12 days of Christmas blog audit

1st December 2015

12 days of Christmas blog audit

12 things you can do in December to prepare your blog for the new year.

First things first, I know the 12 Days of Christmas are after Christmas, and I know that today is the start of advent, but hey, I wanted to be clever with my post title.

At the beginning of a new year I always feel more inspired and motivated to work on my blog, and of course, December is the perfect month to prepare for the year ahead.

Today I’m going to share 12 tasks I will be carrying out in December this year to ensure that my blog is  ready and organised for 2016. You might like to get involved too.

Admittedly, a lot of these tasks will take a lot longer than a day to sort out, but if we start now we might be able to get finished by the end of 2015!

1. Check for broken links

I remember the first time I did a broken link check on my website, and I was completely shocked at just how many broken links there were lurking around. I’m talking hundreds! Then when I checked again, just a month later, a whole new bunch of broken links turned up.

I realised that links are constantly breaking and that it’s something that should be kept under control, especially for SEO reasons.

I use this website to check for broken links and to discover exactly where these links are located. You may find that a lot of these broken links are within the comments section of your blog. If someone has left a comment but the link to their website no longer works, I will just remove the link but keep the comment.

2. Organise categories and tags

I have a horrible habit of adding new categories and tags nearly every time I write a new blog post because I can never fit the post into an existing category. This of course means I end up with hundreds of categories that are too specific and the lack of organisation almost makes me have a nervous breakdown.

To organise my categories, I like to take a list of all the posts I have ever wrote (yes, all of them!) and start slotting them into categories. I will then sort these categories into a smaller number of broad categories, i.e. personal, travel, blogging, etc.

By the way, this is a big challenge if like me you write about anything and everything!

3. Update the sidebar

Sidebars can be magnets for rubbish, which is why I have a love hate-relationship with them.

If you have a sidebar, take a good look at it. Is there too much stuff in it? It is too long? Does the content distract from the main content of the blog? Is there something important missing? Are you utilising the sidebar in the best way possible?

Sidebars shouldn’t be too long. My sidebar is relatively short already but I am planning on removing my adverts ready for 2016. More on that another time.

4. Update the about page

About pages are often forgotten about and neglected. We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve read over our about page and realise it’s ridiculously out of date.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to update your about page. Read over the details and check that it’s relevant to you and your blog right now. You might want to shorten the page, you might want to make it longer. It’s entirely up you.

5. Update information pages (contact, disclaimer, etc.)

You may have other pages, aside from your about page, on your blog that contain information, such as a disclaimer, a work with me page, a contact page, an archive page, etc. These may need a little update too.

For instance, I’m planning on removing my FAQ page because all of the questions have been answered elsewhere on the blog, such as on the about page. I’ll also need to update my advertising page and disclaimer when I remove my advertising.

6. Clear out social media

Just like with your about page, your bios and profile pictures on social media may need an update.

Also, you may discover social media accounts that you are no longer using. If this is the case, you might choose to delete your account. For example, I deleted my Facebook page for Empfire because I hate Facebook and have no idea why I set it up in the first place.

You might like to take this social media audit a step further and unfollow accounts that you no longer find interesting, or that post a load of spam.

7. Update SEO

I started blogging at empfire back in 2011, and back then I didn’t know what SEO was, let alone how important it was.

My older blog posts reflect this and are definitely not optimised for search engines. I like to look back over these posts and identify where I could improve SEO, whether that be including keywords or adding the alt attribute to images.

8. Update old posts

As well as improving the SEO on older posts, you may also want to update the content itself. I think you are probably all aware that my spelling skills are poor, and my proofreading skills are even worse, so it’s good for me to go back over old posts to identify any spelling errors.

I also check that all the images are still showing (and are the correct size), and check that links are still working. This is a particularly time consuming task, especially if you have over 300 blogs posts like me, so it will almost definitely take you more than one day!

9. Clear out emails

Back in October I decided to clear out my email inbox for the first time in 4 years. That’s a lot of emails! I deleted any emails that I didn’t want or didn’t care about, and any important emails that I need to keep I labelled them “Keep” with a bright orange label.

I now have just 50 emails in my inbox instead of 5,000+, and each time an email lands in my inbox I read it, then decided whether to label it “Keep” or delete it. I feel like I am completely on top of my inbox now, so I feel like clearing out your inbox is so worth while.

10. Clear out subscriptions (bloglovin etc.)

When I say “subscriptions” I am referring to any blogs or websites that you subscribe to and the means by which you subscribe to them such as Bloglovin or email.

Sometimes our subscriptions can be overwhelming. You may be following blogs that you once loved but no longer enjoy reading, and if this is the case it’s time to let go and remove them from your feed. You might find that your inbox has become saturated with newsletters from fellow bloggers that don’t even get read (or that you can’t remember signing up to in the first place!), and so it might be time to unsubscribe from that mailing list.

11. Check blog stats

I used to be addicted to checking my blog statistics but I realised that checking them as often as I did was a little bit ridiculous. However, I don’t think reviewing your analytics is a bad thing as you can learn a lot about your readers and their interaction with your blog.

