Welcome to my new 2017 monthly column – Keep WordPress Happy: Essential Tips!
At the end of every month this year I’ll be covering any big WordPress-related news, new favorite tools, and of course maintenance tips & reminders to keep your website healthy and working at full steam for your biz.
Cuz ain’t nobody got time for website mischief, yo!
Keep WordPress Happy: Essential Tips – January 2017
What’s up in the WordPress world?
Starting January 1, 2017, Google started penalizing the search rankings of websites that don’t have an SSL certificate (WordPress and otherwise). So in addition to mobile friendliness and content quality being super important to Google these days, now your website needs to have an SSL certificate too if you wanna stay on the search engine’s good side.
What’s an SSL certificate (and how can you get one)?
An SSL certificate secures your website’s connection from a web server to a browser. It’s what takes you from http://website.com to https://website.com and shows a padlock next to the domain. It used to be only for websites that processed sensitive data such as credit card information, but now Google is making it very valuable for anyone who wants to keep their website ranking high in search results.
You can buy an SSL certificate via your domain registrar (wherever you bought your website domain) and renew it yearly. Each domain you have needs its own SSL certificate, you can’t buy one and share it across domains.
Read more about why you need SSL and what it will mean for your website here on Forbes. Don’t stress if you haven’t done it yet — even I haven’t gotten around to it yet — just get to it when you can.
FYI some hosting providers like Siteground are providing them to you for free when you sign up for their hosting, so that’s a neat way for you to get killer website hosting and save money on something that will boost your security and help your Google rankings. Score!
You can also get a free SSL certificate via Let’s Encrypt (which is what Siteground uses) no matter where you’re hosting your website. And if you’re DIYing it, here are tips from Google on how to do it right.
New favorite WordPress tools
1) WP Smush It
You already know I’m big on optimizing images before upload — whether stock photos for your blog, About page, or anywhere else you’d like to put ‘em — and now I have a new favorite tool to compress images: it’s called WP Smush and it’s free, baby! Give it a whirl.
2) Yoast SEO Premium
If you’re on WordPress and care about your SEO, you’re probably already using the Yoast plugin, which is fantastic even in its free version (see my Yoast video tutorial on it here).
Well I recently started using Yoast SEO Premium and it’s pretty nice. My favoritest feature? When writing new content, it suggests blog posts and pages you already have that you can link to to build your internal linking juice, saving you valuable time. Shazam!
Your Monthly WordPress Maintenance
Whether you only have 5 minutes to give your website a checkup or can spare a full 30min for your monthly maintenance (recommended to keep WordPress happy!), I’ve got ya covered, supahero.
Here’s what you need to do this month:
- If you’re not on a secure, managed server, make sure you’re using a security plugin like Wordfence and quickly run your site through a security filter like Sucuri’s: http://sitecheck.sucuri.net/
- Check for broken links – use this baby to make it a snap: Broken Link Checker
- Make sure your backups are running smoothly so you have a Plan B if disaster strikes (I like Backup Buddy). Ideally, take a little time to restore one and make sure everything you need is there.
- Haven’t gotten a message through your contact form in the past few weeks? Test it!
- Haven’t gotten a new subscriber in a little while? Test your opt-in forms!