Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The scary updates I did over the Halloween weekend
- Why you need to focus only on what makes you money
- How are you investing in your online business?
- Does a try this, try that blog strategy work?
- What to check for with Cloudflare having a few API connection issues
- Why seeing trackbacks and pingbacks suddenly appear has me concerned
- What’s up with 2 WordPress security releases back to back
- WordPress 5.6 Beta 3 just rolled out
- A call to take the WP 2020 survey
- Why you need to put migrating from Atomic Blocks to Genesis Blocks on your calendar now
- The difference in Atomic Blocks and Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg plugins
- An official Block Patterns Directory is in the works
- And the Block Directory project gets a new team lead
- An update on an issue with the Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg plugin that got fixed
- Google’s ironic recommendation for your holiday sales pages
- Why HTTPS is table stakes in 2020
- Why HTTPS alone is not enough to please Google
- Do you even know what’s going on with your site? And why you need to know
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?
Welcome to the race to the finish y’all, as we enter the last 2 months of the year!
It’s been a crazy busy week of playing catch up around here.
Site Services Update
God bless my clients. All last month they had been running from fires, hurricanes, and most recently, ice storms.
That put our project schedules behind, but I think we’re getting mostly caught up now.
So, if you’re still on the wait list, just know that we are all working as fast and as hard as we can to get to everyone in a timely manner.
Scary Updates on Halloween
I’m doing my best to hold to my public office hours, which are:
- Saturday – half day
- Sunday – unavailable
- Monday – half day to produce Tips Tuesday.
Well, half of my half day on Saturday included handling 57 emails. The rest was getting in all of the client work done that I could.
But, I have to have time to do other things for my biz on days when I don’t have client meetings and work scheduled too.
So, for the rest of Halloween day, I did some scary updates on my computer.
I had to know that I had the space and time to do them, in case it all went bang or bust!!!
Those updates included things like:
- Updating the driver for my webcam
- Upgrading from Office 2010 to Office 365
- Changing completely over to BackBlaze from Carbonite
And I did a whale of a lot of cleanup on my computer too, by getting rid of apps and software that I no longer use, plus getting rid of a lot of old files and images and stuff too.
I’ve been putting all of this stuff off for too long and just dedicated some time to make it all happen.
Revamping Seriously Old Website
Currently my Sage Age book site is down. I put that revamp off for a little too long.
But, it’s now underway.
Thankfully, I cloned the site right before it went down, and now I’ve got to copy all of the HTML pages over into the WP blog side of the site – yes, it’s that old and it’s a hybrid site of HTML pages with a WP blog.
Once I’m done, one of my webmasters will be revamping the theme up to a design on Astra.
And then we’ll have the host move the whole cPanel of the clone back to the original cPanel, and that will clean up all of those old settings and such too.
It’s a major chore and expense I have been dreading. But it has to be done. So, I just have to carve out the time to make that happen.
Focus on what makes you money
Since this site makes no money for me, it’s actually worth me paying others to deal with some of it so that I can stay focused on what does make me money.
I know a lot of y’all are new to blogging and haven’t developed a business mindset with it yet.
You still think sweat equity is the way to go with everything, and that all else needs to be cheap or free.
Well, it’s just going to take you longer to eventually make money that way.
All businesses have start-up costs and overhead.
It’s worth it to me, literally, to pay folks to do what they are fast and good at and let me stay laser focused on my fortes.
And while it may seem like I’m working just to pay the babysitter, that’s not the case.
I make way more money by doing it this way.
You will too.
Like hiring out a site audit and the techie fixes. Or, getting into the Gutenberg Ninja course that takes you through more real-world tutorials faster than any search on YouTube that only shows you the bare bones basics, and most of them are out of date anyway.
I guess it really comes down to how much time you have to waste before you start making money for the time you’re spending on something.
There is a value on my time, no matter what I’m doing, and I don’t have it to waste.
New marketing agency hired
Speaking of the Gutenberg Ninja course, one of my new super clients gave me a recommendation for a new marketing agency.
Well, that looks like a good fit and we’re well underway again with my adjusted year-end plans.
I’ve got a Gutenberg webinar coming in early December and I’ll have more news on that as the time draws closer.
