Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Why you need to get your site service request in right now
- Getting started with Astra – live chat with Michelle Phillips on Wednesday
- The updates that are coming to the Gutenberg Ninja course
- Webmaster bonus training for Core Web Vitals starting this week
- My prediction came true about how Yoast will deal with native XML sitemaps coming in WP 5.5
- Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool is going away, and what to use instead
- Features in Mediavine’s new Grow.me tracking and sharing service
- What you need to know about Chrome blocking 3rd party cookie tracking
- Whether alternative tracking methods will work or not
- How the entire ad industry is being shook up over cookie tracking
- Why you need to stay informed from a wide variety of sources
- Why you need to think broader about the future of revenue generation from your site
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.
Who I Help
All tips, advice, and suggestions in this, and all BlogAid posts and tutorials, are intended to empower DIY site owners who are not on hosting that is restrictive in what you can and can’t do with your site and hosting setup.
Whew! What a week!!!
The Super Summer Sales Event went live on Monday morning.
And by Tuesday morning all of the site services slots were full. I capped them this year at 10 for most services.
But, the courses were still on sale up until Sunday and lots of you took advantage of those.
Plus, I did a free Gutenberg webinar on Wednesday and bunches of you came to see the power of Gute and jumped right into the course too.
But, the sale also caused a deluge of emails to reply to. I was getting an email every 3 minutes, then it fell to its normal average of every 7 minutes, which is still about 200 emails a day. And over the weekend it went to about 30 emails a day.
So, for a while there I was spending 4 hours a day on just emails.
Client Work in Full Swing, Get in Now!!!
And of course, I’m working like crazy every day with my site services clients.
My backlog is into September at this point.
And by September it will be into December and by December it will be into March.
So, if you’re thinking about getting some type of site service for:
- Security and Speed Audit
- HTTPS conversion
- Rebranding to a new domain name
- Migrating to better hosting
Get on my list now.
That also goes for my current site audit clients who want to schedule their annual site checkup.
Those are super fast and cheap and I can slip them into my schedule sooner than I can onboard a new client with a bigger project.
I am so excited to be chatting live with Michelle Phillps of Codefetti again this week.
A couple of weeks ago we had a super chat on how to Avoid DIY Theme Design Mistakes.
And this week we’ll be streaming live on the BlogAid Facebook page again and focusing specifically on getting started with Astra Themes.
We’ll be covering:
- the steps to take when you first load Astra
- The difference in Starter Templates and Child Themes
- What extra features Astra Pro gives you
- Where to find all manner of customization options
Mark your calendar and join us live on Wed, July 15 at 1pm ET / 10am PT.
And the replay will be on the BlogAid Facebook page as well as on the post, which you can see for even more details.
And on the post is a link to get notifications of the Facebook Event too!
This week I’m making a list and checking it twice for all the updates I’ll be making in the next few weeks to my Gutenberg Ninja course.
New Astra Theme Resources
Besides giving her time for these free chats, Michelle has also graciously allowed me to include links to lots of her Astra resources in the Gutenberg Ninja course too.
I’ll be adding a whole new Astra section to the course soon for you.
New Functions and Features in WP 5.5
And, I’ve had a look at the Gutenberg changes coming in WordPress 5.5 in early August too.
So, I’m digging into those and making a list of the tutorials I’ll be updating.
Now, I likely won’t actually do those tutorial updates until just prior to the WP release, as I’ve gotten burned too many times by last minute changes just days before the release.
And, I’ll be making a list of the tutorials updated and will have that in the course for you, to make it super fast for you to get up to speed.
New Block Plugin List
I’m also making a list of all of the Gutenberg block plugins I’ve tested and vetted and which ones to stay away from due to sheer speed concerns.
Some of these things are super bloated, just like regular plugins can be.
Tell Your Buddies About BlogAid
You have to look deeper than just fashion to the function of plugins to see if they are worthwhile for you or not, and that’s what I do in all these case studies I run.
Not to mention all of the deeply researched posts I put out on things like Core Web Vitals, and other important news you need. And then all the tutorials like how to run a speed test accurately and how to interpret the metrics and data they give you.
So, thank you to everyone who shares my posts in your blogging groups and with your buddies. And if you haven’t yet, please do consider pointing folks to one of the only non-geek speak sites on the whole web where you can get this sort of site info.
Theme Speed Test Results
I’ve got my theme speed test case study post just about finished.
I’m working on the graphics now, and that’s actually a big deal, as I’m trying to figure out the best way to group info for you so it’s clear which theme is doing best with each metric.
I’m wondering if I need to put an arrow over the metrics graph for each data point to say whether lower or higher is best.
Or, just put an initial for the theme name over the winner.
