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How To Prepare Your Website For The New Year

Katy Boykin

Written By

Katy Boykin

Last Updated: January 17, 2024

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Since it’s the start of a new year, now is the perfect time to review your website, update a few things, and make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward online!

There are quite a few different aspects of your website that may need updating and could take a little time to accomplish each week, so I invite you to follow along! If you accomplish these small site-related tasks each week, you should have a refreshed website going into February!

So, let’s get started…

Week 1: Technical Updates

This week’s theme isn’t very sexy, but it’s important because your website’s security, performance, and functionality depend on it! Updating WordPress will also provide the best possible experience for your users…

So take some time to log in to your WordPress website and make sure:

Task #2: Update your theme

At a minimum, make sure your current WordPress theme is up-to-date.

If you need a new theme for the new year, I recommend the Kadence Theme! (Shameless plug… you can also shop from our collection of premium Kadence child themes here for an easy design shortcut.)

Task #3: Update all of your plugins.

Plugins can have some security vulnerabilities, so I recommend keeping your plugins up to date on a regular basis!

But… do this manually. I don’t recommend using the automatic update feature because updates can break things on your site, so you want to be in control when you make those changes!

This is also a great time to remove any plugins that are installed on your site but are deactivated and not in use, or you simply don’t need any more.

If you find you need a plugin later, you can always install it again when you need it. It’s best to keep your plugin library as simplified as possible!

Task #4. Update WordPress core

Check to see if you’re using the latest version of WordPress. (You can find the latest version here.)

In most cases, I recommend keeping this up to date; however if there’s a major WordPress update (like when it goes from 6.3.2 to 6.4, for example), I recommend waiting until version 6.4.2 comes out because these often include lots of bug fixes.

⏸️ But wait…

Task #1: Implement off-site backups

Before you make any site-wide updates, make sure you have off-site backups in place because if something goes wrong during the update (or in the event of a future security breach), you can restore the most recent version of your website. (Trust me, this will spare you from lots of tech headaches).

You can use a free plugin like Updraft Plus or Blog Vault to do your own offsite backups.

…or if you want a hands-off approach, you can sign up for iMark Interactive’s WordPress support plans and have them manage all off-site backups and any updates for you. (That’s what I use for my websites!)

Since we’re thinking about the tech side of our websites, now is a great time to evaluate the security of your website.

It would be devastating to have some nefarious character hack into your website and compromise all of the work you’ve put into your site. So make sure that you:

Task #5. Update your username.

Don’t use “admin” or your first name as the username. That’s too easy to hack. If you don’t have a secure user name, now is the perfect time to update it.

Task #6. Update your password.

Here are some best practices for a strong password:

  • Include a mix of at least 12 characters: uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Avoid common words, phrases, or easy-to-guess information like birthdays or names.
  • Instead, opt for a complex and unique combination or use a passphrase—a series of unrelated words strung together.
  • I’d also avoid using the same password across different sites and update your passwords regularly.

I personally manage all of my passwords with 1Password, making it easy to use unique, secure passwords on every single website with an account. If you haven’t implemented a password manager, this is the year to get started!

Task #7. Clean out your users.

For security reasons, it’s important to remove any users who no longer need access to your site, especially admins.

If you don’t want to delete an admin user because they may need access to your site in the future, at least consider changing their role so that they have limited access to your site. Then, you can restore their admin privileges in the future when needed.

Task #8. Install security plugins

If you’re seeing issues with spam in your comments section, install and activate a plugin like Antispam Bee. This should reduce the number of spam comments.

If you want to block attacks from malware, I recommend installing Wordfence. The free version comes with a firewall, a malware scanner, and automatic malware removal. It also has user password management, login security, and two-factor authentication!

Well, that about covers it for week 1! Was this helpful? I’ve got 3 more weeks of tips and tasks coming your way so stay tuned!

You can either bookmark this page and come back next week to go through the next week’s set of tasks, or if you’re feeling ambitious, keep on goin’…

Week 2: Website Content Updates

This week, I want you to focus on some basic content updates to ensure that your website accurately portrays your business or blog information online!

