Step By Step Guide on How To Maintain A WordPress Website On Your Own (Professionally)

How to Maintain a WordPress Website Professionally On Your Own

Feb 7, 2018 | Wordpress Do It Yourself

 In the recent past, running websites was relatively easy. Not much maintenance was needed and security was not a major issue and the website content was rarely updated. This was an era when building business websites in WordPress was not known and websites were being created in simple HTML using some Notepad. If you were a developer those days, or if you knew one, you will understand what I am talking about. 

As technology evolved,  many things changed. WordPress websites are created each day and many people are starting WordPress blogs and make money blogging.This has come with its fair share of security issues and the need for WordPress website maintainace services. Unlike in the past where most people who owned and created websites were the techies, today most website owners are actually entrepreneurs with little technical knowledge of running websites.

With so many online companies coming up, websites have changed from simple information brochures to become the fundamental point of contact between a customer and the business.There are many malicious people who will do anything to breach the security of websites hence the need to secure WordPress websites has gained a lot of importance. Not a day passes without a website owner chattting with our Smart WP Fixers with ‘I need help! My wordpress website has been hacked‘ kind of messages. This has prompted us to write this guide on how one can maintain a WordPress website on their own without a need for an expertthus changing how websites are maintained and managed. In this guide, we will teach you how to do wordpress website maintenance on your own without having to pay WordPress support services like SmartWPFix to maintain your Wordpress website.

We understand that most of our readers (website visitors) may not care for technical jargon stuff and we will write this guide in the simplest language possible. We have written an ultimate guide to show you how to maintain a website using wordpress professionally.

Who is this guide For?: This guide is written for WordPress website owners and agencies who want to learn how to do WordPress website maintenance professionally. There are few technical details but we have written them in very basic language accompanied by pictures and illustrations. 

What Areas are Covered? –  This is quite a lengthy guide and we advise you to prepare a cup of coffee (Keeps Smart Wp Fixers awake throughout the night doing wordpress sites maintainace and security monitoring).  Some of the areas we will cover include: How to harden your WordPress website, backing up WordPress websites, updating and upgrading WordPress Core, Themes, and Plugins, Optimization your WP Database, securing WP, spammy comments, SEO Strategy, and Fixing slow wordpress websites. 

That is quite a list,but you have to learn these fundamental areas, otherwise, check our website maintainace plans here. If you manage to finish this guide to the end, you will never have to pay someone else to maintain your WordPress website. You can do it on your own.

Alternatively, click on the button below and we will email this guide to you.

1. Securing Your WordPress Installation

This is the very first thing you need to do to if you are serious about maintaining your WordPress website professionally. You cannot maintain a wordpress website effectivelly without starting with the basics. If you have already secured your wordpress instalaltion, then you can skip this step though we advise you to scan through just incase there is something you haven’t done. Use this guide for a comprehesive lesson on securing WordPress websites right from installation.

Remember that unless you are using managed WordPress hosting, your hosting service is not responsible for your site’s security. You have to lean the art or hire someone else maintain your WordPress website at a fee. 

Maintaining a secure WordPress website keeps hackers and other malicious people away and reduces the chances of ever having to struggle with WordPress website malware infection and virus removal.

So, lets get started on some of the basic things you need to do to enhance security of your installation. Please note that this is part of our free guide on hardening WordPress websites.

We will only outline 8 issues on initial security in this guide so be sure to subscribe to our emails and learn various expert proven ways of handling and maintining to WordPress security on your own.

Only install softwares from trusted sources: If you thought that you can save a few bucks by using nulled enhancements instead of buying the best wordpress themes from the owners, then WordPress is not for you. You will get tonnes of issues when maintaining your wordpress website from being hacked, malware injections, to DDOS. You can only be sure of site security if source your themes and plugins from reliable sources. Check out our list of free and paid WordPress themes.You can also find thousands of clean themes on WordPress theme repository to use for free.