I also hired yet another one of my webmasters to help with the MailChimp side of things, as we still have no idea how the segments got blown up by the first marketing agency. And he’s doing those downloads and changes and such for me so we are both sure that those things don’t blow anything up.
This first ad run is all about gathering the data.
I have even bigger plans for next year with ads and that data is going to be crucial.
How are you investing in your online business?
What kind of courses or site services have you done this year that have made a difference in getting where you are going?
Do you have plans for any investments for next year?
Are you waiting on holiday sales?
Or, has CoVid blown up your plans or opened new doors for you?
Leave a comment here or anywhere you see this post online and let us know.
That’s all the happenings around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
I’ve been promising y’all another update in my Hobby to Money-Making Site series for some time. And the reason I had not written it for months is because opportunities for it have been rolling in and then right back out again.
So, with no more big outside changes for it coming in the near future, at least as far as I know, I decided now was a good time to write that post and give you an update on how things have gone with it this year, and how and why I’ve adjusted my plans for it.
And y’all can thank webmaster Larry Snow, who attended last week’s Tips Tuesday LIVE for asking about how the content silos were working that lead to me writing this post and giving you that update too. We did a bit of an SEO masterclass last week that you should catch, if you haven’t seen it yet.
It’s definitely worth coming to the LIVE shows to get deeper info, and even exclusive insights and tips for your blogging success.
Cloudflare API Issues
Thanks to webmaster and designer Michelle Phillips for the heads up on Monday that the Cloudflare API was down.
Now, Cloudflare is still delivering your site across its CDN. And as far as I can tell, our plugins are still connected too.
But, you can’t purge it and you may not be able to access your site settings directly on Cloudflare.
I record Tips Tuesday on Monday afternoons, so it may be fixed by now.
Do jump in and ensure your plugin is still connected, and see if you can purge.
Are You Seeing Trackbacks and Pingbacks?
As all of my site audit clients know, we turn off both trackbacks and pingbacks and we turn the XML-RPC connection completely off.
So, it’s very concerning to me that a few of my clients have reported getting trackbacks and pingbacks recently.
The Antispam Bee comment spam plugin we use has properly flagged them all as spam and is not showing them on the site.
But, they shouldn’t be showing up at all anywhere, even as spam, due to the way we have the WP Discussion settings configured.
So, I’m keeping my eye on this closely as I believe there is a new hacker attack vector happening and these are the visible probes. If they can leave that pingback, then they can get through some type of access point that is unprotected because they can successfully mask their bot as a human using a browser.
We do have extra protection for that sort of wolf in sheep’s clothing sort of thing.
But, it’s a game for hackers to see if they can fool those security measures.
Do let us know if you are seeing these trackbacks and pingbacks showing up in your comments and if they are getting caught as spam.
And let us know if you’re seeing more spammy comments in general, as that is a visible issue of this same problem too.
This should have been an automatic update for you.
There were 10 security fixes plus multiple bug fixes that were left over from the original 5.5.0 release.
There was a bit of a bug in the 5.2.2 release that actually sent out an alpha version to some folks, instead of the finalized release.
And my long-time site audit client, Marilyn Lesniak was the first to catch it. She’s an old techie like me and she reads everything about those updates, including what release version it shows afterward. I swear, I don’t think I’ve ever even paid attention to that line way down in the bottom right corner of the update page. But Marilyn saw it and reported in our private Facebook group. And wouldn’t you know that it got fixed the next day.
But, that interim release may have added a few unwanted things on your site too.
Look for and delete:
- Akismet plugin
- Standard WordPress themes
If you’re not using any of that.
Those things didn’t get added for everyone, so if you don’t see them, that’s okay too, and just less work for you to take them out.
We still have about a month before the final release of WP 5.6 rolls out in early December.
So, it’s nice that the Beta 2 and 3 releases of it are coming out and ready for more testing to give us plenty of time.
There were 73 bug fixes since the Beta 1 was rolled out about a week and a half ago, along with a few other coding tweaks.
I’ll have more details on what’s coming in 5.6 a few days before it rolls out. You can see recent Tips Tuesdays for some of the new things I’m already keeping an eye on for us.
I hope you will take a moment to respond to the recently released WordPress 2020 Survey.
