As any blogger will appreciate, your blog is never truly “finished”.
Instead, most blogs are in a constant state of flux, regularly changing in content, appearance, style and functionality.
That’s what helps to make blogging so exciting; nothing ever stands still.
But there’s a problem…
The Importance of Blog Maintenance Tasks
This very same act of constant change means that over time your blog can become messy and disorganized.
Cracks can start to show, issues can appear and the overall user experience of your site can be impacted. Over time, such blogs can struggle to stay afloat under all the weight of these issues.
Today then I’d like to take you through a list of blog maintenance tasks to consider.
These are tasks which many of us forget to carry out – or avoid simply because they’re not exactly exciting. However they are important, and after a spring clean you will find that your blog runs faster and your readers enjoy their visit even more.
Even better, many of these factors can also affect how Google ranks your website; in other words these same blog maintenance tasks can also have a positive impact on your search engine rankings.
Before we start, I need to offer a quick disclaimer. Just because I talk about “spring cleaning” doesn’t of course mean that these tasks should only be done in the spring. Not only can they be carried out at any time of year; I would also argue they should be carried out several times throughout the year.
Whether you opt to carry out the tasks below all at once in one big session or whether, like me, you opt to carry out just one or two of these tasks every few weeks, is entirely up to you.
What is important is that they all get done.
Personally, if you’ve never carried out a spring clean of your blog I would encourage you to work through the entire list below, one task at a time, over the next week or two. Doing so can have a significant impact on your blog.
Once you’ve ticked off every task the first time, you can then go into “maintenance mode” like I do and just carry out a task or two every few weeks. This way you’ll be constantly keeping your bog running like a well-oiled machine while investing minimal time each month.
My Blog Maintenance Routine
- 1 The Importance of Blog Maintenance Tasks
- 2 My Blog Maintenance Routine
- 3 My Secret Blog Spring Cleaning Process
Delete Spam Comments
If your blog has been around for more than a few weeks it’s likely that you receive your fair share of spam comments.
Depending on which plugin you use though, these spam comments may or may not actually get deleted. And even if these comments do get deleted, it may take some time between the comments being left and your plugin deleting them.
All this time that these spam comments sit in your WordPress admin area, they are taking up valuable space in your database. And the fuller the database that runs your blog is, the slower your site will run. Worse, Google uses site speed as a key metric when deciding where to rank your site. In other words, a faster site will generally receive more Google-love.
This is why it is so important to delete spam comments on a regular basis; it helps to clean up your database and keep your site loading fast.
Delete Old Blog Post Drafts
Did you know that when you’re working on a blog post, every time you click “save” or “update”, another version is saved into your database?
This even happens when WordPress “auto-saves” your work as you’re typing. If you’ve spent some working on a blog post there is consequently a fair chance that you will have dozens of copies of your post at various stages of development.
In cases where you’re actually working on a post this can be a good thing; this feature enables you to “roll back” to an earlier version of your post at any time, helping you to correct any major mistakes you’ve made.
Once a post is published though, these draft versions serve no real purpose except for inflating your database unnecessarily.
Once again, deleting these unnecessary old versions of already-published posts can help you to stream-line your database, speed up your site and offer a better experience to your visitors.
Remove Unused WordPress Themes
WordPress themes can vary significantly in size, though many of the premium themes are towards the top end of the spectrum. What this means is that unused WordPress themes can artificially bloat the data stored on your hosting account, and so slow down your site unnecessarily.
There’s more though.
Outdated themes can also represent a security risk; it is not unheard of for hackers to figure out ways to utilize out-dated themes for their nefarious activities, inserting viruses and other malware into them that can infect your computer and that of anyone who visits your site.
By all means if you’re trying to decide between a number of themes try uploading them all so you can easily switch between them and see which one works best for you.
But once you’ve settled on the “perfect” solution, my suggestion would be to delete any but the one you’re using (and any child themes that it came with).
Remove Unused WordPress Plugins
Unused plugins have the exact same problem; they’ll slow you down and represent a security risk. Therefore, delete any plugins you’re not using to help keep your site running at full steam.
While you’re at it, why not check out this awesome list of plugins to see if there are any new plugins you might want to consider adding:
Update WordPress Core
The software that runs WordPress itself is constantly being improved upon and added to. As a result new versions are released regularly.
The truth is that while the old version of WordPress may still function perfectly well for your needs, there are two reasons why you should consider updating to the very latest version as soon as it is available.
