Scanning and Fixing Your WordPress Site for Free with WP Checkup

Scanning and Fixing Your WordPress Site for Free with WP Checkup

When it comes to your WordPress website, what you don’t know can hurt you or at least your website. Instead of taking that chance, you can get free scans and fixes with WP Checkup.

Tracking your WordPress website regularly for issues is important. That’s how you can prevent major meltdowns of epic proportions or at least prevent problems from stunting your website’s growth or shutting it down.

WP Checkup is a free tool you can use to do a thorough scan of your website. Not only does it check for performance, security and SEO issues that need fixing, but it also provides you with fixes and condenses it all into a handy, straightforward PDF report as well.

Today, I’ll share more details about WP Checkup and show you how you can use it to scan and fix your WordPress website.

The Doctor is In

As I mentioned earlier, WP Checkup is a free tool you can use to scan your WordPress website for a multitude of issues in three categories:

  • Performance
  • Security
  • SEO

It’s like a free visit to your doctor’s office, but for your WordPress website. Don’t worry, your website won’t feel a thing. I promise.

When you visit the WP Checkup tool, you can enter the address of the website you want to evaluate, then in a single click, your website is scanned.

You can use WP Checkup to scan your WordPress website for free.

When the results are in, you get an overall score out of 100 to give you a head’s up on how your website is doing. The higher you score, the better your website is from a performance, security and SEO standpoint.

You also get a summary that includes how many tests your website passed as well as how many moderate and high-level risks WP Checkup has found.

WP Checkup provides you with an overall score and a summary of your results.

Then, you can scroll down to receive a breakdown of each category and whether or not there are issues that need fixing. If there are problems, you can fix them in a few clicks.

Scan details
WP Checkup provides you with a detailed assessment breakdown.

You can also choose to save a PDF report of the results or have a copy emailed to you for your reference, to pass along to your team or to a developer.

WP Checkup isn’t just a great tool for providing yourself with a sanity check for your site’s performance, SEO, or security. Of course, it’s very useful for that, but this is the kind of tool you could greatly benefit from by incorporating it into your workflow.

You could use it to scan websites prior to meeting with new clients, scan newly-built WordPress sites before you send them off to your clients or out into the world or use it at regularly scheduled intervals to ensure that all the websites you own or manage remain in tip-top shape.

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

WP Checkup scans for over 35 different potential problems your website could have within the three categories mentioned above. Below is a detailed breakdown of the issues that are covered in every scan.

Performance Assessment

Performance is assessed for you first in these ways:

  • Leverage browser caching
    One of the biggest killers of site speed and performance is page caching. The underlying issue is the strain HTTPS requests put on your server.
  • Optimize images
    Your visitors are less inclined today to read longer pages of text. Instead, they prefer images and videos to explain what you do and what you can offer them. But with more visual content comes more weight added to your server. That’s why image optimization is a must.
  • Remove render-blocking resources
    The most common culprits of render-blocking issues on your website are going to be CSS and JavaScript. Of course, you can’t build a WordPress site without them so you need to find a way to remove the render-blocking resources without doing away with them completely.
  • Improver server response time
    According to Google, the ideal server response time is below 200ms. This means something needs to load on your website within two seconds.
  • Minify JavaScript/CSS/HTML
    There are certain resources on your site that can take up a lot of room on your server. In turn, they also increase the amount of resources that need to be sent to your visitors’ browsers. To cut down on this, you need to minify your resources to enhance performance.
  • Enable compression
    Images are very important to the user experience on your website. That’s why you want to present them in full resolution. However, uploading oversized images could defeat the whole purpose of having them if your pages become too slow and bloated to load. That’s why image compression is necessary.
  • Prioritize visible content
    This concern is about how quickly above-the-fold content loads for visitors on your site. Since this is their first impression of your website, it’s important that you ensure there are no issues in how this top content renders.
  • Avoid landing page redirects
    For every page redirect you have, there becomes a need to send an additional HTTPS request to your visitors’ browsers. And that’s never good.

SEO Assessment

WP Checkup assesses for SEO in the following ways:

