Your website is an indispensable part of your brand. It’s often one of the first points of contact that you have with potential customers, so it should be accessible, informative, and up-to-date.
But sometimes, it’s hard to keep your website a priority, especially if you don’t have a dedicated IT team. You already made a great choice by using WordPress and its easy-to-update interface.
Your platform only does so much. That’s why we’ve compiled some of our best practices for managing your WordPress site.
1) Don’t forget mobile
So many of your site visitors will be looking at your content on a mobile device. Luckily, WordPress makes it pretty easy to activate a mobile theme. As long as your WP version is up-to-date, you should already be optimized for mobile. The things you have to worry about are your plugins, specifically popups, which can be less mobile-friendly. We recommend checking your mobile site routinely just to be safe, especially after any big update.
2) Review your site quarterly (with updates as needed)
It’s important to have a system in place to review your website content, layout, and functionality. Generally, it’s best to take a look each quarter. Look at the numbers and see where you can improve. Having a set time to review your site will keep you on schedule and help site maintenance from falling through the cracks.
3) Ensure your site is on-brand
We all have biases, especially when it comes to projects that we spend a lot of time on. So sometimes you need to bring in a third-party to evaluate your site’s messaging. Find an expert or just ask new employee (after ensuring harsh criticism is welcome, of course) to read through site with an objective eye, looking for things that might not line up with what you think you are communicating.
4) Automate as much as possible
Keeping your daily or weekly site maintenance to a minimum is a plus. This is one of the places where your hosting provider comes in handy. They can automatically update your plug-ins for you to keep your site up-to-date.
5) Publish, publish, publish!
Google loves fresh content! After you know the technical aspects of your site are good to go, it’s time to focus on updating your site’s content through a blog or by adding more information to your extant pages. Fresh content means a boost to SEO, which of course means more traffic and more business. Unless you have a yearning to take on regular copywriting, this is where contracted content creators can come in handy (and quickly pay off).
6) Update core content
It can be easy to get caught up in updating your site’s blog with new, timely information and totally forget about the core content on your site. This is the stuff that everyone’s looking at when they are trying to determine if they should do business with you. If you don’t refresh it once in a while, it can quickly become dated (at least, by internet standards). We recommend assigning the task of ensuring core content is still relevant to one person who can make the call when it’s time to assign a copywriter.
7) Consult analytics
Not everyone’s a numbers person, but, as they say, numbers don’t lie. Analytics are one of the most useful tools in your belt, and they are so easy to consult nowadays. Your key performance indicators (traffic, bounce, etc) can tell you what you need to focus on next time it’s time for some site maintenance.
8) Ask customers about your site
Something about your website made them want to do business with you. Why not ask what? Information from real people who have real interactions with your website can help direct you towards what to update or prioritize. You just have to make sure you’re asking them the right way. Anything from social media polls to personalized feedback forms can be effective as long as your questions are focused and your customer knows that their feedback is valued.
9) Maintain your website constantly, and don’t be afraid to ask for help
Once website maintenance falls out of the day-to-day scope of operations, it can easily fall behind. Managed hosting will take care of a lot of the day-to-day for you, which leaves you and your team time to focus on your site’s aesthetics, content and the next big redesign. But remember that just because you aren’t interacting with your site directly everyday doesn’t mean that it should fall out of mind. Once a website overhaul is complete, it’s not time to forget about your site for a bit — it’s time to start thinking about the next overhaul.
10) Coordinate your marketing and web teams
A website is both a marketing tool and a technical asset. This means that your marketing experts and your web experts should be communicating about everything from post themes to the next big WP update. Visible updates can also be a great marketing tool when timed correctly, and it takes coordination from both teams to do so.
11) Remember SEO best practices
Once you have your content creation plan in place, it’s time to brush up on your SEO practices. Keywords in your title tags, non-broken links (both internal and external), easy to find and properly labeled content, etc. There are a lot of pieces to keep track of, but what’s a website if no one can find it?
12) Manage your plugins
Plug-ins can make or break a site (literally). Your managed hosting provider can make sure that everything is kept up-to-date, as well as provide advice about what plug-ins will work best for your site. Ultimately, though, it’s up to you how many plug-ins you want to include. Just remember, as cool as they are, you can have too many.
13) Make sure your themes are compatible with your site usage
There are so. Many. Themes. It’s overwhelming, even for us, sometimes. Your theme is dependent on your site’s primary role. Are you selling a software product? You’ll need space for short, not-too-technical blurbs and some cool graphics. Are you an art gallery? Then you probably want something more minimal and visually-oriented. One thing’s for sure: don’t choose something too feature-rich, which can appear cluttered and hinder performance.
It’s no wonder why web development and maintenance becomes a full time job, and even a team’s worth of work as organizations scale and site needs expand. If you don’t have the skillset to keep up with the basics, hire internally or source a vendor that can help. Check out our Strategic Partner Program to see what options are out there!