Untitled design 5 | Iconic eLearning

Suppose I had a dollar for every time I heard the buzzword automation. In that case, I’d probably take a bonus vacation to the Bahamas every year.

However, the sad reality is most entrepreneurs and content creators using WordPress are underutilizing its actual value.

Because WordPress is so popular and affordable to get started, it’s easy to overlook the hefty costs of maintaining your website.

This is where you can automate WordPress maintenance tasks and save much wasted time, resources, energy, and money.

Since WordPress Core had some new technical improvements, you can now combine native feature settings, popular plugins, and even certain hosting providers to automatically maintain your site.

In this article, I’m going to share with you some essential processes and plugins that will help you automate WordPress to save you valuable time to focus on your business passions. Let’s dive in!

Updating Your Tech

During December of 2020 WordPress dropped a major 5.6 update to bring In December 2020, WordPress dropped a major 5.6 update to bring automatic updates natively within the WordPress core system.

This would allow you to automate WordPress installations, themes, and plugin updates natively.

To prevent most security issues, you will want to keep this core technology up to date.

wordpress 5 6 cover a11y | Iconic eLearning

Shared hosting providers like the one I use called Siteground will do this from their system for you. So depending on your hosting, the user settings may differ on how you’re able to interact with these core auto-update features.

For example, with Siteground (shared hosting), I cannot activate the auto-update WordPress core feature. I believe it’s because Siteground overrides it to control it on their end.

However, I can activate this feature with my other hosting provider, Cloudways (cloud hosting).

You can check by going to your updates page. On this page under your WordPress version, you should see a message that says, “This site is automatically kept up to date with each new version of WordPress.”

You can decide which type of updates you want by clicking on the link below it. It’s entirely up to you.

To set up your updates for your theme, just go to the theme itself from the appearance tab in the left-hand panel, and from this page, you will see the option to enable auto-updates.

Updates for plugins are a similar process. Go to your plugins page and either turn on auto-updates for each plugin or select all the plugins for a bulk action and turn them on simultaneously.

You have now successfully made sure your website is auto-updating itself. Keep in mind that not every update is perfect, and from time to time, you’ll run into issues.

So the safest way to ensure that you don’t have problems caused by core, theme, or plugin updates is making sure you have auto-backups turn on.

We’ll discuss this process next while we find more ways to automate WordPress maintenance tasks.

Backing It Up

The late and great rapper Juvenile once said, “back that thang up,” and for websites, I totally agree with him.

When it comes to the best ways to automate WordPress maintenance tasks, know there are two types of regular backups that you’ll want to take full advantage of.

The first type is called on-site, and the second type is called off-site.

via GIPHY

On-site backups, also known as server-based backups, are traditionally backups provided by your hosting provider.

Your hosting should automatically set up this, but make sure you know where the settings are and how to adjust them accordingly to your needs.

Off-site backups are generally done with plugins to schedule and send your backup to a remote location such as cloud storage or your own dedicated storage.

I use Google Drive for most remote storage backup needs, but you can use others like Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.

One of my favorite backup plugins at the moment is called WPVivid. However, I also use UpdraftPlus, which also does a great job at automatic backups.

Since it can get technical to set these up, I’ll link to a couple of videos below for assistance to make things so much easier for you.

Cleaning Up The Database

If you know anything about over-eating chili cheese fries, you’ll definitely understand what it means to feel bloated. The WordPress database is very similar in terms of getting full.

davey gravy rnEPeFGXLKQ unsplash edited | Iconic eLearning

Over time, much unneeded or unused information coming from your theme, plugins, content, etc., starts to slow down your system’s performance.

This will cause a horrible experience for you, and your audience, which is why automating your database cleanup will keep your website faster.

There are many ways to automate WordPress database optimization tasks using free or premium plugins.

When using Siteground, they have a free caching plugin called SG Optimizer that integrates with their hosting and has a database optimization feature.

Another free option that you can also find in the WordPress directory is using WP-Optimize.

Those are both excellent choices. However, my personal favorite is a premium all-in-one caching tool called WP Rocket, which inspired SG Optimizer’s features.

We’ll discuss caching in the next section.

Just keep in mind no matter what plugin you use, at least make sure to schedule your database cleanup on:

  • Posts
  • Comments
  • Transients
  • Database Tables

Speeding Up With Caching

Unlike the DCEU version of this character, one way to get your website moving like The Flash is to manage the cache.