Take some time to log in to your WordPress website and make sure:

Task #1. Update your contact info

Double-check your contact information on your website and make sure that your email address, hours of operation, mailing address, physical address, or any other relevant contact details are up-to-date.

You may have contact information in multiple places on your website (such as your contact page, footer, about page, etc.,) so much sure that it gets updated in all of the places. This is especially important for business websites!

Task #2. Update the year in your footer

Many WordPress themes will update the year dynamically for you; however if your footer still shows last year’s date, you’ll need to either:

  • A) Manually update the footer to the new year, or…
  • B) Install a small piece of code through a Code Snippets plugin to allow it to update dynamically. Here’s how…

How to add a code snippet to automatically update the year:

  1. Install and activate the Code Snippets plugin (or plugin with similar capability)
  2. From the left-side panel in your WordPress dashboard, click “Snippets”
  3. Click “Add New”
  4. Type “Year” for the Title
  5. Paste the following code:
function year_shortcode () {
$year = date_i18n ('Y');
return $year;
}
add_shortcode ('year', 'year_shortcode');
  1. Select “Run snippet everywhere”
  2. Optional: You can add a description that explains what this snippet is used for if you’d like.
  3. Click Save Changes.
  4. In your footer, type: “[year]” (without the quotation marks) along any other text you want to add and save your changes.
  5. Preview it on your live site and the current year should be reflected!

Task #3. Revise your legal policies

I can’t tell you how important it is to legally protect you blog or business online; having the right legal policies on your website will help keep legal issues at bay.

The new year is the perfect time to review and revise your website’s privacy policy, terms and condition, disclaimer and any other legal policies listed on your website.

If you do not have these policies in place or have really outdated ones, I highly recommend investing in Amira’s legal template bundle from A Self Guru.

The Starter template is perfect for most website owners because it comes with a GDPR & CCPA Compliant Privacy Policy template, terms and conditions template and disclaimer template. It also includes 9 additional bonuses with additional clauses you can add for extra legal protection!

I’ve used Amira’s legal templates for years and even had her draft legal templates for my website design contracts, the sale of my blog, and more!

Task #4: Fix broken links

Broken links make for a terrible user experience, so let’s make sure those are cleaned up!

If you’re using the RankMath plugin, you can turn on the 404 monitoring setting to have it track broken links and broken pages that reach the 404 page. (Read this article for more details about using RankMath’s 404 monitoring.)

Alterntiavely, you can install the Broken Link Checker plugin to scan your site so that when broken links exist, you’ll see an alert on your WordPress dashboard and get an email notification.

Here’s what the notice will look like on your dashboard:

Here’s what the Link checker will look like in WordPress (using the local/ old version). This allows you to hover over the link click “Edit URL” and paste the new link without having to go to the post or page where the link exists!

Word of caution: if you have an established website with thousands of blog posts and links, turning this plugin on could bog down your server. I’d recommend communicating with your host prior to running this in case they need to temporarily increase your bandwidth to run the broken link checker.

Task #5: Update Blog Posts

If you have any blog posts that list a previous year, now is a good time to update the post title to the new year so your content doesn’t look outdated. If you do change the year, make sure the post accurately reflects the proper content for the new year.

While you’re scanning through your old blog posts, make a list of any posts that are outdated and in need of a content refresh. It may be unrealistic to update every post this week, but you can, at a minimum, identify which posts need an update and schedule time on your calendar to revise those posts!

Task #6: Plan New Content for The Year

While looking through your blog posts, take some time to identify any gaps in your content and write down any new content ideas.

For example, when I was writing this post, I realized I didn’t have a post comparing Yoast vs. RankMath, so I wrote that down on my content planner! What posts are missing from your website that would be extremely relevant and helpful to your audience?

If you need some help with content ideas, you can also use a good keyword research tool like RankIQ. This tool will give you keywords that are easy to top search engine rankings based on your niche without paying the hefty price tag that some other SEO tools charge. (More on SEO later.)

Stay tuned for part 3 next week! Subscribe here for updates!

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