Or, do totally different groupings where all should be lower or all should be higher.
Or, and what’s most likely to happen, just leave them as they are and explain each data point with the winner in the content below each graph.
I’ll figure it out and get that post out to you soon.
But, I can tell you now that Astra is the overall fastest theme with Genesis running a close second.
This week I’m also kicking off bonus training for my webmaster designers who want to go way deeper into speed and Google’s new Core Web Vitals data.
This helps them do exactly what I do with the site services part of my business in doing site audits.
It’s like a college-level course where you have to commit to showing up for the classes and doing the homework.
Each site is different and there is no generic click-here, do-that way to teach it.
You gain experience with each audit you do, and build up your own notes for the cookie cutter stuff that is the same on most sites, and then notes on similar issues you’ve seen elsewhere.
After doing about 10-12 audits, it all starts making a lot more sense because you’ve seen it and done it enough to get it.
It’s like fixing anything – from doctors to mechanics.
There’s only so much you can get from book learning.
You have to get your hands in it and actually do a few before you start seeing the patterns of it, and have the comfort of the knowledge you’ve gained.
And that’s what this bonus training is all about.
I’ve already got the tutorials in the course for how to do audits.
But this will be a lot more live guidance and question answering as folks work through audits on the sites they have available to them.
Plus, it has an accountability factor to put butt in seat and get it done, especially with pushing through some of what seems overwhelming.
We’re going to break that stuff down into smaller chunks and actually work with it more so you can get the hang of it.
Still Digging into Core Web Vitals on Google Search Console
Another reason why I’m offering this bonus webmaster training is to get more data for what affects Core Web Vitals metrics.
Most of my site audit clients are already in the green with them, so there’s not a whole lot for me to investigate with them.
Hopefully there will be, in all of these site audits we’ll be doing in the bonus training.
And we can put the power of the village to work for us and get to the bottom of which things cause which problems too.
This week I’ll be calling on my peeps in the DIY SEO course and asking for volunteers that have bad CWV scores in Google Search Console.
And once we have some actionable data, and steps to take then I’ll be making tutorials in both courses and I’ll likely have some posts out to the public about it too.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
I told you so!!!!
In recent Tips Tuesdays I’ve been telling y’all about XML sitemaps coming to WordPress.
A year ago when this project first started, I told you that when WordPress got in a room with Google to hash out how best to do this, they called on Joost de Valk to consult, as he knows both SEO and WordPress.
And, all along I’ve been telling you why we won’t be using the native WP sitemap, as the XML sitemap generated by Yoast SEO is superior in how it lets us control what’s in that sitemap.
As I predicted, the Yoast SEO plugin will have a way to automatically shut off the native WP XML sitemap.
I don’t know if that function is already in the Yoast SEO plugin or not, so we’ll be looking for an update to that plugin as soon as it detects that we’ve upgraded to WP 5.5.
That update is coming in early August.
Well, Google’s gone and done it again, y’all!!!
They’ve decided to drop yet another product.
This time it’s their Structured Data Testing Tool, which helps validate your schema markup and is incredibly useful.
They’ve replaced it with another tool that doesn’t offer even half of the checks, including schema markup validation.
The pro SEO world is screaming about it.
And, they’re advising folks to use the nice tool in Bing Webmaster Tools instead.
So, take that, Google!!!!
I was already planning on adding a Bing Webmaster Tool tutorial to the DIY SEO course later this fall. And this just gives me one more incentive to do it.
Y’all know that Mediavine purchased the Social Pug share and follow button plugin a year or so ago and changed the name to Grow.
And for the most part, they have basically left it intact.
Well, now we’re seeing the bigger picture they had in mind for it with the beta release of their new Grow.me service.
And let me tell you, Mediavine is lightyears ahead of other ad agencies with what they are doing through this new service.
I call it a service because it’s going way beyond a plugin into a SaaS product. SaaS stands for Software as a Service.
Let’s break some of this down.
First, we have 3 variations of Grow.
- Grow – free version with limited social follow and share options
- Grow Social Pro – paid version with full social follow and share options, plus a Pin hover button, and more.
- Grow.me – will run in tandem with Grow Social Pro and provide additional features
Like everything Mediavine creates, they focus on speed.
Grow now has a built in Optimize for PageSpeed mode, which to date, has only been available for loading ads on mobile devices in a way that helps the reporting in Chrome detect a fast loading site.
Let’s talk about the new features in Grow.me that will be available to Mediavine publishers who are using Grow Social Pro and sign up for the beta of Grow.me.
A new integrated optin feature will give a way for folks to sign up for your newsletter. That means you might be able to drop one more plugin or such that you’re using for that now. This feature is already in Grow, but they are expanding it for lead generation and more.
