Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- DIY SEO Jumpstart Challenge has begun
- Update on SSL certificates renewing when using Cloudflare
- Social Warfare featuring shorter Pinterest image
- New features in WP Rocket 2.11
- New features in Yoast SEO 6.0
- How long should your SEO meta description be for 2018 posts?
- New Google rich results and new testing tool
- New Google Snippets video series
- A complete guide to what direct traffic is in Google Analytics
- How to run a social media hashtag campaign
- What’s up with Chrome banning non-compliant ads starting in March
- What the cPanel Upgrade to TLS 1.2 means for your site speed and security
- What every Genesis developer/designer needs to know
- A new front end Gutenberg optimized theme to play with
Listen to the Podcast
Happy after Christmas greetings to all and here we go into 2018!!!
This is the last podcast for 2017.
Today the DIY SEO course members are receiving Day 1 of our Jumpstart Challenge.
It’s a series of super quick checks of Google connections and site settings to ensure they and their site will be all ready for the first live SEO Workshop on Jan 9.
Today we are checking our Google Analytics settings.
So, that’s why we are doing these quick, 7 minute checks.
If you’re in the course, look for these daily emails as reminders, or you can find the first series already in your member dashboard, if you want to just knock them all out at once.
Be sure to look for the challenge post in our Facebook group and report in that you’ve completed that step. It’s a great way to give you accountability and ensure you get these little bite-size tasks done.
By the end of the series you’ll have your entire SEO foundation checked and verified on both your site and on your Google connections and be ready for the first live workshop on technical SEO.
We’re going to have a look at how Google is crawling your site and what it’s finding.
If you’re serious about laying a solid SEO foundation on your site and getting all of your on page and technical SEO squared away for 2018, you still have time to get in on the holiday special, which runs through Jan 2.
SSL Certificate Renewal with Cloudflare Research Update
I spent a good deal of time last week pulling my hair out over whether or not SSL certificates at your host can properly renew when your site is on Cloudflare.
You may have seen my BlogAid Today livestream on it.
I asked my webmasters and site audit clients to check theirs and so far so good with 99% of folks.
Yet host support folks are still telling site owners that it doesn’t work and to ditch Cloudflare, you know, that other company they partner with.
There used to be an issue with Let’s Encrypt renewing when using Cloudflare.
But cPanel made a change back in March and didn’t tell anybody, including hosting companies.
I was one of the first folks to see that change to the code in the .htaccess file.
And I spent a week trying to get to the bottom of where it came from with support at the hosts I worked with, but they didn’t seem to want to dig into it. At least one of them has listened now, which is A2 Hosting. I wish I could say the same for the other hosts I’m working with. They don’t seem to care or want to know.
Thank you to the 3-4 clients who were having renewal issues and who have let me run tests on your settings for this. I simply could not gather the data and test results we all need without you!!
They all had unusual situations, or were on hosts other than A2 Hosting and SiteGround.
So, I guess we are still going to have lots of hosts and other semi authoritative sources telling folks lies that Let’s Encrypt won’t renew properly if you use Cloudflare. That used to be true, but isn’t anymore at most of the hosts that are keeping on top of things.
I’ve got a couple more tests to run at other hosts still having issues with this, like InMotion Hosting. But not much more, as their support department is way far less than helpful about it. In fact, they are about to drop down to my don’t-like to-work-with-list. The other three popular hosts on that list are Bluehost and A Small Orange and RFE. GoDaddy is on my do-no-work-with-at-all list.
Where you hosts matters, folks!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, and in all that digging I discovered one other tidbit. Cloudflare now spells their name with a little f instead of a capital. So, I’m trying to get in the habit of writing it like that now.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Social Warfare Shorter Pinterest Image
If you use Social Warfare to help with your Pinterest image selection when folks share your posts, you may have noticed that the image length has changed.
It’s much shorter now.
This is in keeping with Pinterest’s new directive to prefer shorter images in the feed.
I think they are preferring images without text on them now too.
So, you might want to update your image making tactics.
And shorter images will help your site load faster too.
I’m looking forward to testing the new features in WP Rocket.
The lazy load now has an option for making static thumbnails of videos. Looks like it’s only for those embedded with iFrame, though. I’ll be trying it on straight oEmbeds too.
And want to see how the Optimize CSS works too. I also have Autoptimize on my speed test list. It will be interesting to see how they compare.
FYI, WP Fastest Cache is now HTTPS aware, so I can check that off my list and move on to testing WP Rocket and making tutorials now.
