Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank
Once you get a blog set up, you need to make sure it continues to work right. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a broken website. This means it’s important to check your blog regularly to ensure nothing has gone awry. After all, you don’t want to lose traffic.
Seriously, you put in a lot of hard work for the content you create. It’s a shame when some plugin or theme feature in WordPress breaks an important part of the site.
What Causes a Blog to Break?
In reality, there are a lot of different things that can cause a WordPress blog to stop working as it should. Some of these breaks can be simple, such as a contact form no longer working. However, they can be more damaging, such as stopping the site from loading altogether.
And although there are a myraid of things that can be the culprit, the following are the most common.
Themes are what give your WordPress blog the appearance you want. These are in control of the site’s layout, colors, features and more. If something happens to this addition, it could cause all kinds of problems for visitors.
One of the more common that I come across is when people make modifications to a theme parent file. When there is an update to the theme, those modifications are often overwritten. This is why you should always use a child theme for your blog.
Most plugin developers work hard to make sure the tool works with the latest version of WordPress and online programming. But sometimes, the coding will have an error or require something that is no longer supported.
This happens often with older plugins that haven’t had an update in more than a year. And of the many things to check your blog for, obsolete plugins is high on the list of priority.
Although plugins are the lifeblood of WordPress and give it flexibility, sometimes they don’t play well together. For instance, it’s not uncommon for two plugins that have similar features to break each other.
Sometimes, the features of one plugin will interfere with the operation of another, even though they are not similar.
Another example is how one of my plugins is causing the excerpt from the latest blog post to show up on the top of the website’s homepage. I am still tracking down which one is causing that problem.
Sometimes it happens, and you need to find an alternative method to accomplish your design goals.
Check a Blog for Customized Scripts or Codes from Third-parties
Another common problem is when blog developers use scripts or coding from third-party developers that are either already broken or no longer supported.
For example, some of the elements from PHP 5.5 are no longer supported by PHP 7. So if you copy and paste a code snippet that is too old and using coding from previous versions of PHP, it may not work.
Sometimes, these coding elements just need a few tweaks thanks to how PHP 7 handles coding now. Still, if you don’t check the blog regularly, you wouldn’t know the snippet is breaking something on your site.
Beware of Hackers, Bots and Malware
And lastly, hackers and bots are constantly looking for easy targets. Your site could have an infection or malware error preventing it from even showing up to visitors.
An example of this is when malware infects your site and Google identifies the files. At which point, Google and its browser, Chrome, will flag your site as dangerous. Sometimes, this can lead to your blog being removed from the search engine entirely.
And speaking from personal experience, it’s a bit of a pain to get it all cleared up and ranking back into search.
How to Check Your Blog for Problems
Checking the blog for issues isn’t really all that difficult. Of course, this also depends on the type of problems we’re talking about. Still, good web hosting can go a long way to protect you from some issues.
Today, though, we’re talking about overall functionality for your visitors. You can always check:
The Appearance of the Website
Simply visiting your site can show you a lot about your blog. Does it still look like you want it to? I know there have been several times I’ve had to modify settings and make adjustments after theme and plugin updates.
In fact, visiting the homepage is how I found the issue with the excerpt showing on the top. Still not sure what’s causing it, so I’ll probably disable all of the plugins to see which is creating the issue.
If Your Widgets and Add-ons are Working
When adding anything new, it’s always best to check the blog to make sure it’s performing as expected. Never assume that one plugin isn’t going to affect another, even if they have nothing in common.
I would never have imagined that an optimization plugin would break a contact form.
Luckily, a visitor informed me that something was malfunctioning after adding a new plugin. I was able to fix it rather quickly, but who knows what contacts I lost while the form was broken.
If the Ads Still Look Right
Whether you get them from Google or from an affiliate, it’s always a good idea to periodically make sure the ads look right on the website. This is especially true if for some reason you’re being served ads that are wider than a viewable limit from mobile devices.
Google will flag the page where the ad is on and throw errors in Search Console.
And you want to make sure your blog doesn’t look like the side of a racer in Nascar. There is such a thing as saturating your website with too many ads.
Whether Visitors Can Still Click Important Elements
When adding new stuff, it’s a good idea to click each element yourself to ensure they work. Well, except in the case of Google and other ad-serving networks. Otherwise, you’ll get hit with fraudulent clicks.
But buttons, website links, form elements and other aspects need to work. And in most cases, clicking it yourself will show whether or not it does.
This kind of relates to breaking plugins. In my case, the reCaptcha button worked but was giving a “field required” error when someone tried to submit a form.
How the Blog Looks on Other Devices
Never assume your website looks the same across all devices and browsers. It’s a great idea to check your blog on as many systems as you can to ensure everyone has a great experience.
This is why I have Firefox and Opera installed even though I never use the browsers. I want to make sure those specific visitors can see the site as I planned.
And it doesn’t hurt to load your blog up on a smartphone or tablet. If you have mobile issues, you could lose quite a bit of your visitor engagement.
Your Anti-Malware and Firewall Settings and Logs
And lastly, keep an eye on your anti-malware and firewall logs. Plugins like Wordfence will send you periodic emails identifying potential threats and problems. Don’t simply toss them in the trash.
In contrast, having security set way too high can also result in certain plugins and features from working. So after making adjustments, check the blog and make sure everything is still running well.
How Often Do You Check the Blog?
Normally, I try to check my blog at least once per month or if I add a new plugin or feature. And with gaining more traffic each month, the need for maintenance is getting more vital.
But sometimes, I just either forget or become too busy. Which is why I didn’t know that my particular form was broken.
It may sound tedious, but it might prevent you from losing out on some great opportunities. As I said earlier, who knows what I’ve lost because the a form was broken.
Always Have a Backup Ready
Even the smallest blogs can benefit from a good backup system. In the event something goes terribly wrong, you can restore the website rather quickly. And if you’re relying on the blog for income, everyone moment it’s down is one you’re not making money.
Many blogging systems have automatic settings and Cloud storage integration. Not to mention being free. So in reality, there’s no reason not to have a safeguard in place should something break or become infected with malware.
Check Your Blog and Keep it Functional
Every website relies on visitors. And those visitors rely on a fully functional website. Check your blog on a routine basis and make sure everyone is having the same, excellent experience. Otherwise, visitor traffic and search results will suffer.
Your blog is an extension of yourself. Make sure it keeps its proverbial “best foot forward” as you would in real life.
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