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WordPress website maintenance now do it yourself: here's how! [+ Checklist]

Table of contents

Regular website maintenance is essential. Regular website maintenance is the only way to reduce the risk of hacker attacks, comply with the GDPR and ensure functionality and design at the same time.

But what exactly does website maintenance involve? How do I go about it and what do I need to bear in mind? Even if you're not a techie, in the following guide we'll show you how you can carry out the care and maintenance of your WordPress website yourself. As bonus material, you will find a website maintenance checklist at the end of the article, which lists all the regular tasks (daily, weekly, monthly and annual) for you.

Website maintenance: What does it involve?

Website maintenance is very much dependent on the scope of the website to be maintained. Website maintenance can be described in one sentence as follows: "The creation, entry and updating of content as well as the technical maintenance of the website."

So that you can carry out your website maintenance yourself, we will show you below which to-dos are required in which cycles.

Some of the tasks still need to be done manually, while others can be automated using various tools. We provide you with many tool and plugin recommendations so that you can keep the effort involved in maintaining your website as low as possible.

Note for all updates and major changes: If you want to be sure, we recommend that you test updates or major changes on a staging and also create a backup of your live site before applying the changes.
Tip: Staging is available from the "Pro" hosting tariff in all WordPress hosting rates from WPspace included.

Backups

Website backups are of the utmost importance, as they allow you to avoid data loss. How often you need to back up your website depends on the type of website and the update rate. If you have a website on which a new blog post is only published once a month, a backup every 14 days may be sufficient. On the other hand, a WooCommerce store may even require hourly backups to secure important customer and order data.

Backups ensure that you can restore your website to its original state even after a virus attack, hacker attack or failed update. This saves you a lot of stress, as searching for the cause can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. At the same time, you avoid downtime, which can lead to dissatisfied customers and lost sales.

Backups can be created and managed automatically using a backup plugin or via your hosting interface. We recommend that you create regular backups using at least two different backup methods. In addition, you should store full backups (not incremental ones) locally or in a cloud every 2 to 6 months and not just rely on one storage location. This way, you have an "emergency backup" in case you lose your entire backup.

Backups as part of website maintenance

If you choose WPspace as your hoster for your WordPress hosting provider we will create daily backups for you and store them for 14 days. This means that you always have a backup of your website that is no older than one day. You can also configure and create additional backups via the hosting interface. This means that WPspace as a host already takes some of the work out of your hands.

Relevance: Very important
Frequency: Daily (automated)
Effort: Low

Content management (entering and updating content)

Content is the heart of your website. That's why you should always keep it up to date! Has your contact information changed? Is there a new product in your range? Small changes, such as a new telephone number, can be updated on websites within a few minutes. If you want to publish new content, such as blog articles, landing pages or subpages, you should allow more time.

Always keep your website up to date, so update, add and remove content so that your website is always up to date.

Relevance: Important
Frequency: Daily to monthly
Effort: Low to very high

Plugin updates

WordPress Dashboard Plugins

Plugins are tools for your WordPress website. For example, you can use plugins to create visual highlights such as sliders and galleries and, with the help of SEO plugins check your Google rankings.

If you do not keep your plugins up to date, they can represent security vulnerabilities. It is therefore advisable not to neglect updates and to carry them out regularly. Updating plugins is usually easy and can be done by clicking on "Update". And you can tell whether updates are open by the red number in your WordPress menu. Note the following points before and during the plugin updates:

  • Create a complete backup of your website beforehand
  • Update one plugin at a time
  • Start with the security-related updates of minor versions
  • Be aware of which plugins can have a major impact on your website. Check the look and function of your website after updating them.
  • Should there be a problem: Don't panic, you have a backup. You can also try to restore the older version of the plugin, if not, restore your backup. In the second run, leave this update open and try again with the next update.
  • After you have carried out all updates, check the look and functionality of your website in the private window / incognito tab.
Plugins Hosting interface

Save yourself some time and effort by activating automatic updates for the security-related updates of minor versions in your website's hosting interface. Some hosters, such as WPspace, offer this as standard at no extra cost.
Tip: You should not blindly carry out main updates automatically, as these often lead to problems on websites.

Relevance: Very important
Frequency: Weekly to monthly
Expense: Medium

Theme updates

WordPress Website Themes

In addition to your plugins, you should also keep your theme up to date to protect your website from potential attacks. Here too, create a backup of your website before the update, carry out the update and carry out a visual check of your website afterwards.

If you have installed outdated and unused themes, delete them to remove clutter and eliminate security risks.

You can also activate automatic updates for themes in your hosting interface. The same applies here: only activate the security-related minor updates. You can perform the main updates either in your WordPress dashboard or in your hosting interface.

