At UpdraftPlus, we genuinely want to help you get more from your WordPress website. So we got ’round a (virtual) table and discussed; what are some of the regular checks and actions new WordPress users should take to help maintain good WordPress site health?

We questioned our team of developers and came up with the most important WordPress health checks to improve the speed and overall health of your site:

  1. Check your e-Commerce functionality
  2. Use the WordPress health checker
  3. Check for updates
  4. Clean the database, cache and compress image
  5. Check user privileges
  6. Check for malware and view recent file changes
  7. Check for broken links in Google Search Console
  8. Bonus tip for managing multiple WordPress websites

Check your e-Commerce functionality

‘If your WordPress website is also a WooCommerce store, it’s worth running a few tests so you can be confident everything is behaving as it should for the end user.’

Here are some key checks to carry out to make sure your store is working correctly:

  1. Place test orders: Test the entire purchasing process by placing a test order using different payment methods.
  2. Check payment gateways: Verify that payment gateways are processing payments correctly. Use a sandbox or test modes if available.
  3. Inventory management: Create test products and check if inventory levels are accurately updated when orders are placed.
  4. Shipping calculations: Test various shipping scenarios to ensure accurate calculations.
  5. Checkout process: Assess and sense check the overall checkout experience to identify any potential issues, such as confusing buyer journeys, website errors, and post-purchase care.

Use the WordPress health checker

If you haven’t looked at it for a while, it’s probably worth revisiting the WordPress site health checker. This tool shows information about your WordPress configuration and items that need your attention, separated into critical issues and recommended actions. To find it:

  • Navigate to ‘Tools’
  • Then, ‘Site Health’

Critical issues include things like SSL not being enabled. Recommended actions may include removing inactive plugins or inactive themes. It’s worth checking what these are and taking the associated action to improve your WordPress site health. 

Check for updates

‘Regularly updating your website is of course critical to maintaining good WordPress site health. This should include plugins, themes, core WordPress, languages, and translation files.  Keeping these elements up to date helps keep your site secure and it ensures any bug fixes or compatibility issues are applied to your site.’  

Follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress Dashboard.
  2. Navigate to the Updates section. You can find this under the Dashboard menu or by clicking on the Updates notification on the left sidebar.
  3. Review the available updates for plugins, themes, and WordPress core.
  4. Check the boxes next to the items you want to update, then click Update Plugins or Update Themes.
  5. For core WordPress, click Update Now.

Or use Easy Updates Manager to customize which aspects of your site should be updated automatically.

Here’s how:

  1. Get it for free from the WP plugin directory
  2. Install and activate Easy Updates Manager.
  3. Go to the plugin’s settings from the Dashboard menu.
  4. Configure your update settings e.g.  automatic updates for WordPress core.
  5. Save your settings.

Clean the database, cache and compress images

‘Users care about how quickly they get to interact with your site. We recommend installing a website optimization plugin like WP-Optimize and then running periodic optimizations.’

WP-Optimize is particularly easy to use. It’s an all-in-one solution that speeds up your site by cleaning your database, compressing images and caching your site.

The free version packs a punch but to really turbo boost your site, you could consider installing Premium which preloads key requests, applies power tweaks to WordPress core and comes with premium features like lazy loading and the ability to identify orphaned / unused images. 

Follow these steps:

  1. Install and activate WP-Optimize  (free or Premium). 
  2. In the Optimizations tab, check each box to instantly clean up things like database tables, post revisions, auto draft posts, spam and trashed comments. You can do this manually e.g. on a monthly basis or set a schedule (free and Premium). 
  3. Under ‘Caching’ click ‘Enable page caching’. WP-Optimize automatically detects and configure itself to work optimally on your WordPress website. 
  4. Choose your preferred level of image compression. Click once to automatically compress all new images to your preferred settings.
  5. Consider enabling minification to reduce file sizes further and enhance loading speeds. 

Check user privileges

‘User privileges and security are paramount for your WordPress site health. Follow these steps to maintain robust security.

  1. Review user roles: Go to Users in your Dashboard. Check that the right users have the right level of access. Remove any freelancers, agency staff or employees no longer working with you and ensure admin and super admin privileges are given only to those who need them. 
  2. Implement two-factor authentication: Make sure existing and new users have two-factor authentication installed. Two-factor authentication requires the user to authenticate via an additional mechanism (over and above a username and password) providing an extra layer of protection for your WordPress website.
  3. Consider installing a WordPress security plugin. All-In-One Security (AIOS) is stacked with login security features including two-factor authentication, comprehensive firewall and content protection features. Its premium counterpart comes with added functionality whilst being cost-effective – particularly for large numbers of sites vs its nearest rival. 

Check for malware and view any recent file changes

‘Plugins like AIOS allow users to view recent file changes and events on their sites. We recommend this is done regularly as part of a WordPress health check to ensure the security of your site. Users can see whether a change was genuine and authentic or whether something suspicious has been going on. Users should also undertake regular malware scans. Google can blacklist websites that contain malware. Malware scanning allows you to check for signs of trouble and take action, before it’s too late.’

Follow these steps to bring your site security up to scratch:

  1. Install and activate the AIOS plugin.
  2. Go to the plugin’s settings and configure malware scanning schedules.
  3. Use the file change monitoring feature to detect unauthorized alterations promptly.

Check for broken links in Google Search Console

Google Search Console helps website owners and webmasters monitor and manage their website’s health and presence in Google’s search results. It offers a range of tools and insights that assist in optimizing a website’s performance and visibility in Google’s search engine. It’s definitely worth integrating into a monthly WordPress health check. Pages might not be being indexed by Google or broken links may have appeared leading to 404 error pages. These things impact the user experience and can negatively impact SEO.’

  1. Sign up for Google Search Console and verify your website.
  2. Click on ‘Overview’ in the console’s panel to see a high-level view of your website’s performance and key metrics related to its presence in Google search results.
  3. View flagged errors, such as 404 pages, page indexing discrepancies, and broken links by clicking on ‘full report’ on the ‘Indexing’ section in the console overview dashboard. 
  4. Filter further by clicking on one of the reasons listed beneath the ‘Why pages aren’t being indexed’ section to see affected pages.

Bonus tip for managing multiple WordPress websites

If you’re responsible for overseeing multiple WordPress websites you may want to consider installing UpdraftCentral. It allows you to access all your WordPress websites’ dashboards with one master login. You can manage updates, users, pages, posts, plugins and backups from one location. Communications are RSA encrypted and signed. And, if you manage five WordPress websites or less, it’s completely free. Try it for free by visiting ‘My account’ when logged into UpdraftPlus.