It’s great to get your author platform up and running but it is not a “set it and leave it” service. Regular website and blog maintenance is essential in keeping your author platform working well for you. Just like your car, it needs regular checks and servicing. Some of these tasks need to be done very regularly – daily or at least weekly. Some are less frequent and can be done monthly; and there are the odd few tasks that only need to be looked at once a year.
In this post I will break the website and blog maintenance tasks down into sections relating to frequency and then will go into each task into a little more detail. At the end of the post you’ll find a PDF download which provides a handy checklist.
- Perform theme and plugin updates (and WP updates)
- Run regular back ups
- Moderate and respond to comments
These are the website and blog maintenance tasks that need to be done most frequently.
1. Updates for theme, plugins and WordPress itself keep your site running smoothly, provides new features, bug fixes etc. and eradicates security issues making the site less prone to hackers. For major updates it’s worthwhile either testing the update on a staging version of your site if you have that facility, or least waiting for a few days to ensure that there are no issues with the update. It’s essential to ensure you have a backup of the site (see below) just in case anything goes wrong with the update and you can roll back to the point just before you attempted the update. Take the time to remove any plugins and themes that are not in use as this helps with security, site speed and storage. Also remember that when you’ve run updates to check the front end of the site to make sure it still looks as it should and still performs as it should
2. Taking regular back ups of your site is important in case something goes wrong, such as a hack or your accidentally delete your main pages etc. (it does happen!). There are lots of plugins that make taking a back up a simple task, and many managed WordPress hosts provide this service for you.
3. If people take the time to write a comment on your blog, it is important for growing and maintaining a relationship with your visitors, that you take the time to respond to comments in a timely manner. If people feel like they’re being ignored, they will simply look for the information elsewhere and you will have lost a valuable visitor. Try to keep on top of comments as quickly as possible. Do also take the time to empty your spam filter to keep the site clean.
These are the website and blog maintenance tasks that need doing often but not quite as frequently as the weekly tasks.
- Run site through a broken link check and repair links where necessary
- Check site speed and optimise where possible
- Check inbound links and SEO score
- Perform a visual inspection of the site (mobile and other browsers)
- Optimise database
- Check RSS feed
- Analyse site stats
1. Including both internal and external links in posts and pages on your website is a great way to increase SEO (search engine optimisation) results but sometimes links fail to work. Sometimes this is just down to inputting them incorrectly in the first place (do you double check every link when you publish a post?), sometimes websites we link to are removed and sometimes the destination link is simply changed. There are many reasons why links will no longer work so it is essential to periodically check all the links on your site. There is nothing more frustrating that reading an article and clicking on a link to get more information and the link not working. Running the site through a tool such as Broken Link Check (free) will determine if any links are indeed broken and you can then make the necessary repairs.
2. How fast it takes your site to load is a crucial factor in Google’s ranking algorithm so it is important to ensure your site loads quickly. You can test this by using free online tools such as Pingdom or Google’s Page Speed Insights. I will not profess to be an expert on site speed as I am not. I would therefore refer to this article from Kinsta for more information on testing site speed and rectifying the elements that slow your site down.
3. Checking inbound links is also important to ensure that all of your back links are above board. You can use Moz’s free link explorer tool to check your website to find all of your back links. Back links are another website’s way of giving you kudos and is saying that the content on your page is valuable, credible and useful. Google uses these votes of confidence to determine how trustworthy and valuable your site is. It’s important therefore to check that none of your back links are from untrustworthy sites or are spammy. Linked with this is checking your SEO score and determining what keywords your site ranks for. Using tools such as Yoast will help you increase your SEO score. We will look at keywords and SEO in a later post.
4. It is really valuable to give your site a visual glance over every once in a while to make sure it all looks as it should. Occasionally updates or plugin conflicts will make your site go a little squiffy and it is much better for you to spot and fix these errors than it is for a visitor to stumble on the anomaly and wonder whether your site is maintained and therefore trustworthy. Make sure you perform this task when not logged into the back end so you see it as a visitor would see it and also check the site on different internet browsers and also on different devices i.e. desktop, mobile and tablet to ensure all is well.