Relevance: Very important
Frequency: Weekly to monthly
Expense: Medium

WordPress Core Update

There is one very important thing you should update regularly: The WordPress core, i.e. WordPress itself. With the new updates, WordPress often offers you new functions, better usability of the dashboard and closes existing security gaps.

As with all updates, you should definitely create a backup before the core update and then test and check the website extensively.

Tip: Plugins are often not compatible with the new WordPress version immediately after it is released, which can lead to errors on your website. In this case, it is worth checking forums or groups for experiences from other users. Alternatively, you can also test the update on a staging site.

Similar to plugins and themes, you can configure automatic updates and perform updates in the hosting interface or your WordPress dashboard. You can find the item in the WordPress dashboard under Dashboard > Updates:

WordPress Core Update

Relevance: Very important
Frequency: Weekly to monthly
Expense: Medium

24/7 monitoring

UptimeRobot

Is your website or store the basis of your business? Then unavailability of your website can be expensive for you. So that you can react quickly in the event of downtime, there are 24/7 monitoring systems that continuously check the availability of your website for you. If there is a downtime, you will be informed via your preferred form of contact, depending on the provider.

One of the best-known and free monitoring tools is "Uptime Robot". Register there and enter your website for regular monitoring. The tool checks for you every 5 minutes whether your website is available and informs you by email if it is not available. This allows you to intervene as quickly as possible.

Relevance: Important
Frequency: Daily
Effort: Low

Security scans

Security scans check your website for malware (viruses) and whether the IP address of your website is on a blacklist. You can run such a check, for example, at Sucuri free of charge. Simply enter your URL in the field - ideally your result will look something like this:

Security scan result

As a WordPress host, we already implement many security measures for our customers, because the security of our customers' websites is just as important to us as that of our website. Among other things, we have a web application firewall that fends off attackers on the server side before they can attack websites. In addition, we proactively check all our customer websites regularly for existing malware and also provide support in removing it.

Unfortunately, there are security risks that we as the WordPress host have no control over. That's why I have the following security tips for your WordPress website:

  • Choose a good and secure host that attaches great importance to the security of its customer websites.
  • Perform regular updates (as described in 1.3 to 1.5) and remove unused plugins and themes.
  • Use an additional security plugin, here I recommend the Ninja Firewall plugin.
  • Use secure passwords.

Relevance: Very important
Frequency: Daily
Effort: Low

Analyses and evaluations

Something that is not part of technical website maintenance is analyzing and evaluating your website. Analysis tools, such as Matomo or Google Analytics as well as the Google Search Console, track and analyze visitor behavior on your website.

Website maintenance and analysis

Always keep an eye on your visitor numbers and how your visitors got to your website, as these figures provide you with the perfect basis for further search engine optimization (SEO) measures. Search engine optimization should be an integral part of your online marketing mix, as it allows you to organically attract visitors who are genuinely interested in your knowledge, products or services.

Tip: We have for you 21 exclusive tips for your search engine optimization that will help you be found even better on Google!

Relevance: Depending on your website, unimportant to very important
Frequency: Daily to monthly
Effort: Low to high

Check loading times (page speed)

Website maintenance Pagespeed

The loading times of your website are not only a decisive success factor for your findability on Google, but also for attracting customers. If it takes several seconds for visitors to see the content on your website, most of them will have already switched to your competitors. People are impatient on the internet and want to see content quickly - preferably immediately.

Check the loading time of your website regularly, especially if you make changes to your website. This is because new images, plugins or content can significantly affect the loading time of your website.

To test the real loading time of your website and get a detailed test, you can, for example, use our free WordPress speed test use. As a guideline, I always say that the Fully Loaded Time should not exceed 2 seconds and the Time To Interactive should ideally be less than half a second. Alternative tools that you can use to evaluate your loading time are GT Metrix, Pagespeed Insights or the Bulk Pagespeed Test from experte.de, with which you can test several subpages at the same time.

If your loading time is not in the green zone, you can use our tips for your Pagespeed optimization measures apply. Or alternatively use our free removal servicewhere we are happy to carry out a free loading time optimization for your website with a before and after report.

Relevance: Important
Frequency: Monthly (depending on your update interval)
Effort: Low to medium

Check broken links

Check broken links

If you change existing URLs of pages or posts on your website without checking the internal links, you can annoy both visitors and Google crawlers.

Use a tool like the "Dead Link Checker" to analyze all external and internal links on your website. If there are any errors, correct them based on the results.

Relevance: Important
Frequency: Monthly
Effort: Low

PHP version

WordPress uses PHP, which means that your website is no longer a static page, but displays content dynamically. PHP also has security vulnerabilities that are closed by the developers in the latest PHP version. If your website is running on an outdated PHP version, you have potential security vulnerabilities that are no longer closed by the developers.

