WordPress Maintenance Made Easy With 11 Point Checklist

WordPress maintenance can seem like a chore for any blogger. After all, there are so many routine and minor maintenance tasks to perform on your WordPress blog that the prospect of devoting a significant amount of time on WordPress maintenance tasks can give any site owner goosebumps.

However, if you streamline the maintenance process, you can keep running your WordPress site smoothly without any significant issues.

In this post, I will share the checklist of the 11 most critical WordPress maintenance tasks that you should regularly perform on your WordPress site to keep it safe and running at peak performance.

To help you remember this checklist easily, I have devised an acronym called COFUT.

COFUT what?

Before you start pulling your hair, let me explain.

COFUT approach to WordPress maintenance

COFUT stands for Controlling, Optimizing, Fixing, Updating, and Testing. These are the broad categories under which multiple maintenance tasks are grouped that you should perform on your WordPress site.

Of course, you do not have to follow the same order as the acronym; instead, you can perform the maintenance tasks as per the time at your disposal.

Also, you don’t need to perform every maintenance task daily. Instead, there are a few tasks you should perform daily, some weekly, some monthly or quarterly, and few WordPress maintenance tasks can even be performed once in six months.

That’s why I have also listed the frequency at which you should perform these tasks.

Now let us go through each WordPress maintenance task in detail.

Controlling the spam comments, linking, and backups

1. Comment moderation

Once your WordPress site starts getting traffic, it will also receive spam comments along with the regular comments. Therefore comment moderation is a vital WordPress maintenance task that you should regularly perform.

As part of this maintenance task, you should approve the genuine user comments quickly, and at the same time, flag the spam comments that can sometimes slip through your spam filters.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Daily

2. Internal linking

Internal linking is another WordPress maintenance task that can increase your site traffic and user engagement.

Internal linking - WordPress maintenance task
Internal linking

As you publish new content over time, you will link to some of the older articles, but it is natural to ignore linking to the newer articles from the articles published earlier.

So you should make it a habit to re-visit your older posts, once in a while, and link to relevant articles that you published recently.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Monthly

3. WordPress backups

Your WordPress site is an asset containing valuable articles, files, images, etc. It may also be your bread and butter. Therefore it makes sense to backup your website regularly as a sound contingency measure.

If your web host provides free backups, then this maintenance task is taken care of, but if it doesn’t, then you can use the free backup plugin UpdraftPlus to schedule your backups to multiple destinations like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 and so on.

You can also segment this maintenance task by backing up your WordPress database frequently and backing up the complete site less often since you are unlikely to make changes to your images, plugins, or themes everyday.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Daily for database and Weekly for complete backup.

Optimizing your website database, speed, and images

WordPress speed optimization task
Speed optimization

4. Database optimization

While on the task of maintaining WordPress, you should also perform optimization tasks such as optimizing your WordPress database, website speed, and images.

Your WordPress database contains crucial information, including all your posts and pages, comments, tables, plugin and theme data, and much more.

Over time, your WordPress database gets bloated due to redundant plugin and theme data, spam comments, transients that contain temporary data, orphan tables, etc.

A bloated database can, in turn, consume precious storage space and also adversely impact your sites’ performance.

That’s why you should regularly clean and optimize your WordPress database.

You can easily do this using the free WP-Optimize plugin. If you’re using the WP-Rocket plugin, then you can use its built-in database optimization features instead of using a dedicated plugin for this maintenance task.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Monthly

5. Speed optimization

You might be aware that your websites’ loading speed can impact your bounce rates and even search rankings.

To avoid this, you should optimize your website’s speed to ensure that it loads under 2 seconds.

But don’t just stop at making your website fast. Instead, you should ensure that it remains fast, always.

That’s why you should regularly run your site through speed measurement tools like PageSpeed, GTmetrix, or Pingdom. You can also test the impact of any newly installed plugin or theme on your websites’ performance by using these speed testing tools.

This is the second important WordPress optimization task you should perform.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Weekly

6. Image optimization

However, your website won’t load quickly unless your images are also quick loading.

 That’s why you should regularly compress images using a free plugin like WP Smush and also enable the lazyload feature to ensure that your images only load when they appear in the viewport of the reader.

Wordpress image optimization is, therefore, the third important optimization task to execute.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Monthly

Fixing Broken links - WordPress maintenance
File Not Found Not Found 404 Error

As you publish content over time, many links in your older posts will appear broken since either the external page to which the link points to is no longer available or you deleted some internal page to which the link was pointing to without adding a 301 redirect.

This will result in a 404 page not found error on your site as well as the external site when a visitor clicks on the broken link.

To avoid these errors, you should regularly check for broken links using the broken link check tool.

You can also use a plugin such as the Broken Link Checker for this purpose, but since this plugin continuously scans your website for broken links, which can consume precious server resources, it is advisable to stick to an external solution.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Weekly

Updating your plugins and themes, passwords and old posts

8. Updating plugins and themes

Updating your plugins and themes is a critical WordPress maintenance task since the plugin and theme updates could contain essential security fixes. Keeping your plugins and themes updated lowers the possibility of hackers gaining backdoor access to your blog.

When updates are available, you will see notifications in your WordPress dashboard on the top admin panel and the left navigation menu under the Home tab.

WordPress maintenance updates
WordPress updates

But before you update your themes and plugins, it is always a good idea to backup your site just in case the plugin update breaks something on your website. You can use the free UpdraftPlus plugin to schedule your backups.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Weekly

9. Updating passwords

You should also update your login password regularly as a good security practice. If you’re running a multi-author blog, you can force users to update their passwords every six months or so using the Password Policy Manager plugin. This plugin also checks the strength of your passwords to ensure login security.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Six-monthly

10. Updating old content

While you’re busy growing your WordPress blog, it is often easy to overlook your older posts that begin to gather dust over time.

You should, therefore, identify your older posts that are attracting steady blog traffic and those that are getting very little to zero traffic.

Now you can do two things with these posts:

  1. Update the content and make it topical to attract higher traffic
  2. If there are two or more posts on the same topic, consider deleting the post getting negligible traffic and adding a 301 redirect from this to another post on the same subject which is getting more traffic to avoid showing duplicate content to your visitors

Frequency of this maintenance task: Quarterly

 Testing your WordPress forms

11. Testing forms

The last important WordPress maintenance task you should perform is to test all the forms on your website regularly.

Testing is crucial as, unless you test your forms regularly, you will not know whether a form is malfunctioning. This could result in lost leads and potential customers.

Which are the forms to test? These include your email opt-in forms, contact forms, survey and feedback forms, and any custom forms you have created.

Frequency of this maintenance task: Weekly

Summary of WordPress Maintenance

So there you have it. Eleven WordPress maintenance tasks spread across 5 categories. Just remember the acronym COFUT whenever you think WordPress maintenance, and you will be good to go.

For your convenience, I have laid out these maintenance tasks in the handy table below:

Maintenance CategoryMaintenance Tasks
ControllingComments, Links and Backups
OptimizingSpeed, Database and Images
FixingBroken links and 404 errors
UpdatingPlugins and themes, Passwords and Content
TestingWordPress forms

And as I said earlier, you don’t need to perform every WordPress maintenance task daily, rather you should perform a few tasks on a regular basis to keep your website running without major hiccups.

Which are the maintenance tasks you are carrying out on your WordPress site? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Trishan Mehta

Trishan Mehta is a WordPress fanatic since 2009. When not WordPressing, he is busy exploring hidden natural getaways whenever he can grab an opportunity. You can grab his WordPress SEO eBook to get up to speed with WordPress SEO.

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