Using WPMU DEV’s Plugins to Manage Your WordPress Site
Creating a new website is exciting. Installing WordPress, choosing your theme, activating plugins and creating your first posts is guaranteed to give you a burst of energy.
Update 7/24/18: Reports just got a major upgrade and are now both translation and subsite ready. Check it out!
It’s an undeniable fact that a high proportion of sites and blogs don’t last very long after this first burst of energy. But you don’t want yours to be one of those.
You need to find ways to keep on top of your site, to manage it and ensure that it never goes stale, is never hacked and never crashes.
In this post, I’ll take you through some of the tasks you need to carry out regularly in order to manage your WordPress site and ensure it works well for as long as you want (or need) it to. And I’ll show you some WPMU DEV plugins that can help you with those tasks.
An Overview of Site Management
Let’s start by taking a quick look at what site management involves. I think of site management as everything that you do to maintain your site, help it find an audience and ensure it performs as well as it possibly can. In fact, everything except content creation. This will include managing speed and performance, SEO, keeping your site secure, backing it up and restoring it when necessary, and measuring your site’s reach and success.
None of these sound very sexy, it’s true. You probably want to spend more time creating and publishing content, whether that be blog posts, product pages, videos or anything else you want to share with the world. But unless you effectively manage your site, it won’t grow and it’ll create a bunch of headaches for you if it should stop performing in the future.
So let’s take a look at some of the WPMU DEV plugins that will help you with site management.
Ensuring that your site is fast and reliable will help you gain and retain visitors and boost your search engine rankings too.
If your site is slow and people have to wait for it to load when they first visit, or they have to sit and wait while switching between pages, then they may leave before they’ve even started browsing. And if that doesn’t happen, they may be less likely to come back again in the future.
And it’s not just about human visitors. Performance will have an impact on your SEO. Google and other search engines will give a higher ranking to those sites that load quickly. So make sure yours is as fast as you can make it.
Our Hummingbird plugin will help you identify any performance issues with your site. It scans your site and checks that there’s nothing going on which will slow things down. And then it tells you exactly what you need to do to fix any issues. You scan your site as often as you need to – it’s a good idea to do so when you install new themes or plugins. And each time, Hummingbird will guide you through the actions you need to take to improve your site performance.
One of the things that can really slow a site down is large image files. Often the files you upload to your site will be larger than they need to be.
WordPress already does a great job of optimizing images, with images of different sizes saved automatically and full support for responsive images on mobile.
Our Smush Pro plugin takes things further. It’ll reduce the file size of all of your images so they’re no bigger than they need to be. When you install the plugin you can scan your entire site and compress all your images, and then it’ll smush new images as you upload them. And all without compromising quality.
Keeping your site up to date will enhance your security and performance. Most new releases are created in order to address any security issues, fix bugs and improve performance. Not keeping your site up to date will make it vulnerable.
Our Automate service will help you ensure that your site is always kept updated, without you having to lift a finger. You can select which plugins and themes are automatically updated – so if there’s a plugin that sometimes introduces bugs when it’s updated, or you want to automate plugin updates but not theme updates, then you can exclude anything you need to.
You set it up from the WMPU DEV Hub – more on this later.
Everyone who creates a WordPress site wants to see it move up the Google rankings so that as many people as possible will find and visit it. This is where SEO comes in.
Our SmartCrawl Pro plugin will let you optimize your site for search engines and configure how different parts of your site are crawled. It’ll create a sitemap, exclude content from being crawled if you need it to be, automatically link keywords to a specific page in your site and more. It builds on WordPress’s existing SEO benefits to help you get even more visitors by boosting your rankings.
If there’s one thing that I’d advise every single WordPress site owner to do as soon as they start creating their site and adding content, it’s to set up automatic backups.
Our Snapshot Pro plugin lets you create multiple automated backup schedules. So if you want to backup your database every day but only backup certain files once a week, you can. It also lets you create manual backups if you need to – which is a good thing to do before running a WordPress update.
For me, the most important aspect of any backup plugin is how easy it makes the restore process. When your site has crashed, gone down or been hacked you’ll be panicking and you may not be thinking straight – so you want a backup process that’s as quick and easy as possible. For me that’s Snapshot Pro’s biggest benefit – it has one-click restore to save you making a mistake.
