There’s a lot of work to be done when your website is up and running – content creation, maintenance, security checks, malware cleanup, backups, comments moderation and more. The good thing about it is that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. There are tools available to help you automate WordPress tasks, and using these tools you can automate a good part of website management.
Whether you’re planning some time off or just prefer a hands off website, these WordPress automation tools are here to help. So without wasting time, let’s find out the ways you can automate WordPress tasks to save yourself some time.
Updating your WordPress site is important for both website security and performance. WordPress core releases updates regularly and they show up as notifications on your dashboard. By default, minor updates to WordPress happens automatically, though major updates often require manual approval (think big jumps – like version 5.6 or 5.7).
Recently, with WordPress 5.5 automatic theme and plugin updates were introduced. This can be great for a website with a limited number of plugins and customizations. However, personally we recommend taking a site backup and reading over the changelog before updating just so you’re prepared and fully aware of what’s being updated.
That said – when you choose to automate WordPress updates they’re pretty much taken care of in the background, saving you productive time. It’s possible to tweak options or use a bit of code to turn on or off automatic updates to the core, themes and plugins. Our Quick guide to Updating WordPress can help with this.
Easy Updates Manager
You can also turn on automatic updates using Easy Updates Manager – all in one go or selectively. This plugin overrides all update related settings. It allows you to manage all updates to the WordPress core, themes and plugins, development updates, translation updates as well as some third party plugins.
Envato Market Plugin
When it comes to premium themes or plugins from Themeforest or Codecanyon, the Envato Market plugin can help to automate WordPress installation as well as updates. We’ve covered this in-depth in our Envato Market plugin guide.
Backups are really what let you sleep at night without being anxious about your website. How often you back up your site depends on the frequency with which you post content. It’s a good security habit to set up a schedule for backing up your site. That’s not all, you should keep multiple copies of the backed up versions at different locations and test them once in a while.
If you’re not on a managed hosting plan, plugins are your best options for backing up WordPress.
JetPack Backups (formerly VaultPress) is one of the best options in our opinion. It’s what we’ve used for years to keep WPExplorer safe, and it can backup your entire WordPress installation. Just install and connect the plugin to have your backup schedules to run automatically. JetPack Backups stores backups for you, but you can easily download them to store in a secure off-site location yourself.
Another great option is WPvivid. This premium backup plugin offers advanced (and complete) backups, schedules, migrations and even a staging environment. It’s basically an all in one WordPress backup & migration plugin. All premium plans also include remote storage, one click restoration, email reports, and support.
If you prefer a free plugin, Updraft Plus is a good option. The plugin includes options for backup schedules, and offers integration with storage options like Dropbox, Google Drive, Email and more. You can also see our WordPress beginner’s guide on how to back up your WordPress website for more plugin options.
3. Schedule Posts
Did you know that it’s not necessary for your to be logged into your WordPress to publish content. WordPress has inbuilt features that allow you to publish a post at any scheduled time you want.
Once you complete a post, look for the Publish option in the post editor and click on the Edit link. After that, you can specify the date and exact time when the post is to be published.
In Gutenberg, the option is under the “Post” settings:
And in the Classic Editor in the “Publish” meta box:
If you wish, you can also reschedule posts. While you can do this for any number of posts, it’s not a good idea to schedule too much into the future. You may need to change the schedule to suit the relevance of the post to the time of publishing.
If it’s a plugin you prefer, try the free Editorial Calendar. It allows you to simply drag and drop your ready-to-publish posts into a scheduling format. You’ll also have an overview of the scheduled posts and be able to manage your drafts and your posts from multiple authors, view the status of each post and make quick edits to them.
Another option is CoSchedule, a freemium plugin that not only allows you to schedule publishing posts, but also auto publishes to social media. Find out more about building an editorial calendar in our guide.
4. Social Media Auto-publish
Much of the social media posting can be automated. You can arrange it so that your social media accounts are updated, and your content is shared on different social media platforms automatically. You can also automate WordPress RSS feeds, after formatting them for social platforms.
Ideally, automating social media posting should form part of your overall social media strategy. It allows you to take a break from social media without readers missing your presence. For more help with automating WordPress social media tasks, look up our earlier post.
One plugin that can help here is the Social Rabbit plugin. After a one time setup, it automatically shares both new and old content to your social network accounts.
5. Spam Prevention
Spam can be a drag on your SERPs. However, spammers are a determined lot, they’ll always look for ways to get into your site. That’s why WordPress has pre-installed their powerful Akismet anti-spam plugin in every WordPress download.
After installing WordPress, you’ll need to activate the plugin and obtain an API key. Thereafter, the plugin regularly checks for spam in the comments and contact form submissions.
But if you’re not a fan of Akismet, you should know there are other plugin options to prevent WordPress spam as well that ones that can deal with login attempts, subscriptions, registrations, bookings and more.
6. Compress Images
All those glossy images on your site – they need to be compressed before you upload them to your media library. Byte heavy image files can slow down your website.
EWWW Image Optimizer
Plugins like EWWW Image Optimizer allow you to compress images automatically while uploading them to the media library. They can also compress images currently existing in your WordPress.
WP Compress offers advanced image management and optimization options. Use settings to select your preferred compression level, add lazy load, enable WebP and more. Plus WP Compress offers real-time image optimization as soon as you link it to your site.
If your site is heavy on images, these plugins can prove to be real time savers. If you like, you can refer to our detailed guide on image optimization to know more.
7. Database Optimization
As you add more and more content to your website, the database can begin to bloat. An important part of routine website maintenance is to clean up your database regularly. A bloated database slows down your site, while a lean database is more efficient in responding to queries.
You can rely on WP Optimize to clean up the database for you as often as you want it to. You can customize what needs to be cleaned and configure it to clear out redundant data. To make sure your data stays safe always, you can set the plugin to automatically save a backup to UpdraftPlus before optimizing your database.
A good part of our time goes in writing mails to our team members and collaborators. You should try Slack, an online productivity tool that helps to streamline communication among all your online communities, organizations, groups and media accounts from a single place.
Making it easier for WordPress users are plugins like Slackbot that act as a channel between your WordPress and Slack account. Besides, you can set up custom notifications in Slack for different WordPress events such as updates, user registration or publishing a post.
Slack works just fine with social media platforms like Twitter and Dribble as well as apps that track website performance or uptime. We’ve done a post on integrating WordPress with Slack, so you can read up more about it there.
9. Content Creation
Sounds unbelievable doesn’t it, that you can put content creation on autopilot. While in many cases that’s not really a good idea, it can take the strain off content creation for some sites which exist mostly to curate content from multiple sources.
WP RSS Aggregator
Auto-blogging plugins like WP RSS Aggregator can help you to aggregate content and publish it automatically. It’s a great way to share new in your industry with very little effort.
For instance, you can subscribe to the RSS feed of some YouTube channels and present curated content on your site to subscribers.
10. Broken Link Checker
Broken links on your website can make your blog or website look unprofessional and outdated. A simple plugin, Broken Link Checker can scan your website and fix broken links and missing images automatically. What’s more, the plugin is easy to setup and configure and can be deactivated when not required.
How to Automate WordPress Wrap-up
Once you start to automate WordPress tasks, do check in on them from time to time to be sure they are performing as intended. While these plugins are all great ways to automate WordPress and free up your time for more productive work (like creating quality content) you still need to double check for plugin updates and compatibility (if you’re using more than one plugin).
What other tasks would you like to automate with WordPress? Or are there any key automation plugins you simply can’t live without? Let us know in the comments section – we’d love to know how you’re managing your site.