I use Google Analytics for my website statistics as it’s probably the most reliable source. WordPress stats powered by Jetpack are unbelievable wrong and completely over estimate the number of visitors to your website. I look at which posts have been viewed the most so I can get an idea of what sort of content you guys like the most. I also look at which browsers you use because the developer in me wants to know how I can improve the function of my site.

You might also want to look at your social media following and, if you are using social media to promote your blog, see which networks are working for you. For example, I deleted my Facebook page for Empfire because nobody used it and it was a waste of my time.

12. Set blogging goals for the new year

Give yourself a pat on the back for all the hard work you have done on your blog in 2015. You’ve probably learnt a lot over the last year about yourself and your blog, and you may have some idea of what you want to do with your blog in 2016. You might like to take some times to set some goals for your blog. Your goal might be to blog x times a month, or to be more intentional with your content. Or it might be related to blog metrics or statistics, if that’s your sort of thing.

One of my biggest goals for 2016 is to be less negative on the blog and really focus on the good things in life. I’m pretty sure I say that ever year but this time I’m going to try extra hard. Promise!

Will you be doing a blog audit this December?

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  1. Cat

    This is a good list of tasks! I haven’t thought of checking broken links, but that site made me realize some of my past entries have links that don’t work anymore. (And of course, a ton of commenters have broken links now =/)

    I organized my list of categories a bit earlier this year, and I still want to get it down more. I feel like I should get rid of categories with very little posts in them. I agree it’s a good idea to make sure all about and info pages are up to date! I also check my links page now and then to make sure it’s still blogs I frequently visit.

    At the end of the year, I always end up going through my blog to look back and put together a year in review. I will probably fix some things up as I go 🙂

    • Holly

      I think comment links are the ones that broke most frequently. Seeing these broken links also makes me realise just how many bloggers have left the blogging world, which is pretty sad.

      I will also be writing a review of my year on the blog, and a review of my personal life.

  2. Having a blog audit sounds like a great idea. Some of the things I’m doing every month, like checking the stats to see which channel brings me more views and which posts are more popular. I also check the broken links. But I should do a complete audit like the one you made, great idea.

  3. Tess

    I love your list for the beginning of this month. All of them sounds achievable and measurable. Sidebars DO become a magnet for rubbish, and even more so when it’s filled with blocks of ads. It’s good to keep it refreshed and relevant to your audience. I’ve been working on cleaning up categories as well, and I love the fact that you’re going to enable your blog as a space for more positivity. I look forward to your many more blog posts! 🙂

    • Holly

      Thank you! As I say, I removing my advertising in 2016, and this is also partly because I’m planning on having a huge re-design and I don’t want ads getting in the way.

  4. You should probably use the Broken Link Checker plugin for WordPress, it just scans your blog in the background. Not sure the tool you mentioned is as good, but I remember using it a while ago and it didn’t seem to pick everything up.

    I find it hilarious that my about page is probably touched every month or so – I actually like to keep it up to date as it’s the page that most people look at first to get a bit of a bigger introduction. I have no idea why other people don’t update theirs as much. 😛

    I don’t use any social media for my blog other than Twitter, but I hate Facebook too. 😛

    I am usually on top of my inbox and delete anything that I know I won’t look at again. There just isn’t much point in keeping emails you won’t refer to and that you may only look at once.

    Looking over my previous posts is embarrassing, I have thought about refreshing content on them for SEO, but I also feel like I’m cheating if I am going back and editing them. I do check for broken images (BTW, the broken link checker plugin I mentioned also looks for broken images!) and irrelevant announcements (like ‘enter the domain competition!’ from 2008, LOL) though. I did think about some of my more article-like posts and updating them, but overall, because my blog is more personal than most other blogs, I don’t know what I should do with the old posts. I have about a thousand. I know the older pages get no traffic so I wonder what the point is in keeping them. At the same time I feel like I’m deleting some ‘important’ history. But judging by the fact that I never moved all of my photoblog posts to my blog, and didn’t move my blog posts over when I moved to WordPress in 2009, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal? I don’t know though. It’s a bit of an all-or-nothing scenario. I would keep the article-like, less personal posts, and remove the others, but if I’m removing others then I feel like I should just remove it all. What do you think Holly? XD

    • Holly

      I should have guessed there was a plugin! The one I have linked to works pretty well but the plugin might make things a little easier.

      While my Gmail account is all organised, I’m still working on my Outlook account. I’m down from 5,000 to 2,000, with most of them dating back to 2011!

      On my really old personal posts from 2015 I’ve only tidied up the spelling mistakes, or changed a few words to make it make more sense. I did consider removing all the ones that make me cringe from when I was in college but I can’t bare to part with them! Strangely enough, some of these posts have been recently and I have absolutely no idea why someone would be interested in me having a nervous breakdown over biology coursework, or something else as boring as that!

      I once considered exporting all my older posts and uploading them to a new WordPress account on a subdomain, but I thought it would be pretty pointless, so I just left them here on the blog.