You’ll be less likely to need to use those backups to restore your site if you keep it secure. A plugin to guard against hackers and other security breaches is essential to ensure that your site won’t be compromised.
Our Defender plugin is very powerful. When you first install it, it’ll scan your site for any security issues and tell you what you need to do to make things more secure, in the same way Hummingbird scans for performance issues.
It’ll then scan your site regularly and email you with the results of those scans – so if anything changes and you need to enhance security, you’ll know. And it’ll alert you if there’s a security breach of any kind.
Using Defender together with Snapshot Pro will make your site robust and minimize the chances of downtime and impact a security attack has on you and your users.
Once you’ve got your site up and running, you’ve ensured it’s performing smoothly and you’ve optimised it for SEO, you’ll want to measure how it’s doing.
Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring and reporting on what’s going on on your site. It’ll tell you how many people are visiting your site, how many pages they’re viewing, what content is most popular, track progress through the site and much more.
But using the Google analytics website can be a pain because you have to leave your own site to do it. With our Google Analytics+ plugin, you can bring your analytics right to your WordPress dashboard.
You can use the Analytics+ plugin to track the analytics of your WordPress site and also of an entire WordPress Multisite network, right from your dashboard. It means that you can easily switch from your analytics data, to your SEO settings in Smartcrawl, to your content. Which makes it super easy to create new content, promote popular content and edit underperforming content.
Building your audience is an important aspect of site management. There are many ways to do it: creating quality content, sharing it via your own networks and social media accounts, and encouraging your users to do the same.
Publishing fresh, relevant and high-quality content on a regular basis will boost your search engine rankings and get you more visitors and more sales or conversions (if that’s what your objective is).
But once you’ve published your content, you need to find an audience for it. SEO is a part of that, but so is social media. We have a couple plugins that can help your readers share your content on various social media platforms.
Our Floating Social plugin creates a social sharing bar that follows users as they scroll through your posts. It makes it easy for them to share your posts on whichever social media channels you enable: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whichever you prefer.
Having your content shared by your visitors gives your site a big boost – it acts as social proof and is a more powerful way to share content than if you do it yourself (although you should do that too!). So the easier you can make it, the better.
Floating Social is great, but if you want to take it up a notch, Hustle not only makes adding a social share bar simple, it lets you build and share pop-ups, slide-ins and email opt-ins for growing your mailing list. If you want a lightweight tool for adding a sliding social bar, Floating Social will do. But if you think you will ever expand into other ways of reaching new users, you should install Hustle.
Encouraging your visitors to share your content is important – and you can get even more of them to do it if you incentivize it.
Our Social Marketing plugin lets you create enticements so people can share your content and get something in return. That could be a coupon, a discount code or a free download. Create something you believe your visitors will value, offer it to them in return for share, and they’ll help you grow your audience.
Bringing It All Together – the Hub
There are a lot of things to keep on top of when you’re managing your site. Wouldn’t it be handy if there was one place where you could monitor multiple aspects of site management such as performance, security, SEO and backups?
The good news is that there is – The Hub from WPMU Dev.
The Hub pulls all of your site management together in one place, It does everything:
- Updates – it keeps on top of plugin and theme updates and tells you when they need to be done.
- Security – it lets you see any security issues and click a link to fix them on your site.
- Performance – it’ll tell you which sites you’ve configured Hummingbird on and which have any performance issues so you can click a link to fix them on your site.
- Uptime – it keeps tabs on your site’s uptime and gives reports.
- SEO – it gives you a place from which you can access your SEO settings.
- Backups – not only does it link with Snapshot on your site, you can also use it for managed backups and storage.
- Automate – configure automatic updates for themes, plugins and WordPress core.
- Reports – access reports relating to everything else (performance, security etc.) and send them (with customizations) to your team or your clients.
If you’re running more than one site with multiple site management plugins, the Hub makes life a whole lot easier.
Managing Your Site Is Important – We Want to Make it Easy
Running a WordPress site isn’t just about creating content. You’ll also need to manage your site on an ongoing basis, to ensure it performs well and meets your objectives. Do all this and your site will be less likely to suffer because of performance issues, security breaches or SEO problems. It’ll also help you grow your audience and sleep easy at night.
With the WPMU DEV plugins listed above, you can automate a lot of these processes, leaving you free to focus on creating content and growing your audience.