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If you create a monthly maintenance plan for your WordPress website, you will need to organise all of the tasks that you perform every day, week, month, and year, into several key categories. These include:
Here, we take a closer look at how to come up with a monthly maintenance plan for your site.
You should be performing WordPress backups regularly for your site. It’s always best to do it every day whenever possible, but once a week will be sufficient for some sites. You should never wait longer than a month to back your site up.
It can be difficult to fit updates into any predefined schedule, and this holds especially true when it comes to WordPress’s core updates. At one time, these would only happen infrequently, but in recent years, they’ve become increasingly frequent.
Therefore, it makes sense to set one day each month aside to check whether there are any new WordPress updates and to apply any that you find to your website. The only exception to this is if you apply core updates as soon as they’re released.
Maintaining your WordPress plugins usually involves two separate components: Plugin Audits and Plugin Updates. It’s recommended that you check for and apply WordPress Plugin updates every three to six months. That can be poor advice, though, since you probably need your site to function correctly every single day.
It’s therefore best for you to define a schedule that works for you when it comes to plugin updates. As there isn’t always a core update ready to be applied, you could combine the core update check with a plugin update check.
Plugin audits, on the other hand, are a slightly different maintenance task than checking for plugin updates and installing them. You certainly won’t want or need to add this to your schedule on a monthly basis.
To carry out a plugin audit, you first need to make sure that there aren’t any plugins installed on your site that you aren’t using. You may find that there are activated plugins that you simply don’t require – perhaps you were testing them out and then forget to deactivate them and uninstall them. Get rid of them during the audit process.
Take note, too, of any plugins that haven’t had an update for some time. An unupdated plugin can eventually become unsupported, and that can result in a security risk. If you find a plugin that is unsupported, it’s best to look for an alternative.
It’s also wise to check the quality of your plugins and check to see whether there is a better option for you if one is consistently performing poorly. If you’ve found that one of your plugins is frequently broken or buggy, seek out a bug-free alternative. Make sure that, once you’ve chosen and installed the alternative, that you’ve uninstalled the malfunctioning one.
When it comes to theme updates, your tasks and schedule should be almost the same as the tasks and schedule that you perform for your plugin updates. Use an identical schedule, checking for any new updates for your theme at the same time as checking for updates to your plugins, assuming that the theme you’re using is one from a 3rd party developer.
Not only should you check regularly for theme updates, you should also carry out periodic theme audits. The frequency that you should do this depends very much on your site and its requirements. Like plugin audits, theme audits involve checking to determine that you have no installed unused themes on your site, and that you have a minimum of one default theme in place should you site experience a problem with its main theme.
If you use a theme of your own, you should carry out an audit by going over the stylesheets and template files to check that everything is in good order and the code remains validated. In the case of a 3rd party theme, check to make sure the developer has kept up with its code, hasn’t added any bloated code, and continues to offer support.
You may want to carry out this audit on a three-monthly, six-monthly, or annual basis depending on your needs.
Some tools like ManageWP come with Vulnerability Update features to let you know about any of your core files, themes, or plugins that are classed as vulnerable. ManageWP also boasts a feature called Security Check which enables malware scans to be conducted at a time of your choice. It’s even possible to enable security monitoring 24/7 if you opt for the premium version.
You should never leave it longer than a day before monitoring your site’s overall health, and in the best case scenario, you’ll run this check several times each day or even 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It’s also important to carry out regular checks on the content you have on your WordPress site. While this has less overall to do with your site’s development, it’s something that must be borne in mind. You should check for any broken links or 404 errors on a monthly basis and make sure that any media items which are unused are removed.
If possible, combine any unwieldy blog posts and update or get rid of any with outdated content. It’s also wise to keep a close eye on your SEO ranking. You can do this every few months to make sure that your site is still achieving the goals that you’ve set.
The final thing you need to consider is your site’s overall performance including its optimisation scores, its size, and its page loading time. You can find this feature on ManageWP together with a Performance Scan that can be scheduled if you opt for the premium version. It’s best to run this check at least once a month.