A Hassle-Free Website Maintenance Checklist
After many grueling hours of research, designing, building, and testing, you’ve finally finished your website. It’s time to kick back and relax – you’re set for life, right?
Nope. Even for a one-page site, it’s never a one-and-done deal.
You need to regularly maintain your website so that it:
- Brings in new visitors
- Remains safe to use
- Converts new sales opportunities
- Stays fresh and relevant
But where do you start? How do you organize weekly tasks alongside less frequent checks?
Breathe. You need a website maintenance checklist – and we can help.
What Is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance covers regular checks you perform to keep your site running smoothly.
Is it easy to use, fast to load, secure, and optimized to appear in search results?
With weekly, monthly, and annual checks, maintenance ensures your website functions properly and provides a nice user experience. Think of it as a regular physical for your online presence.
Why Does Website Maintenance Matter?
Regular website maintenance helps you rank better in search results, get more hits from interested searchers, and show your clients you’re trustworthy – all ultimately leading to more conversions.
Let’s break this down:
|Reasons to maintain your website||The benefits|
|Nurturing SEO (search engine optimization)||
|Ensuring your site’s safe and secure||
|Maintaining and improving loading speeds and performance||
|Improving user experience||
|Boosting your authority online||
Now that you know a little bit about the why, let’s dig into the how, and put this new information into practice.
The State Creative Website Maintenance Checklist
We’ve split 27 different website maintenance essentials into three categories:
Let’s start with the website maintenance tasks you need to do weekly.
7 weekly tasks
You should complete these website maintenance tasks at least once a week.
1. Check your contact forms
If your contact forms aren’t working properly, you risk losing customers’ messages and potentially sales. It’s a common accessibility problem.
Test contact forms yourself by writing test messages. You need to troubleshoot your contact form plugin if you don’t receive these messages.
If you need help configuring a plugin (such as Gravity Forms), check out the provider’s external help guides.
2. Check and update your CMS and plugins
Updates help keep your website secure against malware and hackers. Updating WordPress, for example, can also help to enhance website performance and stability.
You can manually update WP via your dashboard and the “Updates” section, where you’ll find plugin updates when they’re available.
You can also automate update downloads by toggling the “Enable Automatic Updates” feature in the “Updates” section.
3. Create backups at least once a week
Backing up content off-site means you can always restore data if you get hacked or if your host server crashes. You can back up themes, content, plugins, and databases.
Schedule automatic backups off-site with plugins like Jetpack or UpdraftPlus for WordPress. Set to backup at least once a week (daily if you can).
4. Moderate your comments
Comment spam can build up on your website pretty easily. Approving comments helps to prevent malicious links or inappropriate messages.
Head to the “Comments” section on your WordPress dashboard and check the moderation queue under “Pending.”
You can then read comments and choose to approve, edit, mark as spam, or send them to trash.
You can also use plugins, such as Akismet, to learn spam patterns and filter out similar spam comments from recurring.
5. Run and check your security scans
Up to 90% of all WordPress sites are at risk of vulnerabilities and under threat of malicious attack.
Security scanner plugins and software look for signs of malware and vulnerabilities across your website. Many also check if your SSL certificate is up to date, effectively helping reduce downtime and the risk of revenue loss.
Run website security scans at least once a week, or set up automated schedules.
WordPress already provides basic firewall services and encrypts data. However, you need an extra layer of protection to ensure malware doesn’t slip through the net.
6. Monitor your analytics
Monitoring website analytics allows you to check visitor numbers, page insights, and conversion rates. Plugins can also help you analyze visitor number drops and where issues may arise.
Head to the WordPress “Stats” section in the main dashboard and filter through tabs (“Traffic,” “Posts and Pages,” and “File Downloads”) to measure conversions over the past week.
This data (powered by Jetpack) breaks down your website’s popularity and where you may need to make changes. This video helps further:
You can also use plugins such as Analytify to drill deeper.
7. Check indexing through Google Console
Google indexes websites so they can rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). If your website isn’t indexing, your target audience won’t see you while searching.