  • Canonical
    Canonical link tags are a way of indicating to search engines what the underlying URL is for the given web page. So, if someone happens to copy your content, the search engines will know which is the duplicate offender.
  • Favicons
    Favicons are a good way to keep your brand’s identity front-and-center, even if someone has left your website. By placing a unique icon that is representative of your brand within the open browser tab where your website resides (or allowing it to show up in bookmark lists and other online locales), your branding will be ever-present.
  • Generator
    This will tell you whether or not your current WordPress version is public knowledge or not (it shouldn’t be).
  • H1 Headings
    There are a variety of tags you might end up using on your WordPress site. The H1 tag is the one that tells search engines exactly what a page is about.
  • HTTPS
    SSL certificates and an HTTPS web address are necessary for ensuring the security of your website. Google has gone so far as to reward websites with higher search rankings that prioritize this type of security measure.
  • Image ALTs
    Alternative Image Text is beneficial for your site and its search ranking for two reasons: for one, it adds extra emphasis and helps explain to search engines what the focus of this content is, and secondly, it aids in accessibility for those who can’t view your images.
  • Meta Robots
    The meta robots tag gives you the ability to direct search engines on what they’re allowed to scan on your website.
  • Meta Description
    Every page and post on your website should have a meta description as this is what users will encounter when they find your website in a search. A succinct and accurate description will let them know whether it’s worth clicking on.
  • Microdata
    Schema.org microdata aids in the searchability of a website.
  • OpenGraph
    OpenGraph metadata is what enables you to seamlessly share your content (or have it shared by others) on social media.
  • Robots.txt
    This is another tool you can use to inform search bots on what they will find on your website and how to find it.
  • Sitemaps
    An XML sitemap will break your site down into its most minute parts: pages, posts and even taxonomies if you prefer. Then, his document is sent to the search engines so they can properly index your site for searches.
  • Title
    Every website should have a meta title that lets people know what your website is called.
  • URL Structure
    Your URL structure will be analyzed from a variety of angles. This tool will check to make sure there are no issues with the way it’s written. It will also check to see if any of your keywords were included within it for search optimization purposes.
  • Anchor Tags
    Anchor tags are the parts of your hyperlinked text URLs that dictate where users will be directed to and how.
  • Redundant Anchor Titles
    These titles are the keywords used to anchor the link to your website’s text. If you use the same phrase to link to different URLs, you may confuse the search engines with what that page is actually about.
  • Relative Anchors Pointing to Invalid IDs
    Basically, this will tell you if there are broken links on your site.
  • Uninformative Anchor Text
    Anchor text and titles should be descriptive enough so visitors know what they’re clicking on.
  • Duplicate element IDs
    When element IDs are duplicated on a website, you can run into problems when trying to execute jQuery or CSS functions since they won’t know which element to act on.
  • List of ARIA Roles
    There are a few different notes you’re going to receive here regarding ARIA (accessibility) roles and landmarks. The “roles” don’t pertain to people or user accounts, but instead refers to the various elements on your website and how they interact with one another. On the other hand, Landmarks inform users about where these roles occur on a page.

Security Assessment

As for security, the following areas are assessed:

  • WordPress Version
    Among other security measures you should take, removing the WordPress version is one you shouldn’t forget.
  • WordPress Core Secure
    The WordPress core is secure. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t subjected to hacking attempts just like all the plugins, themes, and other third-party tools you use. You can entrust the WordPress security team, but you still have to do your part to ensure your website’s security as well.
  • Blacklist Status
    The blacklist status refers to whether or not your domain has been flagged by security pros online as being unsafe to visit.
  • Full Path Disclosure
    Hiding your login page is just the start of the items you need to hide in WordPress. Be sure to keep all files containing sensitive information beneath the root.
  • Log Files
    This will check to see if the error or debug files are visible to people who visit your website. This is another way for hackers to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes of your website.
  • Config Files
    The wp-config.php file also needs to remain private.
  • Uploads Directory Listing
    It’s best practice to change the Includes and Uploads directories to protect uploaded files and the listings of your WordPress site.
  • XML-RPC
    While it may not always be possible for your website if you want to use the WordPress comments, pingbacks and trackbacks features, disabling XML-RPC is an important step to protecting your site.
  • Default Admin User
    Keeping the default admin user in WordPress is similar to locking the front door of your house, but leaving a note on the door letting everyone know where they can find you if they want to break in. It’s something that definitely should be changed.
  • Active Theme
    This will tell you what WordPress theme you’re currently using. It’s up to you to decide if it’s a trustworthy option.
  • Enumerated Users
    User enumeration refers to WordPress usernames being able to be figured out by adding a string to the end of the URL of a page on your site. This could leave your site open to brute force attacks since a hacker could discover a real account username.

Now that you’re more familiar with WP Checkup and how it works, let’s take a look at how you can run a scan of your WordPress website.

Better than a Slice of Google

You may have noticed that there are areas that WP Checkup scans for that is also covered by Google PageSpeed Insights Test. So should you just use Google’s test instead?

You could, but there are many areas that WP Checkup scans for that Google PageSpeed Insights does not. Also, if you continue to use Google’s tool, you’ll have to deal with their vague explanations of issues with suggestions for fixes that are just as sparse and don’t actually offer a way to fix anything.

WP Checkup can take care of all that for you. Not only are there explanations for each fix, but you can see additional details and you also get a way to fix the issue, not just a mere suggestion.

You can check out WP Checkup in action below, but better yet – you can try it out for yourself for free.

Scanning Your Website with WP Checkup

Getting a full free scan of your WordPress website only takes a few minutes. Adding any suggested fixes also takes a few clicks and you’re ready to go.

Start by going to the WP Checkup tool and entering your website’s address into the indicated field on the page, then click the Free Scan button.

If you have an SSL certificate installed for your website, it’s best if you enter the URL of your site with https:// at the beginning to ensure that version of your website is assessed for more accurate results.

