Successful blogging is really a series of cycles that seem to carry us forward in our online journeys. We spend a little while setting everything up by securing a domain name, obtaining hosting, building or installing a template, setting up a brand or site name, developing content and more. We spend time installing plugins, optimizing our sites for search engines and then writing content.

Often times, however, as we progress forward in our blogging journey, we find ourselves forgetting to revisit some of the basics and we neglect to maintain the site the way that we should.

Often as we forget to take care of spring cleaning we find ourselves with dead links, outdated plugins, useless features and more. Let’s focus on a few key areas that each of us should revisit periodically to ensure that our sites are constantly at their peak performance.

  1. Update WordPress: As with any content management platform, an outdated system can be like an all-you-can-eat buffet for hackers. Keep your site secure and running smoothly by upgrading as updates become available.
  2. Update Your Plugins: As you work to keep your site as up-to-date as possible, you’re going to find that plugin updates will be released that build added functionality onto the plugins you already love and increase their compatibility with the newest features of WordPress.
  3. Check Your Links: Any experienced blogger knows that websites come and go. A link that works today might not work tomorrow so it becomes very important that we review the links across our site and remove any that are now broken.
  4. Update Your Copyright Date: My friends laugh at me about this one because one of the first things that I check on a website is the copyright date at the bottom of the page. Check out this article over at FWebDE for an incredibly simple way to automatically update your copyright date.
  5. Optimize Your About Page: The About page is an incredibly important and highly visited site on many websites. Outdated or irrelevant information about who you are isn’t helpful to those who are visiting your island on the internet so be sure to revisit it periodically and work to keep it fresh.

Group Reflection

Although I’ve only mentioned five areas that should be revisited throughout the life cycles of a blog, there are actually many more. Can you think of a few that we should have mentioned? Why did you choose that one? Why is it important for us to remember?

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

70 Comments

  • Nicholas,

    I feel responding to comments is one way to maintain a fresh and professional blog.

    By responding to comments, you are building a community…ensuring some of the commenters keep coming back – hence keeping your blog fresh!

    And by replying you are showing you are professional, human and approachable.

    Andrew

    P.S. Is what I have written just a load of ‘fluff’ or does it make sense?

  • I’ve worked a lot on my “About” page which has turned out to not only be one of the most visited pages on my blog but also one of the best ranked pages on strategic keywords.

    Keeping the whole system up to date does help in terms of SEO. Following your guidelines in “spring cleaning” will indirectly have a positive impact on the site’s SEO.

    • It’s very true, Sachin, that keeping the whole system up to date really will help SEO. As your site remains relevant and enjoyable, Google and other search engines will take notice and respond accordingly.

  • Nick, I’m consistently pleased with the quality of your content. Keep it up.

    Phil

  • Posts. 😉

    It’s probably a good idea to create at least 1-2 new posts a month.

    Also, if you display your most recent Tweets, it’s in your interest to umm…Tweet more than once a month.

    • I would personally recommend a much higher number than 1 – 2 per month. Perhaps that many per week would be healthy, but the principle here is right on. Keep a site looking fresh by keeping fresh, new, exciting content on the home page.

  • Tom Jamieson says:

    Great ideas! Many times the “little things” get overlooked. These items are easily and quickly done. Thanks for sharing!

    • Your welcome, Tom. And often times as we neglect those little items, visitors are turned away from our site viewing us as less than professional because to some people these little details look like glaring errors.

  • I was talking about something similar in my last blog post, specifically, I think it’s also important to make sure you’re always “up to date” with the latest trend in social network sharing.
    I meet many blogs without digg/stumbleupon or even Twitter integration, and that always manages to make me die a little inside.

  • Derek Jensen says:

    Optimizing the about page and just always keeping it fresh is the main thing I strive to focus on.

    One other thing to think about is always updating posts that are crucial to your blog and your community and have had good feedback in the past. For instance if you have a post about the best way to guest post and gain readership, things might have changed over a few months. Refreshing your content will keep everything professional.