While it has always been geared more toward developers, over the last couple of years they have included more questions for end users.
And WordPress does need to hear from us so that they know to focus on our needs, not just those of developers.
So, please do take a moment and do the easy survey. Our voices do matter, but only if we speak up.
You may recall me reporting in Tips Tuesdays over the summer that Atomic Blocks would be rebranding as Genesis Blocks.
Well, now it looks like they are finally ready for you to make the switch.
The most recent Atomic Blocks plugin update now has a migration tool for you to switch to Genesis Blocks.
You’ll want to see this tutorial from Genesis for all of the details.
I suggest you consider waiting at least a week to do this, as it’s new and there may be a bug or two.
But do put it on your own calendar now, so that you will be reminded to circle back to it.
Difference in Atomic Blocks and UAG
I cover both Atomic Blocks and the Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg plugins in my Gutenberg Ninja course.
But, I’m super partial to the UAG plugin because it adds zero bloat to the site and does not affect page speed.
The last time I tested Atomic Blocks this summer, it still adds a bit of bloat. I have not tested Genesis Blocks yet, but have it on my calendar to do now that we have this migrator tool.
The only reason that I know of for folks to use Atomic Blocks instead of UAG is that it has one unique setting for not displaying the most recent post in the Post Grid block. This is akin to the Offset by 1 feature in regular Genesis Featured Post Widget.
UAG has finally added that setting to their Post Grid block, but it only works when using the block on a post, not on a page. I have no idea how they missed the importance of folks wanting to build their own home pages with the most recent post at the top, followed by a grid of other recent posts, without repeating that first one!!
Folks have asked for them to make it work on pages, and as soon as it does, I don’t see why we would want to use Atomic or Genesis Blocks anymore.
If you have a good reason for sticking with them other than that one setting, please do let me know.
You may recall in my What’s New in WP 5.5 tour I showed you a new thing called Block Patterns.
These are collections of blocks that give you a head start on creating a custom page.
I thought that theme developers would jump all over this as a way to include custom page layouts with their themes.
Well, it seems that there is so much interest in it that WP itself is now considering the launch of an official Block Patterns Directory. It would sort of be like the current plugin and theme directories, but allow you to pick up whole Block Patterns from different developers.
While I’m excited about this, it does come with a caution that you will need to vet these things as carefully as you do free plugins and themes now, to ensure that they are not bloated messes, or have bad coding that will goof your site.
I’m sure the cream of the crop will rise to the top, just like it does for plugins now, though.
So, we’ll all be keeping our eye on this as it develops.
A new team lead has taken over the Block Directory project.
This thing will be like the WP plugins directory, but just for single blocks.
It already has a good start and I’m excited about its continued development.
But, I’m also still very partial to the block suite plugins we already have, especially the Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg one made by Brainstorm Force, who are the same folks that make the Astra theme.
They have most all of the extra blocks we need with extended styling options and they add zero bloat to the site, meaning page loads are fast.
And something nice like that will not show up in this new directory.
I’m thinking the stand-alone blocks that are going to do well here will be super speciality type blocks, like a countdown-timer. Last time I checked, there is no such standalone block. I had to add a plugin that offered a shortcode for the timer and place that into a shortcode or custom HTML block.
I’ll be keeping my eyes on this continued project development, and for the stand-alone blocks that get added to it which I think will be useful for us.
Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg Massive File Issue Fixed
Y’all may recall me reporting on a bug with the UAG plugin that caused a massive build up of files on one of my site audit client’s sites.
I had a look at it and got involved with Brainstorm Force tech support to get it fixed.
Their first support response was a denial that it could even happen, and that there had to be some other reason for the problem.
I pretty much slammed them for taking that attitude, gave them my credentials of all the years I’ve helped plugin and theme devs create better products, and said they should be thankful that someone like me brought this to their attention. Plus, I mentioned that the site owner had already contacted them and they blew her off too.
So, getting nowhere, I wrote a public post about the issue.
That got their attention, especially since more of my followers did the check I laid out in the post and found the same issue.
The CEO of Brainstorm Force reached out to me with an apology, and promised that they would return to the original client ticket and work with her to get this fixed.
They did indeed find the bug and fixed it.