I created a test site I want to scan and I don’t have an SSL certificate installed so I’m going to enter the basic website address.

WP Checkup Tool
Enter your URL into the field and click the Free Scan button to get started.

It may be important to note that one scan per day can be initiated. If you signed up for free, then the limit increases to one scan per hour to avoid overloading your site’s server. Although, you can get around this by signing up for free and installing the WPMU DEV Dashboard plugin on your site.

Once you have started the scan, a score dynamically appears as progress is made assessing your site.

WP Checkup scan in progress
As your site is being scanned, your score dynamically adjusts.

When WP Checkup is done, you should see your final overall result. As previously mentioned, your score is out of 100 and the higher your score, the better.

You can click the tabs toward the top to switch between the scores for each individual category as well as start a new scan by clicking the New Scan button on the top, right-hand side.

Additionally, you can send yourself a copy by clicking the Email button below your score or click the Download PDF button next to it to save a PDF copy of the report to your computer.

An example of the results of a WP Checkup scan for a test website.
You can view your site’s score and download the report once the scan has completed.

When you scroll down, you can see a full breakdown of your scores and each issue that your site passed or where something needs fixing.

Results with a green checkmark next to it means that your website passed the test for that particular part of your site that was assessed.

Hovering your mouse over the question mark icon beside each section reveals an individual score for that particular area. If your site scores lower than 100 for a potential issue, you can see how you can improve the score all the more by clicking the How to Fix button.

An example of a test site that has passed certain areas such as minifying CSS and Javascript.
Items marked with a checkmark means your site passed and that area doesn’t need fixing.

Hopefully, your site passed everything and you got a perfect 100 score in each category, but in case that didn’t happen, let’s check out how WP Checkup shows you issues that need to be resolved and how to fix them.

Issues that need serious and immediate attention are marked in red and have an “X” icon next to them. Issues that are not so serious and aren’t quite as urgent are in yellow and have an exclamation mark next to the corresponding section.

Similar to areas your site passed, you can hover over the question mark to see how your site faired for that individual issue.

You can also click the How to Fix button to see additional details and to fix the issue.

An example of a serious issue as reported by WP Checkup.
WPCheckup also shows you what needs serious attention and issues that aren’t quite as urgent.

Fixing the Problem Right. Stat. Now.

If you see an area of your site that needs serious (or not so serious) fixing, not to worry. You can set everything sraight in a few minutes.

Scroll to an area that was assessed as needing a fix and click the How to Fix button as mentioned earlier. An inline pop-up should appear with more details and a way to resolve the issue.

To fix your site, click on the button in the pop-up. Depending on the issue, the pop-up and button says different things, but no matter the issue, there’s a button or links you can click to fix your site.

If the site you scanned already has the WPMU DEV Dashboard, Hummingbird, Smartcrawl and Defender plugins installed, you can click those buttons to be redirected to your admin dashboard in a new tab.

From there, you can configure the options as the report suggested.

For example, I scanned my test site and WP Checkup let me know that I urgently need to enable compression. I clicked the How to Fix button and for this issue, there’s a button and it’s labeled as Configure GZip Compression.

The "How to Fix" pop-up in a WP Checkup report.
Click the button in the pop-up to fix the issue on your website.

Then, I was redirected to the Hummingbird settings in my admin dashboard where I could adjust the settings.

For sites that haven’t been introduced to WPMU DEV just yet, you can click the Install Now button in the pop-up to get started with fixing all the urgent (and not-so-urgent) issues.

How to Fix pop-up
Install the suggested plugin to fix all the issues listed in the report.

You’re redirected to The Hub. If you see your website on the list in the pop-up that appears, you can click the Install & Activate button next to it for single installs of WordPress or the Install & Network Activate button for Multisite networks.

When you do, the plugin is automatically installed for you.

You may see a button that says Configure instead and if that’s the case, go ahead and click that button. You’ll be redirected to the admin dashboard of your site where you can adjust the settings that the report suggested.

If your site isn’t listed, click the download link toward the bottom and installed the WPMU DEV Dashboard plugin on your site.

Installation pop-up in The Hub.
Follow the instructions in the pop-up from The Hub to continue.

After everything’s installed, you can go back to the WP Checkup tool. Your report is saved until you start a brand new scan.

You can peruse the rest of the report and follow the same steps outlined above to fix other issues that are listed.

Quick Tip: if you have clicked a How to Fix button in the WP Checkup report for one issue and want to check out another one right after, you can click the “X” icon at the top, right-hand corner of the pop-up to return to the report.

How to Fix pop-up
You can click the “X” icon in a pop-up to return to the report.

Wrapping Up

WP Checkup quickly and thoroughly scans your WordPress website for a myriad of areas in performance, security and SEO that could use some sprucing up. It lets you know what needs fixing, then promptly gives you a reliable fix.

It’s almost like a medical doctor, but for your website so give it a spin to see ways you can improve your website all the more.

Jenni McKinnon
Before using an online scanner, how were you reviewing your site for performance, security, and SEO issues? What kind of features do you want to see in WP Checkup? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.