Guest Post by James from Organize IT.
Running a blog isn’t simple. Besides the obvious challenges of regularly writing great content and making sure plenty of people get to read it, there are so many elements of a blog that need regular attention. You could ignore things like spam comments, out of date posts and broken links and just about get by, but if you really want to keep your blog healthy and running smoothly you need a maintenance routine.
Many people I know don’t have a regular or organized routine, they just deal with situations as and when they feel like it. The problem with this approach is it quickly becomes a big time-consuming chore. They might get fed up of all the spam comments one day and decide to do a massive deletion session which takes several hours. Alternatively they might decide to shake up their categories in one go which again takes lots of time.
What I personally do is break down my maintance sessions into small chunks and focus on it every week. It’s much easier to take little steps regularly than large strides occassionally. Rather than editing dozens of comments in one session, for instance, you can do just ten comments in each weekly setting. Similarly with links, rather than trying to get on top of them all in one go, you might set a target of fixing twenty links each week. This approach allows me to keep on top of maintaining my blog without it becoming a time-consuming chore.
With that in mind, below are the things I focus on during my weekly routine.
If you do only one thing in this category clean up your spam comments. You should have Akismet or some similar anti-spam plugin in place which will capture most of it, but a little involvement on your part may be required. You may also want to edit and clean up some comments, particularly older ones. I personally check over all new comments from the week, plus a page of older comments.
- Old posts
There are a couple of things you can do here. If you’re like me, you’re writing skills and blogging knowledge will have improved over the years and many of your older posts will be lacking. It’s never too late to freshen them up – improve the grammar, expand it, add extra links, etc. If you think that’s a waste of time, see if it’s worth just updating the post title/permalink to make it more SEO friendly (remember to redirect properly). I’m slowly working through each post each week, right from the beginning of my archive.
- WordPress/plugin updates
What better time to get the latest release of WordPress downloaded or get all those plugins finally up to date than during your maintainance routine?
- Categories and tags
This is perhaps a minor area to maintain but if you have a lot of categories or you’re quite liberal with your tagging, it may be worth giving this some attention. If you have dozens of categories or have a mish-mash of unorganized tags they’re no use to anybody. Delete or consolidate!
- Broken links
Linking to dead content is bad for obvious reasons but it’s inevitable that over time link rot will occur. That’s why it’s useful to keep them all up to date, especially if you’re changing categories, titles, etc. Download the broken link checker for this. You may be surprised at just how many dead links you have. Don’t forget to check old pingbacks and author URL’s too (while editing your comments). I update or delete ten broken links each week.
The last and most obvious step. After all your hard work providing great content and maintaining it all, it would be a shame if you lost it all due to some mishap, hack or general disaster. Make sure you backup regularly!