A website is like a house: it needs a bit of regular cleaning and maintenance to get rid of the clutter that builds up from day-to-day use. But, just like housework, this can quickly turn into a mammoth task if you’ve let the mess build up unchecked for a while.
If you’ve noticed a drop in performance and site speed over time, it could be a sign that it’s time to have a clear out. Luckily, we collected a number of handy tips that can really help you speed things up.
#1How Often Should You Spring Clean?
Well, it depends. How often you need to clean out your site will vary according to the amount of content you’re uploading or changes you’re making. And, of course, it also depends on the scale of your website to begin with.
However, as a general guide it’s recommended to carry out quarterly reviews of any WordPress website, even if there haven’t been many changes. This allows for elements like plugins to be audited, and old content to be reviewed for relevance and accuracy.
Make sure your website is backed up before carrying out any cleaning or maintenance activity, particularly if you’re going to be bulk-deleting content.
#2Audit Your Plugins
Following a Wordfence survey in 2016, researchers found that plugins had accounted for staggering 55.9% of all known hacking entry points, which is why updating plugins is so important for security.
However, keeping plugins up-to-date isn’t enough to negate the risk, particularly if they’re not being updated on the developer end anymore. It’s therefore important to audit your plugins on a regular basis, and delete any that are not being used, or that have been abandoned by developers. The less plugins you have, the less vulnerabilities they can create.
Plugins that are inactive can still be used to gain access to your website and inject malware. In fact, because inactive plugins are usually not being updated anymore, over time they can present an even greater security risk than active ones.
#3Remove Old Post Revisions
WordPress saves all of your revisions, even after you’re done working on a post. And while this can be quite a handy feature while you’re creating or editing content, these revisions can bloat your database over time.
While deleting these won’t really affect the speed of your website, it will make it lighter, and therefore easier to backup.
The Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions plugin is a really useful tool for managing old post revisions, and it comes with a wide range of options that allow you to choose which revisions you want to keep and which one you want to get rid of.
#4Remove Unused Media Files
Media files take up a huge amount of space on a database, and unused images from deleted posts and pages can build up quickly and become a problem. They can be deleted manually, but this can be pretty time-consuming depending on how many media files you have.
Media Cleaner is a plugin that detects media files that aren’t being used in any content, as well as broken entries. It then moves the files to an internal trash folder so you can review them before deletion.
Once all of your media files are in order, you may want to delete the plugin and establish a best practice for deleting redundant media files as an on-going content editing task in the future.
#5Remove Unused Tags
If you regularly use tags to organise your posts, you may find that you’ve ended up with a lot that aren’t being used anymore. Deleting these is a quick way to tidy things up and remove some unwanted clutter.
The good news is, this functionality is built-in to WordPress, meaning that you won’t even need to install any extra plugins. Instead, simply go to Posts > Tags and sort them by the number of posts they’re attached to.
If you’ve moved or deleted a lot of content, you may have ended up with quite a lot of these. Simply select all of the tags that aren’t attached to any posts and delete them.
#6Remove Spam Comments
No one wants spam on their website. However, even if you’re running a spam filter like Akismet, all this will do is stop unwanted comments from appearing on your website’s frontend. It does not delete these comments, but instead moves them to the spam folder.
These comments can build up quickly, and start to clutter up your database. It’s also important to check the spam folder regularly, in case legitimate comments have ended up in there by mistake.
Once you’ve checked them over, you can delete the comments permanently by emptying the folder.
#7Clean Up Broken Links
While all of the features we’ve covered so far involve the backend and database, broken links have an important effect on user experience. They can make content look out-dated and unreliable, and also harm SEO.
You can check for broken links manually, however this can take hours and links embedded in text can be easy to miss. There are some plugins you can use to speed things up, however these tend to be quite heavy and can slow your website down.
Another solution is to use W3C Link Checker. All you have to do is follow the link and enter the URL for any page or website that you want to check.
#8Clean Up Your Database
As we’ve already seen with media files and post revisions, your database collects clutter over time, and a lot of it isn’t necessary for your website to run. You can clean your database manually, however this does require a significant amount of knowledge to avoid deleting important files.
However, databases are very complicated. We would recommend speaking to a developer before touching anything if you’re at all unsure about what you’re doing.
#9Clean Up Old Content
Unfortunately, for all the plugins available on WordPress.org, some tasks still need to be done manually. But while this can be time-consuming, it will have a huge impact on user experience.
You should check for posts that are out-dated, irrelevant or no longer accurate, and also remove any content that’s low quality. Over time, it’s easy to build up a lot of similar content – particularly for websites that are focused on a specialist topic. You can pair down similar posts by only keeping the best examples.
It’s also important to regularly check and update key website information, such as About, Staff and Contact pages.
Like most things, if left unchecked your WordPress website can become cluttered and messy. Over time, this can have a detrimental effect on both performance and user experience, as well as bloating your database and slowing down backups.
However, sticking to a regular cleaning schedule will keep your website running fast, and ensure that your content is both relevant and reliable – allowing you to maximise conversions and promote a dependable brand image.
If you’d like to discuss our WordPress Code Review Service in more detail and how we can help you with cleaning up and optimising your WordPress website then please get in touch with us.