26 Step WordPress End of Summer Cleanup List

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August 24, 2015
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wordpress cleanup

It is getting close to the end of summer and fall is right around the corner. The time is now to look at your current WordPress websites and run through our 26 step checklist to cleanup your WordPress websites.

Whether you are ramping up for a inbound lead campaign or trying to improve your visitor experience, now is a perfect time to inspect, correct, enhance, and promote your WordPress website(s).

Our friend and “Professor” Benjamin Bradley at iThemes has provided a comprehensive list to help you get your site ready for action!

  1. If you currently have an about me/about us page on your website take a moment to make sure all the information on that about page is up-to-date and changes don’t need to be made (either addition or subtraction of content).  If you do not have an about me/about us page this is the perfect time to write one.  Your site has probably been running for a while now and you should know more about your message you need to communicate to your visitors.
  2. If you currently have a mailing list, now is a perfect time to de-dup your email newsletter list(make sure you don’t have duplications or dead addresses in your list).  If you do not have a mailing list… NOW IS THE TIME TO START.  A mailing list is vital to the continued growth and communication of your online presence.
  3. Check to make sure your contact page information is not only correct but that it works.  That’s right, make sure the email goes to the right place, the  contact form works, the phone number isn’t dead and even go so far as to send a postcard to the address.  This is a HUGE bonus point if you are a freelancer and you end up sending a postcard to the client’s address that simply says, “We are verifying the contact address on your website”.
  4. Do you need to link up additional social networks to your website?  When you launched the website you probably started with one or two social network links but you (or your clients) may have started using additional social networks over time and now would be the perfect time to integrate these into your site update.
  5. Run a survey to ask people how they use the site, what other sites they may use, what content do they wish that your site provided, and even what was their favorite post of the year?  The survey serves at least two purposes.  It helps to provide insight into how to improve the site as well as serving as material to use in an upcoming newsletter/blog post about the results of the survey.
  6. Now that your site has been running a while and you have been generating fresh content/posts for some time, this is a great time to add a related posts plugin for your site.  Many sites do not launch with related posts plugins due to the lack of content and nothing to “relate”.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity to keep people on your site longer (stickiness).
  7. Check for broken links.  You can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker to make life easier.
  8. Clean up and optimize your database.  BackupBuddy does a great job of taking care of this for you.
  9. Do you have too many post revisions? It may be time to clean out all your old post revisions in your database as well as adding a line of code to your wp-config.php file to limit post revisions. (The following code will limit your post revisions to only 3 per post.)
    define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 3 );
  10. Create or add a new widget to your sidebar/widget area that highlights your most popular posts of the past x-period.  It helps to create this piece of content if you have the analytics to track this type of data. (If not… you should.)
  11. Force everyone on the site to reset their passwords and even consider forcing anyone who edits on the site to use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA).
  12. It never hurts to TEST a recent backup to make sure that it restores to a localhost just to make sure you have a good backup.
  13. Have you checked the Users area of WordPress lately? Are there accounts you need to remove / lower permissions?  Is it possible that a client had wanted you to create an account for their intern to manage the site when you initially launched the site and now that intern is no longer with the company yet their account is still live?
  14. Consider using this end-of-summer cleanup time to convert over to SSL – even simply using Cloudflare’s Flexible SSL and its corresponding WordPress plugin.
  15. Think about adding a notification bar on the top of your website (Boombar) to highlight features of the website or some special bit of content. Adding simple features like this to an older site can enhance the user experience of your visitors as well as let your “seasoned” guests know that new stuff is happening.
  16. Investigate the Categories / Tags (and any other taxonomy area you may have created) and see if any of those taxonomies are empty and without any attached posts.  Then decide whether or not to delete those non-used taxonomies.
  17. Is your site getting deep enough that you might need to add a breadcrumb system to help navigate?
  18. Utilize an automatic links plugin to link your existing content to parts of your site or external sites.
  19. Is your site slowing down?  Look at the Media Library and if its getting extremely large, consider offloading your images to a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
  20. Minify your Javascript.
  21. Minify your CSS.
  22. Add a testimonial section.  By now your site should have brought your visitors that have interacted with your blog and/or purchased products or services.  This is the time to harness those users/customers and get them promoting your site.
  23. Remove unused/unactivated plugins from your WordPress site.
  24. Now that you have had some time to build up discussions / people commenting on your posts you might want to consider adjusting the (Settings –> Discussion Settings) options to allow any user who has had previously approved comments to automatically get published rather than waiting in a queue to encourage ongoing discussion.
  25. MAKE A BACKUP!!!! Enough said.  If you’ve been following through with all of these steps on your site you will NEED a run a new backup due to all the changes, modifications and enhancements you’ve just made.
  26. Once all these previous steps have been done, consider running a competition to encourage new and repeat visitors to share your new site. (Use Rafflecopter to create an easy raffle competition.)

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this list your WordPress site should be all spruced up and optimized and ready to leave summer and head back-to-school in style this fall.

I’d love to hear if this was helpful for you or if there is a step you would remove and replace with something else.

Let us know if we can help you improve your site’s performance.


Jillian Vanarsdall
Jillian Vanarsdall
Founder of Blue Iris Marketing. An inbound marketing agency assisting businesses, from start-ups to high-growth firms, to phenomenally tell their unique story in a noisy digital world. Our services include inbound marketing, Wordpress web design and development, SEO, and social media.

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