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A short list to clean out your well-established website, aka long-in-the-tooth

Today I’m working on my own site. It has been years since I first started it and a few years since I updated the theme. I recently did that and now have to go through the cleanout process. I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you a short list of what you should do every two to three years to make sure your site won’t embarrass you. Bear with me on my own site as I clean out eight years’ of posts, old shortcode, old tags, update or delete posts related to outdated tools and methods.  Stick with my more current reading list. Thank you. When we update our sites, especially businesses going for the quick – change a theme, click update and go method, you may be dragging along evidence of your journey to this point, tools you used to favor, topics, client mentions, endorsements of products no longer in favor and more items that will show your…age.  There are a few areas to address while bringing your content to today’s standards:

  1. Shortcode left over from older themes. Currently, theme and plugin shortcode is not optimal for this very reason. When you change a theme, you have to go through and remove all theme specific shortcode tags such as [one-third] [/one-third] and similar. It can make for awkward layouts as you remove those and then go back and reformat the post. I highly suggest you start with the most recent posts first.
  2. Categories and Tags. These are great ways to guide content, link related posts and more. However, depending on how your tags were created, you may have had some that were auto-generated and make NO sense. I’m in this thin out process as well. I’ve cut it down from 880 tags down to about 250. I have more work to do, but first I want to edit the posts to see what they should link to. Same for categories. Group them and don’t go too many levels deep. Make it simple and clear. Too many levels and you’ll appear chaotic. If you really drill down what you do, chances are you can get it down to fewer than 20 main categories. Tag cloud widgets help you see the mess of random that you have.
  3. Content updating. Before you go deleting a ton of old content for various reasons, check your analytics and webmaster search console. See if those older posts help you in search, if people come in from other sites to get to those posts, and if they stay a while after reading that post. If it’s helping you with traffic, don’t delete, UPDATE and mark the date at the top to state that is has been updated since it’s original post, or shorten it and link to a more current version of the topic.
  4. Images. For those of you that rely on WordPress to create all optimal sizes for your posts, stop. Learn how to make images that load fast, especially on mobile. Update featured images. Images are an attention-getter, but unless you are an artist, photographer and the like, you can dumb down the resolution a lot and not lose the impact of the image. This will really help with speed.
  5. How efficient and current are the plugins you use? If you are not using WordPress, are you calling to a lot of scripts to include widgets in your subscribe forms, playlists, social media recent posts? A lot of mail forms will give you the HTML code as an option so you don’t have to call to their CSS and scripts on another server. Video and Audio players can also drag a site down because of all that is embedded with the iframes. If you are using WordPress, plugins can conflict and fall out of favor, no longer be updated and even blacklisted. Be sure you have the wisest elements in use on your site.
  6. When you change themes, delete plugins, what happens to the tables left behind in the database? Do they also get deleted? You may need to get an SQL expert to help you clean out that clutter. Sometimes those tables left behind can also leave your site vulnerable to attacks.
  7. When you are done, you’ll want to consider a caching solution and ways to minify and reduce the number of scripts, CSS files, and others, especially those that don’t change. This will also help with speed. Recently, I helped a client’s Google site speed scores go from 64 mobile/80 desktop to 94 mobile and 96-98 desktop.  Once you are done, THEN cache.

We will see how long it takes for me to go through years of posts. I’ll probably enjoy the trip down memory lane as I remove mention of Periscope, Blab, Google+, Mura, Shopify, Blogger and more items that are either gone, going, or should be gone.  If you want help either accomplishing this on your own site or simply developing a plan to do it in-house, let me know. I’d love to help you plan it out.