- Refresh Header Banner and Site Images
If your website has a visual banner at the top of the page, consider refreshing it monthly to keep the site looking new for visitors. Studies have shown that people will pay more attention to the site itself if they are able to perceive the site is different.
- Check Sidebar Links and Blogrolls for Dead Links, Outdated Blogs and Better Links
The sites you link to on your sidebar should stay fresh and relevant – make sure the sites you link to stay current, and still provide content that you support. If you have a blogroll on your blog, add new blogs you’ve recently discovered and remove blogs that are no longer updating or have gotten off-topic. Create a new subcategory on your sidebar if you’ve discovered a new interest or resource.
If you’re linking out to charities, blog events or news stories, make sure they are current or switch them out to rotate exposure to your favorites and keep your sidebar less cluttered.
- Track Visits and New Referrers (and Reward!)
If you’re not tracking visits to your website, it’s something you need to do immediately. Check your referring sites to see if any particular new site is sending you traffic, and to which page. If the traffic is significant, you may want to add a little welcome paragraph to the page welcoming readers from that particular site.
If it’s a blog that’s new to you, go comment on the post linking to you or send a note to the author thanking them for the trackback.
- Update Pages
Your “Pages” are going to be the pillars of your website and therefore should be constantly updated with new material, making them even more robust and valuable to your readers.
Is there a paragraph you can expand on, or a bullet point that you left off in a hurry? Has someone left a comment that can be expanded on and answered in the page?
- Update Popular / Best of / New To
If you’ve created a landing page for new visitors and readers to get to know your site quickly, make sure that the posts and pages you highlight reflect your current traffic numbers and interest. If your content is season-dependent, you may want to rotate some of the posts you highlight based on the time of year and/or relevance.
- Update About / Press Clips / Add a New Picture
Have you recently changed jobs, written a guest post, moved to a different country, changed email addresses, or realized you need to update your advertising policy? This is the time to do it. Make sure that your profile picture is the most current one available so that when you meet people offline, they instantly recognize you.
- Check (Webmaster Tools) for Dead Outgoing Links in your Content
Use Google Webmaster tools to check for links in your own content that are no longer valid. This is easy to do under Diagnostics – Web Crawl to see if there are any 404 or errors for your outgoing links.
If you don’t use Google Webmaster Tools, pick 2-3 of your most link-intensive posts each month and review the outgoing links. If you use Flickr or another similar service to include Creative Commons photos, make sure that all your embedded photos are still active and not missing or broken.
- Update Plugins, Widgets and Blogging Software
If you’re using installed blogging software like WordPress, make sure you’ve upgraded your version to the most current stable version. If you’re using plugins or widgets developed by someone else, first check that you are using the most recent version, and then test to make sure the widget still works correctly and adds value.
If you’ve bookmarked a few plugins you’ve seen on others’ websites, this is the time to install them and test their functionality in the new month.
- Enhance and Expand your Top 5 Posts
A blog is a living document. Check your traffic for the top 5 posts of that month and look for inconsistencies or outdated information, questions or suggestions from the comments that can be answered in your content, and additional resource links to include for more reading.
- Track your Ad Revenues and Blog Expenses
If you have ads or other revenue generation on your website, update your accounting spreadsheet to track any trends and your total revenue. If you’re keeping track of blog expenses for tax deductions, quickly scan through the month’s post to jog your memory for any travel, research, or other expenses you incurred for those posts.
What would you add to this Monthly Blog Maintenance Checklist?