Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- New Bing Webmaster Tools tutorials have arrived
- New Google Web Stories tutorial section and live session
- Why I have to cut my workload a bit and my new office hours
- Fallout over the SiteGround WordPress support changes post
- Revamp of my hosting recommendations
- Which host is the latest to start charging for manual migrations and why this is a good thing
- Why you need to put a dollar value on expertise
- Authentication passwords are coming to the WP API sooner than expected
- Why free plugins are going to start dropping like flies
- Which new full theme editing elements coming to WP soon
- Updates to my WP database table prefixes list
- The major changes with the TinyMCE Advanced plugin
- Why I’m jumping up and down over the WP compatibility notice from UpdraftPlus
- Big podcast news from Google Podcast and the new Amazon Podcast services
- Why not to use image optimization plugins and what to do instead
- Why we won’t be using the new Automatic Platform Optimization feature from Cloudflare
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 serious about making money with their sites and are not on hosting that is restrictive in what you can and can’t do with your site and hosting setup. If you have any doubts about what type of host you are on and if the tips I give will work there, see this post on What is Managed Hosting?
Fall temps and color are popping around my area.
And I’ve been visiting my foodie client sites to whet my appetite for all those delicious foods of the season. And I’ve been popping into my DIY and decor client sites to see all of their fall crafts.
I’m always stunned at the professional level of photography y’all achieve!!! You make everything look so good.
Investing in a good camera and photography course is so worth it if you are in those niches.
I’m delighted to announce that the new Bing tutorials have arrived in the DIY SEO course.
I think you’ll enjoy working in that interface a lot more than in Google Search Console.
And, I found a couple of issues with my Heartwood Art site that weren’t so easy to see in GSC either. Plus I found a couple of false flags, so be sure to check to see what the errors are.
And, I think you’ll enjoy using the Keyword Search Tool. It’s on par with other free keyword tools, plus the interface is very simple to understand.
Bing Markup Validation Tool is inaccessible
There is one tutorial that I didn’t get to make for you, and that was on Bing’s version of Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
You may recall a few Tips Tuesday’s ago that I reported Google announcing they were deprecating their fantastic Structured Data Testing Tool in favor of a new one they created that doesn’t even work well, at least the last time I checked.
So, we all bounced over to the one from Bing, which worked great.
But then when I started on the tutorial this past week, I could no longer access it.
It is a standalone tool and not part of Bing Webmaster Tools.
So, considering they just remade their entire interface, maybe they are about to integrate the Markup Validator. That would be so helpful.
And I need these tools to start my deep checks and test for the Video SEO course too.
So, you know I’ll be keeping close watch on this.
New Google Web Stories Tutorials
I also added a new section in the DIY SEO course for Google Web Stories.
Right now there are only the 2 links for the blog posts I released on BlogAid a couple of weeks ago for:
But, I’ll be meeting live with my DIY SEO course members next week so we can chat about Web Stories too, as several folks started making them when the beta plugin came out.
Plus, it will be a great way for all of us to get ideas for Web Stories we can make.
Stacked site service workload
And of course I’m still churning away with site services work for my clients. We’re doing all manner of things beyond audits, including rebranding, migrating to better hosting, consults for delivering media on member sites, and more.
I’ve been carrying 3 times my normal project load for the past few months. It’s a crazy juggling act of waiting on clients to do their part then them waiting on me to do my part.
Every now and then the schedule hits so that most all of the clients are finished with their part and are all waiting on me. And I go into near overwhelm with work or back to back meetings all day where I can’t do any other site work.
Cutting the load a bit
I can’t keep this pace endlessly, so I’ll be cutting back to double what I had considered my normal project load and that will become my new normal.
I’ve found a way to be a lot more efficient with a few tasks and the way I schedule my day and I believe I can handle that many client projects at a time just fine.
And if my wait list goes into 8 weeks because of it for a little while, then it just does.
I’m training one of my webmasters right now to start taking over more audits. It will be a while still before we finish with that training. But, maybe before the year is out we’ll start cutting down that wait list with both of us working on these projects.
New Office Hours
For those who came to the Tips Tuesday LIVE last week, or watched the replay, you heard me say that I truly had so much happening that day that I didn’t know if I was coming or going.
I’ve always had some loose office hours that revolved around when most clients wanted to do their work, but now I’m making it official.
I’ll be working half days on Saturday, unavailable on Sunday so that I have one full day sans answering emails, and half days on Monday so I can produce Tips Tuesday in the afternoon.
