Spring is nearly here and along with it flowers, sunshine and …

Spring cleaning, a time when we channel our inner Marie Kondo, purge all of our unneeded items and give everything else a bit of TLC. Much like your home, your WordPress website could likely benefit from a little spring cleaning.  Does your site keep telling you it’s time to update, do you have an untold number of annoying notifications waiting for you when you log in to make a post or update content? Have you been avoiding adding content because you just can’t deal with all of those updates? Well, you’re not alone.  Thankfully by following a few simple steps, you can take your WordPress admin from out of date and overwhelming to fresh, clean and inviting.

This is the third part of a three-part series on how to Backup, Update and Optimize your WordPress website. In part one, we went through the steps to set up a backup plugin on your site and perform a backup. As well we updated all of your WordPress core files, Plugins and Themes. In part 2 we ran  running a security audit on your site to your ensure your content is protected. In this article, part 3, we will be optimizing your site’s database and reviewing your content and on page SEO.

Optimize it

With the Wordfence firewall enabled you should be well protected against most common WordPress hacks and should see a reduction in spam bots crawling your site.
We now have one last plugin, WP Optimize to install and configure. This final plugin will optimize your site’s database to ensure it is preforming at its best.

Install WP Optimize

  1. Go back to the Plugins area one more time and install WP Optimize.
  2. Once you have activated the plugin, proceed to the “WP Optimize/database” area in the left sidebar of WordPress.
  3. Select the “Take a backup with UpdraftPlus before doing this”, and whichever optimizations you would like to run. Note we usually do not include Post revisions and Auto-draft posts in the cleanup as removing these could remove revisions or drafts that other authors on your site are using.  For sites that have been online for a long time optimizing these could provide significant benefits to your WordPress admin performance as auto drafts and post revisions can add many unneeded lines to your WordPress database. Probably best to check with the other contributors to your site first just to be sure that you don’t delete a much-needed post revision from two years ago that your co-worker uses on a regular basis.
  4. Next, click the “Run all selected optimizations” button. This will start another update and then run your optimizations.

Your site is now backed up, updated and optimized. On to the fun stuff! Sort of.

Review your content

Your site software and plugins are all cleaned up, but what about your content? Whenever I do a site cleanup I always check to make sure that the basic info on the site is up to date. Has the business moved, added new locations, updated phone numbers or email addresses? Have you added any social media accounts since your site was last updated? Is your google map displaying correctly? Are all of the team members listed on your About page still with the company? Are there new employees that should be added? These are all important details that can make your customers lives a little easier if they are all up to date. In addition, this info can be important to increasing your search visibility and page rank on Google and other search platforms. At this point, I would recommend having a once over of your site and noting any content that is out of date.

In addition, you might want to consider reworking some of your in-page text. Is the description of your business still relevant? Have your offerings changed at all? If you have pricing on your site is that up to date? Once again updating this content can have an effect on your search visibility as Google is always looking to see if your page content is changed on a regular basis. While this isn’t the only indicator of a site’s relevance Google chooses to see sites that have content that is updated regularly as being more relevant. So, while your businesses core offerings might not have changed much you might want to consider giving your content a little love.

On that note, how is your SEO? Do you have an SEO plugin installed? If not this could be one way that you can improve your search visibility. If you have one installed this would be a great time to review your Meta Descriptions to ensure that they are all up to date.

If you don’t have an SEO plugin installed go ahead and install one now. While there are many options available, one of the most popular plugins and the one we will be using here is Yoast SEO.

Install & configure Yoast SEO

  1. Migrate to the WordPress plugins page and install Yoast SEO
  2. Run the Yoast SEO wizard by navigating to the SEO area in the left sidebar of WordPress and clicking on the “configuration wizard” link. Note: There are a number of different settings associated with this plugin but in general we recommend running the Yoast SEO wizard which will walk you through all of the steps necessary to set up your SEO. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the information ready to go at this point, you can run the setup wizard as many times as necessary to get all of your info updated.
  3. Next, navigate to one of your pages or posts in the WordPress admin and scroll down to the Yoast SEO area.
    Click on the “Edit Snippet” button, this will open a Meta description box where you can edit the way that your page appears in Google and other search listings. Add a snippet here. The Yoast SEO plugin will tell you when your snippet is an appropriate length.
  4. If we want to take this one step further we can add a keyword or keyphrase to the “Focus Keyphrase” area. This will let Yoast give you an SEO score based on how often that keyphrase appears in your Meta Description and Page content. Keep in mind that these are just best guesses provided by Yoast and these scores do not have any bearing on your actual Search visibility. When thinking about your keyphrase you should consider what your customers might be searching for when trying to find your site; e.g., if your core products were Men’s Red T-Shirts you might want to enter that as your focus keyword on the page where you talk about all the benefits of your Men’s Red T-Shirts. Another example would be your contact page. Anyone trying to find your contact page would likely type either “Your Business Name Contact” or “Contact Your Business Name”. Either of these would be great Keyphrases to include on your contact page. One note here is that Google will likely see those two phrases as being the same whereas the Yoast plugin sees them as two different key phrases. This is just one of the many subtle ways that Google is just more sophisticated than any of the tools we use to try and optimize our websites for Google.  That being said the Yoast plugin does give you a lot of great contextual information as you fill out this area. There are also lots of great articles that you can access through the links provided in the plugin.
  5. As you go through all of the suggestions in Yoast you may be asked to change the slug of your page. This is the text at the end of the URL that determines how your page is accessed. It is important that if you change any slugs on your site that any internal linkages using the old slug are changed and that a redirect is created so that any links that exist in the wild (e.g., in Google sitemaps, marketing emails, etc.) connect to the right page. There are a number of redirection plugins available but the one that is most often used is the Redirection plugin.

Once you have added or updated the SEO snippets on your pages and posts you should have a sparkling and almost new WordPress site to work with moving forward. The next step is to start blogging about how great your business is, the awesome events you have coming up, or how much you’ve enjoyed cleaning up your WordPress website. 😉

If this all seems a bit too “technical” for you, we’d be more than happy to help. Contact one of our sales representatives for more info on the Maintenance packages available to Glacier Media Digital customers.