Website Maintenance Tips
Every so often I’m prompted to update either the WordPress core, the plugins and/or the themes. Sometimes this gets put on the back burner and I have an hour or two’s worth of work to do on a particular website.
When you’re on the Updates tabs of your WP Dashboard, look at the current file names instead of blindly checking the ‘Select All’ tick box and “getting the job done”.
There may be some very old files in there that you should just remove, instead of creating more server bloat.
For example, WordPress keeps adding a new theme every year; i.e. Twenty Sixteen, Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Fourteen — you get the point.
If you have aged domains like I do, these will begin to pile up and they are actually a security hazard. Since these older themes (and plugins) are no longer maintained, there are no updates to new security measures or backdoor loopholes that others (Africa, Russia, China…I’m looking at you) exploit to cause you grief.
I should know. I have a client who’s site was hacked by a pharmaceutical affiliate using dynamic code insertion — meaning the site looked great to visitors, but to Google and other search engines, the page titles and content were rewritten as blatant pharm advertising. Not pretty, nor easy to fix.
So save yourself some headaches while waiting what seems like an eternity for the search engines to dump the trash and relist your good content in the serps.
- Either use Filemanager or FTP to delete all the themes (after backing up any important ones) that you are not using. Save at most three (3) — main theme, child theme and latest WP default theme. All the rest should be deleted. You save the default WordPress theme for those times when your custom-coded theme whacks out on you and need to swap to a reliable theme. It’s good for trouble-shooting since you know the WP theme will play nice with all the other approved plugins out there.
- The same can be said for your plugins. Delete those that you are not using. They take up hosting space and are a hacker’s dream. You could make a digital backup of the important ones on your hard drive, but I keep a spreadsheet listing all the theme/plugin names as they relate to each domain I own. This way I can replace items quickly. If you do not have many domains to keep organized, then a simple text file will suffice. The point is to have this information somewhere else besides your active domain.
- Another word of caution regarding purchased (or free) plugins from membership sites/clubs, especially from the Internet Marketing space. They may be sending the Mother Ship valuable tracking info and at the very least, they will most likely display an annoying advertisement banner in your admin panel.
- Keep up with the updates. Don’t let six months to a year go by before you revisit your one-page website/landing page because it’s not all that important anyways. Redoing the entire MySQL database and WP install takes way more time and energy than checking in periodically. Think pop quiz or impromptu inspections. Is your website acting like it should whenever you just do a quick Google search? If not, put it on your “to do” list, before it really turns ugly.
- Back up, back up, and do some more backing up! I will repeat this ad nauseam, but only because it’s sooo important.