Podcast Episode

462 – Clean Up Your WordPress Site


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Trust Pulse uses FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to boost your sales and conversions with social proof notifications. Use it to boost sales on your WooCommerce store, increase signups on your membership site, get more email subscribers, and more.

Clean Up Your WordPress Site

In today’s episode we talk about general maintenance things that you need to do on your WordPress site.

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Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about how to clean up your WordPress site. I’ve noticed some of my sites are getting a little stale and some things are getting outdated. So today, we’re going to go through a checklist of how to improve and how to fix those things right here on Your Website Engineer podcast episode number 462.


Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, and I’m excited to be here with you this week as I have just returned from a trip to St. John. My wife and I took a few days off, flew down to St. Thomas, took a boat over to St. John, and enjoyed some immensely hot days here in the middle of October.

It’s nice to be back now. I am back in my home office. I am back in the cool fall weather. It’s really, really nice, and I'm really excited about just the fall season. It’s the first time we’ve been in our home in the fall season, and it’s just nice to see the trees starting to change color and not to be sweating all the time and not to be so hot.

And so today, let’s go ahead and talk about the two announcements that I found, and then I have a plugin to share. The first announcement is, and it may be after the fact by the time you listen to this episode, but WooSesh 2019 is scheduled for October 9th and 10th. So, the date of the release is Wednesday and then Thursday. It is going to be talking all about WooCommerce, and it’s put on by WPSessions.

The first day will cover a wide range of topics for professionals to store builders to talking about designing with blocks and sales tax and optimizing checkup performance and all that kind of thing.

And then the second day will be more technical topics for WooCommerce developers such as custom tables and better check out bottleneck and solving UX problems and things like that. And so, I believe it’s free to watch right away. You might have to pay to get the replay or whatnot, but if you do you have a chance to check it out, I do recommend checking out WooSesh, and you can find out more at WooSesh.com.

The next announcement that I want to share is about WordPress.org bumps the PHP maximum version for anything that’s in the plugin directory to be version 7.2. And so what this means is it’s basically – some developers were – in creating these plugins that had advanced features that were in PHP version 7.3 and higher, and it just became a pain and a headache and a nightmare to try to manage all of those things.

So, the gist of the article says that you have to stay at the current version of WordPress, which is the maximum version there, is 7.2, and so that is what that’s all about if you’re plugin developer, take note of that.

And then in the Is There a Plugin For That section, there’s one I found this week is called FOMO and social proof notifications by TrustPulse. And so FOMO is Fear of Missing Out. And it basically uses the fear of missing out, the plugin does it so, to help you gain more traction, more sales, more whatever mainly before – to improve conversion rates. And that’s just because it’s using social connections and social proof identifications, and you use it on your WooCommerce store to increase sign-ups in your membership site or get more email subscribers or whatever you’re looking to do.

There is an app that you can use for it as well. It’s a free plugin on the WordPress repository, and it is something that they claim that you can up your social interactions or your site conversions by up to 15 percent by using the plugin.

So, if you need something like that, I recommend checking out FOMO. And I think you can search for that right as just FOMO, F-O-M-O in the plugin directory.

All right. Let’s go ahead and move on into the main topic of the show today. We’re going to talk about the WordPress checkup cleanup. And this is something that as I continue to kinda dive into different sites here and there and just try to keep all of my sites up to date and log into sites that I haven’t been in a while, I just realized there’s a lot of things that could be check to make sure are working properly and whatnot.

So, let’s go ahead and just look at some of these things and make sure they’re okay. First thing is to take a note and make sure all the information on your about page is up to date. This is a big thing, because the about page is usually one of those first pages that you write, and then 10 years later, you have a podcast and you have an updated that page. I’m guilty of this one as well, but make sure that your about page is up to date.

Let’s see. If you have an email newsletter list on your particular website, today is the perfect time to de-duplicate your email newsletter list. Make sure that you don’t have any duplications or dead addresses on your list. Most meaningless companies these days charge you by how many people are on your list, so every time you send out a message, whether it be 2,000 or 12,000, if you’re sending multiple messages then that means you are paying more than you should because you’re paying for double people.

So, this is a good thing to look at. So, this wasn’t especially in WordPress itself, but if you have a WordPress newsletter built and used by Mailchimp or Constant Contact or any of those others, this is a good time to go in and there’s different reports and different things that you can click inside the newsletter provider to kind of sort them or to get rid of duplicates or whatnot.