“Indexing” means that Google builds a database of websites it visits over time.
An easy way to check if you have any indexed pages is to search “site:(yourwebsite.com)” in Google. The number of results reflects how many pages Google has indexed.
You should also use Google Console weekly to check the exact figures. Log into your Console account and head to “Coverage.”
Here, you’ll find several “valid” pages indexed by Google under this section. Take a look at this screenshot:
In this instance above, there are zero errors to fix. You’d find indexing problems under the red “Error” section. If your “Coverage” screen looks like this, you’re getting indexed fine.
If your web pages aren’t being indexed, use “URL Inspection” and request indexing. This workaround should fix most indexing issues, but you may need to go deeper into technical SEO to repair older pages.
12 monthly tasks
This section of our WordPress website maintenance checklist should be consulted at least once a month, but that doesn’t make the tasks any less important.
1. Write and publish a meaningful blog post
Writing and publishing engaging blog content helps to build trust with your visitors, shows Google you’re a relevant authority and helps to encourage other sites to link back to you. Sources vary on how much you should ideally be blogging, but one post a month is a healthy minimum.
This is probably the most important step on your monthly website maintenance checklist, simply because it keeps visitors and search engines happy.
Of course, you can’t post just anything and expect it to boost your website’s health. You need to think carefully about meaningful topics that your visitors want to learn more about and what’s important to your industry.
Head to your WordPress dashboard and find “Posts,” then “Add New.”
You’ll see the following page open up:
Simply write a blog post, format it, add images and video, and click “Publish.” You can also choose to publish your post at a later date.
2. Test your page loading speed
Most people click away if your website takes longer than three seconds to load. Poorly maintained websites slow down when bogged down with unnecessary media and plugins, or if they haven’t been updated in some time.
Use a speed-checking tool, such as GTmetrix, to analyze your initial page loading times:
Enter your web address, and you’ll get a list of results:
If your website is out of the “green zone,” you want to take a few steps to get it back up to snuff so that you aren’t losing visitors.
You can improve your website loading speeds by:
- Reducing the number of images on each page
- Deleting any plugins you don’t use
- Using a caching plugin to archive content
- Making sure you’re on a VPS or dedicated server (both are more efficient than shared servers)
3. Check if your website works on mainstream browsers and devices
Your website looks different across mobile and desktop devices and may also differ between internet browsers, such as Chrome and Safari. WordPress websites are typically “responsive” by default, but certain elements may not load or appear as you expect.
The long way around is to access your website from several different devices – for example, your laptop or PC, your smartphone or tablet, and through different browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge).
However, you can also use SmartBear’s TestComplete tool to analyze how your website looks on several different Apple, Android, and Windows setups and browsers in one go.
Keep an eye on mobile responsiveness after updating your website. You may find elements don’t appear as you expect. Remember, most people visit you via mobile, so prioritize their needs.
Unsure how to start optimizing for mobile? Check out our guide to website design mistakes.
4. Analyze page statistics and tweak
Page statistics tell you how your content and calls to action are performing with your visitors. You’re getting the traffic, but are you getting the conversions?
Page analytics show you how many views you receive, average session duration, and average bounce rates (i.e., when people click away). You can use this data to edit your content, so it guides visitors further down the funnel.
While you can access various page insights and stats through the basic WordPress dashboard, plugins, such as MonsterInsights, can give you more detail.
Install their plugin and head to the “Insights” column under the “Pages” > “All Pages” tab.
You’ll get a pop-up with stats that looks like this:
If, after testing, your results aren’t looking too promising, some small changes, such as improving your CTA buttons, can help boost user engagement.
5. Check your SEO health and local search
Monthly SEO audits help keep your website visible to the online searchers you want to reach. SEO work, like adjusting keywords, fixing links, and checking local listings, gives you the best shot of climbing up SERPs.
You ideally need a plugin to run a full SEO health check. We recommend using AIOSEO, or All In One SEO, as a plugin to audit your whole website at once.
Once installed, simply head to “All In One SEO” and “SEO Analysis” in your dashboard, and you’ll get both a site score and a checklist of things you can fix to improve your SEO health.
