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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About Brian D. Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.

Comments

  1. Hey Brian!

    Nice info and thank you for reminding. I have yet to check on my broken links and guess it is time to do so again.

    Thanks for sharing mate!

  2. I think fixing broken links has to be much more important than the rest because after all that can cause a lot of harms to our blog and hurt our readers too. Thanks for sharing this awesome post.

  3. Hey Brian

    Broken links can become a real problem if you don’t keep on top of them, especially with CommentLuv installed.

    I tend to use brokenlinkcheck.com to check for them now because it means one less plugin and it picks up the CommentLuv ones too whereas I don’t think the Broken Link Checker does?

    I’m with you on the tags and categories though. I’ve gone overboard with the tags and really need to do an audit and get rid of some. I may do the same with categories too!

    Something to do for the New Year, I think!

  4. Hi Brian, great tips here. I wasn’t familiar with #1 so I will be checking that one out. The rest I do pretty regularly except cleaning up old posts, I do it in phases these days. Images too can be an issue. I used to use png images but now I only want jpeg ‘s for pinning purposes. So I’ve been working on changing them throughout the year. Have you updated to the new 3.8? I read folks that had issues and have been holding off. I once had 100’s of tags and categories and got them down to under 20 each. (The things we learn along the way! ) I hope you have a wonderful new year in 2014!

  5. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for sharing a great article. I have yet to check on my broken links. I also have lots of plugins that i need to uninstall to boost my site speed.

  6. Hi Brian,
    As the picture in the post says it all, Time to Clean up! I hope I also need to do same.

    Time to clean up on my blog as well. Thanks for sharing with us this insight and I wish you a Happy New Year.

    Lest I forget to tell you, Jan. 1 is my birthday!

  7. First, Sheryl was correct the other day; we did do a video on categories and tags. Second, Broken Link Checker shut down my blogs so I had to get rid of it, but if it works for others it’s not a bad plugin. I use a different plugin for the cache thing, but I guess I don’t have the other issues you do with your blog to need a plugin.

    I do want to touch upon the updating posts thing though. That really can be beneficial and it’s a smart thing to do, as well as linking to similar posts on one’s blog.

    Have a great new year!

  8. Regular clean-ups are absolutely necessary. WordPress tends to leave a lot of uninstalled plugins in database and this might slow down website. Cleaning up plugins is also very critical, large number of plugins is not smart way to do things and open security wholes.

  9. Broken links is one of big bother to solve out them. Broken link checker will help us out well,so i think to use it.

  10. I recently did a tag clean up, it is surprising how many we build up over time, I had over 3,000!! So I removed loads and combined others, bringing them down to a healthier number.

  11. I only use webmaster tool to remove my older post but for spam think i really like two plugin and i also suggest other to install them, the first one is wp optimize and the second one is Captcha.

    Use both plugin for awesome exprience

  12. I personally use Wp-Optimize plugin to cleanup junk database entries from WordPress.The methods suggested by you for Tags and Images are quite right too.

  13. I have created lot of tags in my wordpress site. If I want to clean them up, I have to inspect each and every post (around 1000). Is there any simple way to delete unwanted tags?

  14. Great tips – useful, practical, and easy to do. For broken link checker, for those having problem with the recommended plugin above, I can suggest Xenu’s Link Sleuth, one of the most powerful link checkers available. Also, if you encounter a 301 page, you can sue the Redirect plugin in WordPress to either link it to the correct page or make users go to the homepage. Hope these help.

  15. Brian,

    Thanks for the tips. Many of those plugins you mention above helped me out a lot – especially the “WP-Optimize” plugin as I had over 2000 post revisions that were clogging up my database! In your post about backing up WP, you mentioned a useful plugin that can backup the database. If I use this plugin for backing up, do you still recommend having an FTP backup as well?

    Thanks for the great info!

  16. Well, I got better rankings on serps when I deleted 200+ tags of my blog. In about 2 weeks my blog increases its pageviews in about 20%.
    And I use the plugin “limit login attemps” and now my server is very fast.

    Clean you mind, clean your blog. Thanks for the tips.

  17. Great post. I think its very important remember your advice of backing up as I have a friend who unfortunately has lost his data.

  18. Hey Brain, Happy New Year! great article I do regularly clean up but yes you reminded me about the broken links. Thanks for the share.

  19. Hello Brian,
    Really amazing and nice tips to cleanup blogs…. I am fully agree with you.. Broken link checker is one of the best plugin which everyone should install… Happy blogging and new year…

  20. Sai Krishna says

    Regularly I use broken links plugin and cache plugin for clean up, now after reading these tips, will implement database clean up too, I think its very necessary for keeping site loads fast.

  21. Hi Reginald, I used to have to look for broken links in the “tools” section of my WordPress dashboard but since the latest WP update I’ve moved a broken links widget right on the main page; that seems to make it so much easier.

  22. It’s definitely important Saqib. I think getting rid of those spammy links left from link building comments can help a lot as well.

  23. Hi Lisa, I’m running 3.8 but usually wait a few days to a week before I upgrade to let plugins catch up. Unless, that is, it’s a major security issue and then I update right away.

    I use JPG as well. I do have certain images as a PNG but it seems JPG easier to optimize.

