Spring Cleaning Your Blog in 10 Easy Steps
Do you look at your old blog posts and cringe with embarrassment? Or maybe you’ve been too busy to look at ancient content and you haven’t even realized how truly awful it is? Just like spring cleaning your house, getting an oil change for your car, checking in on your relationship and updating your wardrobe, blogs require maintenance. Here’s how to keep your blog in full bloom this season:
Remove dead links: You’ve got great content and you’ve got the science of genuinely engaging your reader to click on valuable links down to a tittle. Imagine their disappointment when they eagerly click on a link that’s no longer there. #blogfail
Remove unused WordPress Plugins: When I’m looking for a new site development feature to add to my blog, sometimes I try 3-4 different plug-ins before I find one that works the way I want it to. If you’re also a culprit of this, make sure you go back and delete the ones that aren’t serving a purpose on your blog. Removing unused plugins can speed up the loading time on your site and reduce potential security risks from out-of-date plugins. Anything that improves the speed of your site will pay off in SEO! Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is a great way to check your site’s web performance.
Get rid of things people aren’t clicking on: Minimalism is a great way to approach blogging. If readers don’t use it, people don’t click on it, and you don’t benefit from it, get rid of whatever ‘it’ may be. Too many plugins, ads, buttons, links, etc. distract the reader from what they are really there for: your content! Don’t get me wrong, certain site embellishments are great, so please don’t go and remove an AdSense space that’s bringing you in hundreds of dollars a month. The point here is to enhance what’s working and remove what doesn’t. Only keep the elements that are providing benefits of their intention. CAUTION: Never ever ever delete a post. You never know what links you may have left behind or who created a link to your post. Don’t be the annoying site responsible for the dead links mentioned above. Instead, use a 301 redirect to channel clicks to another page.
Sort your tags and categories: When I first started blogging, I thought that tags were somehow related to hashtags on social media and thus would go crazy tagging my posts. That is obviously not the case and some tag clean up was absolutely necessary! Flooding your site with a ton of unorganized categories and tags can slow down your database and performance. Not to mention it pretty much makes finding anything on your site impossible for readers!
Check your navigation and URL structure: Changes that seem minute like altering the name of a tab or swapping the location of a page on your menu bar can actually have big effects on your site. Proper URL management is key for a strong platform. Do your best to organize your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that makes sense to readers from the start. Unlike many other aspects of your blog, URLs are something you should avoid updating. Make sure everything is working, fix any issues, and then leave it alone.
Cleanup your graphics: Remember the days when you first figured out how to use Photoshop or Illustrator? Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but those graphics are probably not very pretty. Rejuvenate an old post with great content by updating your header or featured image to something cleaner and more in line with your current branding. Then share away!
Cross-link between posts: Help readers and search engines locate similar content by linking to other great things you have on your site or previous posts related to current content. TIP: Any links that take the user off of your site (linking to other sites or even linking to your social media channels) should open in a new window/tab. Any links that keep the users on your site, like linking to a another post or page, should open in the same window.
Update your ‘About’ Page: If you look at your stats, you’ll probably be surprised to see how many people actually care about who you are. The people who are looking are your ‘About’ page are super important – they are either first time readers or people like potential collaborators, PR pros, and fellow bloggers who are analyzing whether or not they should take the time to pursue building a relationship with you. Make sure your page dazzles readers with the authenticity of who you are, what you can provide them, and what you’ve accomplished that gives you the credibility to do so.
Audit your sidebar: Is your sidebar providing value to your readers? If readers know there are only ads in your sidebar without any substance, you’re not doing anyone any good – they don’t care about your sidebar and they’ll probably never bother to check out the links of people paying for exposure on your site. Sidebars can turbocharge your blog, so make sure you’re maximizing it’s potential with calls to action, content that oozes value, widgets that encourage an element of participation, and things that amp up your credibility (like certification logos and testimonials).
Not sure where to start? Take a look at your analytics and see which posts are getting the most views. Thanks to search engines, you’ll be surprised by how many of those cringe-worthy posts may still be getting a decent amount of views! Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Pick one or two posts to tackle at a time. Don’t worry about sitting down and cleaning them all at once. Even though this may sound like a lot of work, it’s actually really fun to watch the benefits come in, I promise! Happy spring cleaning!