Caching in its most simplistic form is a way of storing data so that future requests for that data can be served faster later.

via GIPHY

For example, think of when you went to a website the first time and how slow it was. Then when you went to it again and it loaded so much faster.

That’s because the content was cached locally, making it quicker to load on your device. There are 3 main types of caching which are website, server-side, and browser-based caching.

Automating your website and browser-based caching can be done with the plugin options. However, server-side caching is enabled within your dedicated hosting provider.

For caching, there are many popular plugins for WordPress, both free and paid, just like with database optimization. I actually use both versions myself.

For instance, when I host with Siteground, I use their plugin SG Optimizer. Yet, when I host with anything else, I prefer to use WP Rocket.

If you want to automate WordPress cache, decide which caching plugin/s works for you and utilize documentation, support, and YouTube videos to set them up correctly.

Optimizing Images

Caching isn’t the only significant way to automate WordPress speed performance.

Since Google has announced its new ranking system Web Core Vitals as a new primary ranking signal, maintaining your site’s speed is more important than ever.

For Image optimization (mainly compressing pictures to strip the fat and keep the image quality), I use a simple plugin called Shortpixel.

I like Shortpixel, which is very similar to WP Rocket, because the default settings are also automatically set up for best practices. Meaning it starts working right out the box with a size reduction of up to 90%.

So anything you adjust from there can be an improvement factor for your speed optimization process.

With this plugin, every time an image is added to your website, it automatically compresses the image to decrease database bloat and slow loading times for your audience.

Images are one of the biggest page speed killers if not correctly formatted for the web. Having the smallest file size without compromising image quality is a great way to dramatically speed up the pages on your website.

I suggest using an image optimization plugin to automate your compression process.

Mitigating Spam

With content creation, I believe WordPress spam comments are the bane of every content creator’s existence and have been for years.

Content creators put in countless hours writing an original blog post, and the last thing they want to see is their hard work stolen or used as bait for a spam link campaign.

Over time, people have tried all sorts of things to stop this kind of intrusion, from adding CAPTCHA to their comments section, adding a layer of security, to even using a different type of content management system altogether.

The best way to overcome the threat of spammers with your posts is to prevent it in the first place.

WordPress users have a few ways to defend themselves, starting with the popular spam-filtering Akismet plugin, which generally catches the bulk of the junk.

via GIPHY

However, if your blog is brand new, you can hold spam comments for moderation and manually delete them from your posts.

If you’re already fighting a spam problem, you’ll want to mitigate all comments from new users. You can also do this through the discussion settings.

You don’t have to let spam take over your life during your content creation process. Automate WordPress spam by using these tips and others around the web for spam blocking management.

Securing Your Site

Almost everyone these days seems to be concerned about securing the bag, but what about your website.

There are a lot of people who think WordPress is insecure and prone to hacking very quickly. Most of this inaccurate information is based on misconceptions on how WordPress works and how to keep it maintained.

No, WordPress isn’t virus or malware free but keeping your site up to date will eliminate most vulnerability issues to prevent attacks.

For other severe cases using security, the plugin will increase your security measures tremendously.

I recommend two plugins that have some overlapping features but are a great start if you don’t already have a plugin to automate this process.

iThemes Security is a plugin that has been one of my favorite go-to security plugins. You can find it in the WordPress directory. It’s so easy to set up in less than two minutes with one click. 

SG Security is my second recommendation and what I have been using currently because it’s free, simple, and is feature-rich.

You can search security in the WordPress directory and pick the plugin that fits your needs.

Remember that backups are always your best essential security measure for irreversible problems when you automate WordPress maintenance tasks.

Conclusion

Learning how to automate WordPress maintenance tasks can seem intimidating at first.

Still, following the steps and tips, I shared in this article should help ease most of your workload.

I advise that you always keep your website up to date, secured, and backed up to preserve your hard work from being compromised.

If you want your users to have a great experience and get better rankings in Google, apply my speed optimization suggestions and automate WordPress with helpful plugins.

Remember, automation isn’t a set it and forget it. The best savvy entrepreneurs continuously monitor their automation processes for issues and improvements.

I truly hope the information in this post has helped you feel like you can manage your website effectively, save valuable time and give you some peace of mind. Good luck!