So, if you don’t get an email reply from me during those non-office hours, that’s why.
Still need tech VA and email specialist
This week I met again with my course marketing folks and that project is underway now.
And I hired another one of my webmasters who writes fantastic copy to help create all new site services pages plus revamp the intake forms for them.
I also interviewed a dev for helping me and all of my webmasters with setting up email for clients. That didn’t work out, but we had such a nice chat.
So, if you know folks who specialize in email setup, send them my way. Me and several of my webmasters can send them work.
And, I’m still in the hunt for a tech VA too.
I want to thank everyone who has responded with suggestions, and those who have responded to these call-outs in Tips Tuesday. It’s been very helpful to me!!!
That’s all the happenings around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Fallout from SiteGround changes
That SiteGround Drops WordPress from Support post that I put out last week touched a few nerves.
BlogAid is syndicated on The Daily Bolt along with sites like WPTavern and WPBeginner. And that post quickly became the most visited one of them all for the week.
It brought in all manner of new folks to BlogAid, including a few haters.
That’s okay. They were radically outnumbered because it also brought a record-setting batch of new email subscribers too.
And my email blew up with comments and site service requests and/or consults.
Generally, folks follow me for about a year before they hire me. Lately that’s been cut down to folks only waiting a few months before contacting me for a service or signing up for a course.
So, we’ll see if there is another surge from this fallout in a few months.
And welcome to everyone who is new here!!!!
Revamping Hosting recommendations
Several hosts reached out to me over that post too including Liquid Web, Kinsta and more.
They all want to work with me and steer the folks coming off SiteGround their way.
And because of all of this, I’m in the process of revamping my hosting recommendations.
I’ve already removed SiteGround, as I just can’t send folks there in good consciousness these days.
I will still work on sites there, though.
And you will actually be surprised at how much I’m opening up my recommendations. I’ll have new posts to go along with those recommendation changes too, as soon as I can get all of this on my schedule.
NameHero charging for manual migration
Most hosts will migrate your site for free as a way to get your business.
But, hosts are also facing facts with the overhead of things like WordPress support and the labor involved in these free migrations too. That likely has something to do with why SiteGround dropped the WP support – it’s crazy expensive to offer.
NameHero has recently made a change with migrations for this reason too.
They will still do cPanel migrations for free, but they have started charging for manual migrations.
Now, they are certainly not the only host to make this distinction. In fact, more hosts are going to this model.
That’s because some of these manual migrations end up being 10 hours of pulling over files from hosts like:
Not only that, but once the files do get on the new host, they have to be put back to standard to even work in a normal hosting environment. That’s especially true when migrating from Lyrical and Agathon. It literally takes a migration specialist to get rid of all that customization and put things back to normal.
So, I don’t blame the hosts for charging for that.
Now, here’s the deal I worked out with NameHero for my clients.
They will have a look at the current setup and give us a flat fee quote.
Most other hosts just leave it open at an hourly rate. No way are we going to do that!!!!
I’ve seen first-hand how nasty some of these migrations can be. And I’m definitely going to guard my clients against blowing their whole budget just trying to get to better hosting first.
So, I really appreciate the nice folks at NameHero for working with me to find a way to be fair to all of us.
Put a dollar value on expertise
Folks, if you’re still in the freebie mindset of a newbie site owner, you need to wake up.
This is business.
And the WordPress ecosystem is finally turning away from the free or race-to-the-bottom pricing wars on everything from hosting to plugins to support.
I’m all in favor of this change. It should have happened years ago.
If you plan to make money from your site, then get into the mindset of valuing the experts that are helping make that happen for you.
That starts with your host and runs through the plugins, course creators, and site services folks.
Put your business mindset cap on and create a business expenses budget for the info, products, and services you need to begin recouping those start up costs fast and then start pocketing real income.
Or, do what millions of other site owners do and spend the next 2-3 years putting in a lot of sweat equity for only a small return.
Hear it from a real site owner
Go see my Site Success Chat with Chas Greener for proof that what I’m telling you is true.
She started her site with a business mindset. And luckily she found me pretty early in the process, like within a year of launch.
In the following year or so she quadrupled her income and now enjoys up to 50 new email subscribers a day.
Whatever she spent on my site services, courses, and good hosting and such, she has more than recouped and is now making a living and still growing and branching out into more services to help others do the same.
This is not an exception to the rule with my clients. In fact, I’ve got a string of more interviews coming so you can hear it directly from them.
Well, I’m thrilled to hear this!!!!