You can usually update the PHP version of your website in your hosting interface. With WPspace, this is very easy via a drop-down menu.

Update PHP settings

If you update your current PHP version to a newer version, be sure to check your website afterwards. Often plugins or themes are not yet compatible with the latest PHP version, which in many cases leads to a critical error on websites.

Relevance: Important
Frequency: Half-yearly
Effort: Low

Maintenance of the database

As your website continues to grow, the volume of your database automatically increases. This growth also means that there is more and more superfluous and outdated data in the database. You can clean your database - but be careful, as cleaning involves many risks.

Website maintenance plugins

There are already many plugins that you can use for this. You can find an overview in your WordPress dashboard under Plugins if you search for "Database".

Relevance: Medium
Frequency: Half-yearly
Expense: Medium

Optional: SSL certificate

Without an SSL certificate, your website visitors will receive the message "This is not a secure connection". To prevent this from happening, you should issue an SSL certificate right from the start.

I have deliberately marked the position as optional, as we as the hoster automatically renew the SSL certificate on the server side for our customers. There is therefore no need for WPspace customers to take any action here.

Relevance: Unimportant to very important
Frequency: Not at all to annually
Effort: Low

Checklist for independent website maintenance ūüďĚ

Website maintenance checklist WPspace

The scope and regularity of website maintenance depends heavily on the individual configuration and size of a website. However, some points occur regularly - or rather irregularly - for every website.

To help you keep an overview, we have put together a website maintenance checklist for you as a PDF. You have two different versions of the checklist at your disposal - so choose the one that suits your workflow better.

Download the website care checklist now! ūüďĚ

Maintain your website yourself or have it maintained?

With our checklist, you have a great basis for carrying out your website maintenance yourself. We recommend that you always keep your website up to date and don't put off any problems for the future, as this will only postpone the problem and probably make it worse.

If you don't have a lot of time, aren't a WordPress nerd yourself or want to avoid the risks of updates, updates and customizations, you also have the option of having the website maintenance carried out by service providers.

There are various options. You can outsource the entire website maintenance, i.e. both the technical and content maintenance, or just the technical maintenance. There can be big differences in price and quality here.

For WPspace customers we have developed our exclusive WordPress maintenance. For as little as 15 euros per month, real WordPress experts will keep your website up to date. With regular updates, security checkups and monitoring, we protect your website from potential attacks, fix bugs and activate new functions in your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress maintenance WPspace

FAQs

How often should you update your website?

In short, you should always keep your website up to date.

When it comes to the Website content maintenance of your website, this is highly dependent on the content of your website. For example, if you have a one-pager for your hairdressing salon and your contact details remain the same, your website does not need to be updated regularly. If you have a restaurant with a weekly changing menu, you should also change this weekly.

When it comes to the Technical website maintenance you have a great guide with our checklist, which also provides you with rough time guidelines. You can also entrust the maintenance of your website to professionals who will carry out regular updates and security checks for you.

How to update a WordPress website?

A WordPress website can be updated directly via the WordPress dashboard or alternatively via the hoster's interface.
In your WordPress dashboard, you will find the plugins and themes items in the left-hand menu, which also indicate whether there are any pending updates by means of numbers next to the names. Here you can update the respective plugin/theme directly via "Update".

Follow the tips that we have included in the respective update descriptions. Ideally, create a backup in advance and test the updates on a staging.

Why should you update your website?

The content of your website should always be up-to-date for the following important reasons:
- Avoid false information to avoid upsetting your customers.
- Completeness, so that your customers can find all relevant information about you or your product/service.
- Google hates incorrect or outdated information. You can avoid penalties from Google by having up-to-date content.

Conclusion

The content of your website is the heart of your website and should always be up to date. If you have outdated content or information, you will annoy website visitors and Google's crawlers. That's why regular website maintenance is essential for the success of your website.

With the help of our website maintenance checklist, you can keep your website up to date both technically and in terms of content. You will need some technical know-how and sufficient time. If something goes wrong during maintenance, you can restore a previously created backup - so there's no need to worry for now.

If you want to reduce your time expenditure as well as the risk, you can hand over the care and maintenance of your website to professionals. There are various providers with different services included. We can update your website for you for as little as 15 euros per month. This gives you more time for your core business.

If you want to reduce the time required to maintain your WordPress website even further, you can opt for a managed WordPress host like WPspace, which already takes care of some of the tasks for you. For example, we create daily backups, automatically renew the SSL certificate and carry out daily malware checks.

Isabell Bergmann
Isabell Bergmann
As an online marketing manager at WPspace, I love to share my knowledge around online marketing, web design and hosting.

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