Here’s the score page:
You can then take your time fixing the elements on the checklist and see your score increase. SEO maintenance is healthy to undertake once a month, but we recommend more regular checks.
Update your Google Business profile, external reviews, and social media to boost your chances of appearing in location-based searches.
6. Ensure your uptime is 99.9% or higher
Downtime disappoints visitors – the greater your downtime, the more chance you’re turning people away.
Downtime can occur due to server errors, plugin issues, themes crashing, or even malicious attacks.
Plugins, such as WP Umbrella, let you easily monitor uptime for your WordPress site over set periods and in real-time.
Once installed, you can access WP Umbrella through the dashboard and set up alerts via email if your uptime dips below a threshold. It also helps prevent some theme and plugin errors.
7. Plan content for the month ahead
Planning content helps you get ahead of the game early. If you have a team, you can easily keep a record of who is working on which projects. Planning also helps to ensure you have regular content uploaded, which improves your SEO and user experience.
Use a content planning tool, such as Adobe’s ContentCal, to help you map out and color-code posts for social media platforms with multiple people.
8. Check and fix 404 errors
404 errors occur when page links break down or when pages are renamed but their links aren’t edited to match. This situation can lead to users getting lost or disappointed when the content they want to read doesn’t exist.
404 errors build up if you’re lax on website maintenance. In time, they can harm your SEO, resulting in decreased visitors.
Download and install a WordPress plugin that finds 404 errors and redirects visitors to replacement content or the same content on a new page.
A great plugin for this is Redirection, as it scans your whole website and issues 301 redirects to ensure visitors stay on-site:
9. Check for broken links and fix them
Following on from 404s, broken links can make your website seem unfinished or unprofessional. Links that don’t work disappoint visitors and encourage them to click away.
You can check for broken links manually, but it’s a time drain, so use a plugin like WPMU DEV’s Broken Link Checker for WordPress.
Once installed, you can find the plugin under “Tools,” where you’ll see a list of broken links it sources automatically. Hover over the links you want to edit and click “Edit Link” or “Unlink” if you want to delete them.
This tool can also make suggestions (where similar pages may exist on-site):
10. Test ecommerce checkout
Your visitors expect to check out quickly and easily. The last thing they expect or want is an error preventing them from buying from you. Testing the checkout yourself helps you to see if it’s working as expected.
Depending on the ecommerce system you use (such as WooCommerce), you need to create a test product or service that you don’t actually buy. In WooCommerce’s test mode (which you can enable from its backend), you can use test cards to see how checkout looks to visitors:
Of course, you might use a different ecommerce provider, such as Shopify. Here’s a quick YouTube tutorial that guides you through test transactions there:
11. Check your marketing automation is working
Marketing automation services, such as email newsletters, abandoned cart alerts, and chatbots, can help keep your visitors engaged. If they stop working, you risk losing that engagement and potentially damaging your reputation.
You need to test your automated emails and chatbots yourself. Try signing up with a test email address through a form on your front page and see if you get a response. Ask your chatbot various queries (or configure it via plugin settings in the dashboard).
Chatbot plugins, such as MobileMonkey, let you customize responses to common questions and insert placeholders for unknown queries:
12. Check and amend landing pages
Your landing pages drive clicks from organic and paid searches and socials. However, without careful maintenance, they may stop delivering traffic, meaning you need to refresh their design.
Checking and refreshing your landing pages allows you to re-target trending keywords, edit calls to action, and update branding and logos.
Head to “Pages” in your dashboard and select the existing landing page you’d like to edit. By selecting “Edit,” you can change content, visual elements, forms, and embedded media.
8 Yearly tasks
Consider these your spring-cleaning tasks for the year.
It’s always good to refresh and review every 12 months, and here are eight web maintenance tips to prioritize each spring.
1. Update graphics and visuals
Keeping your branding and marketing fresh and appealing helps to attract customers, and you may find changing things up helps you get an extra edge over the competition.
Consider changing the layout of your pages, removing old stock photos, and/or altering the color scheme. You can do all of this digital feng shui from your WordPress dashboard.