You may recall in last week’s Tips Tuesday that I mentioned a proposal from the WordPress devs to start requiring an authentication password via the REST API when delivering files from the outside world.
This was right behind the news that Facebook will be requiring an API password for embedding Facebook and Instagram feeds or posts into your site. That change will happen on Oct 24.
I also said that this WP change is very complex and we may not see it for another year.
And while that’s still true, the WP devs are moving on it already.
The first step in this direction will be coming in the WP 5.6 release in December.
They will be rolling the rest of it in as phases next year.
And hopefully, before 2021 is out, they will set the standard that requires all plugins still using XML-RPC for connection to upgrade to the new encrypted API way of doing things.
As all of my site audit clients can tell you, we’ve been turning off XML-RPC for years because it is still the hacker’s favorite way to run a brute force attack on your site where they pummel your login page until they break through.
I saw a quote from Yoast and other plugin vendors that they are thrilled about this change too, as they want unilateral support in the WordPress core for better secured and encrypted connections too.
Plugins are going to start dropping like flies
I am beyond delighted with the pace WordPress has been making over the last 2 years to bring coding standards up to par with cyber security needs.
That includes keeping pace with the PHP version level at your host.
READ: How to Check and Change Your PHP Version for how to ensure you’re on the latest version, which is 7.4. (This tutorial is on cPanel. If your host has a different control panel, check their tutorials.)
And all of this is forcing plugin and theme devs to start keeping up with the latest coding languages to support both the speed and security features of the latest version that we all need.
There are 50,000+ free plugins in the WordPress repository, plus who knows how many paid plugins.
And I expect over the next year or two we are going to see those free numbers start dropping like crazy as those devs can’t afford to keep pace with this change.
Either the plugins will stop being supported or they will have to change over to a paid model to at least recoup some of the cost of development and support.
And hopefully this will push more site owners to come out of their freebie mindset as well.
I don’t believe the full version of Gutenberg Phase 2 will be rolled out before the year ends.
But, several of the theme editing elements will be coming in WP 5.6 when it releases in December.
The hope is that if your current theme does not support these elements that they will just be ignored.
But, theme makers like Astra tend to keep up with cutting edge, or even get a little ahead of where the WP devs are with core support for these types of things.
So, we’ll see what happens with such themes.
Getting Started with Astra, Genesis, and Gutenberg
If you’re in the market for a new theme in 2021, or if you’re on Astra already, you will want to see these two chats I had with pro designer Michelle Phillips of Codefetti where we talked about which theme base is best for you to start with and why, plus how to get going with Astra.
The posts also contain all manner of links to Michelle’s Astra resources too.
WordPress Database Table Prefixes
For my webmasters, my post with a list of known WordPress database prefixes has been updated recently thanks to contributions from Per Karlsson.
I’m glad he found it helpful for cleaning up the site he’s working on, and I really appreciate him adding to the list of prefixes. Every bit helps all of us.
If you’re a dev and cleaning out a site of old plugins, please do consider sending me a list of the tables, if they are not already in this post. It will help the next dev who is trying to guess which plugin they came from.
Major changes to TinyMCE Advanced
It is now called Advanced Editor Tools.
I haven’t really paid much attention to this plugin for a while, but I noticed that Andrew Ozz is no longer listed as the sole developer. It is now Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.
Andrew has been a very long-time developer and I think he has had his hand in any WP core changes that affected the editor, both Classic and Gutenberg, as they are based on TinyMCE, which is an open-source code set that WP rolled into core many years ago.
In my opinion, the TinyMCE Advanced plugin was what the WP editor should have been all along, as the native one never output properly formatted HTML code. The TinyMCE Advanced plugin did. And it was the one I recommended the most, and still do if you want to stay with the Classic editor.
You do not want to use this plugin and the Classic Editor plugin. They are competing to do the same thing.
I still use TinyMCE Advanced on BlogAid because I haven’t fully flipped it over to Gutenberg yet, but those days are coming.
And when I flipped my Heartwood Art site, I totally removed any other editor plugin and went full Gute.
But, it looks to me like this newly named Advanced Editor Tools plugin is squarely positioning itself as the go-to when support drops for the Classic Editor plugin, which was slated to happen in 2021.
And I may keep this plugin on BlogAid after I flip to Gutenberg to continue making it easier for me to edit any content I have not converted, and there will be a LOT of that for about a year.
I will also need to update my tutorial for TinyMCE Advanced, as I’m sure it has changed a lot since I made that.
