The seasons are changing and Autumn is officially here. Kids are back in school, leaves are falling (most of them into my swimming pool, it seems), and every morning you can feel the crispness of approaching winter.
This is also an excellent time to clean up your WordPress site – it will reduce the work you’ll need to do during the winter months, when Internet usage and site traffic typically increases. A little bit of work now really pays off in the long run. Keeping your site optimized and free of buildup is essential to providing a great experience for your site visitors.
If your site has been online for any length of time, there are probably some leftover items that you don’t need and don’t want. Luckily, there are some very good tools to help remove any of these from your WordPress installation without having to deal with database code or programming.
With the most recent update of WordPress core, now is an optimum time to make certain your site is completely up-to-date when it comes to plugins and themes. Be sure to back up before and after you update to new releases for all of your themes and plugins. After you have your site completely up to date, you can start the cleanup, and here’s a list of things you should be checking:
- Broken Links
As time goes by, you can find that there are broken links within your content posts. Posts containing broken links are frustrating to your visitors, and annoying to Google (and we hate to annoy Google!). The Broken Link Checker plugin allows you to easily monitor and clean your site of broken links. Once installed and activated, this tool automatically scans your posts and pages for external links that no longer work. It posts alerts right in the dashboard, and offers several options to fix the non-resolving link. You can add a new destination for the linked content, or remove the link completely. You can even leave it running in the background and it will continually clean your site content and allow you to take action directly in the WordPress dashboard.
- Unused Themes and Plugins
If you are not currently using a plugin, whether it is activated or not, you need to deactivate and remove it from your WordPress installation. Stray, unused items in WordPress take up valuable system resources, increase your database size, and ultimately slow down your site. Worst of all, they can put you at risk for a serious security breach. Even if you are not using a plugin or theme, the fact that you have it installed can still present an opportunity for hackers to take advantage of any vulnerability.
- Clean Up The Comments.
Activate the Akismet plugin to help cut down on the flow of comment spam. Every comment is stored in your database, so be sure to frequently empty your spam folder.
For a typical online business or company site, comments are generally not required. If you have no need for comments at all, the No Comments plugin is a great option because it prevents spambot activity and increase in your database size. If you have a blog and want to encourage user engagement, you’ll want to keep comments active for your Posts, but you should disable them on your Pages.
When writing a post or page, WordPress implements Post Revisions to save copies of your writing while you work. When this option is active, your database size increases with every post revision, creating duplicate posts each time you make an update. Plugins like Revision Control help to remove all of your old post revisions, restoring wasted space within your database. It makes sense to get rid of old post revisions after you have posted your “final” version of the content.
- Keep Your Database Clean
As you add and delete plugins, they can cause buildup in your database. To help prevent your database from becoming unmanageably big, I recommend the following plugin to help keep your WordPress site clean and optimized: WP Optimize. This plugin will help to remove a great deal of database build-up with just a few clicks. It will run on an automated basis to perform a multitude of cleaning functions. In addition to database optimization, you can schedule the plugin to automatically clean up residual content like post auto-drafts, unapproved/trashed comments, pingbacks and transient options.
- Are You Using All Those Images?
By removing unreferenced images from your site you will speed up your own page load time every time you enter the media library section. Using the Image Cleanup plugin gives you the capability to instantly find all the “orphan” images and any associated revisions that are no longer used in posts. This tool does not affect your database, but helps to clean unused images from taking up too much load time or hosting space.
Whether you’re a seasoned WordPress professional or someone who just wants their site to perform as well as it can with as little work as possible, you can benefit from a fall WordPress cleanup. Use these tools and tips to enhance the performance and speed of your WordPress installation.
Note: Always remember – before you begin any modification of your WordPress site, it is important to have a full backup of your WordPress installation. In fact, if you follow all these steps, you will be required to make a minimum of three backups, but you should be backing up your site after every stage in this plan, just to be safe.