With spring around the corner (hopefully) it turns many of our minds to decluttering our homes and lives in a yearly purge we like to call spring cleaning.
Your blog needs maintenance and de-cluttering too, so let’s extend that spirit over to our cyber lives.
Blog Maintenance Checklist
- Erase All Unused Plugins: Check out your installed plugins menu and see what’s lurking in the list. One major cause of slow sites is waaaay too many plugins. Look for plugins that you installed by never used, or ones you’ve replaced with something you like better. If you’re not using it, erase it! Those same plugins will always be there in the future if you decide you want them again, but in the mean time, they won’t be slowing down your site.
- Erase All Unused Themes: Next, head over to your themes Appearance–>Themes area and make sure that the only themes you have are the one you’re using and Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven (the default themes). It’s always a good idea to keep one of the default themes around in case your other theme breaks during an update, it gives WordPress an option to reload this theme automatically depending on what happened.
- Update All Your Plugins and Themes: One of the major causes of WordPress sites getting hacked is out of date themes and plugins. People think, just because they aren’t using a theme or plugin means they don’t have to update it, and that is a big mistake. Those files are still sitting on your server and those updates are often fixes for bugs and security issues, which are being ignored. It’s another good reason to only have the themes and plugins you’re using loaded on your site, but you also have to update them!
- Update WordPress Core: For the same reason that updating your plugins is important, so is updating your WordPress. Minor updates are often security fixes and if you ignore them, hackers can exploit that to use the security hole to burrow into your site and insert Malware which can give your visitors issues and hijack your site. Always take a site backup before updating core just in case something happens. Depending on your budget or blog size, we like Valutpress ($15/month) and Backup Buddy ($75 one time fee for 2 sites) as options to safeguard your site.
- Do a Malware Scan: Your blog can have malware hanging out in the files and you will not necessarily notice right away. Google won’t blacklist your site immediately either so you have time to correct the issue before the search engines will restrict access to prevent visitors from getting inflected. Get a free scan at Sucuri.net and if you do have malware, their removal service is fast and their customer service is brilliant.
- Remove Post Revisions and Spam: Everytime you save a draft while writing or your blog autosaves your content, you get an entry stored in your database. Over the course of time (especially if you’re a frequent saver like myself,) this creates a huge amount of information your blog is holding. To remove it, just install WP-Optimize from the WordPress plugin repository. Once installed, you’ll see the WP-Optimize as a separate section in your Dashboard. Click on the plugin and you’ll be taken to this screen: Simple click check off all the boxes and click process. Once it’s done, you’ll be able to scroll through to the bottom of the page and see how much space you saved!
- Speed Up Your Site Load Times: The main culprits we see of slow load times is too many plugins, too many large images and badly coded themes. You can help improve your sites speed by preforming the items above and also reading through our other tips from last week about improving wordpress site load times.
- Consolidate Plugins: Do you have 2 plugins that could be replaced by just one? A classic example is All In One SEO pack and Robots plus Google XML sitemaps can all be replaced by WordPress SEO by Yoast. One for 3, that’s a good trade! Other easy fixes are social media plugins. Do you have a facebook like plugin, another for google + and another for twitter? Look for a social sharing option that covers all your needs so you’re not managing 5 items when all you need is one.
- Check for Broken Links: Broken links are bad for your visitors and are just plain frustrating. As you get more and more content, how are you supposed to know that a website you linked too last year moved to a new address? Broken Link Checker to the rescue. This plugin automatically scans your site and informs you of broken links and missing images on an ongoing basis. Just set the amount of time between scans and it’s virtually automated (minus the correcting the broken link part) It’s easy if you stay on top of it:
Keep this list handy and go through it monthly for best results to help remove (but not eliminate) the likelihood of hacks, broken links, and slow load times.