The back end of your WordPress website includes all the nuts and bolts that keep it running like a well-oiled machine. It’s easy to overlook these behind-the-scenes functions because they’re not as front-facing as your site’s design and content. But it’s important to keep these back-end components in good working condition and do a back-end audit to maintain a fast, stable and secure website.
You don’t need to be a developer or a techie to tackle a backend audit of your WordPress site. Here’s a quick to-do list to help ensure that your website stays speedy, secure, and glitch-free:
💼 Keep Backups of Your Site
How many times have you seen the little updates notification in WordPress? And how many times have you run the updates right there on the spot?
There’s no shame there. It’s actually a common thing. In fact, many of the support requests we see for The Events Calendar come down to updating plugins without testing the updates first.
WordPress wants you to backup and test those updates, too:
If you’re not in the habit of making a backup before you update a plugin, theme, or WordPress itself, do yourself a favor and start now! Follow this site backup guide to learn how to export a backup of your content, images, user info, plugins, themes, configurations, and other important
Information. It might feel like another extra step, but backups are well worth the peace of mind.
🔗 Find (and Fix) Broken Links
Landing on a 404 page is one of the greatest bummers of the internet. Not only are broken links frustrating for your users, but they can also hurt your SEO and increase bounce rates. Make sure your site is free of broken links with our handy guide to finding and fixing them. Then, incorporate broken link maintenance into your routine at least every few months, or more often if you create a lot of content.
⚡️ Ramp up Site Speed
The performance of your website is more than it functioning correctly—it’s also about speed. Amazon discovered a while back that even one extra second of load times cost them $1.6 billion dollars in sales. Billion. While most of us aren’t operating at that scale, it shows the importance of a fast site.
Checking your site’s performance is fast (and kinda fun) with these following online tools:
- Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This provides a score between 0 and 100 with recommendations to get the score up. If Google is making the recommendations, then it’s a good idea to listen. 😉
- WebPageTest. This provides school-style grades on speed and shows exactly what’s slowing things down.
If you discover you have room to improve, run through this list (…see what we did there?) of five ways to increase page speed. Trust us: Your website—and your search engine rankings—will be better for it.
🔐 Lock Down Your Site Security
Website security is serious business. Users need to know their transactions are secure and their personal data is protected. Take steps now to bulletproof your site so it doesn’t become an issue in the future.
One key is to install an SSL certificate on your site. That’s fancy talk for a site that has https in the address versus http. The Chrome browser actually tells visitors if a site is not secure.
And, of course, use strong passwords for all user accounts in WordPress, especially for administrators. 1Password makes it easy to both create and remember difficult passwords. Be sure to do the same with your hosting because there are multiple avenues to hacking into a site.
WordPress is very good about releasing security updates. So, install those but… remember to be careful with those backups! 😎
🧹 Clear Out Outdated Plugins
Clear out the WordPress plugins you don’t use anymore, and check for updates on the rest. And check the last time a plugin was updated before (or even after!) you install it. Those sleepers can reveal vulnerabilities that are out of sync with newer versions of WordPress.
If you use plugins from The Events Calendar, you can follow our release notes to stay in the loop on our latest updates.
We just threw a whole lot of ideas your way! But remember: you don’t need to audit everything. Your backend website audit doesn’t need to be an extensive, days-long process. Stick to the parts that matter most to your site and your goals. Then, you’ll be on your way to taking your site performance from OK to absolutely amazing.
More Posts from This Series
- How to Perform a Back-End Audit of Your WordPress Website (This Post)
- WordPress Website Tips for Auditing the User Experience of Your Site
- Starting a Content Audit for Your WordPress Website
- How to Perform an Audit of Your WordPress E-commerce Site
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