Firstly, of course, there will be a suite of new features that will help to make your blogging easier and more enjoyable.
The second reason is even more important; security. The sad fact of the matter is that as so many sites now run on WordPress, finding security flaws in the application can be big business.
If a hacker can find a way to access any WordPress website, the world really is their oyster.
While it’s important to keep every aspect of your site updated, I would argue that the single most important element of all to consider is ensuring that you upgrade WordPress as soon as a new version becomes available. Doing so will ensure that your site has the highest level of protection possible against common issues.
Update Old Plugins
WordPress plugins are constantly being updated.
Sometimes that’s to add new features; at other times it’s to fix security flaws. Just like removing unused plugins, or updating WordPress to the very latest version, outdated plugins can also represent an opportunity for hackers and spammers to infect or gain access to your site.
Even if you’ve carefully backed up your site so that you have a spare copy in the case of problems, it’s still a lot easier to try and prevent these attacks from occurring to begin with.
Just like the WordPress core then, as soon as a plugin update becomes available you should endeavour to upgrade it to the latest version and so help to keep out unwanted visitors.
Check for Broken Links
Broken links can happen for a variety of reasons. The simplest is just that we enter a website address incorrectly.
There are other reasons, however. Consider the fact that websites go out of business and shut down, or that pages are moved from one place to another. Over time, no matter how carefully you check your links before publication, you’ll find that your site starts to suffer under the weight of broken links.
Dead links – that don’t point to their intended destination – are bad because they offer a poor visitor experience.
Ask yourself: how frustrating is it to click a link, only to find it doesn’t go anywhere? But it’s not just bad for your readers; Google too has been shown to penalize sites with excessive broken links. Cleaning them up is therefore a very smart idea.
My Secret Blog Spring Cleaning Process
By now you’re probably starting to realize just how many maintenance tasks there really are to keep an eye on in order to keep your blog running smoothly for the foreseeable future.
What I’d like to run through now are some simple tools that I use to help me accomplish all of the above quickly and easily.
As you’re going to find, once you know which tools to use, the process of giving your blog a spring clean is simplicity itself…
ManageWP is a software application that makes managing your WordPress site easier than ever before.
Even better, this software will help you maintain not just one WordPress site, but a whole network of them. In other words, if you currently have (or plan to have) a number of blogs in different niches, ManageWP will help you do just that.
In essence what ManageWP does is to monitor your WordPress blog(s) for any maintenance issues you need to be aware of. They alert you to any upgrades of the WordPress core, plugins or themes that are available.
Even better, click a single button and everything it updated for you automatically – no need to do it yourself.
In addition to this ManageWP carries out regular backups of your site so that you know your hard work is protected, and if you ever do have a problem you can simply click a button to re-install your entire blog from your backup account.
Lastly ManageWP allows you to moderate comments that your blog receives. What I’ve found is that when you’re just starting to build a new blog, it can take time until you receive a steady stream of comments.
Until then you might land the odd one here and there, so logging into WordPress each day for weeks on end just to see you’ve got no comments to approve is hardly the most efficient use of your time.
ManageWP however keeps an eye on any and all comments across all your blogs, and alerts you to any new comments you have received. You can even approve them and reply to them from within ManageWP.
In essence ManageWP helps to ensure that my site is fully protected, backed up and updated at all times. Any time it’s not, I get a simple alert in my inbox, click a button and bang we’re back where we want to be. This tool makes keeping your site up to date easier than anything else I’ve tried.
I’ve written more about the tool here if you’d like further information or you can visit them here.
When it comes to deleting old post drafts, spam comments, unused tags and categories and just generally tidying up and speeding up your WordPress database this tool is a gem. In a few clicks of your mouse you can achieve all this and more and delete a vast amount of “dead weight” from your WordPress database.
You can download this plugin for free here.
Broken Links Checker
Trying to find broken links on your site can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Let’s be honest; we’ve all got better things to be doing than that. This plugin however does the job for you; and makes repairing or removing broken links childs-play.
Simply install the free plugin and let the thing run. As and when broken links are found you’ll receive an email alert whereby you can update or delete the broken links.
Even better, this plugin runs regularly, checking your site on a regular basis for any changes that are necessary.
Once installed, all you need to do is to keep an eye out for warning emails and respond to them as appropriate.
Do you carry out any routine maintenance on your blog? What are your favorite tools for spring cleaning your blog? Please leave your experiences in the comments section below…