How to spring clean your blog
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I’ve been getting into the spring-cleaning mode this week, and while I’ve been clearing out my house and my closet, I figured today’s post could be a good time to talk a bit about how to “spring clean” your blog – i.e. how to give your site a bit of an overhaul, and freshen it up for the new season.
These are all things that you can do at ANY time of year, obviously, but spring’s as good an excuse as any, so here’s some basic blog maintenance I try to do at least once a year, but ideally more often…
01. CLEAR OUT THE CLUTTER
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably constantly coming across new things you want to add to your sidebar, your footer, and anywhere else you can cram them in. While some of those things might be useful additions to your blog, it’s important to be able to know that for sure. A lot of bloggers (me included) fall into the trap of adding sidebar widgets and then just leaving them there, without any means of working out whether people are actually using them or not. A lot of visual clutter can slow down your site, make it look messy, and detract from the actual content – which is the most important thing, after all – so every so often I like to take a look at the site, and remove anything that isn’t necessary, whether it be a sidebar widget, a dead link or whatever.
If you’re having trouble deciding what should stay and what should go, your site analytics should give you some idea of which links people are clicking on and which are being ignored. Lately I’ve also been using the Heatmap plugin for WordPress, which basically records visitor activity on the site, and adds an overlay showing you which areas of your blog are “hot” (i.e. getting clicks from visitors), and which are cold, lonely failures. Sorry, that was a bit dramatic, wasn’t it?
After using this plugin, I removed some things from the sidebar and from the bottom of the posts, because they just weren’t being used: if I decide to replace them, I’ll try to remember to use this service again, to make sure I’m replacing them with something that actually adds value to the site, rather than just adding clutter!
02. FRESHEN UP YOUR DESIGN OR HEADER
While I don’t recommend changing your blog layout TOO often, sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and try to look at it objectively, to see if it could be improved at all. As I mentioned in this post, sometimes just changing your header or updating the colours you use can be enough to breathe new life into an old blog, and reinvigorate your interest in it. Other times, you might decide you need a complete overhaul – either way, you won’t know unless you take the time to really look at your blog, and try to see it through fresh eyes.
03. DELETE UNUSED PLUGINS
This tip is WordPress specific, but if you’re in the habit of adding various plugins, then forgetting all about them, it’s a good idea to go through them all and delete the ones you no longer need. It sounds like such a small thing, but running tons of plugins can slow down the speed of your site, so if you don’t need them, delete!
04. UPDATE YOUR ‘ABOUT’ PAGE – OR CREATE ONE
When I find a new blog I like, one of the first things I do is to look for an “about” page – I know I’m not the only one, either: my own ‘About’ page is one of the most viewed pages on the site, and I know from my stats that new visitors will often look at a couple of the most recent posts, and then head straight to the ‘About’ page. It’s a fact that people are curious about other people, and I think blog readers like to know at least a little bit about the person whose blog they’re reading: I know I do!
Unfortunately, though, ‘About’ pages are often one of the first things to get neglected when a blogger is busy, so a lot of sites either don’t have one at all, or have one that’s hopelessly out-of-date, so if you have some spare time, cast a quick eye over your ‘About’ page – or get busy creating one, if you haven’t yet! (While you’re at it, you should probably take a look at your contact information too, and make sure it’s still current!)
05. FIND AND UPDATE BROKEN LINKS
Broken links are annoying to visitors, so it’s a good idea to check your site for them and update any that no longer work. If you’re on WordPress, there are various plugins that will help with this (I use the aptly-named Broken Link Checker...), but there are also a lot of free online services which will allow you to identify and fix any broken links: if you haven’t done this in a while (Or, you know, ever…) it can be a bit time-consuming the first time you do it (The first time I did it, I had 700 broken links…), but if you try to stay on top of it, it’ll get easier!
06. REORGANISE YOUR CATEGORIES AND NAVIGATION
I have a bad habit of deciding to start a new series, creating an entire new category for it, and then forgetting all about it. The result is a category list that’s in need of some serious editing! My blog template uses the categories to determine which content appears on the homepage, and some of the other pages too, so I do need to have quite a lot of categories in order to have the site laid out the way I want it, but every so often I’ll try to go through the list and delete any categories that aren’t getting used. This also applies to the site navigation – there’s some evidence that having too many links in your header etc can actually discourage people from clicking, so try to establish which categories are the most important, and just link to those, rather than providing a huge amount of options.
These are just a few of the things I do to “spring clean” my blog, although, as I said, I don’t always wait for spring, as they’re the kind of thing it’s good to do every so often, just to keep everything running smoothly. If only spring cleaning my closet was just as simple![imagebox maintitle=”Follow me on Bloglovin” subtitle=”” image=”http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/spring-clean-your-blog1.jpg” color=”white” space=”60″ link=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/forever-amber-731286″]