A new floating Grow Favorite and Social Sharing Button set of icons on the bottom right of every post and page. These are a bunch of cool little icons for share and follow. And they float in that corner, just above the floating ad that so many Mediavine folks run on their sites.
But these icons go way past just letting your visitor’s share your posts.
Users of Grow.me, who are signed into that service, will “be able to save their favorite posts across any websites that have opted in to this feature. Moreover, users will easily be able to access their bookmarks from any website running Grow, or from Grow.me directly. Users can easily authenticate using Google, Facebook or email, and stay logged in across Mediavine sites.”
Basically, what Mediavine is setting up with this service is their own, private tracking network.
And here’s why.
Site owners using the Grow.me service will be able to get a more accurate count of shares, and that’s a nice metric to have because the tracking services used in most share plugins are best guesses and not accurate at all.
It’s all about the cookie tracking
But here’s the real reason Mediavine is going this direction.
Back in January, I reported that Chrome will start blocking 3rd party cookie tracking.
The Firefox and Safari browsers have already implemented that block.
So, the only way around this problem is for ad networks to start tracking on our first-party cookies – the same ones we use for our own site purposes.
I’ve been rather quiet about this cookie tracking thing since January.
That’s because all hosts and all browsers are handling things differently.
In these past 6 months I’ve been researching and gathering data and I’ll have more to say about it all publicly in the coming months.
For now, go read that post on Chrome and see what you need to do now, which is ensure you’re on PHP 7.3 at your host.
Updating my site audit clients
Privately, I’ve been updating my site audit clients with the other fix we need to implement, and it’s working.
So, I’ll be releasing that info to my webmasters and updating the rest of my site audit clients as they come in for their annual site checkup.
But, when I go public with what to do, it will have disclaimers, as all hosts are still handling this differently, and you could easily setup a conflict.
This is where it pays to be one of my site audit clients.
I know your site setup and your host and I can advise you accordingly.
This is also one more reason why you need to get an audit checkup every 12-18 months.
Security and performance and SEO things change ALL THE TIME.
There is no such thing as set-it-and-forget-it. You need to stay current. And an audit checkup helps you do that.
Will this private tracking thing work?
Mediavine is lightyears ahead of other ad agencies by getting this type of opt-in tracking thing going now. So, when all 3rd party tracking is dropped by Chrome, they will have their own data collection service running at full steam.
But, the real question is, will it catch on?
Will your site visitors know what those little icons are for sharing and bookmarking?
Will they use them?
Will folks sign into a service that is tracking them across sites?
Those are a lot of ifs.
Time will tell.
Shake up to the whole ad industry
And the other big question is, what happens if it doesn’t work?
Ad buyers HAVE to have tracking metrics in order to properly target which ads get shown on which sites.
This goes way past Mediavine to the very heart of online advertising.
Keep in mind that this directly impacts Google AdSense too, and ads on YouTube.
So, Google has a dog in the race with what it implements in Chrome.
I’m watching the news and suggest you watch the news about this well beyond what Mediavine is reporting so you can make good decisions on how you share your visitor data.
Will history repeat itself?
We’ve seen cookie tracking by other opt-in services like the Disquz comment system. Once they started cookie tracking folks who left comments by following them to the next site they visited, lots of site owners dropped that service.
I’m wondering how site owners are going to react to any ad agency going down that same sort of road.
Keep in mind that the whole reason this sort of 3rd party cookie tracking works now is because so many internet surfers are oblivious to the fact that their every move online is being tracked like crazy now.
I’m wondering how visitors will react to being tracked with a voluntary option to knowingly opt into it.
Stay well informed
We’ll see how all of this shakes out.
Mediavine, and all other ad agencies, and marketing agencies for that matter, are doing what they think is best to keep the advertising world turning.
A lot of money is on the line for everyone.
I’m just asking you to stay informed and to not blindly agree to private tracking services without fully understanding what you are subjecting your site, and your site visitors to.
You need to keep up with the whole online advertising industry news to see what everyone is doing about this.
And, you need to keep your options open to other sources of revenue beyond ads.
It’s all a numbers game.
Lower barrier to entry ad networks like Google AdSense, Ezoic, and even Monumetrics slow down your site so much that most visitors leave before they see anything.
It’s going to be super tough for you to grow your traffic fast with those things on it.
I know everyone wants to get paid, but growing traffic as fast as you can, should be the number one goal.
And then the money will follow.
Give it some thought and consider what you might do if you couldn’t run ads, and what it would take to accomplish that goal.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
Gimme some love!!
Share this post with all your blogger buddies to support all the free info and help you get on BlogAid – and help your buddies too!!
Subscribe to all BlogAid Posts via email so you never miss anything!
Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.