How To Give Your WordPress Site A Periodic Health Check

When you launched your WordPress site, you probably did a thorough test to make sure everything worked just like you wanted. On the first day of your new site, it’s like moving into a brand new apartment – everything is clean and works perfectly!

But as time goes on and wear and tear takes its toll, it’s all too easy for that to change…both for apartments and WordPress sites. So to make sure your WordPress site is still humming along perfectly, you need to be a little proactive and give your site periodic health checks.

That’s what I’ll be talking about today – how to give your WordPress site a health check to make sure it’s still in tip-top shape.

How Often Should You Give Your WordPress Site A Health Check?

I’m about to give you 8 different diagnostic protocols to check on the health of your WordPress site.

That might seem a little overwhelming – but most of these checks only take a couple minutes each, so you’re not in for a huge time investment here.

How often should you check them? Well, obviously more often is better. In a perfect world, you’d be able to check all of these things every single day.

But we live in the real world – which means you need to balance the scarcity of time with the need to keep your WordPress site healthy.

For that reason, we recommend that you:

  • Check all of these things at least once every 3 months.
  • Do a more in-depth review at least once per year.

With that out of the way, here’s how to check on the health of your WordPress site…

1. Check To Make Sure Your Site’s Still Loading Quickly

Do you know if your site still loads as quickly today as it did when you launched?

There are all kinds of little changes that could’ve negatively affected your site’s page load times since launch day.

To make sure your site hasn’t slowed down, use tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix to periodically test your site’s load times.

All you need to do is plug in your site’s URL and each tool will tell you exactly how quickly your site loads:

page load time test

If you’re not happy with your current page load times, you can read our guide on how to speed up WordPress. And one of the best things that you can do is upgrade to better hosting – we recommend SiteGround for fast, but affordable, WordPress hosting.

2. Run A Security Scan And Clean Things Up If Necessary

With some security breaches, you know there’s a problem right away. Others are more insidious and never really show up unless you look.

If you want to catch the latter type, you’ll need to take a more proactive approach. While part of that approach is installing a good security plugin, you can also manually check your site using the free Sucuri Checker tool.

You just plug in your URL:

sucuri security scanner

Then Sucuri will give you a look at the basic security health of your site:

sucuri malware check

While hopefully everything comes up clean, if you find any issues you can use malware cleaning services like:

3. Make Sure Backups Are Running (And Test That They Actually Work)

A lot of people don’t care about backups until they need a backup. Don’t be like those people.

Let’s start at the beginning – if you aren’t currently doing anything to back up your site, you need a solution that lets you take automatic backups on a set schedule.

But even if you have taken that first step and are running automatic backups, you still need to check in on things from time to time.

Here’s what to do:

First, ensure that your backup solution is:

  • Still actively taking backups on the assigned schedule.
  • Properly storing these backups in the right place (e.g. cloud storage)

example of automatic backups

Once you’ve done that, you need to make sure those backups actually work. Think about it – a backup isn’t much use if you can’t restore a working copy of your site from it, right?

To check that:

  • Find your most recent backup
  • Try to restore your site to a development or staging site from your backup
  • If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to go back to step one and find a backup solution that does work.

4. See How Your Site Is Doing In The SERPs

If you’re already focused on SEO, you probably don’t need a reminder to check your site’s positions in the SERPs. I bet you’re already watching those metrics like a hawk.

But even if you aren’t the SEO type, it’s still a good idea to periodically check in on how your site is ranking to make sure that you’re on the right track.

Unfortunately, doing this manually isn’t the best approach because of how Google personalizes search results pages (though it does work in a pinch as a rough estimate).

If you want a more accurate look at how your site is ranking, including whether it’s trending up or down, you can use a service like SERPBook.

SERPBook lets you track your keywords on a daily or bihourly basis so that you quickly pop in and see how your site is doing (and catch potential issues before they balloon):

serpbook

5. Test Important Functionality Like Forms And Checkouts

Here’s a stupid thing I did that probably cost me some work:

I installed a new caching plugin on my portfolio site. After activating it, I checked my site and everything seemed to be working normally. Plus, my site was loading faster than before.

Success, right?

Well, mostly. What I didn’t realize is that the new caching plugin broke my contact form sometimes. So a significant chunk of the people who wanted to contact me couldn’t. As a freelancer, that means lost revenue potential…which sucks.

So what’s the point of that whole story? It’s important to periodically check the important functionality on your site.

Even small things that you wouldn’t think of – like changing caching plugins – can quietly break important functionality.

To avoid potential issues:

  • Open an incognito tab (this is to ensure you experience your site as a normal user)
  • Manually perform the actions you expect your users to do, e.g. send yourself a message via your contact form, register for your site, etc.

6. See How Your Site Does On Mobile

In 2016, mobile web browsing outranked desktop browsing for the first time ever. That means you need to be especially careful about the health of the mobile version of your site.