You want to make sure that you check your contact page information to make sure that it’s not only correct but it works. This is a good chance to make sure that you are getting email notifications from your hosting client. We get a lot of customers inside of WooCommerce say all of a sudden my email notification stopped working. And this normally is because something on the server has changed, and the server is no longer sending mail through the WP_Mail function. And so that is something that you want to check. So, go to your contact form, paste on it, and make sure that it’s working.

You might also want to look at your social media icons. Are they pointing to the right place? Do they still work? Do they open in a new window? Do you need to add any more? Have you recently started putting things on Instagram? Do you not have that? You know, make sure that all of those things are up-to-date, and if you are no longer using a social network, make sure that you remove those as well.

Another thing that you can do, and this is one that I could probably do for YourWebsiteEngineer.com is to run a survey to ask people what they like about the site and what they don’t like about the site. Or is it too hard to find content. Or what do you like about the podcast. What don’t you like about the podcast? And you can ask questions to get all the different information that you need.

The survey should have at least two purposes. It helps to provide insight on how to improve the site or the content, and it also can be used as material for an upcoming newsletter or post about the results of a survey. So, that’s really nice.

Let’s see. If you have an added related post content, this might be a good time to do some spot checking to make sure that those settings are tweaked and working properly. You don’t want to be talking about WordPress and then all of a sudden you have a related post as Drupal. That doesn’t make any sense.

If you don’t have a related post plugin, you might want to think about adding that to get more content as people scroll to the bottom of the page, they see more content. Let’s go ahead and check on those as well.

Check for broken links. That’s the next thing on my list. And this is actually something that’s on my repeating to do list. I look at this at least once per week just to make sure there’re no broken links, and most of the broken links come from old blog posts or old comments that somebody has left, and their website is no longer. It’s defunct. So, just go ahead and just remove those. But I use a plugin called the Broken Link Checker. And that makes life so much easier.

If you’ve got a lot of time, you can go ahead and spend some time cleaning up and optimizing your WordPress database. There is a function – WordPress has a built-in repair functionality that you can use, and you can go to /wp-admin/maint/repair.php. And there’s a link that’s showing that exact URL, and you can follow the instructions there to add a line of code to wp.config file, and then it goes ahead and cleans up and optimizes your database. That’s a nice point.

Once you done that and you’ve cleaned up and optimized your database, then you might want to limit the number of post revisions you have. And I’ve done this a few years ago, and it’s just really made my database a lot smaller, and basically you can add a line to your wp-config file, and that will allow only ask amount of revisions. So, I think I have mine set to two or three just because I don’t have a lot of revisions were a lot of changes, and then this will limit the number of items in your database, and so that’s another good one.

Let’s see. What else can you do? You can add or replace or fix widgets or sidebars. What are widgets? Anything that may be out of date. This would be another good time to do that and make sure that everything is up-to-date and looking and functioning properly. So, make sure that the widgets both at the top, the bottom, the sides, wherever you have widgets, make sure those are working, and if you need to add any more content, you could do that there.

If you have a membership site, the next one you could do is to force everyone on the website to reset the passwords, and you can even turn on WordPress Two Factor Authentication, so everybody has to sign in and set up Two Factor Authentication. If you've got a lot of people, this could be a huge headache and a huge pain. If you’ve just got a handful of people, this is probably a really good idea to do.

While you’re in there making some changes and doing some settings, this could be a good time to test a recent backup to make sure that it restores everything properly. Maybe what you could do is just create a backup and then create a logost install for your site using Local by Flywheel or some of the other tools that are out there. And you could use that to test a recent backup that your server has made just to make sure that everything is working and that you know how to restore it in case of a catastrophe.

You could check the WordPress user area of your dashboard. Make sure that there’re only accounts there that you need. You don’t need more accounts than not. Just make sure that those are all set up and working properly. You don’t want to have thousands of just subscribers on there. That’s really not necessary. So, you could go ahead and do that as well.

Let’s see. A few more here on my list. You want to make sure, and this is one that we talked about a few years ago, but that should be on everybody’s radar that all website should be having the SSL certificate installed. So, that’s https and so that just helps overall more security to your website, especially when sending data like contact form data and all that kind of stuff. So, you want to make sure this is a good opportunity to convert your website over to SSL.