    Twenty tags is awesome. I want to narrow my categories down to just 5 or less because I want those links in the header. You’re right, the work involved would have been far less if we’d had a lot of this info up front. Hopefully our readers are getting a headstart on things. 🙂

  24. Nice tips to maintain a clean wordpress blog 🙂

    I blog on WordPress since last year and slowly learning about its useful plugins.

    This post would help me to have a precise account, thanks for the tips!

  25. Nice point Tim, an Online broken link checker can take a little longer and you have to remember to check it but too many plugins are a constant battle for bloggers.

    I didn’t realize the Broken Link Checker didn’t cover CommentLuv. I just ran brokenlinkcheck.com for Hot Bog Tips and it took a long time to process but it has found 354 other broken links. I just updated this post so others will know. Thank you for that tip, that’s very helpful. 🙂

  26. Thanks Mitch. I just updated the section on the Broken Link Checker plug because it’s not as effective as I thought. Thanks to Tim in an earlier comment, I ran an outside check and found another 350+ broken links that weren’t found by the plugin.

    It took brokenlinkcheck.com over an hour to check broken links on 843 pages. It might need a week to check a blog your size. 😉

  27. I guess it makes sense Carl, just like restarting our computers to get our speed back, cleaning up that old junk from our database makes our blogs run faster.

  28. Check the updated post Chamal. It just got even tougher for me with another 350+ links to check. 🙁

  29. Wow Karen, that must have taken forever. That’s why I’m tempted to just delete every one of them. I’ve went in and started a few times but it’s so overwhelming.

  30. Captcha is a good start with spam comments Rahul, it’s better to keep them out of there rather than cleaning them up later. I don’t see how webmaster tools can remove old posts but I’m really referring to updating more than removing.

  31. Deleting the tags is very simple Vijay, you just check the boxes and use the bulk action option. Cleaning and updating is a whole other story though.

  32. Thanks Chris, I downloaded Xenu’s Link Sleuth from cNet and when I tried to install it, it wanted to change my default search engine, my homepage and tried to install an insane amount of other crap on my system. I aborted the install and tried again later using the direct download from http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html and worked like a charm. Thanks for the recommendation, I’m running the program right now and it seems to work great.

  33. I absolutely do Matt, I recommend regular database backups via cPanel (or your hosting platform) and FTP. I like to backup all files via FTP so if one goes corrupt, it’s a simple matter to slip the file back in without the need of a complete database restore.

  34. Thanks Sai, be sure to check the updated section on the broken link checker, it’s not as effective as I thought.

  35. Thank you Nirmala, it looks like you’re doing an awesome job, I like your blog. 🙂

  36. I added a plugin to help me out called “Term Management Tools”, first started off by visiting the tags section in admin and sorted tags by not used and deleted those, then used the tool to combine tags, really handy.

  37. Hello,

    Wonderful post! to be honest I wasn’t taking care of old posts or neither the cleanup plugin. These tips are really helpful for making blog more better and good.

    Thanks

  38. Hi Brian,

    I’m glad you pointed out that it’s always a good idea to backup the database before giving the site a cleanup or removing files and plugins. I’m hoping that spares at least one of your readers some unhappiness this year.

    Wishing you a very prosperous and enjoyable 2014,

    Cole

  39. On no, I should have waited for that. I actually deleted every tag. A drastic step, perhaps, but it felt so good. lol

  40. this was Great article for WP Clean up tips. in blogging for More than 8 month but Still Searching for better WP Plugin. This article Satisfied me lot. Thanks for the info. 🙂

  41. Thanks for the tips. For someone who has not much experience with WordPress platform this is very useful information.

  42. Great tips – thanks a lot for this excellent article. But, if I have too many tags it can cause problems?
    When I post an article I usually add more than 10 tags.

  43. This is a great checklist for the blogger, novice or otherwise. WP blogs are user friendly but do need management and optimisation. I am always looking out for suitable plugins to keep my blog running smoothly. That being said my first port of call when I set up a new blog is to install the blogvault plugin for seamless backup – they are a great service. If the back up is secure you can sleep at night.

  44. Thanks Cole, unfortunately I learned that the hard way. 😉

  45. Hi Himanshu, Check out this updated post on why Broken link checker shouldn’t be our only solution and what to do about it: https://hotblogtips.com/broken-link-checkers

  46. hey. i was using broken links plugin and tired of it thanks alot
    one word- my blog on wordpress purified with this post

  47. hey nice post i just purified my wordpress and all credit to you 🙂

  48. Indeed, all broken links are a nuisance and they can hurt you in Google too, esp. also broken outbound links. When Google considers whether to send visitors to you or someone else (implicitly via the SERP ranking) it seems to think “if I send a visitor to a page with several further relevant outbound links on the subject, then he/she might find everything there in one place instead of having to search further again and again”. But if several of these links create 404s, then this backfires and will result in Google thinking your site is less well maintained than maybe one that has fewer, but functioning, outbound links. I’m a bite weary of all these checker plugins and use Xenu LinkSleuth which is freeware since years (just search for it). It will not only report broken links, but any kind of link on your pages (you just enter the root domain and then it gets to work, you can tweak the amount of threads used to balance server load etc.). That way you get an even better overview than site map software can give.

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