The Ultimate WordPress Maintenance Checklist

Maintaining a WordPress website is critical to ensuring its optimal performance, security, and user experience. Like any well-oiled machine, WordPress sites require regular checkups and maintenance to operate smoothly. Website administrators must have a WordPress maintenance checklist and perform certain tasks regularly, from updating plugins and themes to checking for broken links and optimizing for search engines.


Why is WordPress maintenance important?

WordPress maintenance is important for ensuring your website’s security, performance, and functionality. Regular updates to the WordPress core, themes, and plugins help protect your site from vulnerabilities and security threats. Maintenance tasks like optimizing databases, clearing caches, and fixing broken links contribute to a smooth user experience and faster loading times. Additionally, regular maintenance helps improve your site’s SEO by ensuring that content is fresh and relevant.  WordPress maintenance is key to keeping your website secure, user-friendly, and optimized for performance.


What is a WordPress maintenance checklist?

A WordPress maintenance checklist is a comprehensive list of tasks aimed at ensuring the smooth operation and security of a WordPress website. It typically includes items such as updating WordPress core, themes, and plugins to the latest versions, backing up the website regularly, optimizing website performance by cleaning up databases and optimizing images, monitoring website security, and ensuring that the website’s content is up-to-date. Following a WordPress maintenance checklist helps website owners avoid potential security vulnerabilities, improve website performance, and provide a better user experience.


The Comprehensive WordPress Maintenance Checklist

A WordPress maintenance checklist ensures your site runs smoothly and securely.

  1. Monitor your uptime
  2. Make regular backups of your WordPress site
  3. Perform malware scans
  4. Update WordPress, plugins and themes
  5. Update your widgets
  6. Empty your WordPress cache
  7. Check and delete spam comments
  8. Remove broken links
  9. Replace broken images
  10. Remove unused themes and plugins
  11. Check your Google PageSpeed score
  12. Test for browser and device compatibility
  13. Fix 404 errors
  14. Fix PHP errors
  15. Test your contact forms
  16. Change all your WordPress credentials
  17. Check and remove inactive WordPress users
  18. Check images’ alternative texts
  19. Check premium licenses expiration date
  20. Review WordPress security logs
  21. Optimize your WordPress database
  22. Check your site’s feeds
  23. Clean up your media library
  24. Perform a Thorough Content and SEO Audit
  25. Disavow toxic links
  26. Review About Us page and copyright
  27. Send a maintenance report to your client


Daily Maintenance Tasks

Daily website maintenance is essential to ensure optimal performance and security. Ideally, these tasks can be fully automated using the appropriate plugins and tools.

1. Ensure Your Website’s Uptime

Maintaining a consistently accessible website is crucial for user experience and SEO rankings. An unresponsive site can lead to dissatisfied customers and lower search engine rankings. To avoid any potential issues, it’s essential to monitor your server’s uptime and promptly address any outages.

Rather than manually refreshing your website to check its status, you can utilize automated tools, as these provide automated monitoring and alert you via email if your WordPress site experiences downtime.


2. Backup Your Website

Regular offsite backups of your website are essential for safeguarding your data. WordPress offers various plugins that enable automatic backups. For instance, WP Umbrella allows you to store backups in the cloud effortlessly. Other popular options include BackUpWordPress and UpdraftPlus.


3. Vulnerability Scanning

It’s crucial to scan your WordPress site for infected files or malware regularly. Despite WordPress’s strong security features, the risk of attacks remains high. Many WordPress security plugins offer vulnerability scans to help identify and address potential threats.


Weekly Maintenance Tasks

Equally important as daily maintenance, these weekly tasks are crucial for maintaining the health of your websites.

4. Update WordPress, Plugins, and Themes

Regularly updating all WordPress files, including plugins and themes, is essential. These updates can sometimes cause issues, so careful attention is needed. Hiring a professional for website maintenance can help manage these updates safely and efficiently.


5. Update Your Widgets

Widgets often get overlooked, but maintaining them is crucial for smooth website functionality. Regular updates ensure they work seamlessly with the rest of your site.


6. Clear Your Cache

Clearing your WordPress cache is a simple way to enhance site speed. By creating static versions of your content, caching improves performance by allowing faster loading times in browsers. WordPress uses MySQL databases to generate content, which can slow down your site. Using a caching plugin serves static versions of your pages to visitors, but it’s important to periodically clear the cache to keep your site running optimally.


Monthly Maintenance Tasks

7. Comment Moderation

To manage comment spam effectively, many WordPress sites use plugins that filter out spam comments from the moderation queue. However, these plugins can sometimes mark legitimate comments as spam. Periodically reviewing the spam folder ensures that no genuine comments are mistakenly flagged. After checking, you can safely delete all spam comments.


8. Remove Broken Links

As your website grows, some external links in older articles may become outdated or broken. Internal links can also break due to errors such as incorrect URLs or changes in your site’s structure. Broken links can frustrate visitors and reduce their engagement. Regularly check your website for broken links and fix any issues to maintain a positive user experience.


9. Replace Broken Images

Broken images can negatively impact user experience, as they reflect poorly on your site. Image links can break due to changes in URL structure, moved content, or altered WordPress settings. Regularly check for and replace broken images to ensure your site looks professional and functions smoothly.


10. Remove Unused Themes and Plugins

Inactive themes and plugins pose security risks and can lead to site crashes and performance issues. Regularly evaluate and remove any unnecessary themes and plugins to enhance your website’s security and speed. Keeping only essential plugins helps maintain a streamlined and secure website.


