Your blog is your platform, your voice, your ‘face’ basically.
Through your blog, you connect with your customers, showcase your products, and share amazing content.
You regularly check your traffic stats, comments and other such metrics. However, when is the last time you did a proper health check?
Here is a short checklist for you – use it quarterly or even monthly to ensure everything is still running the way it should.
Ok, this one is a little obvious and hard to miss if you visit your WordPress blog’s dashboard at all.
Make sure you stay updated on WordPress, as well as plug-ins and themes.
The other thing you want to be sure of is that you have done a backup of all of your content before you upgrade. Door rear, it can happen that your entire blog becomes corrupted because of a plug-in, and it’s good to know that at least your content is safe, should you choose to rebuild your blog elsewhere.
Another one that’s obvious, yet surprisingly few webmasters take the time to check this on a regular basis.
For those of you who are not sure would’ve broken link is, it refers to a link on your blog which, when clicked, results in a Page Not Found error, also known as a ‘404’.
There are plenty of tools to check for broken links. I use this one from iWebTools.
Remove Out Of Date Stuff
I can’t tell you how cringe worthy is when you navigate to a website that is advertising an offer that closes … 3 months ago. Nothing screams ‘NEGLECT’ like an out of date piece of content, especially if it is a call to action.
If you want to continue having that offer on your site, then amend the graphic a little, and add a ‘Now Closed’ stamp to it, or add some text that shows you know it’s past due, but are still it showing it off.
Double Check Menu
I know, I know. You haven’t touched it, so it should work just fine, right?
A WordPress update, a page with a similar name, a plugin that’s supposed to exclude certain categories … there are many reasons why your menu might suddenly not do what it’s supposed to do.
Just spend a few moments to check that each menu item is, in fact, going exactly where you planned for it to go. Similarly, make sure you test the submenus as well.
Now check out your sidebar, and see if anything needs re-arranging, refreshing or updating. For example, for blogs where the latest post was weeks ago, you might want to rethink having a ‘Recent Posts’ that shows the actual date prominently displayed.
Consider removing the date, or moving the widget below the fold. You could just add a new post, and that would also take care of the feeling of abandonment.
Review the rest of the widgets for anything that no longer serves the purpose, an old and tired ad, or a flashing image that’s no longer consistent with the direction of your blog.
It’s easy to develop ‘sidebar blindness’ when you’ve had your blog for a while. Try to approach it with fresh eyes.
Call To Action
You have one, right? Somewhere on your blog, you must have asks your visitor to do something. It could be to sign up to your list, share your content, buy something, connect with you or click through to an affiliate link.
Something. You gotta have a CTA. Otherwise, how will you know if your marketing is working?
Check your call to action and see if it is still relevant to your crowd, and if you haven’t got a call to action, then get busy putting one in.
Especially important is to double check that your ‘Connect With Me’ buttons are working correctly.
How do you expect your visitors to share your content if you make it hard or confusing for them to do so?
Double check your sharing icons to make sure they do what they are supposed to do.
One thing you might want to check and fix is the Twitter sharing button. Make sure that the tweet it composes has ‘via @yourtwitterhandle’ embedded within it somewhere. I’ve seen many blogs that have the Tweet this button, but it comes pre-composed with ‘via @shareaholic’ or some other handle, and not the one of the blog owner.
In those instances, you won’t actually know that someone has shared your content (unless you follow them, and somehow see that tweet in the avalanche that is known as the stream).
What I tend to do is go through the blog, find the blog owner’s Twitter handle, and manually insert into the tweet. Not everyone will be so generous with their time, so check your sharing plugin and make sure it has your name.
This entire set of steps should take no more than 20 minutes, unless you have something horrific to fix. Even then, it will take a longer time just the first time you run your health check.
It is well worth it, as you don’t know how many visitors may have clicked on a broken link or a sharing button that wouldn’t work, and just moved on, with you none the wiser.
What other items might you add to the health checklist?