The last time I tested these classic type editor plugins, and set them so that you could flip back and forth between classic and Gutenberg, they didn’t work so well. Maybe that has changed.
And I need to update my notes in the Gutenberg Ninja course with all of this too.
UpdraftPlus WordPress compatibility
I noticed yesterday that the UpdraftPlus plugin had a notification message on a client’s site that it had not been tested with the latest WP 5.5.1 release that has been out for weeks. And they had the WP 5.5 beta out for testing for a month for before they released it.
The notice said that UDP was only tested up to WP 5.4.
What the hell?
There is no excuse whatsoever for the UDP team not to keep the plugin tested and up to date with the latest WP version that everyone is running.
And I told them as much on the support forum, actually, it was in the feature request forum.
If you’re on the paid version of the plugin, I would appreciate you commenting on that forum post and let them know the whole village wants to see this done.
Changes with Google Podcast and new Amazon Podcast
I know most of you don’t have a podcast, but if you do, there are big changes happening with Google Podcast and if you had your podcast on it, you will need to resubmit to their new podcast service, like this week, as the old one is going away.
Also, Amazon is now offering a podcast service and they claim to have had an avalanche of downloads the day it launched.
So, definitely submit your podcast feed to it and get in on the ground floor of that.
Don’t use image optimization plugins
I feel like I say this all the time, but that feeling probably comes from saying during site audit report chats with clients.
So, I’m making mention of it here in Tips Tuesday.
When you upload an image to WordPress, your theme calls for it to be copied in 3-4 smaller sizes.
So, you are storing at least 4 versions of every image on your host disk space.
When you use an optimization plugin, most all of them retain your original images and then make their own set of optimized images.
You just doubled the number of images you store.
And hosting disk space is THE most expensive file storage in the world.
Plus, your backup files are now huge, and that causes them to chew up even more hosting resources to make.
Consider getting rid of your image optimization plugin.
Check to see what becomes of the images when you do that.
Some will let you retain the optimized images if it replaced your originals. If that is the case, you can simply delete the plugin.
Others let you revert back to your originals. However, they may not remove their own backups when you delete the plugin. So you would still be carrying that double load. That is the case with ShortPixel, as it spews its stuff all over the place and leaves all of those orphans.
Optimizing images going forward
Then see my tutorial on why Squoosh is my favorite image optimizer.
And start optimizing your images prior to upload.
Not only will you get superior compression, you’ll also get them saved in a more modern image format. And your score will improve on Google PageSpeed Insights for having that.
You’ll be saving in MozJPEG, not WebP. Please stay away from WebP formatting. Google will love your site just as much if you use MozJPEG.
If your previous images reverted back to the original, I know a guy who does bulk image optimization for cheap, cheap. Contact me.
Also keep in mind that you need to properly optimize all of the images that appear on the page, not just those in your content – like your logo image and images in the sidebar too.
And if you don’t have proper SEO on those images, now would be the time to fix that as well.
I teach the 5 ways to get SEO on images in my DIY SEO course.
Cloudflare consistently launches new speed and security features.
In fact, I see a change every week as I take my site audit clients through the setup in a live session.
In the last week or so they rolled out 3 new features that I’m in the process of testing.
The biggest one is the new Automatic Platform Optimization for WordPress, called APO for short.
You’ll see a new setting for it in your Cloudflare plugin too.
WPTavern has a nice post with a few details on how it improves caching of static assets.
But, if you look at the bottom of that post, you’ll also see several caveats such as:
- No longer resolving the original visitor’s IP address, which will goof with your analytics demographics tracking
- A very limited set of cookies that can make it through Cloudflare’s caching
- It doesn’t work on sub-domains
- It does not integrate with any local caching plugin
That last one will be the thing I’ll be working on in the coming months with Emre, the dev of WP Fastest Cache.
The APO has a new setting that nudges Cloudflare when you’ve made a change on your site and it auto clears the cache for it. Now, there is already a setting in the plugin for that, but they changed the name of it. And it will be superseded by the APO if it is turned on.
The APO is free for folks on the Cloudflare Pro plan.
Even with all of the promise this thing brings, I won’t be devoting time to testing it out for a while. I’m considering it a beta for now. And there are already too many caveats with it that will not be good for me or my clients at this time.
So, while it looks promising, it is not ready for us to adopt yet.
What I will be devoting time to is making new tutorials for my Webmaster Training folks and making new video tutorials for my site audit clients so that they are up on the latest settings at Cloudflare and in the plugin.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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