There comes a time in everybody’s life when they have to get rid of items from their past which have lost their shine, are outclassed by newer better ones, or have just broken down. People usually do that in Spring, after a long lazy Winter when everything screams for renewal and renovation. After you have finished cleaning your house, throwing stuff you don’t want or need out, and with the garage sale, your WordPress site is next. Whether it is an outdated plugin not updated in the last 2 years, a theme you thought about using last Summer, or drafts you will never finish, they have to go.
Having too many plugins increases your website’s resource usage and can potentially impact the site’s performance. Even if a plugin or a theme is not active, it is still a huge security risk, as hackers can use them to breach into your account and hijack your WordPress. This happens more often with outdated or not updated plugins and themes. So the first step towards better optimization would be to update everything to the latest version in your WordPress installation including WordPress itself.
After that, look for plugins and themes you won’t be needing anymore. Evaluate what your site needs and get rid of the excess. Think real for a minute, go through every plugin and ask yourself: ‘Do I really need this?’. Maybe you thought that a flying Twitter share bird was funny 6 months ago but you find it annoying now, maybe you are not seeing results from a pop-up plugin you are using, there is no point in keeping them then. While going through your plugins and themes, check when they were last updated. Outdated and not supported add-ons will not have received important security updates against recent vulnerabilities and are potential gateways for malicious activity on your website. Find ones with the same functionality to replace them or just remove them altogether.
Optimizing your WordPress database, removing posts’ revisions, auto drafts and spam comments is also a good practice. You should probably do it at least once a month but if you haven’t already, then you should definitely include in it in your Spring clean routine. An useful plugin which does all of the above automatically is WP-Optimize, I use it personally on all of my sites. There are also plugins which do one or the other depending on your preferences. WPDBSpringClean is a plugin to optimize your database and WP-Sweep is one to remove revisions, auto drafts, spam and deleted comments, and can even optimize your database as well.
Another important aspect of Spring cleaning and optimizing your WordPress site is finding broken links pointing to missing or non-existent content. The plugin I use for this job is Broken Link Checker which analyzes all of your site’s links and notifies you so that you can replace them. It might take some time after you first install it, depending on the size of your website and the number of links, to analyze everything so be patient or go get something to drink. You can automate it to check for broken links at certain times however, notifying you of potential missing links in the future.
This Spring show your WordPress site some love by cleaning and optimizing it and it will surely return the favor with better performance and more visitors.
Don’t forget to share your WordPress optimization practices, tricks and plugins in the comments below and if you liked it, send this guide to a webmaster friend of yours.
If after the Spring cleaning you are looking for a new home for your WordPress, feel free to check our WordPress-optimized hosting solutions and contact us for expert WordPress support.