Quick question! Have you been neglecting your blog recently? I don’t mean whether you’ve been posting content or not. I mean have you checked your blog to see if everything is working?
It’s so easy to get caught up in just generating new posts for your blog. It’s simple to fall into the trap of ignoring how well your blog is functioning and the reader experience that people are having when they come to your website.
Today I’m going to help you spring clean your blog and make sure that your blog is the most attractive it can be!
Spring Clean Your Blog
So where should you start?
I’m going to run through some of the most important tasks you should do when spring cleaning your blog. Some of these you might do every month to help keep on top of your blog. Others you might only do once a year. I’ll give you suggested timeframes for each task. You can see what suits your blog.
If you’ve been blogging a while and have never tidied up your blog, you might feel that this post is completely overwhelming! My advice, grab a glass of wine and tackle one task at a time. Some you’ll complete in a few minutes – others will take longer. Just go at your own pace. And remember, though this isn’t the sexy side of blogging – it will help your readers find more content on your blog! And doesn’t everyone want that??
Sort out your plugins!
(At least once a month)
If you are a self-hosted WordPress blogger, chances are you are running a lot of plugins on your site. Plugins are the extra bells and whistles that help run your blog. However, if you have too many of them – it can slow down your site. So go through your list of plugins and make sure that you only have plugins that you are using, installed and running. Any plugin that you no longer need should be disabled and deleted.
Also, make sure that all of your plugins are up-to-date. Out of date plugins can leave your blog vulnerable to cyber attacks and viruses. When a plugin says it needs updating, don’t ignore it! Take 30 seconds out of your day to update it.
Tidy up your Categories and Tags
(Every 6 months)
Having tidy categories and consistent tagging will help your readers go deeper into your blog and find more relevant blog posts for them. This, in turn, will lower your bounce rate and help drive up your domain authority. So don’t ignore this task!
A lot of bloggers make the same mistake when it comes to categories: they either have an overload of different categories or only have one or two huge categories!
So start off by looking at the number of categories you have on your blog. Has one category become massive? Have most of your blog posts ended up in this group? Maybe it’s time to split the category and break it down into two or three separate categories that better reflect the nature of the content. It can be a real turnoff for readers to have to scroll through pages of a category just to find a single blog post.
For example, say you have a category titled ‘Recipes’. But in this category, you have over 200 blog posts. Maybe it’s time to split the category into ‘breakfast recipes’, ‘lunch recipes’, etc. This will help you reader navigate your site with ease.
On the other hand, some bloggers have categories for every little thing. Check to see if a category only has one or two posts. If it does it’s probably time to delete it and just make sure that you are using tags on each post. Too many categories can clutter up your menu bar and sidebar.
Another good tip about tagging is to make sure that you go back and retag older posts. If you have rebranded your blog you may need to go back and update the tags on older content. Tagging consistently is essential if you want your reader to discover more of your content.
Clean up your drafts
(Every 6 months)
Have you started lots of new posts only to give up mid-way and have them just sitting in your drafts folder on your blog? My advice is to go back every six months and see what exactly is in your drafts folder and delete any posts that you know you’re never going to publish. You are never going to post that draft about an event from 2 years ago so just delete it. Plus you might occasionally find some gems of ideas lurking in your drafts so take note any anything that might still work and add it to your editorial calendar.
Clean up your sidebar/menu/header
(Every 6 months)
A cluttered sidebar is not going to entice any reader. It makes your site confusing to navigate and leaves your reader unsure of where to go next. It can be overwhelming to have so much choice which can lead to inaction by the visitor to your site. There are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding what to do with your sidebar:
- Decide what menus and widgets need to be in your sidebar. What does your reader need/use? Get rid of widgets that are just there because they came with your blog theme. These are taking up precious space.
- Assess your ads. If you are displaying ads in your sidebar, you really need to ask yourself if they are worth it. If they are bringing in a ton of revenue – by all means, keep them. However, if it’s only going to be a couple of euro a month, maybe your blog would look better without them.
- If you have menus on your sidebar/header, consider switching to drop-down menus. This frees up space and makes it look less cluttered.