Refining themes and completely redesigning website visuals can be tricky, so let’s stick to the basics. Keep track of all your visual assets in your Media Library, in your dashboard.
In your Media Library, you can “Replace Media” – e.g., switch one image for another:
A complete redesign might require you to install a new theme. You could also consult a professional web design agency for a fresh makeover.
2. Change all your passwords
Keeping the same old passwords leaves you open to malicious attacks. Alternatively, you may have a change in personnel and want to tighten your dashboard back up. It’s a good security practice in either case.
Head to your name under “Users” > “All Users” and click to edit. Scroll down on the next screen and click “Generate Password.”
WordPress automatically generates certifiably secure passwords. You can also reset other users’ passwords, and they’ll receive an alert to create a new one.
Check WordPress’s official workaround for more information.
3. Review user access
Your team might change over time. Some people get promoted, and others leave your company altogether. This means you should make it a habit to check who has access to which areas of your website.
Head to your dashboard’s “Users” section and click “All Users.” Then, click the user you’d like to edit and change their role appropriately. You can set administrators to editors, authors, contributors, or subscribers, in order of descending permission access.
You can also delete users completely.
4. Check and update meta titles and descriptions
Meta descriptions and titles ensure your content is displayed relevantly in search results. In time, you may need to refresh these to optimize keywords better or to appeal to broader audiences.
Ideally, you need either AIOSEO or Yoast SEO. With the latter, you can edit SEO titles and meta descriptions in the page editor:
Make sure to include your main keyword in both sections and edit to suit your current marketing needs.
5. Update your legal notices and footer information
Updating your footer details (e.g., the copyright date) shows you’re on top of your game. It’s also worth changing legal and privacy notices as and when necessary, but don’t forget to bulk email registered users to notify them of the changes.
To edit the site footer, head to “Appearance” > “Widgets” in your dashboard. You can add blocks to contain text, media, separators, and more. Here’s a full guide from WordPress.
6. Renew your domain and hosting
Without a domain name, you have to use a clunky .wordpress address, and without web hosting… your site’s going nowhere. Make sure you’re auto-renewed, so your website stays up and running.
You should contact your domain provider (e.g., SiteGround) and host to check your renewal settings.
7. Create new landing pages
Landing pages are great magnets for bringing in cold leads and warming them up – and the keywords you wish to target may expand or change year after year.
If you’re targeting new audiences, trying new marketing tactics, or running new services, it’s worth creating completely new landing pages.
Use the WordPress “Add New Page” function under “Pages” in the main dashboard. The editor takes you through creating content and changing how it appears to users.
Here’s a quick video tutorial:
8. Run a full content audit
Some content pulls in traffic better than others, and some pages may not convert leads at all. Checking page analytics to account for clicks, bounce rates, and session durations helps you choose which pages to refresh or remove.
Consider starting with your best-performing pages and posts. What makes them more appealing or better at converting than the others?
Take stock of their main features and attempt to mimic them across the rest of your content. Is it CTA buttons or the content’s writing style? Is it embedded media that’s grabbing visitor interest?
Do be stringent with pages that just don’t cut it. Holding onto pages is pointless if they’re not ranking (as they can waste server resources and won’t help your lead-generation efforts). Use plugins such as MonsterInsights, as above, to cut the wheat from the chaff.
Website Maintenance Checklist Template
Here’s our handy website maintenance checklist template, condensed and ready to go:
Keep Your Website Fighting Fit
It takes time and effort to make sure a website’s performing at its best.
Whether it’s enhancing security, boosting user experience, or just making sure your links all work, maintaining a website ensures your visitors get the best possible impression every time they visit.
Following our website maintenance checklist helps you drive traffic, uphold a fantastic professional image, and keep Google’s ever-changing algorithms happy.
If you don’t have the time (or don’t feel confident enough) to tackle these maintenance tasks yourself, don’t panic. State Creative’s website maintenance service can take care of all the minutiae for you.
The post A Hassle-Free Website Maintenance Checklist (2023) appeared first on State Creative.