Delete all unused themes and plugins: If you paid for a wordpress theme or plugin and you are not using it on your site, it poses a security risk and is  a burden in your quest to maintain a great wordpress website. Delete all themes and plugins that are not in use.

Apart from creating security loopholes, Wp experts have also asociated with slow WordPress admin panel and can even slow down your wordpess website consequently causing low leads capture and conversions. We recommend having only two wordpress themes (the one that you are using and another one fully updated theme – Just to be safe).

Use Strong Admin Passwords: This is the most basic form of security you should enforce on your website. Here are some tips on using passwords for your wordpress website:

Avoid passwords that can be found in online dictionaries.

A great Wp password will have a mixture of: Lower case letters, Uppercase letters, Numbers, and Special characters.

If you are maintaining or running a number of WordPress sites, use different passwords for each site. If you can’t remember the passwords, find a notebook and write the passwords down. (This is a super analogue hack. I know, but when it comes to online security, analogue hacks rock). I hate to say this but never store your sites’ passwords online.

Get an Antivirus For Your Computer: Huh? How is this connected to your WordPress website security? As a WordPress security service, we always insist that our customers install an antivirus on their local computers or use a computer with an up-to-date antivirus when uploading images or even accessing their wordpress admin panels.

Why? The answer is simple: if you are using an infected computer there is a high possibility of uploading an infected file to your server. This will be the start of your security problems.

Use SSH and SFTP – Forget Old Plain FTP Client: Time has changed and as a website admin, you should change the way you transfer files to your server. If you are responsible to maintaining a WordPress website, invest in an SFTP client for files transfer.

What is the problem with the Old Plain FTP Client? These kinds of clients do not offer encryption to your server details (usernames and passwords). Your information is likely to fall into bad hands who can access your site and create backdoors or even inject malicious code on your site.

Force SSL on your WordPress Website: Apart from being a requirement from search engines, a site that runs on HTTPS will reject requests from non-secure sources. In addition to this, you can also set up a firewall for your WordPress website.

Activating 2 Factor Authentication (2FA): 2FA as it is popularly known, adds an extra layer of security by adding a second form of user verification. When implimenting a 2FA on a wordpress website, you choose the two steps to be used to authenticate a user. That can be be a password followed by a code (sent via email) or any other type. There are various plugins in the market, but the free Google Authenticator plugin will do that for you. If you are using iThemes Security Pro, you will get the feature for free.

Also note, most managed wordpress hostings like WPengine take security seriously and have 2FA installed and configured. If you are not a techie, you should consider WPengine for secure and fast WordPress sites. Their team will help with your site migration for free.

These are some of the few things you need to do secure your wordpress website.Subscribe to our emails for detailed guides, tips and tricks on maintaining secure wordpress sites.

2. Configuring & Automating WordPress Backups

Perfoming backups is the second best way to maintain your WordPress site professionally. Backups help you restore your website in case something happens. This might be a hack attempt, a malware attack, a fatal error while fixing your wordpress code, or even instances of deleting an imporant file by mistake.

You should not forget that most hosting services will lock down your site down if you go against their terms. You will therefore be in a fix if you don’t keep site backups. Infact, we recommend you to use the best backup plugins to automate the process. You just need to schedule it and everything is done for you.

If you are not keeping backups of your site already, pay close attention and use this guide to set up backups for your wordpress website. Anything can happen anytime and you will not be in a position to restore the site! Did you know that even the most secure hosting services get hacked?

Note that most managed wordpress hosting services offer website security and backup services.  In the section below, I will show you how to use plugins to set up offsite backups (These are backups that are stored on Dropbox, Google drive, and Amazon S3 among others). There are various plugins that you can use for this but for this guide, we will stick to 3 backup plugins: BackupBuddy Plugin by ithemes,UpdraftPlus Pro, and BackWPUp.

Recommended Backup Plugins (Free and paid)

BackupBuddy – (Paid version).

