Raise your hand if you LIKE spring cleaning.
Tentatively raises hand.
Truth, I do enjoy a good spring cleaning session! It's amazing what can collect under the bed in just a few months. However, there are a lot of aspects of our life we should clean beyond just the forgotten corners of our house this spring. Case and point being your blog. If you're a blogger I'm sure you're wearing many hats: content creator, editor, photographer, graphic designer...the list goes on. With all those roles, it's hard to stay on top of some of the day-to-day maintenance your blog needs. So, use spring cleaning as motivation and give your blog a good sprucing.
In this post I'll share some great places to dust, mop, and buff on your blog. These are things that will improve not just the look of your blog, but your SEO, your user engagement, and so on. Here are some benefits to spring cleaning your blog:
- Declutter to improve site design and give users a better experience.
- Make it easier to navigate your posts
- Improve SEO
- Speed up page load time to reduce page abandonment
- Protect your site from potential hackers
- Refresh and recharge. Find new inspiration
- Take time to look at analytics and implement change
Tidy the sidebar
This is a spring cleaning item I need to do over on my main blog, But First, Coffee. Your sidebar is PRIME real estate and yet most of us set it once and forget about it for the next 15 years. Ok, ok, I exaggerate, but you get the point. Not to mention, your sidebar can easily become a junk drawer of icons and badges and a bunch of cr*p you don't need. If I could give you once piece of advice, I'd say this, "Delete anything that's not vitally useful to your reader's experience."
An overcluttered sidebar isn't just too much for readers, but if there is a lot there it will slow down your page load time which leads to page abandonment and lower SEO scores.
- Put the most important and expected things first like your social media and search.
- If possible, limit the number of ads you have. You don't want it to look overcluttered and overwhelm users.
- Lose membership icons and badges unless you're required to have them.
- Make sure archives and categories are drop-down-style if possible. That being said...lose the archive. Almost no one search by date unless your blog content is somehow set up that date of post is important/valuable.
Sweep through Plugins
If you use Wordpress you've likely installed a plugin or two (or like 40). Check out your plugins page and do some cleaning. Old unused plugins can be a place for hackers to get into your site, so staying on top of them is very important. Don't neglect your plugins if you want to keep your site safe and running smoothly!
- Make sure none of your plugins need to be updated to the newest versions. You can usually do this in one swoop by clicking to "update all."
- You also want to go in a delete any you don't use anymore. I try to keep a running list of which plugins do what on a notepad on my computer since the names aren't always that descriptive. If you're not using it anymore or it was for an old theme, lose it. On occasion plugins can decide that don't want to talk nice and break things on your layout - I'm speaking from first-hand experience. So, weeding out any that are unnecessary can save you time and effort down the road.
- Make sure you don't have any duplicates. Maybe you downloaded two "social" plugins but only use one. Get rid of the one you're not using.
Anyone else been putting off cleaning up their categories like a dentist appointment? Yea, me too. Proper categories can help boost traffic, blog productivity, and give you an overall best user experience.
Navigate to your categories and sort by size if you can. Take a look and try to narrow it down to 5-7 main categories at the most (with sub-categories if it makes sense). Lose the ones with just a few posts in them (make sure to reassign those posts so they aren't sitting in "uncategorized" limbo.) For something to constitute a category, it should be something you write about often enough and provides decent traffic to your site.
Repair broken links
Make sure there aren't dead ends on your site. You can use tools like Dr. Link Checker to scan your site for broken links. Links that lead nowhere will lead to people abandoning your page. Plus, it's not a good SEO practice.
Dust off your About page
This is another page we often write once and then forget about for awhile. Check it over with a fine toothed comb. Your "About" page is actually visited a lot more than you might think. It should be a good representation of you.
- Check tirelessly for typos. Even better, have a couple friends check it for typos too.
- Make sure it's descriptive but not repetitive. Get to the point.
- Talk about you but don't forget to talk about the blog, too. Tell people what they can expect from this blog. How did it come to be? What's the mission or elevator pitch?
- Make sure your pictures ROCK! If needed, maybe it's time for an updated headshot
Hire a professional cleaner
If you're ready for a full-scale refresh and need someone else to look at your blog professionally to provide valuable and authentic feedback, then it might be time to get an audit. This can range from blog/business coaches selling you a series of sessions, to a one-time consultation. Here at Caffeinate and Conquer we offer a one-time blog audit.
Our blog audit is a customized check-up on your blog along with personalized tips and tricks on how to improve. Learn more and sign up.
Weed through old posts
If you've been blogging a long time this might be really daunting. But, getting into the habit of doing it once a year will make it a lot easier. Old posts may not be the best representation of what you're now doing with your blog. Likewise, if they are old and coded improperly, they could impact your search engine rankings.
- Start by looking at traffic. Remove any post that no longer speaks to your blogging style and isn't giving you any traffic.
- Comb through old posts and clean up any old/bad coding. When I moved from Blogger to Wordpress my posts came over converted but with a ton of empty <div> and <p> tags and classes. I'm still cleaning it up.
- If the post is old but you want to keep it for traffic and content, clean through it to ensure the images all have alt tags, there is a meta description and page title tag defined, and other best SEO practices. You can read more about SEO best practices for your blog here.
Looking for authentic feedback on your blog? A blog audit might be just right for you!