11. Check Google PageSpeed Score

The performance of your website depends on various factors, including hosting, themes, plugins, and image sizes. To assess and improve your site’s performance, run tests using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool will provide you with insights and suggestions for enhancements. Regular monitoring of your website’s performance is crucial, and you can use a centralized tool to manage multiple sites.


12. Test for Browser and Device Compatibility

Ensure your website is compatible with different devices and browsers by testing its performance across various platforms. Tools like Chrome’s Device Mode in DevTools allow you to simulate mobile devices and check how your site functions. Regular visual inspections are essential to maintaining seamless operation across all devices.


13. Fix 404 Errors

When visitors encounter a page that doesn’t exist, they see a 404 error. While some 404 errors are due to mistyped addresses, others occur because the page has been removed, leading to a poor user experience. Use tools like Google Search Console to identify and track these errors. Navigate to the Coverage section, check the Error tab, and list all 404 error URLs. Then, set up redirects and correct incorrect URLs on your site.


14. Fix PHP Errors

Poorly coded plugins and themes can conflict with WordPress, generating PHP errors. While often minor, these errors can provide hackers with useful information and slow down your site. Enable WordPress debug mode to find these errors (remember to turn it off afterward). Regularly monitor and fix PHP errors to maintain site security and performance.


15. Test Contact Forms

Forms on your website, created using builders like WPForms, can occasionally stop sending emails due to misconfigurations in your hosting server or email provider. Periodically test all forms to ensure they are functioning correctly and that emails are being sent as expected. This helps maintain effective communication with your site’s users.


Quarterly Maintenance Tasks

16. Change All WordPress Credentials

Ensure all your online accounts, including your WordPress site, FTP accounts, and database, have strong, unique passwords. Despite this, even strong passwords can be compromised. Therefore, it’s advisable to change your WordPress password regularly to enhance security.


17. Remove Unnecessary WordPress Users

Review your WordPress account to remove any unnecessary admin users. Ensure that only those who need access have it. Additionally, remove any inactive users to maintain a secure environment.


18. Check Image Alt Texts

Alt texts are descriptions added to images to assist visually impaired users using screen readers and also impact SEO. Ensure all images on your site have alt texts. If many images are missing alt texts, consider using a plugin that automatically adds them.


19. Check Premium Licenses Expiry Date

Keep track of the expiry dates for any premium plugins, themes, or web hosting services you use. Renewing these licenses on time ensures your site remains functional and secure.


20. Review WordPress Security Logs

Maintaining an activity log of significant changes on your site, including the date, time, and users involved, can be valuable. This log helps track and address unexpected events, including successful hacking attempts. A useful plugin for this is WP Security Audit Log, which is available for free from the WordPress plugin directory.


21. Optimize WordPress Database

WordPress relies on a MySQL database to store all site content. Over time, this database can accumulate unnecessary data from old plugins, draft posts, spam comments, and more. Optimizing your database removes this unwanted data and enhances performance. You can use plugins like WP-DBManager, WP-Optimize, or WP Clean Up for this task. Alternatively, optimization can be done through phpMyAdmin in cPanel. Regular database optimization keeps your site running smoothly.


22. Check Site’s RSS Feeds

RSS feeds automatically update subscribers when new content is added or updated on your site. Monitoring these feeds is crucial to ensure they are functioning correctly and prevent potential traffic loss. Although RSS feeds are less popular today, many users and applications still rely on them for updates. Regular checks ensure your feeds are working properly.


23. Empty the Media Library

If your site has been online for a while, you likely have a large collection of images, many of which may no longer be in use. These unused images can take up valuable space on your hosting server. Regularly cleaning up your media library helps free up space. During this process, ensure that your remaining images are compressed and optimized using plugins like Imagify or Smush to improve site performance.


24. Send Maintenance Reports

If you are a WordPress development agency, it’s essential to send monthly maintenance reports to your clients. This practice not only demonstrates the value of your work but also helps to strengthen your relationship with them by keeping them informed about the ongoing maintenance and improvements to their website.


Website Maintenance Tasks

These tasks are still essential parts of your WordPress maintenance checklist.

25. Audit and Optimize Content for SEO

A crucial part of regular maintenance is a thorough review and optimization of your content. Utilize data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics for this task.

Google Analytics provides insights into your site’s visitors and their behavior. Analyzing this data helps identify content with high traffic but low conversion rates.

With Google Search Console, you can identify the search terms your site ranks for in search results. Updating these articles can improve your rankings for those keywords.

Regularly updating your posts, at least annually, by updating the publication date and enhancing the content can positively impact your SEO rankings.


26. Disavow Toxic Links

Backlinks from toxic sites can harm your website’s SEO, leading to a decrease in organic traffic.

Toxic backlinks can occur organically or as a result of previous linking strategies that are now considered less than ideal.

If you’re unsure how to disavow toxic links, refer to Google Guidelines for detailed information.


27. Review the About Us Page and Copyright Information

Maintaining up-to-date copyright information on your website is crucial for building trust with your audience.

You can automate this process using a PHP function.


For comprehensive WordPress management services, trust Smart Web Ninja. From routine updates to security measures, our expert team ensures your site operates smoothly. Ensure your website’s optimal performance, security, and user experience. Contact us today for expert WordPress management.