So you have got yourself a charming WordPress website having a great UI and all the right functionalities. You have also spent some real money for its SEO to make it stand apart in this online jungle we all live in. However, even after spending a lot of money, if you have been lately noticing that visits and clicks on your website are incessantly dwindling, then this post is just for you.
We all know that WordPress is a great platform for developing awesome websites. According to a research  around 23 % of the top 10 million websites available on internet today have been developed on WordPress. However, despite being an amazing platform, WordPress, in a way, needs you to regularly maintain your website. You simply cannot afford the make-it-and-forget-it approach.
You are probably thinking-WHY? Okay, let’s delve a bit deeper and find out “why”.
Enriched User Interaction & Improved Performance: Everybody is interested in new. If visitors don’t find anything happening on your website, they are bound to move somewhere else. Updates keep visitors intrigued. By regularly updating the WordPress software, theme and installed plug-ins, you can keep your website look fresh all the time. Updated plug-ins greatly improve the performance of your site as they make your website respond quicker to data queries and scripts. New updates also bring some new interactive tools, which you can use to add some new charisma to overall appeal of your site.
Error Removal: Numerous plug-ins and the software itself have some tacit bugs and functionality errors which make your website vulnerable to hacking and spamming. Moreover, bugs may ruin the overall functionality and user experience of your site. Regular updates fix these errors, saving your site from any glitch or hack attack.
Reinforced Security: Security, in fact, is the most important reason for maintenance of your website. Being one of the largest CMS used all around the world, WordPress has always been in the crosshairs of hackers. According to statistics , the number of hacked WordPress websites has increased from 81,000 in 2009 to 170,000 in 2012. This rise is expected to continue with increasing popularity of WordPress. The root cause of these hacks can be divided into four segments as shown in chart below.
WordPress team, however, continuously work to make their platform stronger and release fixes to plug security loopholes regularly. So, you need to keep up with these updates.
Evolving Technology & Search Rankings: Web is changing at a faster pace today than ever. New software patches, new themes, new plug-ins etc. are being developed and released day in, day-out. You don’t want your website to lag behind when your competitors are giving more advanced and more enriching experience to your potential customers. Moreover, search engines love continuously updated websites as they want their users to serve best and refreshed content all the time.
Now that you have understood the “Why” part of maintaining a site, let’s concentrate on the “How” part
Clean Up: Before updating, you need to clean up what you already have. You need to weed out the obsolete plug-ins, which at times, slow down your site. Similarly, cleaning out the junk from your website’s database also helps your website to run quickly. Faster loading improves the performance of your website. You can also install a cache plug-in such as Super Cache that decreases your site’s loading time considerably.
Back Up: Back up is like your insurance policy for the rainy day. Take multiple time-spaced copies of all your files as back up. Do it as often as possible or at least 2 times a year. Back up is the first thing to do before running your updates or doing any kind of maintenance. Some hosting companies offer automatic backup facility or you can install third-party plug-ins to do that.
Update: As mentioned before, updating WordPress, themes, and plug-in files are crucial. You can select auto-update feature for the WordPress core if you don’t want the hassle of doing it manually.
Plug-in bugs are responsible for around 22% of hacking2 (see the graph above!). As most of the WordPress plug-ins are developed by independent people, you need to check whether a plug-in you intend to install has been developed by a renowned developer or not and whether enough active installs for it are there or not. Plug-ins may need to be updated with every WordPress update. Do install an update for plug-ins when it is prompted in your dashboard.
Similarly, you should only choose a theme that has been developed by a trusted company. Malicious themes are a major contributor (29%)2 in hacking. Install theme updates whenever they are due.
Test Functionality: Keep on regularly checking how your website renders on different browsers as browsers are themselves regularly updated. Similarly, you should keep on checking navigation from every link on your website. Broken links are very frustrating for a user. Nobody wants to land on a 404 page.
Check Security: Periodic security review of your website is almost as important as updations. You must have a visual check on random pages of your website for any unusual inserted text or image. Similarly, you need to check whether all the links are directing where they are supposed to. Meta description of all your indexed pages must also be checked regularly. You can also install a security plug-in such as Wordfence that continuously scans threats and hacking attempts on your site.
Maintenance tasks may seem overwhelming at first, but as it is inculcated in your routine, you will notice that it’s not that big a deal. However, if you are routinely noticing unwanted customization on your site or loss of functionality, it is better to approach professionals for help.