Hello Happy Site Owner!
Tips this week include:
- The top caching plugin test results
- Clients reporting a sudden downturn in Google traffic
- Webmaster meeting this week
- The big thing in the WordPress 4.7 beta release
- Why your host type matters more than you know
- Ultimate speed tests on the way
- And a progress report on my switch to SSL
Listen to the podcast
I hope everyone had a safe, fun, and happy holiday. Can you believe it’s Nov 1? Oh my goodness.
Now is when we start thinking about gearing up our sites for 2017. I know I am, and I’ve got lots of goodies to help you get ready too.
As promised, I completed the big caching plugin test and now have 3 recommendations for you and 2 of them are free.
I had to bump this case study to the front of the line due to the little fiasco we had this summer over the W3TC plugin. It’s working again, and even better than before, but we all need alternatives to consider.
A lot of other performance factors reared their heads during these tests and I’ll have a bunch of follow up posts for you in the coming weeks.
But I’ve already had folks contact me with questions and requests for help in switching their plugins and hosts, so I’m going to devote most of this week’s podcast to addressing those quickly.
If you need help in checking your host server type and/or switching plugins, please contact me. I’m here to help!
Social Share Buttons Tests
The next big set of tests I have to do is on social sharing buttons. It will likely be closer to winter before I can get that one done and I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, I’ve switched over to the Scriptless Social Sharing plugin because it is super duper light and looks good on my site.
It does not have share counts, which are both a security and performance issue. But, if you have enough shares, showing those counts does tend to increase folks sharing even more, as other case studies have shown us. My posts tend to get shared right from the social media account where folks saw them instead of from the site, so that’s not a concern for me. Maybe it is for you.
Sudden Downturn in Google Traffic Check
I’d like to ask you to do me a favor, especially if you’re a craft/lifestyle blogger, and especially if you’ve deleted a bunch of old posts this year.
Check your Google Analytics search traffic and see if you’ve had a downturn in it recently and/or warnings about so many 404s.
I’ve had a few folks contact me this week for help with a sudden downturn and we’ll be looking into it. I’ll keep you posted on what we find.
But, I need your help to see if there is a bigger trend happening here too.
So, please do leave a comment on this blog, or wherever you see this post online about your Google Analytics stats, even if they’re fine.
It takes a village to sort out issues sometimes.
I’m excited about meeting with all of my webmaster peeps on Wednesday this week. We’ll be discussing making sites SSL (or https) as well as hosting. And that includes some secret info I found out about what’s rolling out for hosts right now that will make all of this so much easier to do.
Webmaster Survey Results
I also sent a survey out to all of my webmasters for feedback on what is most helpful to them in the program and ideas on shaping the topics covered. I am so very pleased with the results and you better believe I’ll be putting those suggestions into the program.
Thank you so much for taking the time to make your voice and ideas heard.
I also want to send a huge THANK YOU to Mary Iannotti for her help in developing the surveys and emails.
And, we now have surveys planned for folks in my SEO and VIP memberships too. So, look for those soon.
That’s the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Beta 1 of the next WordPress 4.7 version has been released.
The big news for it is that the REST API endpoints will finally be included.
They put the first half of this in version 4.4 and were supposed to roll out the second half in 4.5, but it required more coding and testing.
We may see a bunch of plugins update to make use of the endpoints in the core. I just don’t know how many, or if they will be updating over the next year or a bunch at once.
I do know that some plugin devs went ahead and wrote their own endpoints and they will likely keep them that way instead of using the ones in WordPress.
I was one of the first folks to encounter that change with the AffiliateWP plugin. Pippin Williams wrote his own endpoints for the PayPal Payouts add-on and we had to jump through some hoops at PayPal to get it all working.
I just had another client go through the same thing, but I was able to give her a heads up to call them first so her account wouldn’t get frozen like mine did.
The end points weren’t the issue. PayPal has new directives now and took a change to the account like this to collect the extra new info they need about account holders. My account was frozen for 4 days during that inspection. My client’s site was active the whole time. So, that phone call made the difference.
I’ll have a post and a video tour of all that’s new in 4.7 as we get closer to the public release.
Caching Test Debrief
A whole slew of great info came out of my caching tests.
As I mentioned, I’ll be creating more blog posts on each topic.
But, right now I want to address the questions and feedback I’ve been receiving since publishing the results.
Your host type matters more than you know
Your site performance starts at the very foundation with your host.
There is a significant speed difference between Apache servers and Litespeed servers.
With no caching plugin, with the exact same site, Apache ran 0.5 seconds slower.
Okay, 0.5s may seem trivial until you consider that it was on a testing site with no real traffic load and only one post being pinged at a time.
The post already loaded at just over 2 seconds with no caching.
So, when you add in resource hog plugins, even more huge images everywhere, and real traffic hits, that server slowness could add up to several more seconds in difference.
For many site owners that have posts loading in over 7 seconds as it is, that extra time could mean the difference in a visitor actually seeing your site or abandoning it.
That’s money out of your pocket for nothing more than the difference in server types.
You’re going to pay for hosting no matter what. Why not spend an extra $1 more a month and get something that has speed built in?
You’re losing more than $12 a year to it.
And every speed enhancement element you add has to first overcome that initial deficit. So, you don’t get as much bang for the buck out of your efforts.
Check Your Server Type
The easiest way to find out what kind of server your site is on is to simply ask your host.
While you’re doing that, ask about your PHP level too.
PHP 5.3 is the bare minimum now. At least 5.6 is preferred. But, don’t change it willy nilly. Just make note of it for now. I’ll have a post for you with more about that later.
And I’d love to hear from you about what level your own. So do consider leaving a comment here, or anywhere you see this post online.
Ultimate Speed Tests
While I’ve got these test going and have access to both Apache and Litespeed servers, I’m going to be tweaking the crap out of the test sites to see just how much I can improve the performance.
The first thing I’m going to add is CloudFlare. I know it will speed up the sites.
More importantly, I want to see how WP Fastest Cache and WP Rocket integrate with it.
I already know how W3TC integrates with CloudFlare and it’s fantastic, so that will be the bar.
I’ll also be turning on Turbo with the Litespeed server to see what that does.
And then I’ll be going up to PHP7, which has been documented by several folks to double performance.
And you know I’m going to make those test results available too.
Switch to SSL
As I’ve reported in previous weeks, I’ll be flipping both of my member sites to full SSL, or https.
I want to run those ultimate speed tests first because going https could slow things down and I want to keep the sites fast. This way, I’ll already know how to do that.
And I’ll be sharing all of the gory details with my Webmasters too, and making the final test results available to everyone here on the blog. So watch for those posts in the coming weeks.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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