Here’s how to check that your site is healthy on both desktop and mobile devices:

responsive design checker

And if you need a dedicated solution to make your website mobile friendly, consider integrating something like Google AMP for WordPress.

7. See If You Have Any Broken Links (Then Fix Them)

Broken links are any links on your site that aren’t working as intended. These could be either links to your own site or to external sites.

Broken links are insidious because they drag down your user experience and might even cost you money (if you’re linking to something that makes you money).

How do you do find them? I actually wrote an entire post on how to find broken links on WordPress.

8. Check For 404 Errors And See If You Can Fix Them

404 errors occur when a visitor tries to access a non-existent page on your website. While checking for broken links should have fixed any 404 errors stemming from broken internal links, you can’t easily check for broken links on other people’s websites.

But by monitoring 404 errors, you can look for trends to find out if:

  • Another site accidentally linked to the wrong page (then you can ask them to fix it and get more non-404 traffic!).
  • Google is still indexing a page that you deleted or moved.

If you have Google Analytics installed, here’s how to check for 404 errors on your WordPress site:

  • Go to Behavior → Site Content → All Pages in Google Analytics
  • Choose Page Title as the Primary Dimension
  • Add an Advanced Filter for “not found”
  • Click Apply

look for 404 pages

Then, to find the specific URLs, click on the Page not found result and Google will tell you the actual URLs that caused the 404 error(s):

individual 404 pages

Looks like my one affiliate link was broken for a period in October – I guess I need to practice what I preach!

Wrapping Things Up

By proactively checking in on the health of your website, you can maintain its stellar performance and catch any potential issues before they become serious.

You don’t necessarily need to check every day – but checking these 8 tips at least once every 3 months will help ensure you have a healthy website that’s ready for the long haul.

8 Helpful WordPress Analytics Plugins That Aren’t All Named Google Analytics

You’ve got a WordPress website – congrats! Now you need to figure out how to make your website better. And part of doing that is learning more about your content and your visitors. Figuring out what content is the most popular, where your visitors are coming from, what they’re clicking on…

That all helps build a more successful website.

But if you want to do that on WordPress, you’re going to need help. That’s where WordPress analytics plugins come in. And that’s also where most WordPress blogs rattle off a list of Google Analytics plugins and call it a day.

To avoid that, I’m going to spend this post covering a variety of WordPress analytics plugins. Yes – one of those plugins deals with Google Analytics – but the rest open up new analytics options you might not have known about.

*Note – I’m going to refer to all of these as “plugins” because they all offer a dedicated WordPress plugin. But a few of these tools are technically SaaS products. The plugin terminology is used for simplicity.

Read Full Article

Gutenberg Editor Review: Thoughts on the New WordPress Editor

For the longest time, you’ve been writing your WordPress posts in the open source TinyMCE Editor that’s included in the core WordPress software. Sometime soon, likely WordPress 5.0, that’s slated to change with the introduction of the brand new Gutenberg Editor.

Yes, the WordPress team is in the process of completely changing the content creation experience. It’s a pretty big deal.

Just recently, the team released the beta version of the Gutenberg Editor to the public. It’s listed on WordPress.org, so you can try it out for yourself (though don’t do that on a production site).

But before you run off to experiment, I thought I’d dig in and give you my very own Gutenberg Editor review.

Read Full Article

Is Your Law Firm’s Website Secure? 9 Tips for Optimal Security

If you’re part of a law firm, I doubt you need me telling you about how important security is in the legal world. And while I’m sure you follow all of the best security practices for your real-world practice, do you apply the same attention to detail to your law firm’s website?

Beyond the risk of losing data, getting hacked can interrupt your business and lessen your reputation in the eyes of your clients. That’s any firm’s worst nightmare, right?

And while many people have grandiose visions of talented hackers rapidly typing away to sneak their way into the Fort Knox that is your website…the truth is often much simpler:

Sites get hacked because they fail to follow the most basic of security practices.

Basic security might not be the most exciting topic in the world, but following some simple tips to secure your law firm’s website can ensure that your site is safe from most of the common exploits.

In this post, I’ll dig into some foundational security tips to secure your law firm’s website and protect your data, your client’s data, and your reputation.

Read Full Article

The 10 Must-Have Features of Highly Successful Law Firm Websites

When you set out to create your law firm’s website, I think it’s a fair assessment to say that you did not do it just for fun. No – I’m guessing you’re working on your firm’s website for one key business goal:

Finding more clients.

That’s right. Merely having “a website” should never be the only goal. The goal is to have a website that gets you more clients”.

But what are the features that take you from a generic law firm website to a client-grabbing, business-boosting website? That’s the key question, and that’s the topic I’m going to cover in this post.

When you’re finished reading this post, you’ll know the 10 features of highly successful law firm websites. Bake these tips into your firm’s website if you want to get more clients from your digital ventures.

Read Full Article