Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Tips for writing blog drafts in Google Docs
- Whether having a blogging schedule helps or hurts your productivity
- Why I’m glad to hear WP is scaling back on planned releases for this year
- What I’m testing with lazy load for iframes coming in WP 5.7
- Finally, enhancements and stability improvements are coming for Reusable Blocks
- When Full Site Editing will become a minimal viable product
- The future of all WordPress themes
- ADA and UX live workshop in the DIY SEO course this week
- Update on progress with the Video SEO course
- Update on my deep speed test case study
- How I’m letting my own clients write the messaging on BlogAid
- Status of my site service wait list and who’s on it and who’s not
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join for tonight’s livestream at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on the BlogAid Facebook Page. It’s a great way to get the deeper story on what’s reported in Tips Tuesday. And, I almost always have breaking news for the day too. So come join us live for the party or catch the replay here on Tips Tuesday.
Who I Help
All tips, advice, and suggestions in this, and all BlogAid posts and tutorials, are intended to empower business-minded, hands-on bloggers who are serious about making money with their sites and who are on hosts I can work on.
Brrrr! It’s cold here!!! How about where you are?
It has been below freezing for about a week and then we got about an inch of ice here that will be hanging around until at least the weekend. We were supposed to have about 4-6 inches of snow. And this is why all of the kids who were looking forward to building snowmen don’t trust science, or climate change, because the forecasters can’t predict major weather events worth a flip! Ha!
But, according to the monthly forecast, this 2 week stretch of freezing temps may be all the real winter we see here, and then the warm up starts.
And I’ll be glad to get back out on my deck with Zak and my iPad or Chromebook to do all the reading I have to do to keep up with this ever-changing industry and to write things like Tips Tuesday too.
But I have been very productive at my desk this week and I’ll share more of what’s coming out for you in just a moment.
Lots of happy activity in our BB Hub
I’ve been delighted to see all manner of activity from my Site Audit Plus clients in our private Facebook group this week.
There have been some great questions about things folks are seeing on their site and with plugins and everyone is helping everyone.
That’s the true power of the village, and I hope my other clients will jump in more often, instead of just when you’re having a problem, as you miss a lot.
Video SEO course update
Plus, that group is where I ask for testing volunteers and such too, just like those who are helping with the tests for the upcoming Video SEO course.
I got more writing time in on it this past week and have 2 of the 4 sections nearly done.
It’s been more productive to just write all I can for now in order to flesh out each tutorial and section, and then I’ll go back and fill in what’s missing, like more real-world examples or real-world test data.
So, definitely making real progress on it and I’ll keep you posted.
Lots of odd things reported in the groups too
Have you been seeing strange things with your site or hosting or 3rd party platforms lately?
There seems to be a lot of that going around.
In both the BB Hub and Webmaster Training groups we’ve been seeing reports of odd happenings. Sometimes it’s just one person experiencing it too, so that makes it super tough to nail down the root cause.
But, we’re doing our best to try to address it and get folks the help they need.
What weird things have you been seeing lately?
This past week I’ve been updating and revising more upcoming workshops for the DIY SEO course too.
And because there is so much new info and tests to do this year, I got rid of the SEO Site Guidelines workshop and split that info into two new workshops with more testing and examples.
The first one is this week on ADA compliance, which is for accessibility standards, and then the first part of UX standards, which is User Experience.
And then next week we’ll dive into Core Web Vitals, which is about way more than speed and involves UX too.
And the great thing about doing live workshops is we can do live testing and get your questions answered right then too and/or see more variety of issues to address in the course.
Speed testing update
In last week’s Tips Tuesday I mentioned that I had to put new deep speed testing on the front burner.
Well, I made great headway with that and progress on 2 important fronts.
I’m working with the dev of one of our favorite plugins to add new features. I can’t tell you what just yet, but I’m pretty excited about it.
And I have the info I need to share with my top 2 webmaster designers so we can get to the bottom of issues caused by the load order of the theme and how to fix it.
We’ll be meeting this week to go over all of that and I’ll keep you updated.
The wait list for any site services is into May, best guess, as it really depends on how the projects go. As mentioned last week, site owners are wanting to go way deeper to squeeze out all of the speed and UX they can now, so projects are taking a bit longer than they used to.
But, I’ve also had 5 jobs come off the wait list due to them not being a good fit for the services I offer.
