WordPress is a robust and flexible platform for creating a website. It can be challenging, though, to keep up with all the moving parts. To be sure your site is running optimally, you need to perform regular performance audits. The following is a handy checklist to help you track what’s going on with your WordPress site.
1. Page Loading Speed
If you want your website to capture more leads and sales, it’s essential that pages load quickly. Any delay will cause you to lose traffic. In fact, studies show that many visitors will abandon a site after a mere 3 seconds. Google also uses page loading speed as a ranking factor so it may affect your SEO. Be sure to test your site on multiple devices. There are quite a few tools to help you test page loading speed, such as Google PageSpeed Insights. If your site isn’t as fast as you’d like, here are a few tips to speed things up:
- Install a caching plugin such as WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache.
- Remove unused files from your WordPress database.
- Chrome Developer Tools provide you with a convenient way to test many functions of your site. Run your website from the users’ perspective. You can emulate users’ experience on various devices by clicking on the device icon. Waterfall charts provide a quick look at how the browser is loading pages.
- Reduce image sizes. There are many plugins and services for optimizing images for WordPress.
2. Web Hosting
Your web host plays a key role in your website’s overall performance. This includes speed, security, and access to resources such as file space and features. If you find that your current hosting plan doesn’t meet your needs you can look at other web hosting companies. If you’re not satisfied with the overall performance, customer service, pricing, or available features from your current host it may be time to shop for an alternative. On the other hand, you can also look into upgrading to another plan from your current host.
Shared hosting is the cheapest but it’s also the least secure and offers the least amount of resources. If you run multiple websites using several domains, add-on domains, or sub-domains, you should consider upgrading to managed WordPress hosting, reseller hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, cloud hosting, or a dedicated server. Even if you only have a single site, upgrading your hosting can make a big difference. Here are some recommendations for reliable WordPress hosting:
3. WordPress Security
Security is a concern for all website owners, even if you only run a small business. Hackers target sites of all sizes and they often go after WordPress sites. Don’t wait until you’ve been hacked to find out that your site is vulnerable. Here are some ways to test your site and make it more secure.
- Always use the latest version of WordPress. The easiest way to do this is to set up automatic updates. However, there may be reasons you may not want to do this. For example, if you’re using any plugins, themes, or customizations you may want to make sure they’re compatible with the latest WP version. WordPress will give you a notification on your admin page if you’re not using the latest version.
- Update themes and plugins. Remember to check your plugins for updates. Using outdated versions leaves you more vulnerable.
- Scan your site for potential problems. WPScan is a free product that will test your site’s security. Wordfence and Jetpack are also popular plugins to scan your site for security issues.
- Use an SSL Certificate, which encrypts information between users’ web browsers and your server.
- Add two-factor authentication for logging into your admin page. This makes it harder for unauthorized users to access your site.
4. WordPress User Experience
User Experience (UX) is a crucial aspect of WordPress performance. UX refers to how easy and user-friendly visitors find your site. On the one hand, it’s the sum total of the design and performance. There are also some specific areas that you can look at to measure UX.
- Navigation. Users must be able to easily find what they’re looking for or they won’t spend much time on your site. Make sure your pages and menus are accurately labeled and easy to see. Breadcrumb navigation helps visitors keep track of where they are on a site and lets them easily return to a previous page.
- Responsive design. Make sure your site is equally accessible to people on all types of devices. It’s especially important to make the site mobile-friendly as more and more people use smartphones to shop and access websites.
- Use images strategically. As the internet gets ever more visually oriented, it’s important to use high quality, relevant, and eye-catching images. At the same time, don’t make your pages so cluttered that it’s hard for people to focus on anything. Clutter reduces the effectiveness of your calls-to-action and can also slow down your site.
- Make your text readable. You obviously want visitors to read your text but some websites make this difficult by using very small fonts, having very long paragraphs, or using background colors that don’t contrast with the font color. Using sufficient white space between sections and adding lists and bulleted lists make your content more readable.
5. WordPress Content and SEO Audit
Your content strategy is another area that you should audit consistently. This includes a number of factors such as:
- Keywords. Are you focusing on the right keywords in your content? Your post and page titles, headings, and image tags should all be optimized.
- Local SEO. If you’re a local business, local SEO is extremely important these days. Be sure to include keywords related to your city, region, and neighborhood. Local landmarks can also be helpful. For example, if you’re trying to rank your law firm locally you might include terms such as “lawyer near Minneapolis Convention Center.”
- Use a plugin such as Yoast to easily check SEO factors before publishing posts. SEMrush is another useful plugin that helps you manage your advertising as well as SEO.
- Revisit old content. If your SEO strategy has changed, you may want to go back and edit or remove some old posts. This is also good to do when you have outdated facts or statistics to update. Or you may be targeting new keywords that you can work into older content.
- Practice internal linking. Linking internally is a simple and powerful SEO strategy that helps you rank. It’s also a way to keep visitors on your site longer as they check out different pages.
WordPress Requires Regular Monitoring & Maintenance
WordPress audits help you stay up to date with how your site is performing. This is something that you need to do consistently to keep up with the latest changes and challenges. WordPress is always evolving and website owners need to keep up with the latest issues regarding SEO, UX, security, and content. While you can rely on many tools to help you audit your site, don’t overlook the value of eye tests. Browse your own site and ask people whose opinions you trust to do the same. If something doesn’t look quite right to you, there’s probably something you can do to improve it.
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