Blogging is all about writing and reading, right? Well, not necessarily. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with writing and reading, but just like a house tends to function better when it’s neat and tidy, so does a blog. Devoting some time to blog housekeeping on a somewhat regular basis gives you a finely tuned blog machine that is performing optimally.
Rory at A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip is legendary for his work deep inside the catacombs of his blog to make it the most orderly blog that it could possibly be. I bow to his greatness, but we’ll forge ahead with my own housekeeping strategies.
Comment spam clean-out
WordPress’s Akismet spam filter will sometimes decide legit comments are spam, including legit comments from your regular readers. Check your spam every so often to make sure you haven’t missed anyone’s comments. This post tells you how to find your comment spam. I’ve blacklisted some of my frequent spam sources so they go straight to my trash folder which saves me some time in sifting through the spam folder.
There’s more on this topic in the post Managing Blog Spam.
Home and about page freshening up
Take a look at your actual website, not just the WordPress editor version. Is everything looking the way you want it to? Is there some random widget that you didn’t even realize was there? Is the font colour actually visible against the background colour? Is there any information that needs updating, especially on some of the pages that you may never look at? Is there anything you can do to make it easier for people to navigate around your site?
This matters for two main reasons. One, search engines look more favourably on websites that are well linked. Primarily, though, it’s easier for your readers to find relevant content if you show them how to find it.
Let’s talk a bit more about the second reason. Your readers want to read your work, but they don’t want to hunt for it. If you give them links, it means they don’t have to put in any effort. It can also save you time spent re-explaining things you’ve already covered. A few sections back when I was talking about comment spam, rather than explain in this post how to find it, I offered a link to another post that already did that. It makes things easier for me as well as for the reader. There’s also the benefit that Google likes that kind of thing, and that reflects in search result rankings.
That’s the why, now here’s the housekeeping. When you’re writing new posts, you can include links as you go to past content. But what about the content that’s you’ve written since then? Once a month or so, I’ll go back through most of my posts and update them with any new appropriate links. Depending on how often your readers are checking out your older posts, this may be most useful for search engine optimization, because the search engines care more about whether the links are there than whether anyone’s clicking on them.
An extra step if you’re working on search engine optimization is to use a link checker tool, such as this one from Internet Marketing Ninjas, to check if there are problems with your links, such as broken links or links that need to redirect to the current URL. This does end up helping the user experience because it makes sure that when they click a link on your blog it takes them to where they’re supposed to go. Broken links don’t help your reader, and redirects slow them down when they’re trying to access something.
To check links on individual pages, the Check My Links Google Chrome extension is really helpful.
You can really see this on Rory’s site that I linked to above, and to a lesser extent on my own site. By creating directories with links for related posts all in one place, it makes it easy for your reader to find things. There’s also the option for readers to find posts by category, but personally I like the directory idea, and it also creates some great internal links for you.
If you decide to do this, it’s something that you can choose to do a little bit of maintenance housekeeping on a regular basis, or update it intermittently.
This may be my own personal fussiness, but I believe that less is more. If there are images uploaded to my blog that I haven’t actually used in a post, I get rid of them. If there are outdated promotional posts, like a reblog of someone’s free book day promo from 6 months ago, I will eventually weed those out and delete them.
Check search engine webmaster tools
I take a look at Google’s Search Console and Bing’s webmaster tools about once a month or so, to see if they can give me any new insights or flag things that aren’t working properly. You can find out more in a post I did on using search engine webmaster tools.
I think that’s it for me. Do you have any housekeeping tasks you try to keep up with on your blog?
Overview of Basic Blog Housekeeping Tasks
- Clean out spam
Clear out your comment spam and trash folders, and delete pingbacks that have outlived their usefulness.
- Refresh home, about, and other permanent pages
Make sure your information is up to date and relevant.
- Link-building and maintenance
Create links between newer and older content on your site to give readers a better experience and boost your SEO. Use a tool like Check My Links to see if you have broken external links.
- Add structure
Include directories, links, menus, or some form of structure that makes it easy for readers to find content on your site they may be interested in.
Delete things that are no longer useful, like images you’re not using or reblogs of other people’s posts from months ago.
- Check webmaster tools
Have a look at Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to see how your blog is doing and whether there are any errors that you may want to address.