Web Maintenance is the Ongoing Task Beyond Web Hosting
There are a lot of web hosting companies offering additional maintenance services with their hosting plans. While it’s nice to have somebody else perform website maintenance, some website owners want to do their own. Some enjoy the challenge of learning something new, and others just want to save some money. If you’re not a web designer but DIY website maintenance appeals to you, there are a few tasks that are very important and you can do yourself. Here are four DIY tips to keep your website healthy. Do me a favor, start a stopwatch before you begin.
1. Check Your Backups
If there is only one thing you do on this maintenance list, do this: Backup your website and make sure the backups are working. However, backup is only half of the solution. You also need to make sure you can easily restore your site from that backup, as well. Not backing up your site is like driving on the Lloyd Expressway without car insurance! As long as you don’t have an accident, you’re fine… but the moment something goes wrong, you’ve got a big problem. Make sure your backups are running, haven’t changed size too much or given you any errors, and that you can easily restore. Good solutions for this are a simple FTP download of course, or if you have a WordPress website you can use plugins like UpdraftPlus or Jetpack.
2. Update your Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress version, Plugins, and Other Software
If you have a static HTML website, you still should check sites you are linking to, iframes with other content, and maybe even the server that is hosting your site. If you maintain your own server for hosting, keep that machine updated with the latest OS updates, Apache or other server software, and firewall and other security software.
If your site is on WordPress, check for plugin updates and WordPress core updates. One-third of the internet runs on WordPress, and 48.8% of those sites aren’t running the most updated version of WordPress. Don’t run any updates without having a backup of your whole site first. (See 1. Check Your Backups above) After you have updated WordPress, update your plugins to the most current version. If any are abandoned or have a vulnerability, get rid of them. Outdated WordPress plugins are one of the most popular vulnerabilities for a hacker to exploit. Un-hacking a site and getting off the search engines blacklist is harder than you can ever imagine, so take the time to do this maintenance.
If there are any plugins that you no longer use, delete them. Nobody should have “Hello Dolly” still installed on their site. Delete that and Akismet too if you aren’t using it to filter your comments.
Joomla, Magento, and Drupal updates are also critical to run if you can. We have helped many clients that have let their website go for so long without an update that the Drupal update will break their site. The best thing to do in that scenario is to convert the website from Drupal to WordPress and then continue with the top of the line code that WordPress offers.
3. Delete Unused Plugins, Users, and Other Things
You may have old users still setup in your system or old plugins in WordPress. Clean those up. Sometimes deleting a user can cause other issues, so make sure you’ve reset their password, unhooked their email, and made it secure. It’s not assuming they are evil people, you are just closing a door that doesn’t need to be left open. Old usernames can be an easy way for a hacker to get into your system. If you have users that you don’t want to delete because you need to keep their articles, like on a WordPress blog, either change authorship or change their user level to “Subscriber.” If you have deactivated plugins running on your site, make sure you don’t need them and delete them. Automatic updates only run on active WordPress plugins, so keep your deactivated plugins cleaned out.
4. Check your SEO and Search Engine Standings
This one isn’t on your website, but it is directly related. Google your company or some exact words of the titles of your pages. Do a Google site search using “site:domain.com” and some terms. For example, a search for “site:ltnow.com wordpress” shows what Google has indexed for our site about WordPress. This is important because you want to see where you stand in search results, and you want to know what Google is showing to people when you show up. Sometimes your meta description may show up in Chinese. If that happens (assuming your website is not in Chinese) your site might be hacked.
This is Full-Service WordPress Hosting
When you are bombarded with ads for $1 web hosting, it’s hard to grasp why anybody would charge $30 a month for what seems like the same thing. Did you start your stopwatch at the beginning like I asked? How long would all of this take for you to do? How much is your time worth? We do all of the things on this list every week for websites we host. (We do a lot more, too, but we don’t want to give all of our secrets away!) By keeping a short leash on our customers’ WordPress websites, we keep the maintenance needs to a minimum and the performance at a maximum.
When your best salesperson or your smartest customer service rep is out for a day, it affects your whole business. We see your website like that. A wealth of information accessible 24 hours a day. Keep your website in good shape with these tips, or call us and we’ll be happy to do it for you.