The sun is finally shinning (for some of us) and we can see the dust that settled in during the winter. At least I think that’s why we have spring cleaning. There’s just something about the freshness of spring that makes everyone want to clean!
If you’re going to be cleaning out your house and yard, might as well clean up your blog a little bit. Let’s clean up your plugins, categories, posts, and sidebars!
Plugins are fabulous. Isn’t that one of the biggest draws to WordPress? It’s easy to start hoarding plugins so take some time this week to clean up your plugins. Some sites will tell you to have only “X” number of plugins. I don’t think there is a magic number for plugins, because they all have different functions and will affect your site differently. Plugins can slow down your blog’s load speed so do try to limit plugins to only the necessary ones.
Here are some tips for decluttering your plugins:
- Delete any inactive plugins that you don’t plan on using.
- Look through your plugins to see if any are performing the same task. Only keep the one you like best. (example, a lot of people install a billion different related posts plugins to find the right one, but never uninstall them after settling on the one they like)
- Update plugins. Friends, I can’t stress this one enough. If you see the little update icon next to your plugins tab, you need to update it! Plugins that aren’t updated are prone to hackers and could cause conflicts with your site. This happened just this month to people who hadn’t updated their WordPress SEO plugin.
- Use the P3 plugin to see which plugins are slowing your site down the most. Melissa from Blog Clarity has a great tutorial about speeding up your website by using the P3 plugin. I know it seems a bit counterproductive to install a plugin to help you clean up your plugins, but it is very helpful. You can delete when done.
A big part of being clean is being organized (something I am trying to improve on in my real life). A blog element that can quickly become unorganized is your categories.
Tips for cleaning up your Categories
- Navigate to Posts > Categories and sort by the count. Are there categories that only have 1 or 2 posts in them? This could be an unnecessary category for your blog. Look at the posts in that category, do they fit into another category?
- Use the Term Management plugin to merge categories. Example: if you have a DIY and a Do it Yourself, those can and should be merged. You can delete this plugin when done.
- You can use the Categories to tags plugin to convert categories to tags if you would like to make that change. You can delete this plugin when done.
- Read up on the differences between categories and tags in this post: Using Categories and Tags on WordPress to Create a Great Reading Experience on Your Blog from Julie of Fabulous Blogging.
Once upon a time someone at a blog conference or in a post recommended using your drafts as a way to keep track of ideas you have for your blog. I do not think this is the best place to store your post ideas. Sometimes I log into clients sites and see hundreds of drafts. WordPress is great for many things, but organizing your ideas is not one of them.
Tips for sorting through your drafts.
- Purge. Just do it. (Okay, I’ll give you some more realistic tips.)
- To view only your drafts navigate to the Posts screen and click to view only drafts.
- Open up each draft and see if there is even anything in there. If there is, evaluate whether or not it is worth hanging on to. If not, delete it.
- If you are using your drafts as your idea folder, grab a piece of paper or open up a document and write the ideas in there and then delete the draft.
I cleaned up my sidebar by getting rid of it. I love that my sidebar isn’t there distracting things anymore. That is a dramatic move for some bloggers and not the solution for some blog niches. But, the sidebar can quickly become the junk drawer of your blog. The place where you throw things because you don’t know where else to put them. Or for some, it becomes the knick-knack shelf with every little blogging trinket they come by.
Tips for tidying up your sidebar.
- Put the most important stuff first. What do you want your readers to know? Where do you want them to go? That’s what needs to be up top.
- Connecting socially is great, but you could also be encouraging your readers to leave your blog by promoting social avenues too much. Evaluate whether the social elements you have on your blog are encouraging your readers to follow you or if they are prompting them to go browse there instead. If it’s the latter, I would get rid of it.
- Experiment with the number of ads you have in your sidebar. Sometimes, less is more. If it is too cluttered with ads, nothing stands out.
- If you like to have your archives and categories in your sidebar, switch them to drop down menus instead of the full list.
- Ditch the membership badges (unless required by the company). I think that membership badges are better on a work with me or about me page.
- Check out these on cleaning up your sidebar: Common Sidebar Mistakes by Becca of Amuse your Bouche | Blog Sidebar Showcase by Marianne of Design Your Own Blog
- Apply the same tips to your footer.
Like any type of cleaning, tidying up your blog could take some time and effort. Pick one of these areas to work on each week in April and get your blog straightened out. Decluttering your blog will help improve your readers experience and could increase your page load speed (which will also make your readers happy).
What do you need to clean up?