Key features include: Creating Backup, Moving or Migrating WordPress, Backup Restoration, Staging and Deployment of WordPress website. I have personally used this plugin to maintain WordPress websites for clients and like it alot. This is the best option if you are looking for a backup plugin that integrates with ithemes Security Pro plugin, and sync (to maintain more than one wordpress website)

UpdraftPlus – Free and Paid Versions

UpdraftPlus offers both paid and free version plugins. In the free version, you can run backups (manual and scheduled) and Restore. UpdraftPlus Pro offers you more flexibility and we would recommend that you go for the paid version on UpdraftPlus as it gives you more control including pre-update backups, cloning, and advanced reporting.

BackWPUp – Free and Paid Versions

BackWPUp also provides both free and paid backup options. If you are looking for an advanced solution, go for BackWPUp Pro as it offers more flexibility plus you will get premium support if you get stuck and automatic updates.

This is it for using backups to maintain your WordPress websites. Note that the backup plugins we have recommended are paid ones as you will get support and updates from the owners of the plugins directly. You don’t have to keep digging up various plugins when you could  simply submit a ticket at the respective plugin author website and  get help. (In  my view, I don’t believe in wasting precious business time while I could have someone do the technical stuff for me)

3. Continously Updating WordPress Core, Themes, and Plugins

Keeping your WordPress installation up-to-date is critical to the smooth running of your website starting from significatly reducing chances of an attack to speeding up of your website. Out of all wordpress attacks that happen, nearly 30% of the attacked websites are the ones that remain un-updated for a long period.

Hackers and other malicious people are always on the look out for vulnerable websites to attack. This means that in as much as the WordPress community keeps on contributing selflessly to make wordpress better and secure, the ball is in your court.

If you run multiple wordpress sites, you can use various online services to manage the WordPress updates from one backend.

You have to be very careful while updating your entire wordpress website as some updates might cause conflicts and break your site. We recommend that you update plugins first, then your themes, and finally the WordPress core.

If you have already gone accomplished the above step and have set up automatic backups, make sure that you backup your website before upgrading. If not, use our guide on how to create manual backups of your wordpress website.

After you have completed your backup, you can now run your WordPress updates in the order above.

Tip 1: You must always back up your site in the same frequency the content is updated. For example, an active ecommerce website would require more backups than a blog that is updated once a week.

Tip 2: Updates and backups are critical in WordPress sites maintainace. Make sure you master them and get quality plugins to help you do so. To maintain multiple WordPress websites at a go, we recommend: iThemes Sync or MainWP

Tip 3: Always keep your WordPress website up-to-date at all time.

4: Full WordPress Database Optimization

Your wordpress website database needs to be optimized from time to time.You need to perform database cleanup to optimize site speed and load times. Here is an overview of the WordPress database in short:

When you create an new installation of WordPress, it creates 11 database tables. Each and every extension, be it a plugin or a theme will create additional tables. When you uninstall a theme or a plugin, it might leave some of these tables in your DB making your database become bloated with unnecessary tables.

This means that as you change themes and plugins or as your website grows, the number of database tables is also growing. Guess what? Every draft or revision you have done to your WordPress page or post is stored in the database. With time your database response time may increase making your website slow.

Cleaning wordpress database is critical to optimizing your site. In our guide on speeding up slow WordPress site admin, we recommend database optimization as a solution. In fact, this has worked for many WordPress site owners.

Now that you know why you need to optimize and maintain your WordPress site database, lets look at how you can do that using plugins.

Maintaining a Clean Database Using Free Plugins:

The best way to optimize your Wordpres database is by use of either of these two plugins: WP Optimize or Wp DBManager. Both are free and available in the WordPress Repository. Since the instructions on how to install and use each of the plugins iS includes on the repo, we won’t go into detail.

WP Optimize is easy to use and we recommend it for beginners. You can also schedule database maintainace by using the ‘Settings’ tab of the WP optimize page.