Those new questions on the application forms for site services are really helping with this and ensuring that the site, and the site owner, are both a good fit for the services I offer and the way I offer them.
I don’t offer any “dump it on the tech” services.
I partner with hands-on site owners who are involved in their site’s upkeep already, like knowing what their plugins do and keeping them updated and such.
Better messaging in the works
I also sent a survey to my BB Hub members and asked them about what type of clients are and are not a good fit for my services. Plus, I asked about anything in my messaging that was not clear, or if they felt like they knew what they were getting into with things like the site audit and such.
Those responses were super helpful and I’ll be sharing them in a livestream in our FB group today.
And that will certainly help with the continued revamp of what’s on my course and services pages too.
Pre-migration head start
I’ve also been able to help more site owners get a jump on their migration projects that are still on the wait list by advising that they transfer to a real domain registrar instead of using their host, and by getting on a 3rd party service like Google Workspace (formerly GSuites) for their domain-related email setup.
(FYI, I have a guy who helps with that changeover.)
And that has helped us hit the ground running when we do open the project, as we don’t immediately have those delays to contend with.
Avoid bad themes
And due to asking more questions, I’ve also helped a few site owners avoid disaster with the new theme they intended to swap to while on the wait list too.
They sure would have regretted getting on that new theme that would have tanked their site speed or even made it so I could no longer help them due to the way the theme devs tricked out their speed settings.
I’m not the maid
Plus, due to asking whether folks have had other site techs work on their site, we’ve been able to avoid massive delays with them having to go back to that tech to remove all of the custom work done.
Here’s my take on it. If you are not happy with the work someone else did on your site, have them clean it up and put it back to standard.
I’m not the maid.
There are 14 ways to do anything online and each tech is going to have their own combo that they think works best. If that’s not working as well as you thought it should, then the tech who did it needs to clean it up.
Beyond that, I’ve decided that I don’t want to take on the liability of pulling threads on a tapestry that may fall apart because I may not see some hidden thing they did to your site either. At least I’ve had the good sense not to learn that lesson the hard way!!
The other side of that is, if those other techs, who are my direct competition, see enough of their clients asking them to remove what they did, and for free, maybe they will get the hint that their combo is not working, or doesn’t hold up over time, and they’ll find a better way to do things that does work and doesn’t rely on trickery that eventually bites the site owner in the butt, and that the site owner understands and can cooperate with too.
This is why I partner with site owners and work with hands on people – so they can get and keep their site fast and secure.
And, if enough of my clients have to go back to that tech to have all that stuff undone, and then sees the difference in how I do things, and how well it works, maybe the referrals will start changing and my name will be at the top, instead of my competition.
And thank you to all who do recommend me in blogging groups. I truly appreciate you!!!
That’s all the happenings around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Where do you compose blog posts?
It’s a good idea to create your blog posts drafts in something other than WordPress for 2 main reasons:
- You need a copy stored off your site
- Working in WordPress chews up hosting resources
In fact, you also need to ensure you are logging out of your site when you are not actively using it due to how many resources it chews up.
Keep in mind that it has an active cookie state running that is constantly refreshing whatever admin page you are on.
And if you are in the editor, it’s also constantly saving drafts, which is even heavier on resource usage.
You can see it in your cPanel’s AWStats very clearly. During site audits, I can see the site owner’s IP addressed being pinged nearly has hard as all other traffic combined.
Think of it like leaving the taxi meter running while you’re in the restaurant eating.
That’s a serious waste of resources and you pay more for the taxi than you do the meal that way.
So, be sure to log out.
I use Google Docs for writing my blog posts as I can access them from my main computer, and from my iPad or Chromebook when I’m out on the deck, weather permitting.
Plus, Google Drive makes it easy to store posts in folders for whatever organizational arrangement makes sense to you.
If you think G Docs is missing a lot in formatting and such, there are ways to jazz it up to suit your needs.
READ: How to Use Google Docs for Blogging on the Wordable blog.
They have all manner of tips including how to create your own blogging template.
And they list the most-used shortcut keys that will save you a bunch of time too, like how to bring up the word count and spell checker.
Plus, they call out a bunch of G Docs addons that you may want to consider using.
And they list helper services such as Grammarly and Trello too.
It’s well worth a read.
Many bloggers set up an editorial calendar for the year. That’s especially true for DIY and foodie bloggers who need to hit seasonal posts in time to get them promoted well on places like Pinterest and such.
