Update Your Blog Content?
Update your posts at least once a year or whenever you think changes are necessary.
Task #6: Content Audit - Keep Freshness
Another content thing? Yes.
Here, we will talk about a small piece of content audit. What makes Content Audit different from Content Updates? Simple.
Content Update means updating a post to keep it relevant.
However, Content Audit means inspecting all your blog posts to see how many, when, and what you’ve published. Three reasons make Content Audit a MUST for every blogger.
First, you get to see the areas you’ve covered more and what to do with the rest. For example, if you run a “dog” blog, most of your posts could be around making your dog happy.
There may be posts like “how to make your dog happy,” “why playing with your dog makes it happy,” or “how to take care of your dog.” When viewing the complete list, you’ll notice that you forgot some areas. These areas could be treating/jogging/traveling with your dog.
Second, Content Audit displays how you’ve performed.
- Most read posts
- Most commented posts
- Posts with the highest bounce rate
- Longest Post
- Shortest post or
- What users’ comments say about your content
Finally, auditing your blog content helps you monitor your SEO performance. For example, you can see which posts are on the first SERPs and which ones can be optimized.
How Can You Perform Content Audit?
There are many ways to audit content.
An easy way is to use Google Analytics to check content performance.
On Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site content > all pages.
When Should You Do Content Audit?
At least once a year.
I always recommend doing it every 12 months.
To complete it faster and more efficiently, you can hire someone you will give directives to.
Feel free to be assisted if the work is too much for you.
Task #7: Review Your Website Security
This is such a crucial step that we skip so often.
Sadly, we often wait for someone to hack our website before we realize that hacking truly exists, and that it’s not a myth. Usually, we tell ourselves: “but wait, my blog is new with almost no traffic. So why will a hacker be interested in it?”
Well, that may be true.
But although the hacker is not going to steal any serious information by hacking your new site, they will celebrate it because it’s still a victory. They don’t care whether it’s new or not. They simply want to show their skills.
I can’t remember the number of times people have tried to hack my website by brutally trying to log in, using all types of strange usernames.
How do I know that?
I know that because I use a tool that allows me to see this information.
This tool or plugin shows me who has tried to log in to my WordPress dashboard, how many times they have tried, what usernames they have used, and what measures the plugin automatically took to protect my blog against the person.
It even tells me the person’s location and IP Address, even though we all know these guys use a fake IP and location.
So it’s your job, as a website owner, to review, adjust, and implement some security tips to secure your website.
If you use Wordfence, the security plugin mentioned above, you will have access to a massive list of features — even with the free version of the plugin.
First and foremost, I highly recommend setting up a Two-factor authentication (2FA) for your site with Wordfence.
It provides an excellent extra layer of security.
Also, go through all the features and see what you can do to reinforce the security of your blog.
Finally, regularly review login attempts and constantly scan your blog for eventual threats.
By prioritizing security among your blog maintenance tasks, you will continue your everyday operations and give your users the best service possible.
How Do You Review Your Blog Security?
First, after installing Wordfence (free or paid version), check and enable all the settings necessary to secure your blog.
- setting up 2FA
- decreasing the number of login attempts
- setting up Brute Force Protection
- reading every single Wordfence feature to see if you should use it
Then, regularly check the traffic behavior using the same Wordfence plugin, like in the image above.
When Should You Review Your Blog Security?
Review your website security regularly.
Choose how often you would like to review it. Some bloggers do it every week, while others do it every two weeks or once a month.
Task #8: Test Your Forms From Time to Time
Whether you are a new blogger or you’ve been blogging for some time, chances are you have forms on your blog.
These forms could either be opt-in forms (allowing users to subscribe for a particular free service or lead magnet) or contact forms (allowing users to contact you). Regardless of which forms you have, they are essential to growing your business.
But unfortunately, people might not contact you or opt-in as much as you want. You may think they are simply not interested, but some of them really want to work with you, but they are just unable to contact you.
Your contact form is not working. People press the “Send” button a hundred times, but nothing happens. There is also this guy called Ben. He is interested in your lead magnet and wants to request access to it. He repeatedly fills the same form, but he is not sent to a ‘thank you’ page.
