Spring is a great time to take a fresh look at your website. You can take care of all of your website’s needs and give your content a good dusting off! This tutorial will focus on WordPress, but it also applies to most websites.
It’s always important to back up your website, but spring cleaning is a great time to test your current backups and make sure everything is running smoothly. If you don’t have a backup system yet, you should look at Backing up WordPress with BackWPup.
Checking your content should consist of two parts.
- Reading your existing content to make sure it is still accurate
- Checking all your links
I realize that reading all of your existing content may be a bit too much for most sites. However, you should read through your pages that are directly accessible from the menu bar or home page. Also check your analytics information to find the most commonly visited pages and perform a content check of those as well.
Things can change, information can become outdated, and sometimes you just find a better way to say something. Whatever the case you should be familiar with the information on your site and make sure it is accurate.
A standard part of my spring cleaning is always to run sites through a broken link checker. This alerts you to both broken links to your own pages as well as broken links to outside pages.
Another option is a broken link checking plugin which will run a periodic check on your website for broken links. There is one downside to broken link checking plugins, they are taxing to your server. So I only turn them on about every month or so to run a check and then deactivate them.
Still another option is Google Webmaster Tools (and Bing). In Webmaster Tools there is a section for crawl errors. This will tell if you Google came across any errors while crawling your site. You should check on these errors and get them fixed.
While security should be a continuous activity, but I bring it up again due to its importance. I recommend running a quick security check with Sucuri’s free plugin. It’s not perfect, but it does a good job and provides some peace of mind. For a much more detailed description on security, read my blog post on WordPress Security.
Part of spring cleaning in our house is to put away the winter coats and bring out the light jackets. Part of it for my websites is to make sure they are updated and there is nothing I’m not using.
From time to time I find a plugin that does something better, or I find I just don’t need an old plugin anymore. So spring is a great time to go through and check what plugins are still needed and what ones need to go.
For those that I keep, I make sure they are kept up to date with the latest version. And if a new version of WordPress or the theme I’m using comes out, I update those as well. For more info on updating, read my post on Updating WordPress.
Most website owners check their website’s speed ranking just about never. But, if you are concerned about your SEO and search engine rankings, then you should be very concerned about your PageSpeed score. Google factors in your PageSpeed score when it forms an opinion of your website. Which means a poor score can hurt your SEO endeavors.
To find out Google’s current view of your website speed, head over to PageSpeed Insights and enter your webpage URL. When entering your URL, make sure you know if your site begins with www or not, if PageSpeed has to do a redirect that does hurt your score.
The higher your PageSpeed Score, the better your site is doing in terms for performance optimization. As a general rule, if you have a score below 80 you should be looking at speeding up your site. If your score is below 50, you should be very concerned.
Easy ways to speed your site are to install a caching plugin and to optimize your images. Google can get very cranky about unnecessarily large images. It also gets really cranky when you have scaled down your images on your site instead of scaling them in an image program (such as Gimp or Photoshop). There are other, more advanced things that can be done, but those two items generally provide great return for a little time investment.
While some of the activities in spring cleaning are more routine (just like vacuuming your house), reviewing your content and your site speed aren’t done as often. Spring is a great time to give them some special attention.