Ahhhh Spring! The flowers are blooming, the trees are budding, and there’s a sense of renewal in the air.
But with Spring also brings with it the need to do Spring cleaning. For our cars, we wash off the grime and road salt that has built up over the last few months. For our houses, we clean the windows, air out the house, get the old leaves out of the flower beds, and get the yard prepped for growth. And, as with all Spring cleaning, the more effort you put into getting everything done now, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of a clean house and beautiful lawn later.
Just a heads-up…your blog may need some Spring cleaning, too.
From time to time, I go back and review some of my early posts, and sometimes I’m a bit appalled. I find posts with no Alt tags on the images, meta tags that just weren’t well thought-out, and content and data that, while correct at the time, is now a bit outdated.
So in preparation for my blog Spring cleaning, I thought I’d put together a checklist of things that I want to do that would positively impact my SEO and I figured I’d share it in hopes that might help you out.
Remember, the more you clean up those old posts the more they will pay you back with increased search engine traffic or organic traffic from social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Setting aside a few hours to do the work is ideal, but if you can spare 10-15 minutes each day to review old posts, it will be worth your effort.
7 Tips For Cleaning Up Your Blog And Improving Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Step 1 – Clean up those plugins – If you have been trying out new plugins or widgets for your blog, be sure to delete them if you’re not using them. By removing the files, you can speed up your page load times and reduce any potential security risks that may come from having out-of-date plugins.
Step 2 – Get rid of unused categories and tags – Unused categories or tags are potential 404 errors waiting to happen. Additionally, the more categories and tags you use, the more it can bog down your database and decrease the performance of your blog. Tools like WP-CleanFix can help you identify any opportunities to clean up categories and tags (among other things) and make sure your database is optimized.
Step 3 – Use Google’s Webmaster tools to ensure that there aren’t any 404s occurring – If you aren’t familiar with Google’s Webmaster tools, now is the time to get familiar. The data provided to you by Google can be a goldmine in finding and fixing 404 errors. Technically, Google says they don’t penalize you for 404s, but why risk a bad visitor experience if they can’t find the page they are looking for. If you have changed your permalink structure or your domain name, you might even have some old links out there that need fixing because they point to the old URLs.If you need a good tool to redirect user from an out-of-date URL to a new one, check out the Redirection plugin for WordPress.
Step 4 – Make sure every image on your site has an Alt tag – This one is a MUST. Google will actually penalize your page if your images don’t have Alt tags. Since I’m a huge proponent of having images on every page, be sure that they are helping your SEO and not hurting it.
Step 5 – Re-read your posts and make sure they are still relevant – Let’s face it, some articles are just timely and are out-of-date quickly. But…maybe there is an update on the topic, maybe it’s a good opportunity for a new post that links back to the old post. Don’t just give up on those time-sensitive posts, find a way to update and re-energize the content
Step 6 – Cross-link between posts for better internal linking – It’s likely that your old posts talk about content that is similar to your new posts. So why not go back and create links between similar articles. You don’t want to go overboard and over-link your articles, but by creating internal links between articles, you’ll be helping readers and the search engines re-discover some of those older articles.
Step 7 – Re-evealuate your sidebar(s) – Page load time is a factor in your search engine ranking, so find ways to minimize that load time. One way to do is to take a good, hard look at the items that are located in your sidebar. Do you have too many widgets? Are those widgets slowing down your blog? If so, consider dropping some of them. Anything you can do to increase the speed of your blog and decrease page load times will pay off in SEO.
There you go! 7 quick tips that you can use to clean up your blog this Spring and, hopefully, drive more traffic.
Did I miss any important ones? Would you have an addition to the list? Leave a comment and let me know.
*”Spring” via promanex on Flickr under creative commons license.