33. Hosting matters!
Hosting is something that we take very seriously here!
But I, personally, wasn’t all too worried about hosting or anything server-related for the better part of my blogging journey and especially not when I was starting a blog for the first time.
This changed dramatically one beautiful day when I discovered that there had been a whole spam forum running on my server … and for who knows how long at that point.
The way I discovered was also kind of funny. I got an automated email instructing me to “update my vBulletin forum.” I didn’t have a forum.
So as it turned out, the email was sent to a random email address sitting on my new domain name – newinternetorder. And since I had a catch-all feature set there for email, it got redirected to my actual email. I started looking around, and lo and behold, I found this:
That’s the forum. Just sitting there, fully indexed by Google, and full of outbound links pointing to other websites using fun anchor texts like “louis vuitton bags” or whatnot.
Anyways. Long story short; this was the day I learned the value of reliable and high quality hosting. This sort of infection happens at server level. It’s not a WordPress issue or anything.
Please, do yourself a favor. Work only with reputable hosting providers from day one when starting a blog. It’s not such a huge expense anyway, you can get something for as low as $3-4 a month on an entry-level hosting plan. Bluehost is good. SiteGround as well. Digital Ocean if you’re server-savvy.
34. Do regular content audits
As much as I would love for this not to be the case, not everything we publish remains evergreen indefinitely. Regardless of your niche, there are always new developments, new ideas, new things to write about, and also new things that relate back to your older content.
The simple fact is that no one can predict the future. So even if you think that the piece you’ve written will remain timeless due to the topic matter it touches on, this is only a wish and you can never be certain.
For that reason, doing regular content audits is a great idea, and especially if you’ve had your blog online for more than 12 months – perhaps not the thing to worry about if you’re just learning how to start a blog for the first time, but still worth keeping in mind.
The goal of a content audit is simple: check which of your posts are still relevant, which need updating, which can be removed entirely, which can be consolidated.
This is something that Pat Flynn talked about, here’s the in-the-nutshell version:
Start by compiling a spreadsheet featuring all your posts (URLs are enough). Divide that spreadsheet into three sections:
- “Keep and improve” – posts that are good on their own and still relevant; might need some work to bring them up to date or expand (new data, new insights); in other words, we’re making them even better than they are now.
- “Consolidate” – smaller posts that can be combined into a bigger post; this makes the resulting resource much more in-depth and complete.
- “Delete” – posts that are completely irrelevant at this point in time and can be deleted entirely (think old sponsored posts, old news posts, reviews or how-tos relating to things that are no longer around, accidental duplicate content, etc.)
Once you have those, you can begin working on them, in this order: start by deleting content, then consolidating, then improving.
Some things that you can do when going through the individual pieces of content:
- Set up 301 redirects when consolidating posts into bigger resources.
- Set up 410 status codes for content permanently deleted.
- Fix internal links when working on posts that you’ve decided to leave online. Make sure that they link to your newer content as well. (Naturally, internal links from old posts don’t point to your new content since those were not around when you created the links.)
- Fix the formatting on your old content – use H1, H2, bullet points.
- Update images on your best posts – make them more sharable on social and up-to-date with the current requirements for social media images.
- Fix Yoast SEO plugin metrics.
- Remove dead links.
- Fix any in-line HTML issues.
- Add content upgrades where relevant.
- Update your tags and/or categories to make the whole site more consistent.
- Republish old content if it makes sense. Just change the publication date to now.
- Delete comments when you republish.
Doing an audit like this and reviving your past content is only proof that you care about what people see when they come to your website and begin consuming a random piece of your content. It’s basically a signal to Google that everything on your site deserves to rank since it’s all kept up to date. This might not sound like it’s that important if you’re just starting a blog for the first time, but it’s actually best to incorporate these tactics right from day one – this is how you get the most out of it over time.
How often to do the full audit? Probably once a year.