5. Invest In The Right WordPress Security Plugins (iThemes Security)

We have come back to wordpress security. Though we discussed WordPress Security in the section above, we will echo some of those points here as WordPress security monitoring is a critical aspect of maintaining WordPress websites.

Most big companies who understand the value of website security will pay even $5,000 per month to keep their sites secure. Did you know that you can face prosecution if you customers’ data fall into the hands of malicious people? Yeah. As harsh as it might sound, you as the website owner must at all times protect all your website data. Websites are often attacked either through brute force attack, SQL injections, and Malware infection.

You might be wondering, why would someone want to hack my small website or blog? Well, I don’t have a concrete answer to that but I can tell you for sure that small blogs and websites are highly targeted too. Infact, the smaller you are, the higher chances a malicious person may want to target you and use your site as a practice tool to get a bigger target.

As a website owner, you must always ensure that your site is secure at all times. A hacked website will reduce all your content, SEO, PPC Advertising, and even email marketing efforts to zero. It will be a big blow to your online trust so the best way is to install the best preventive measures and reduce the chances of an attacker succeeding.

How Do You Maintain WordPress Security Using a Plugin

In this guide, we recommend working with iThemes Security Pro plugin to secure and monitor your WordPress website. I have used iThemes security pro plugin in securing and monitoring activity on many websites. The beauty of iThemes Security pro plugin is that it offers comprehsive website security and will promptly point out security issues on your website and show you how to solve them. Some of the features include: Wordpress user check, DB backups, Bruteforce protection, enforcing strong passwords, and various wordpress tweeks you can impliment to keep the bad guys away.

What Next:

Grab your iThemes Security Pro plugin and start configuring your website or subscribe to our maintainace services and we will take care of your website’s security. Read more about Smart WP Fix WordPress Care Plans Here.

6. Moderate and Delete All Spammy Comments

As the webmaster of a WordPress website or blog, it is your responsibility to keep the comment queue clean and decide which comments are spammy then proceed to delete them.

You should also make sure that you respond to comments and keep the approval queue empty. From time to time, use WP Sweep to clean your deleted comments records from your database for optimization.

Best Practises For Comment Management:

– Keep all comment links nofollow,

– If you don’t need comments or don’t have time to maintain that section, use the disable comments options from your settings: Wp Admin Dashboard – Settings- Discussions.

– If you decide to start accepting comments on your blogposts, tools likje Jetpack and Akismet will come in handy in fighting and blocking spam,

-Don’t just click on the links within the comments from the the admin section or Email. Some of these links will steal your data and or your login information and can be used by attackers against you. (You can never be too careful when it comes to WordPress website security monitoring)

7. SEO Maintainace

The basic point of creating a WordPress website is keeping tabs with your current customers and also acquire new ones. After all, what is the point of spending so much money and time on a website that won’t generate new leads or help in conversions?

 

Without proper wordpress website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) maintainace, customers will not be able to find you. If you depend on search engines for website traffic, it is time you started getting serious about SEO.

 

Ranking on search engines doesn’t come easy and it requires a perfect combination of various factors for positive results. Becoming an SEO expert does not happen overnight. We will just look at some basic practices that will help your website to be visible. If you are not the hands on kind of the person and don’t have time to learn SEO, find someone who can do it for you.

 

Basic SEO practices are not researved for technical geniuses! They are what every website owner must learn. In this regard, we will discuss how to use Yoast SEO plugin, Handling Errors, and later on, writing content that sells.

 

Configuring Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin (Basic Guide)

 

Yoast SEO plugin developers offer both free and paid versions of the plugin. This plugin will help and guide you in optimizing each of your WordPress post or pages for SEO. Basically, the free version is all you need if you are not an SEO Agency. The plugin allows you to set up: the title, description, and the focus keyword. To set up yoast on your website, go to: WP Admin – Dashboard- Plugins – Add New and then use the search to find “Yoast”

 

When you combine the power of Yoast and SemRush Keyword discovery tool you may not need to pay for SEO services.