The easiest way to do that is I would email your support team at your hosting company and then make sure that they can turn that on. Most of them are using the free SSL certificates these days, and so it shouldn’t cost you any more to do that. If you can’t do it with your host, then I recommend maybe moving to another host like Pressable or Flywheel or any of the hosts that are out there. Some of those do a really good job, and they have the SSL certificate installed by default and there’s no way to turn it off and it just works.

Another thing that you can do, and I think this list could go on and on and on, but you could think of something that you really want your customers or your website used to do when they come to your website and put a WordPress notification bar at the top of the website. This would highlight anything. You could do – there're tons of notification bar plugins out there. There’s one called BoomBar. There’s Foobar. There’s Hello Bar. There're all kinds of them that can do this.

But if it’s something that you want them to sign up for your email list or something that you want everybody to see all the time, you can put it at the top or the bottom. If you’re running a sale on your website, that would be a good place to put that.

Another good thing that you could do is update your navigation menu. Do you have enough links up there? Is it deep enough? Have you added new products or new categories, new things that you want to highlight in the menu that you haven’t done yet, then I would recommend doing that.

Is your website speed slowing down? Look at the WordPress media library to see if is getting too large. If that’s the case, maybe you want to put some of your images on a content delivery network or a CDN. That could be something that you could do. You could also minify your JavaScript in CSS, and this will help with improving speed and making your website more responsive, more fast when people loaded.

You could also, let’s see, SEO is a big one that you could always do. You could do an audit of your site’s SEO. Are you ranking for your targeted keywords. You might even have the take a course or a small brush-up on your SEO knowledge to make some improvements. Make sure that there is an SEO plugin, and you’re automatically adding parts to your site to make sure that it is found by search engines.

You could also spend a little bit of time and add or update testimonial sections. Make sure that your customers have the opinions and that you want everybody else to know what their opinions are. So, you can add those testimonials to either specific products or in general. If it’s a coaching page, you could just have a completely testimonial page or whatever that looks like. You can add testimonials to your website.

You can run through the WordPress plugin section of your site and make sure that all of your plugins have been updated and make sure that the ones that you aren't using, they’ve been deactivated and removed. There’s no need to have plugins that you’re not using on your site. Just go ahead and remove them. It’s just a headache to keep them updated, and if you’re not using them, there’s no point anyways. So, just remove them. You can always install them later. So, that’s not a big deal, and just go ahead and remove them.

Let’s see what else you have. Maybe you can, if your site’s getting too many comments, maybe you want to turn off the comments or want to do some moderation. Maybe you want to delete some comments. Maybe you want to completely remove the of your website altogether, you know, go ahead and take a look at that and see what options you have and what you have been doing on your website. So, that’s something else that you can do.

Let’s see. Maybe the last one, and probably the one that’s the most important, it should’ve been done first, but make a complete backup. You want to make sure that you want to – I guess once you’ve done all these changes, then you want to do a backup. You probably should do a backup first and then do a backup second, and then that way you’ve got all the changes and you’ve got a snapshot of what your site looked like before, and you’ve got a snapshot afterwards, and then that way your backups after that will continue to work, and you’ll be able to reach backup or you can restore to this state that you have right there.

And then maybe you could create this as actual checklist, you know, something along those lines that you can do regularly or maybe it’s once a quarter you update the seven things and you do the seven things. Obviously, didn’t talk about everything. And say that, you know, make sure that WordPress is updated and make sure that your theme is updated, like those are kind of things that you need to do all the time. Make sure your content is relevant.

Like those are kind of like standard type things, but some of these things that we talked about today aren’t things that you think of to do regularly or you don’t really actually do regularly. So, that would be some of the suggestions that I have.

And so that’s what I wanted to share with you this week. Just a lot of things going on in the back of my mind, you know, thinking about some website projects that I need to work on and some fixes that I need to do to my own things. And so hopefully, some of these ideas will generate some conversation, and I’ll be able to bring some talk back into next week’s episode and the next week’s episode all about some features of WordPress that we haven’t talked about in a while.

Until then, take care, and will talk to you again soon. Bye-bye.

For more great WordPress information, head on over to YourWebsiteEngineer.com.