    • I’m getting sick and tired of your comments, Derek. You always post things that really make me think. 🙂 I end up reading your comment, walking away, reading it again later, and after I’ve read it about 3 or 4 times and have mused it over throughout the day I come up with something to say.

      I think that you’re absolutely right about refreshing content and I think that it’s something that is very seldom ever actually done. But by doing that it helps keep your content relevant and it helps search engines to see that your site is being well maintained.

  • Jazz Salinger says:

    Hi Nicholas,

    Thanks for the great tips. I always forget to check that my links on my older blog posts still work.

    I need to schedule some regular maintenance time.

    • That’s really the key, my friend. It’s important to pause periodically and dedicate some time to this. Write it down on a calendar if you need to. A schedule can really help your production.

    • Jennifer says:

      If you want to automate your link checking and use wordpress, broken link checker is awesome. It shows you what type of broken then link is, when it wasn’t working, and allows you to edit the link amongst other ways to fix it. Makes keeping your links working a breeze.

      • Jazz Salinger says:

        Hi Jennifer,

        Thanks for the tip. I haven’t heard of the broken link checker before but it sounds great.

        It’s going to save me a lot of time. Thanks so much for letting me know.

      • I’ve used that plugin in the past and I can say that it’s incredibly useful. I remember watching it go crazy on a post I did featuring some creative 404 pages. I thought that it was funny but it was right. All of the links were broken.

  • I’d also suggest looking at the overall functionality of your website. How often do you go to each page… click links… share something by twitter… and just make sure everything is working? An updated plugin or improper update is all it takes for functionality to break, but you may not notice it. And if your readers do, will they tell you? Will they tell you soon enough? Just a thought…

    • I actually update the links and the pages that are listed in the top navigation here at Site Sketch 101 just to keep things fresh and practical for my needs and for the needs of the readers.

      I remember the last time that I updated my Digg Digg plugin. They had changed some of the code that is used for the manual placement of it and I had that code on the index and on the archive pages. Obviously I noticed the index because that’s what powers the homepage here but it was several days before I noticed that the archive pages weren’t loading. I had to update the manually placed code.

  • Ron Leyba says:

    Thanks for reminding me again of the basics Nick. I love the 4th and 5th tip. About the copyright date, I am one of those bloggers that tend to set aside or unintentionally forgetting to update those dates. Good thing you shared that post/code from fwebde.com.

    About us/me page is also a good reminder. As of now, I am seeing some bloggers really optimizing their about page that serves as their landing page. They are integrating their social media accounts/link at their about page which is I think, a good thing to do.

    • I agree. I’ve been seeing some really creative about pages and I’ve seen people starting to use those as their link on Twitter and stuff like that. If you can express creativity while sharing with people who you are and what you stand for then you really create the potential to build a powerful first impression with people.

  • Nicholas,

    Watching for broken links helps, however, continually reviewing past posts and weaving internal links to older posts that are relevant to a new ’emerging’ theme or story line on your site keeps it fresh!

  • Amitash says:

    Maintaining a forum also spruces up the freshness of your website!

    • That’s very true. What forum software have you used? Do you have any that you really recommend?

      • Amitash says:

        I recently purchased vbulletin for amitash.com. vBulletin because it is easy to integrate with wordpress.
        But my blog is new, I postponed setting up the forum until i get good traffic. Its at forums.amitash.com (just installed)

        After integrating with wordpress vbulletin can be used as a commenting system and that makes it easy to promote your forums. I heard people saying its really difficult to maintain forums.

        • Yeah, I’ve heard that they can be really difficult to maintain as well. I’ve used phpBB3 in the past and I’ve also used Kunena built onto a Joomla platform and the Kunena forum was incredibly easy to use and it was filled with great features. I’ve never actually used vBulletin before though. How much was it, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • Occasionally, I will check to make sure I put the proper category and tags on posts – sometimes I’ll see there’s a good tag or something that I never thought to add.

    I also check to be sure I have filled out the title and summary (All in one SEO pack plug-in) at the end of each post.

