Blog Cleanup Time

8 WordPress Blog Cleanup Tips

This seems like the perfect time to clean-up our WordPress blogs. I love the idea of a clean start for the New Year and I know many of you have a lot of downtime during the holiday season.  This post will go over eight separate options for cleaning up your blog for a fresher and faster start for the New Year.

Caution: Before we begin, I can’t stress enough the importance of completely backing up your blog before attempting any of the ideas in this post. Backup both your files and your database.

Registration Cleanup

Hot Blog Tips just moved from limited guest posts to no guest posts. Since we no longer accept guest posts, there was no longer a need for all of the registered users with the “contributor” or “author” rolls. Every one of those users was downgraded to subscriber level. That allows their posts to stay active with their bios intact. I also deleted dozens of “subscribers” that were nothing more than registration spam.

Uncheck Registration BoxBlog TIP: To help prevent registration spam, be certain the tick box for “Anyone can register” next to “Membership” is unchecked. You can find this setting in your WordPress dashboard under the Settings/General tab on the left column.

Fix Any Broken Links

Broken links should be cleaned up on a regular bases but there may be some you have kept active for various reasons and this is a great time to clean those up as well. For instance, I had dozens of broken links caused by DashBurst’s Tweet This tool. The domain DashBurst was using, burst.to, has been down for weeks, if not months. I waited until now to clean all of the broken links caused by the Tweet This tool. This is a prime example why using a tool under someone else’s control can end up causing more problems later.

Blog TIP: I use the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin to keep track of broken links within our blog. The plugin will list broken links, allow you to manually check it, unlink it right from your dashboard, or allow it. The Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin is a nice option for those of us that use WordPress for our entire website. It won’t work to check links on areas of your websites using platforms other than WordPress.

UPDATE: 07 Jan 2014: 

SEE: Alternatives To The Broken Link Checker Plugin and Why You Need One

UPDATE: 04 Jan 2014: 

Thank you Tim Bonner for bringing this up in a comment because I had no idea. Apparently, the Broken Link Checker plugin doesn’t catch broken links left via CommentLuv. Tim uses BrokenLinkCheck.com and I just found 354 additional broken links on this blog that the plugin never caught. Thank you for that Tim. 🙂

BrokenLinkCheck.com took forever but also found broken links outside of CommentLuv that weren’t picked up by the plugin as well. It did find a few that weren’t broken but that happens with the plugin as well. After checking this out, I’d recommend something like BrokenLinkCheck.com and only use the plug in, if at all, for very light maintenance because it’s obviously not getting the job done. In fact, like Tim mentioned in the comment, it might be better to just uninstall the plugin if you can remember to run an outside link checker regularly.

WordPress Plugin Cleanup

Speaking of plugins, this is a great time to clean those up as was. We try different toys and tools throughout the year and now is a great time to consider whether the benefits outweigh the downsides and risks. Is it really worth a slower load time to have a colorful sliding whatchamacallit? Is the whatchamacallit worth the potential security risk if the developer stops updating it or doesn’t know what they’re doing?

What about those plugins that are deactivated and you know longer use? If you’re sure you no longer need the plugins, it’s usually a good idea to delete them.

Blog Tip: If you have deactivated your original CommentLuv plugin to install CommentLuv Premium($), you’ll need to keep that plugin so you don’t lose old data.

WordPress Database Cleanup

You can easily clean up your WordPress database with the WP-Optimize plugin. WP-Optimize will help you remove old post provisions, comment spam, un-approved comments and cleanup your trash bin. BE SURE to backup your database  before any time of database cleanup.

Cache Cleanup

There are a number of WordPress plugins to Cache and cleanup your blog, which can speed up loading times. I use WP Super Cache. It would take an entire post to explain WordPress Super Cache but it basically serves the majority of your blog visitor static html files. Need I mention the importance of backup again?

Updating Older Posts

Back in February I wrote about Creating Authority Pages With Regular Updates. That post can help you decide when and if you should bother going through old blog posts and updating some of them to fit current circumstances. For example, just yesterday I started updating What Is A Mentor And Who Is Yours? I wrote that post about six months ago and had new information to add. Depending on the size of your blog, skimming through older posts and updating a few of the more relevant and authoritative posts can make a lot of sense.

Too Many WordPress Tags And Categories

This is going to be one of those blog tips where I need to follow my own advice; I simply have too many tags. Seriously, our tags are out of control and in need of a huge overhaul. Personally, I’ve considered just removing all tags and keeping only a handful of blog categories.

UPDATE: 14 Jan 2014: I want to talk a little more about WordPress Tags since it’s coming up a lot in the comments and social media shares.

First, let’s take the “SEO Benefits” of WordPress tags off the table. Honestly, I have no idea because both sides of the camp have strong arguments that tags help and tags hurt SEO. Both can’t be true if tags aren’t being abused such as “tag stuffing” or simply irrelevant.

I do know one thing, I’ve experienced this myself to a small degree and it has been a huge issue among many websites; tags can sometimes “out-rank” actual content. I’d rather people find the content they were searching for on my blog rather than send them to a tag page. You can try to block the tags from being indexed altogether but what’s the point if the argument is for SEO?

I have removed all tags from this blog and they won’t be back anytime soon. To me, the little usefulness for our reader, if any, isn’t worth the effort of creating and maintaining WordPress tags.

That’s really the question to ask,

Do or would tags help our readers find content and stay engaged without making navigation more confusing?”

I believe our navigation is pretty straight forward and effective without tags. That’s not to say your blog or other websites can’t benefit from the use of tags. If you believe it might help your visitors, test it. If you decide to use tags, do so strategically and keep them well maintained.

Image Cleanup

No, I’m not going to suggest you go back and begin optimizing old blog post images; I’d hope you’ve been doing that since the beginning. But I’d bet you have a ton of unused images that should be removed. I’m reluctant to include this tool because I haven’t tested it YET but I plan to. It’s a WordPress Plugin called Image Cleanup. Image Cleanup is supposed to search and find unreferenced images that ARE NOT being used for other plugins or blog posts and allow you to remove those unused images. Again, I know I sound like a broken record but please backup before attempting any of these recommendations.

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