 

Content SEO:

 

In as much that most people out there will tell you not to focus on search engines when writing your site articles, I beg to differ with their opinion. You have to write optimized content based on what people are looking for in your area of interest. You must invest in Keywords discovery tool and use the the selected keywords to write your articles. Here are some pointers on SEO copywriting:

 

– Don’t write keyword stuffed articles

 

– Each article should have a unique focus keyword

 

– Write lengthy articles (More than 2,000 words)

 

– Publish posts that are related to your niche. For example, if you operate a roofing contractor website, write content that is related to roofing.

 

Fixing Broken Links:

 

When maintaining your WordPress site, you have to ensure that all broken links are either fixed or redirected accordingly. SEO maintainace includes dealing with 404 errors and using the appropriate techniques to deal with that.

 

How do you fix 404 errors in WordPress?

 

You can fix 404 errors by using WordPress 301 redirection plugins or perform WordPress 301 redirection using httaccess (this is the technical option). When dealing with broken links, do not redirect all 404 errors to the homepage. From an SEO perspective, this is not the best practise, contrary to what many people think. Find a page that is closely related to the one that is resolving the 404 error and make your redirection to that page.

 

Note that if your website has a high number of 4XX and 5XX errors will rank poorly on Google. All the best in your website SEO journey. 

 

8. Website Speed Optimization

Website speed is critical to conversions and search engine ranking. As a website owner or an agency tasked with maintaining a wordpress website, you have to keep website load speeds optimum and learn how to fix low WordPress website load times.

During the initial months after building your WordPress website, your website speeds will be awesome but along the way, as you add more content, change themes, comments increase, and as the number of users grow, you will need to keep checking and optimizing your website speeds.

To check your website load times, you can use either Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom. You can plan or get help optimizing WordPress site speed bimothly for starters but as the site grows so will be the need to maintain faster website. Infact most site visitors don’t have time to wait for your site to load. The slower the site is, the more revenue you are loosing.

Some of the things we recommend includes:

Installing a Caching system: Wp Rocket Plugin will help in setting a powerful caching system for your website. We recommend it over other caching plugins as it is less-technical and you can use it to setup and configure CDN quite easily.

Utilizing Content Delivery Networks: CDNs are powerful tools in speeding your website. We recommend activating Cloudflare and MaxCDN.

Regular Database Optimization – We have discussed this above.  Also be sure to avoid high CPU utilizing plugins as majority of them will slow down your site considerably.

Note that if your site is making money and still on a shared server, speed will be a serious problem you will have to deal with. Think about upgrading your plan or better you can choose managed hosting services for WordPress like WPengine for faster speeds and overall site security.

9. Learn To Write Content That Sells

As pointed above, to maintain a high ranking and authority website, you have to learn how to write content that helps you convert more. I am not a content writing expert, but in my many years of maintaining WordPress sites, I have learnt that quality content is key to growth of any online business.

If you choose to use spun articles earch engines will catch up with you sooner or later.

Apart from being penalized by search engines, you can’t become an authority in a certain niche without writing high quality content.

Other this, you need to keep updating your site content. Go through the old content and see if there are things that needs to be refreshed.

In addition to these tips, make sure you publish a new article or two per week. Search engines love fresh content and so do your website visitors.

Our Final Thoughts

We are happy that you have taken  time to read our lengthy guide on how to maintain a WordPress website professionally on your own. We hope that this guide has been helpful and you will now maintain your website better.

If you genuinely feel that managing your website on your own is overwhelming, you can select a maintenance plan and Smart WP Fixers will manage your WordPress site. We will provide all the premium plugins for free and keep your site secure all the times.

If you have not subscribed to our guides, fill in your email below and we will always keep you in tabs with what is happening in the WordPress site maintainace space. Most of our readers get a free BackupBuddy plugin (To Run your backups like a pro) or iThemes Security Pro.

If this guide has been helpful and you want to spread the knowledge, share the post on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin so that we can help as many people are possible.

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