Last week, the CEO reached out to me and thanked me for bringing this to their attention.
Keep in mind that these are the same folks who created Astra. And I hope this is a sincere turn of attitude about how they approach support, especially given the fact that they release so much cutting edge stuff with regard to Gutenberg and the quality control is not as widely tested as maybe it should be. In other words, we are the guinea pigs, and they need us to report these issues under our site circumstances, and to not blow us off about what they think may be edge cases.
This massive file build up are on hidden files that most site owners never see, so they would not have known to report it until their hosting flagged them for excessive disk space usage.
Because this issue has been resolved, I have removed that post.
I take no joy in having to make posts like that to get a developer’s attention. We love the UAG plugin and I want to see Astra and all of Brainstorm Force do well.
And maybe with the help of me and my webmaster designers reporting on unusual bugs, they will have a better chance of doing that and providing top of line products for all of us.
Well, this was rich.
Google has a guideline for creating your holiday sales pages.
It recommends that you publish them early to give Google bots a chance to crawl and index them.
But what was really funny was that they suggested you also submit the page for indexing directly to Google.
Yet, as of Oct 14, that tool is unavailable.
And all year Google has had one problem after another with crawling and indexing.
So, let’s hope we all get our offers seen in Google Search this year.
Moz recently published a post on how many of the top search results are HTTPS now compared to when it first hit in 2017.
Back then, HTTPS sites made up half of the top search results. Today, they make up 98%.
HTTPS alone is not enough
I said back in 2017 and I’m saying it to you again now.
Just having that little HTTPS lock is not enough.
And if you used a free cheater way of doing HTTPS it’s going to bite you in the butt.
And here we are, 3 years later, and what I said is even more true now than it was then.
There are 5 HTTPS security headers that you need.
Chrome is requiring 3 of them now, and marching toward requiring a new one every year.
Me and my clients have been ahead of this game since the get go.
And if you used a free cheater way of doing it, either through your host or through a plugin, you need to get your site up to speed now.
READ: Top 10 Reasons NOT to Use Free HTTPS for more details.
And visit SecurityHeaders.io to test how many HTTPS security headers you don’t have.
There should be 5 green boxes and 1 red one and you should be getting an A score.
You can also see this security score when running a speed test on WebPage Test.
If you are a site audit client and missing the X-frame one, that means it’s time for you to book your audit checkup. I’ll add it while I’m upgrading the rest of your security.
READ: How to Test Your Site Speed Accurately for details.
You should be getting an A+ score on the first one.
Folks, these HTTPS security headers are now part of Google’s Core Web Vitals that will become a ranking factor in early 2021.
READ: Core Web Vitals: What You Need to Know and Do for details.
Folks who are taking all of this seriously is precisely why I’ve got a 6-8 week waiting list for site services.
They are not waiting until their site ranking drops to get it fast and fully secured in all ways.
These things take time to do, and you will be a partner in getting them done.
I don’t take “dump it on the tech” service requests.
My entire focus is on educating DIY site owners and empowering them to be in total control of their sites.
They hire me for the techie things, like security and HTTPS conversion. But there are plenty of improvements they can make themselves that are non-techie. They just need a qualified person to do those deep checks and make a to do list for all of it.
That way they:
- know what’s happening on their site
- can make informed choices about the changes
- can cooperate with them down the road to keep their sites fast and secure with no future plugin or other conflicts.
Know what’s going on with your site
I can’t even tell you how many site audits I have done this year for clients who had absolutely no idea what even half of their plugins did.
Their designer threw them on the site and never even bothered to tell their client why or what the plugin’s function was.
And what we found in the audit because of that were other plugins the site owner installed later that were duplicating functions of the original plugins.
In other words, they had direct conflicts and a hell of a mess on their site out of sheer ignorance of what was going on.
THIS is why I don’t take “dump it on the tech” service work.
Those site owners just go foul everything up again.
That’s crazy. And what a waste of money.
Get with someone who knows what they are doing and will empower and educate you to know what you are doing too.
In other words, you don’t need to be a techie. You do need to know what’s happening with your site.
None of my clients are techies and all of them are doing well with keeping pace with the tips I share here, and they are well ahead of the changes so they can relax while everyone else panics.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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