    I interlink between posts as well, and check my links within posts often.

    I HAVEN’T updated my about me page- thanks for the reminder!

    My worst problem I have is that I’ve changed direction in the last year or so and am finding there are tons of social networking sites where I have to update my profile- what a chore 🙂

    Thanks for the great content!

    • That’s actually a really good point that I hadn’t even thought of when putting together this article. I like to think of my website as my home base and my social networking sites as outposts that point people toward my main site. And just as you pointed out, it’s important to keep those outposts working at their peak performance by updating the information contained on them.

      Thanks for the great conversation!

      • Absolutely- It’s like you’ve moved and left no forwarding address-

        It’s difficult for people to find you and people don’t like difficult on the Internet…they will just go to a different site.

  • Richard Lord says:

    Thanks for the copyright date tip – that’s something that is so easy to forget about.
    I agree with several previous commenters that new content, as well as keeping existing content up to date is very important to maintaining a good website that is useful to visitors.

    • If you use that copyright tip, then you never have to worry about updating it. I love that.

      Also, as a side note, when you agree with other people in this conversation, don’t ever be afraid to hit the reply button on their comment and enjoy the conversation with them as well. I love it when people start cross talking in here with each other. It really helps to create a powerful learning environment for all of us.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hey Nick,
    I think one way to keep your website fresh and professional is to have several ways people can contact you, including an address.

    Also being sure to keep your content professional without being too stiff can help, depending on your topic.

    Other things include a professional looking photo of yourself, professional looking logo, well laid out theme and navigation and….I ran out of steam LOL

    • Amitash says:

      I guess we must also concentrate on the wordings and grammar of the posts that we write. Some users look for these and also such things just give that finishing touch to blogs, as far as i know.

      This passed my mind. Creating polls, contests etc keeps visitors coming back and maintain the freshness of blogs.

      Just like you said, many ways, including personal email to contact would be cool. I was really happy to see nick’s welcome mail in my inbox when i first commented here. I just return everyday now.

      • That’s really great to hear, Amitash. I’m glad that email sticks out to you. I’ve really found that I get a tremendous response by sending that to people who’ve joined the conversation for the first time here at Site Sketch 101. And thanks for the reminder to create some polls and run some contests to keep people coming back. Those are both terrific ideas.

    • Are you talking about a physical address? Why do you feel that is important?

      I agree with you about the balance between being professional and yet not too stiff. I think that a lot of people become so communicative that they lose professionalism and others become so professional that they stop really engaging with their audience. When you can find the right balance, you can really set yourself up for success.

  • Kevin says:

    oops this reminds me to update my about page…It’s been long overdue!

    I like this post gives up bloggers something to think about

  • Kimi says:

    I guess i have done all above that you have listed in the post 😀

    I personally will also always check the error codes in W3C, and try to fix them if i can.

  • […] Maintaining a Fresh & Professional Website – Sitesketch 101 […]

  • I use LinkPatch to track broken links on my site. Works pretty well 😉

  • ah hong says:

    Just a quick sharing. I saw a recent Google I/O video where Matt Cutt gave a hint the audience that Google is actually scanning for the WordPress version and prefer the latest version. Not sure how much it means for SEO, but I think everyone should update their WordPress on each security update. Better to be safe than sorry 🙂

  • Mel Melhado says:

    There may be various ways to keep the blog fresh but as a reader I think responding to comments is also one of the best way. I don’t think readers would be interested to visit a blog which does not allow comments.

    • Yes Mel you are write that everyone likes to share there view on the blog but one thing to be taken care as a blogger that we must update the information on frequent basis that will help more to keep the blog fresh.
      We can share our views on the blogs by commenting on it and can learn new things by the other bloggers comments so its the best way to learn the latest technology.
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      • Yes Victor i agree with your view. To learn new things blogs are the best way to do it. Even by knowing the question we try to find the answer for the same that also gives us the knowledge about new things.
        As a Good blogger we must update our blogs on regular basis to drive traffic to our blogs.
        Starboard SUP

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