Spring has sprung! Whilst you’re busy flinging open windows and clearing out clutter at home, have you thought about giving your website a spring clean too? Here are some often neglected jobs to get you started…

person holding a yellow plastic spray bottle

1. Clean your website database

Over time, the database that stores everything about your WordPress website can get clogged up. Cleaning it regularly will help keep your site running as fast as possible and free up valuable space. And the easiest way to do it – install the free WP-Optimize plugin and run a database optimisation.

To install the plugin, go to Plugins > Add New and search for WP-Optimize.

Details of WP-Optimize plugin

Activate the plugin to add it to your site. Click WP-Optimize in the Dashboard menu to open the database optimisation screen.

Screenshot of WP-Optimize database optimisation tasks

Selected all the available options and followed by the blue Run all selected optimisations button. And, hey presto, your database is clean!

I would recommend you do this every couple of months.

2. Tidy Up the Media Library

Every time you upload an image to your website, WordPress makes several copies of it that you don’t see. Add in custom image sizes created by themes and plugins and you can easily have five or more copies of the same image stored behind the scenes. Tidying up your media library will save disk space on your server, reduce back-up sizes, and help speed up your website.

What you can do right now

  • Delete unused images and files

If you’ve been using WordPress for a while, chances are there are images and files stored in the media library that you’re no longer using. And the easiest way to get rid of these is by deleting them directly.

You can view everything uploaded to your site by selecting Media > Library from the dashboard menu. By default, the images appear in a grid; you can switch to a list view by selecting the first icon at the top.

Example of a WordPress media library

To delete a single image, click it, then choose the Delete Permanently option at the bottom of the screen. A popup will appear on screen; click OK to remove the file.

You can also bulk delete files and images by selecting Bulk Select from the top of the media library. Click on all files you’d like to delete and choose Delete Selected. A popup will appear and, just like before, click OK to permanently remove these images.

  • Optimise image files

Optimising images is a way of making the files as small as possible whilst preserving their quality, and in turn improving your website page speed. And the best way to do this with existing images in your media library is with a plugin. WP-Optimize, which I recommended above for database cleaning, includes an option to compress anything that isn’t already. Another option to install is Smush.

Screenshot of the WP-Optimize plugin image compression options

What you can do going forward

  • Reduce image size before uploading

You don’t need massive, hi-res images for your website. Reduce the image dimensions before you upload it. 1000px is sufficient for most websites.

  • Use files name that make sense

Take some time to give your images meaningful file names before you upload them, rather than the standard number/date/timestamp allotted by your phone or camera. This copies over into the HTML code of your site and helps improve SEO. You should also add alternative text for your image, describing what it shows.

3. Run the WordPress Site Health tool

The handy built-in site health tool scans your WordPress website for common security and performance issues. It grades it site as either “Good” or “Should be improved”.

You can activate the tool from the WordPress dashboard by selecting Tools > Site Health. It runs automatically and lists any issues that need attention. These are highlighted as critical or recommended improvements.

An example of the WordPress site health tool results page

It is worth noting that no automated tool is 100% accurate and this one doesn’t consider your specific hosting set-up. Some of the checks are more important than others, so don’t worry if your site doesn’t pass them all.

If you see any of the following messages, you need to take action…

  • A WordPress update is available
  • You have plugins waiting to be updated
  • You have themes waiting to be updated
  • You should remove inactive plugins
  • You should remove inactive themes
  • Your PHP version requires an update
  • Your SQL server is out of date
  • Your site does not use HTTPS

Dealing with the first few is easy – take a back-up of your site, and then run any updates to WordPress, plugins, and themes. When it comes to inactive plugins and themes, only keep the ones you are using – see my post about tidying up themes (the same applies to plugins). The other issues can be resolved by contacting your hosting provider.

If you need help deciphering your site health tool results, please give me a shout!

For more tips on taking care of your WordPress website, read my post about showing it some love. If you would like more detailed help with tidying up your website, the Website Health Check could be for you. Alternatively, send me an email to hello@wisegenius.co.uk.

Image credit: JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash