It can be rather satisfying to have a blog that’s neat and tidy. Sometimes they stay that way on their own, but if you’ve been blogging for a while or if you’re posting frequently, the garden can start to get a little wild. With a little routine gardening work, though, maintaining your blog can be smooth and easy.
Plant some links
This matters for two main reasons. One, search engines look more favourably on websites that are well linked, so that’s an SEO (search engine optimization) boost. 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; you can just direct readers to the relevant post.
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. Even if a lot of your readers aren’t going back and checking out your older posts, you still get the SEO benefit, because search engines care that the framework is there even if people don’t regularly click the links.
An extra step is to use a link checker tool, such as this one from Internet Marketing Ninjas, to check if there are problems with your internal links or links pointing to other websites. This ends up helping the user experience because when people click a link on your blog, it should actually take 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.
Check stats – the constructive way
When it comes to stats, absolute numbers aren’t necessarily all that meaningful, and all they’re likely to do is make you feel inadequate. Still, it can be interesting to see what’s going on with your site. I like to look at the Posts & pages stats for the last 30 days and the last quarter and see what people are looking at the most often. It’s also interesting to look at referrers in the last 30 days and last quarter. Those time frames are long enough that you can get a good idea of patterns, which is far more useful information than absolute numbers.
You may or may not want to do anything with that information. One suggestion for posts that seem to have ongoing popularity is to add suggestions at the end of the post pointing readers to another post they might be interested in. You may also want to spruce up those busier posts to make sure they’re looking their best.
The Moz link explorer tool will tell you your domain authority, which for most people really isn’t relevant. More interestingly, though, it will give you information about other sites that are linking to your site, and what pages of yours their links are point to. If you’re interested, it’s free to sign up for an account.
Do some weeding
Home & about pages
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? Is there anything you can do to make it easier for people to navigate around your site?
Tags & categories
Categories are pretty easy to see if you’ve got any excess hanging around that you’re not using. With tags, though, you can easily accumulate loads of them. You can view a list of them under My Site > Settings > Writing. Recently I did a major tag clean-out for the very first time. I had 1200 tags. Yikes.
When you look at your long list of tags, WP tells you how many posts you have under each tag. If it’s only 1, that could be a candidate for deletion. Misspelled tags are another obvious choice to delete.
Depending on your WordPress plan, you’ll have a particular size limit that you’re allowed for all of your images and other assorted media. It may be useful to browse through your media every so often and weed things out, like images you’re no longer using or that you have multiple copies of.
Let’s say you’re looking through the Media section of My Sites and you come across an image you’re you thinking of deleting because you don’t think you’ve used it, but you’re not sure. If you click on Edit, one of the bits of info that comes up is the URL for the image. Copy that. Go into your posts section, click the magnifying glass to search, and paste in the image URL. Then you’ll see every post that’s used that image. That same thing can be done in the pages section. No results, then no posts are using the image. There may be another way of doing it, but I haven’t figured it out.
To make the most of your space allowance, when you’re downloading images from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash, choose a smaller size than the one it recommends that you download. If you’re creating images on Canva, it will probably default to having you download them in .png format, which is quite large. If you download in .jpg format, you’ll get a much smaller file size.
If you’re using a Mac, the Preview app is good for changing image sizes and formats. The site TinyPNG also allows you to compress images.
If you’re self-hosted or have the WP business plan, the Smush plugin can be used to compress images. With smaller image file sizes, your site will load faster.
You may or may not want to go back and weed out or spruce up some of your old posts. Posts that are evergreen-style (i.e. relevant long after they’re published) can continue to draw traffic, especially if you go back and spruce them up with new images and new headings.
Other posts may be unlikely to ever see the light of day again, as they quickly become irrelevant, and you may want to delete some of those to pare things down. Reblogs of other people’s content is a good example of something that’s useful at the time, but by three months later, it’s just creating clutter.
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. 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.
Have a rutabaga party
Perhaps you’ve already noticed this, but I like the word rutabaga. And I mention it here to make the point that maintaining your blog shouldn’t feel like a chore. If everything described in this post sounds like scrubbing a toilet, don’t do it. Only do what works for you and your rutabaga party. Or something like that; it’s really not a very good metaphor here. But, just like maintaining your blog, bad rutabaga metaphors are just as valid as good ones. So keep your garden however you like it.