Spring is officially here, and what better way to celebrate than by airing out your blog and putting a fresh foot forward? We’ve put together a handy list to help you do just that, and if you tackle one item a day, you’ll have a sparkly new blog in no time at all!
Refresh static content.
It’s likely that the static content on your blog includes nearly everything except your actual posts. From your contact information and bio to your testimonials and pressroom, there’s a pretty good chance that at least a couple of items could use a little sprucing up. Reread those pages and think about what has changed or how your blog has evolved since they were last updated.
Tags are an important search feature for your blog and provide an easy way for your users to navigate your posts by content type. Depending on your blog platform (Blogger, Wordpress, etc.), organizing and updating your tags is a simple, straightforward process, and most platforms allow you to perform a quick edit to update tags without having to actually enter a specific post.
Things to look out for when reviewing your tags:
Make sure that posts in a series are using the same tags.
If a blog is missing tags, review similar posts and add tags.
Too many tags can look cluttered and be confusing. Try to keep your tags between 5-10 per post.
3. Unclutter plug-ins and widgets.
Plug-ins and widgets are a great way to add features and functionality to your site, and the best way to test those features is to give them a trial run on your site. However, once the testing is over, if they didn’t pass muster the unused plug-ins and widgets are left collecting dust and forgotten, taking up space. Cycle through your list of installed plug-ins and widgets, removing the ones that are inactive.
Note: Before conducting this step, make sure you’ve backed up your blog. Removing plug-ins can occasionally have unintended side effects on your blog’s layout or structure. Having an archived version of your blog is handy in case you need to revert to a saved version of your site.
Fix broken features and links.
If you’re using a premium or freemium template, they often get updates to repair bugs, implement new features or improve browser compatibility. If you haven’t installed the latest version of your template, sometimes features break (social media feeds are frequent offenders).
It’s also a good idea to check the links on your site to make sure that your images are all in good standing and your off-links are still viable. This may seem like a daunting task, but there are several free services like http://brokenlinkcheck.com, that let you plug in your site’s URL, then run a sweep for broken links.
Comb through comments.
There’s nothing more frustrating for you than getting spammy comments on your painstakingly-crafted blog posts, and nothing more frustrating for your readers than feeling ignored. We know time is precious, but if your readers are willing to take the time to leave you some love on your blog post, the least you can do is reply to their comment and thank them for it. If you’re suffering from frequent spam, set aside some time research spam filter plug-ins for your blog platform. Akistmet is one of the most popular spam filters for Wordpress users (available for free for personal use), while Blogger has a built-in “Spam Dectector” that sends probable spam to a special queue for review.
Recycle old drafts.
Depending on how long it’s been since you last refreshed your site, you may have several post ghosts that have been sitting forgotten in your line-up. Before you trash those drafts, read through what you wrote, and find a way to repurpose that content for a future post.
Perform all upgrades.
What do platforms, templates and plug-ins all have in common? Simple – they all need to be updated. Ignore your upgrades at your own peril. Chances are high that your upgrade will include patches to known issues, tackle some sort of compatibility problem, or fix a broken feature. They also contain improvements that could speed up your blog load time or adjust the look and feel of your template.
Update your sidebar and footer.
Your blog’s footer can be an easily missed section of your website to review, but one that’s vital to keep up with since one of the most important elements of your blog (your copyright information) is located there.
Sidebars serve a variety functions depending on your site structure and design, and it’s important to keep that area fresh and easy to navigate. To determine how to tweak your sidebar’s main elements, consider the following:
Which widgets do your readers interact with most?
What action(s) do you want your readers to take?
What expectations/traffic do your sponsors expect?
Is the widget in question engaging your audience or taking up space?
Renew your hosting and domain.
There’s no worse feeling than trying to log on to your website only to discover that you let your domain or hosting expire. If you don’t have your hosting/domain set to auto renew, now would be a good time to find out when your plans expire and to set a reminder to renew.
Add something shiny.
You’ve worked hard to make sure that your blog is in tip-top condition. Reward yourself by adding something fun! It could be something simple like a new embellishment, tagline or widget, or something grand like treating yourself to a professional photo shoot or updating your logo.
At the end of the day, you created your blog because you have a story to tell. By implementing some, if not all, of the tips above, you’ll make it easier for your readers to enjoy your stories by removing unnecessary distractions.
How often do you refresh your blog? We’d love to hear about your process in the comments below!