As the new year approaches, we’re seeing a dash from our customers to get their sites ready for 2018. Content changes, site scans, and site updates are all part of getting ready for the new year.

In this blog, we give you three easy steps to follow to get your WordPress sites ready for the 2018 year. While these steps aren’t exhaustive, following these three basic guidelines will get your site to the starting line for a good year in 2018.

Backup Your Current Site

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This is like unplugging your refrigerator before going to work on it. Backing up your site is the first thing you want to do before making any changes to your site.

Ideally, you’ll continue to make backups to your site throughout the year but if that’s not possible, making backups before major changes is HIGHLY recommended.

We recommend setting daily backups through your hosting environment, like WPEngine or Bluehost. This is the most stress free way of backing up your site; backups are automatic and usually performed daily. If you lose content or your site becomes corrupted, it’s easy to restore your site to a previous point in time.

If that’s not available to you, there are a host of backup plugins (both free and premium) that are offered to WordPress users. While we won’t go into detail here, you can see an exhaustive list of these plugins over at WPBeginner.

Whether you choose to have your site backed up through your hosting environment or through a plugin, having your site backed up will give you the safety net and the piece of mind for a successful year in 2018.



Perform a Security Scan

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Checking your site for hacked plugins or malware is something that we recommend on a daily basis. Having a hacked site, especially for an e-commerce store, can wreak havoc and cost, literally, thousands of dollars.

Protecting your site through a hosting environment is simple and an ideal way to prevent large scale attacks. By having your site on a dedicated server, you mitigate the risk of security breaches from large, shared servers. A dedicated server can be costly however and not available to most small WordPress users.

For most users, a reputable hosting environment and good housekeeping are the best remedies to prevent site hacks. Things like:

    1. Updating your login credentials to include strong passwords;

    2. Updating your plugins and themes;

    3. Deleting unused plugins and;

    4. Limiting user access can go a long way to preventing site breaches and hacks.

Check out this extensive article over at WPMUDev for a complete checklist.

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You can check your site for security breaches by using this dandy little tool over at Sucuri. Their security scan is basic but it provides a quick glance into the security of your WordPress site.

If you do find a breach, you can reach out to us for a fix or, the folks over at Sucuri really do a great job cleaning up site hacks.


Update Your Plugin and Themes

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You remember the Panama Papers leak? Where heads of state and wealthy individuals had their private tax evasions leaked to the public? Well, that was able to happen because of an outdated Slider Revolution plugin...that’s embarrassing.

Updating your site theme and plugins not only keeps your site running smoothly and fast, it keeps hackers from taking advantage of site vulnerabilities.

It’s best practice to visit your site once a week to update your theme, plugins, and core updates. This frequency is enough to catch updates as they come out without having to visit your site every day.

Before you update your site, we always recommend making a site backup before updating. A lot of WordPress errors come from plugin conflicts and it’s common for these to occur during the update stage.

If you have questions on best practices here, reach out to us; we’ll be happy to help.  


Content, Content, Content

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Your site is in good working order: it’s backed up, it’s bug free, and it’s completely up-to-date. Yay for you! But now what?

Now it’s time for content.

As a small business owner, your audience wants to stay engaged with you. They want to get valuable content to know how they can benefit from your business. They want to hear from you!

But creating content is difficult, we know. That’s why we create as many tools as we can to make the process easier.

By far the most valuable tool is a simple content calendar. By mapping out your content over the year, you take out the guesswork of thinking each week, “I should write a blog or send out a newsletter.” A finished content calendar will tell you what you’re sending out and when.

You can make your content calendar as in-depth or as vague as you want. Just know, the more work you put in up front, the less work you’ll have to do when it’s content delivery time. Creating a simple Excel sheet with dates, ideas, and rough content will take the guesswork out of your customer engagement.

Like I said, it doesn’t need to be exhaustive or perfect, but just starting something can really help the content process along.  


Conclusion

Being prepared for a new year can really set you up for success. These simple steps should only take an hour or so and will save you weeks of time in the future.

We always strive to keep things simple at ValiusWP. If you’re ever confused about what we’re saying or just need some simple guidance, reach out to us; we’ll be happy to help!

ValiusWP

About the author

Kolby lives in the outskirts of Sacramento, CA with his lovely wife. For the past 10 years, he ran a digital media company "Knickerbocker Productions". In 2015, he partnered with Steven Kaufman to found Valius, an online WordPress service company. He brings decades of project management, digital marketing, production and customer service to his work at Valius (WP and Digital). He is the Director of Digital Marketing and Lead Customer Service agent at ValiusWP.

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