Your opt-in form is not working. Ben could have been a client who would have bought your products. Now, can you see the importance of checking the forms?
Because we are so busy creating content and growing our community, we often tend to forget that these forms can stop working for any reason.
The reason could be a bug from the form tool, a compatibility issue, an update, and more. That’s why checking your forms from time to time is essential. I do check mine at least once every month.
For the contact form, I fill the form and send it to myself.
And for the opt-in form, I fill the form and verify if I am going through the correct process of the funnel.
Am I sent to a thank you page right after signing up? Did I quickly receive the email with the lead magnet? And so on. I don’t need to say that if any of the forms has a problem, you try to solve it as soon as possible.
It’s important to take this blog maintenance task seriously.
How Do I Test My Website Forms?
- List all the forms you have on your websites
- Fill and send each form
- For the contact form, verify if you can quickly receive the message in your inbox
- And for the opt-in form, verify if you go through all the steps of your funnel
- If there are any issues, try to fix them as soon as possible.
Always start this blog maintenance task by checking the form that your users fill the most.
When Should You Test Your Website Forms?
Test your website forms often, like once or twice a month.
Now, let me show you the last WordPress blog maintenance task on this list.
Task #9: Check and Fix Broken Links
Your blog is full of links that connect pages.
When you write a new blog post, you want readers to quickly access other posts that add more value. And sometimes, you link to posts from other blogs that are related or not to your niche. If you always think about adding more value by including links to every new piece of content, you are the type of blogger who always wants to overdeliver.
And that’s exactly what your readers want from you.
But It happens that, despite all your efforts to keep all posts connected, links become broken. Perhaps the external page the link was connecting to does not exist anymore. Or when you made a mistake when you pasted the link.
Your readers cannot find the page you are sending them to.
That’s why one of your WordPress blog maintenance tasks is to check and fix all broken links.
How Do You Fix Broken Links?
You can use a WordPress plugin like Broken Link Checker.
After you install the plugin, it will start working in the background to find broken links.
But after installing the plugin, go ahead and check it yourself.
Click on Tools > Broken Links.
If there are broken links, you will need to fix them manually.
After you have fixed all the links, it is recommended to deactivate the plugin because it will slow your site, since it constantly checks links.
When Do You Fix Broken Links?
It depends on you. Some bloggers check broken links once a week, while others do it once a month.
Choose a plan that suits you.
Nonetheless, checking broken links is one of the most important blog maintenance tasks to perform.
Bonus Task: Create a List For All Your Tools
This is no doubt one of my top favorite tips.
I simply LOVE it.
Let me tell you how I learned this tip. I remember sitting one day in my room, creating my content strategy.
I didn’t have much money in my bank account, and I saved it to make some purchases for my house. I didn’t want to use it for other expenses at all.
I think it was around 3 pm, and I got an email from my bank with the subject: transaction notification.
“What! Transaction notification? Did I receive money? That would be lovely!” I thought. When I opened the email, I saw: “transaction notification—$60 debited from your account.”
You read it well. It was a recurrent payment for an online tool.
I was so shocked. I sat down, and I thought about solving this problem.
About ten minutes later, I got another email.
Guess what? No, no, no, it wasn’t a refund. It was another email from my bank.
Yeah, you got it—another transaction.
“transaction notification—$39 debited from your account.”
I nearly cried.
Whaaaaaat! Two transactions for online tools on the same day?
I learned one important lesson that day: I don’t only have a blog. I have a business.
And as a business owner, I need to know when expenses occur.
I need to know how much I spend monthly and yearly on my tools.
That’s why I decided to create a list of all the tools and plugins I use.
Here is how to go about it.
In a sheet, list your theme, hosting company, plugins, tools, and how much each service costs. Add the date a payment is going to occur for each of them.
Finally, calculate your total expenses. Though this isn’t a blog maintenance task, I recommend it because it’s an integral part of our business.
It’s Now Time to Hear From You
You now understand that, like any business, you need to perform some blog maintenance tasks regularly.
It’s not something we do once.
But it’s an ongoing process. We do it regardless of the size of our blog.
Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts.
What is the next blog maintenance task you’d use? Will you check your site speed?
Or maybe you will review your website security?
Let me know your stories right below.