WordPress is a fantastic application. It’s clean, fast and feature-full. It generally works pretty flawlessly. But, being the curious humans that we are, we inevitably start to play around and change things, which can cause problems. We get crazy installing themes and plug-ins that will make our lives so much easier, except when they inadvertently break things.
Often times, we install a theme that’s using an outdated PHP function. Or we’ll activate a new plug-in with a missing close tag. Either way, without regular check-ups and maintenance, your blog’s problems can get away from you. So, I’ve constructed a simple checklist of things to verify on a somewhat regular basis (I would say monthly for the standard blogger, perhaps daily if you’re blogging full-time).
- Feeds – Check your feeds! I just learned today that mine was broken. I had no idea until a friend casually mentioned it. Oddly enough, Google even recognized it without a problem and added it to my Google Reader page, but Internet Explorer and my friend’s reader were unable to read it. Make sure you test these well.
- Contact Form – Contact pages are one of the oft-broken elements on the standard blog. Every couple of weeks you hear about someone that hadn’t been receiving their contact page emails and didn’t know it (how would anyone tell you?).
- About Section – The About section of your blog is automatically filled in by WordPress when you set up your blog. Certain themes will display the About section by default on the main page, or there may be a link to it tucked away somewhere on your blog. Make sure that your About info is updated and filled out, or it can leave your blog looking unprofessional.
- Individual Pages – WordPress is made up of a number of different pages that dynamically display your data. There isn’t an individual page for each post, just one ‘single post’ page that displays them each, depending on which you choose. Long story short, check the different types of pages on your blog: homepage, individual post page, archives page, categories page and any custom pages that you’ve created (in the WP Manage>Pages menu). Make sure you check the bottoms of the pages. They can sometimes appear to be working properly while there is an error at the foot of the page.
- Adsense Ads – If you display Adsense on your blog, you’ve probably grown accustomed to ignoring the ads (since you can’t click on your own anyway). GoogleBot can sometimes get confused and begin showing irrelevant ads on your blog. This can severely hamper your click rate. There are a number of different methods and plug-ins out there for targeting your Adsense (you can also try section targeting).
- Blogroll/Links – Nobody expects you to go back over all of your posts, but be sure to check your Blogroll or link bar (if you display one) for broken links. The blogosphere grows at a rate only slightly higher than that at which it shrinks. Blogs die off left and right, and you don’t want those dead links sitting in your sidebar wasting space and peoples’ time.
- Affiliate Links – As time goes on you may begin participating in affiliate programs. Often times bloggers will create a page of links to services that they use themselves. This is a great way to pick up extra cash while recommending trusted companies to other bloggers. What it also means is that you may have links in old posts that could be giving you some credit! If you pick up a new affiliate, do a quick search on your blog for that text and be sure to add your custom link so you get credit in the future.
There’s a good list to keep your blog in pretty sharp, working order. It’s important to keep things working properly (at least on the outside) so as to maintain a professional appearance to your visitors.