But for some of us, trying to set schedules and deadlines is nearly impossible.
For BlogAid, there are just too many news fires for me to plan much of anything.
And for others, getting their entire household turned upside down with CoVid has made it impossible to keep their normal blogging routine.
ProBlogger has a nice article about whether schedules and deadlines are a help or hindrance.
I think it’s a super helpful read regardless of whether you can or can’t set or keep up with a blogging schedule.
And it’s a powerful read for those who have fallen behind with their blogging goals too.
Boy, was I glad to see this article on WPTavern. Initially, the WP devs hoped to push out 4 releases in 2021. The usual number is 3. And that’s more than enough change in one year for us!! Not only us as site owners, but us as in plugin and theme devs too.
Go read the post for more details on this decision, and why the release dates for WP 5.8 and beyond have been scratched out for now.
I’m a little concerned about one of the new features coming in WP 5.7 in March.
You’ll now have the ability to lazy load iframes.
While that will help speed up loading things like videos, if you use iframes to embed them, it will also impact ads that use iframes.
And lazy load on iframe ads is a no-no.
We’re still in the beta testing for WP 5.7. I have taken to waiting for the RC1, which is the first Release Candidate before I jump in and do my testing.
And how this new iframe lazy load will be enabled is most definitely one of the things I’ll be looking into for us.
Reusable Block enhancements
Another set of Gutenberg improvements coming in WP 5.7 will be to stabilize and improve the function of Reusable Blocks.
I can hear you cheering!
I believe this is one of THE most powerful features in Gutenberg yet it has been plagued with stability issues from the day it rolled out.
In fact, I saw a report from one my Webmaster members about instability on these blocks just this past week.
So, I’m super glad to see it getting attention again and I’ll be running tests on it, and its new enhancements as I update all block changes for my Gutenberg Ninja course which I keep updated with every new WP release.
Another big addition to the WP core in 5.7 will be the roll in of more Full Site Editing support.
There’s a nice article on the Gutenberg Times site that details out the goals and timeline for FSE (Full Site Editing) as drawn up by Josepha Haden, who is the executive director for the WordPress open-source project.
She says the goal is to make FSE an MVP, or Minimal Viable Product, by April 2021.
And I think that statement tells it all.
Full Site Editing requires a Fully Block Based theme so that every part of the theme can contain Gutenberg blocks.
So, this project is not just about creating more Gute blocks.
This will radically alter how all WP themes are created.
The future of WordPress themes
Last year I began saying with emphasis that the death of all page and theme builders was in sight.
That list includes:
- Beaver Builder
- WP Bakery
FYI, starting in March, Elementor is pushing a significant price increase for new subscribers to their Pro version.
I just don’t think any of these builders will survive more than 2 years outside of support for those designers and site owners who will just not give them up.
I have yet to see anything created with any of these builders that I can’t exactly duplicate in Gutenberg. In fact, I teach you how to duplicate popular templates in my Gutenberg Ninja course.
On the other hand, I don’t think fully block-based themes will be viable for money-making sites until end of 2021 or into 2022.
What theme to use for now
So for now, if you are considering a new theme to help make your site faster and have better ADA and UX compliance, it is perfectly safe and good to use the frameworks we have right now that are fully Gutenberg compliant but aren’t fully block based.
In fact, I just paid for new sites and/or upgrades on 2 of my sites. One is on the original Genesis framework and the other is on Astra Pro.
So, I’m putting my own money where my mouth is on this.
And I think these themes will last me at least another 2 years as is and even then, support for them will continue for several more years even after FSE compliant themes are out.
So, don’t hesitate on swapping theme right now, if that’s on your agenda for this year.
Get a good theme
Just ensure you are getting a theme that is fully Gutenberg compliant and fast, and does not use any trickery to be fast.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen themes from agencies where themes are not their primary business and site owners are not very happy when I point out the trickery that was used to make them fast, or settings that are in the agency’s favor more than the site owners.
Theme recommendations are for paying clients
If you want a theme recommendation, you’ll need to be a paying client, as I don’t make public recommendations other than saying Genesis and Astra are good frameworks to use.
But that’s not to say that all Genesis or Astra child themes are okay. Some most certainly are not. And don’t be asking me if the one you have your eye on is or isn’t good unless you are one of my paying clients with an open project, else it will need to be a paid consult to pick my brain and get the benefit of my expertise.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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