- Assess your badges – When we are a winner of a blogging accolade, we want the entire world to know about it. However if the prize is from 6 years ago, maybe it’s time to retire the badge from the sidebar. Personally, when I see winner badges from years ago, I think ‘hmmm maybe this blog isn’t as relevant as it used to be if that’s the last time they won something’. Also if you are displaying badges for being longlisted, but literally everyone that took part was longlisted – maybe that badge doesn’t need pride of place on your site.
Update your About Page
(Every 3 months)
When was the last time you updated your About page? Have you information to share? Has the focus of your blog shifted? Are there any links on this page that are no longer relevant? Or links that now should be on this page? The About page of a blog is one of the most visited pages on a site. It’s essential to keep this updated. Also, can the photos and images on this page be refreshed? If your headshot is from 4 years ago, it’s time for a new one!
As well as updating your About page, also check your ‘Work with me’ page, Contact page and your media kit. It’s important that these are all kept up to date if you are hoping to work with PR agencies or get clients from your blog.
Fix broken links/images
This is possibly the most tedious job on the list – but it’s also the most important! It’s so frustrating when you click on a link and the link is dead. Don’t let this happen to the readers of your blog. If you are WordPress self-hosted, a good plugin is Broken Link Checker. This can do a lot of the work for you to help identify what links are no longer working.
If you can’t download this plugin and don’t want to search your entire site manually for broken links, I’d suggest that you concentrate on your most visited posts/pages. Make sure that these top 25/30 posts all have links that work and images that still display. Remember if your embed images from other sites and the owner of that image deletes it, you now have an empty space on your blog.
Check your social share tools
(Every 2 months)
As bloggers, we want our content to be shared across all the various social media platforms. If you are using a plugin that lets your readers share your content, make sure that it is directing everything to the right place.
Also, you may be advertising on your blog that you are active on certain social media platforms, but you’re not. For example, are you still active on Google +? If you’re not but you are telling your readers to connect with your there, your readers are just going to see a neglected profile. Make sure you are active where you say you are.
Update your policies page /create one
(Every 3 months)
Test all of your email optins
(Every 2 months)
It should be the goal of every blogger to try and grow their email list. Email is still the best way to reach your readers directly. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram regularly change their algorithm, which means your fans may not be seeing all of your content. Emailing you readers means there is no middleman.
I suggest that you have a freebie to give to readers in exchange for an email address. Regularly test these email optins to make sure they are working and the freebie is downloading correctly. You may also need to update the freebie if it has out of date information.
Update your commenting system
(Once a year)
Are you happy with the commenting system on your blog? Do you use the default system or do you use something like Disqus? Ask your readers are they happy with the comment section of your blog? You might decide to turn the commenting system off completely. Now is the time to ask yourself is the comment section of your blog a good reflection of your brand. Also, make sure that spam comments are deleted regularly and that your spam filters are updated.
Update your home page
(Once every 1-2 years)
Have you always had the same homepage? It could be time for a redesign to keep things interesting. One thing to keep in mind when redesigning your homepage is to make sure that it is laid out for readers to find content relevant to them. So you may want to opt for a static homepage where you control what sections of your site you direct readers to, compared to a homepage that just has the most recent blog post you’ve written displayed.
Create pinnable images /update images to attract new readers
(Every 3 months)
Does the older content on your blog have pinnable images? Pinterest is a great platform to keep older blog posts relevant. Users on Pinterest are far more likely going to come across some of your older content, than people on Facebook or Twitter. So make sure you older posts have images primed for Pinterest. Also, you might want to update images and graphics with new brand colours/logos if you have changed them recently.
Check your social media accounts
Are there certain apps that are posting on your behalf? These posts could be harming your brand and you don’t even know it!
Also, check to see if all the permissions you’ve granted to give access to your social media accounts are still relevant. Apps you no longer use should be deleted from your permissions.
Link up posts between your blog
Can you put links to newer content in your older blog posts? This helps your reader find more content on your site and gives you more internal links within your blog.
So that’s the ultimate list of how to spring clean your blog and keep it working brilliantly! What’s the first thing on this list that you are going to tackle? Let me know in the comments below!
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