5. Regularly cleaning and optimising the site database, compressing your images and caching the site will help to keep the site fast and optimised. There are plugins available to help you to do this but again, if you have a managed WordPress host, they will provide this service for you
6. The RSS feed is basically made up of simple text files that have necessary, updated blog information. That stripped-down content is used via a feed reader (an interface that quickly converts the RSS text files into a stream of the latest updates) in email marketing etc. Using the RSS feed can help you send weekly or monthly blog digest emails automatically to your subscribers. Occasionally, the feed breaks, so it’s a good idea to periodically check it to ensure it’s working correctly. You can use free online tools such as WC3 Feed Validation Service.
7. Take some time out every month to analyse your site statistics. Google Analytics is your friend here. Take the time to get to know it as it can provide you with invaluable information about your website. There is a whole raft of information provided (for free) within Google Analytics and you should use this information to determine who uses your site, what they look at, and how long they spend on it. This information can help you tweak and change things on your site to provide visitors with a better customer journey. I will look at analysing stats in more detail in a later post.
Some website and blog maintenance tasks only need to be done every half year. These tasks include:
- Check affiliate links
- Check optins and contact forms
- Review and update about page
- Review and update legal pages
1. If you use affiliate links on your website, make sure they all continue to work correctly (and that they are marked as an affiliate link). I use the ThirstyAffiliates tool on my site so that the actual links are in one place and can be bulk amended if necessary. This tool also performs a scan of your site and will show you on which posts/pages that link occurs saving time on performing checks.
2. Test out any opt-ins and contact forms that you have on your website to ensure that they are working correctly. There is little point having an opt in on your website if the process of delivering a lead magnet or other email has broken. Similarly, if you have a contact form on your website that is not delivering notification emails to you etc. it is of little use. Just checking once in a while that all is working as is should could be the difference between making or losing a sale, contact, reader etc.
3. Once in a while have a read of your about page to make sure that all of the information is still correct and relevant. Check that any images you have used are recent, and that contact information is up to date. This is a one minute task unless you need to make any significant changes.
4. Similarly, make sure that all of your legal pages and statements are up to date and contain valid information.
- Review and renew hosting
- Renew domain
- Renew https certificate
1. Shortly before your hosting is due to expire, check to ensure that it still meets your needs and is providing good value for money. Have you had issues with hosting this past year? Have they helped resolve any issues quickly? Is it still fast? Does it still provide all the services you need? Does it represent good value for money? Is it worth considering moving to a different provider? If so, now is the time to do it.
2. If you don’t have your domain name on auto-renewal, make sure that you renew your domain so that you continue to own the domain name. If it lapses you could find yourself in all sorts of trouble if someone else buys it as your website/email will no longer work. Make sure you keep on top of important dates for renewal of essential services.
3. If necessary, make sure that you renew your https certificate so your website continues to run on a secure connection. This is especially essential if you have eCommerce on your website and are taking payments and customer details. If you site comes up as unsecured, visitors are a lot less likely to trust it with their personal and payment details. As with other tasks, if you have a managed WordPress host, they will provide this service for you, but if not, ensure that you perform this task before any existing certificate expires.
A Note on Website and Blog Maintenance without a Managed Host
As stated within the article, if you use a managed WordPress host, the host will invariably sort backup, database optimisation and https on your behalf.
Beyond that, the best tool is Manage WP which is perhaps a bit overkill in terms of tools for general users who are not overly technical but it would help with lots of those tasks.
Website and Blog Maintenance Task Checklist
In order to help you with your own website and blog maintenance, I have curated the above list into a handy printable checklist. You can download this (completely free) by clicking the button below.
Do you perform all of these tasks regularly on your website and/or blog? Do you have a fixed schedule or plan for blog maintenance or do you wing it and deal with tasks at the last moment? Let me know your experiences in the comments, and let me know if the download is useful.