Yoast has announced the last release for 2018 for the popular SEO plugins.
It now has the new 320 character count for the meta description that Google has officially made part of SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages).
Yoast advises that you not to go back and change the meta descriptions for older posts as we have no idea how long this change by Google will last.
And because of that, I’d still put your most important info up front, in case they return to the shorter format.
The folks over at Moz jumped all over this new meta description length thing and did a bunch of testing on different types of posts, including YouTube results that showed up in Google search.
They found the average length that displays in Google for the different post types, plus some oddities. So well worth scanning through their test results to see what new tactic may work best for you.
Google renamed rich snippets, cards, and such under on header that is now called Rich Results.
And, they have a new schema markup testing tool.
So, if you have posts with rich result markup, like recipes or star ratings or such, run one of them through this tester.
I want to thank Marilyn Lesniak of Marilyn’s Treats for doing a live session with me to see how well this new tester works with her Cookbook recipe plugin. That’s a really nice plugin and has lots of schema markup for Google to eat up like candy. Plus a ton of nice features for all of your recipe content.
Google has also started a new short video series called Google Snippets.
So far they feature John Muller, who also leads the weekly Google Hangouts.
Think of these like the videos that Matt Cutts used to do.
But be careful with the info. Just like the ones with Matt, you have to read between the lines. And what Google says doesn’t always match what they’re doing with their algorithm.
Plus, what they say is good for Google, and those are not the only bots crawling your site.
You need to take the same care with Google’s revamped SEO Starter Guide too. They really downplay both speed and UX as ranking factors in that guide, while at the same time consider both of those factors in their new mobile-first indexing. In fact, there has been a lot of criticism in the SEO community about how much they downplayed speed. That makes it hard for SEO pros to convince site owners to pay attention to that metric and spend time and money on improving it.
The nice folks at Moz have put together a really nice guide all about Direct Traffic stats in Google Analytics.
Basically, Direct Traffic stats are Google’s catch all bin when it can’t tell where the traffic to your site came from. In other words, there was no referrer, like clicking over from another site or social media platform, or from your newsletter links or such.
Direct traffic will also register when folks type in your site address in their browser, or use their bookmark to access your site. I have almost all direct traffic to my membership sites because of that bookmark thing.
I found some interesting notes in the guide about HTTPS sites too.
If your site is still HTTP, and every other site that points to you is HTTPS, it could spike your direct traffic, as the referral data could get stripped out. That’s the whole point of HTTPS. When it leaves the secure encryption of that environment, it’s sure not going to leak its header data, including cookies and info about where it’s been.
They also advise getting good with campaign tagging. The most popular way to do this is with UTM codes, and that’s something we’ll be talking about in the SEO Workshops this year, as well Google Tag Manager.
If you do giveaways and other such campaigns on your site, you may need a way to track them across social media shares.
A special hashtag is a great way to do that.
The folks over at SEMRush have a nice write up on how to run a successful hashtag campaign that you might want to try, just to see how well it does, and the kind of info you can glean about shares.
Content Marketing Tips
I’m sure ad networks like MediaVine and AdThrive are already moving to be in compliance with the new directives.
I’m not so sure about other ad networks. Some of them aren’t even on the HTTPS boat yet.
If you run ads on your site what have you heard about this?
You may recall me posting last week that Chrome has finally announced a deadline for cutting off support for any TLS versions below 1.2.
This is the security layer your site data travels on to your visitors.
And I reported that if you’re site is on Cloudflare, you’re covered already.
Well now, cPanel will soon be TLS 1.2 by default as well. So, you’ll be covered at your host soon too.
The folks this will impact are mainly government and other agencies that are still using old versions of Internet Explorer. So, if your site caters to them you may see a traffic drop.
For the rest of us, it’s likely that most of your traffic is using a modern browser and you won’t see a traffic drop. But you can check your Google Analytics just to be sure.
The StudioPress Sites podcast had a rare interview recently with Genesis lead developer Nathan Rice.
The first part of the show is mainly about the history of Genesis and how it has grown into the #1 theme framework in the world.
Around the 15 minute mark, Nathan talks about the future of Genesis and the upcoming 2.6 release in early 2018. Plus, he covers their laser focus on the changes happening to WordPress right now, especially with the Customizer and Gutenberg, and how the Genesis Settings page may need to change and integrate with the way WP will work in the near future.
It’s a definite must-listen podcast for all Genesis designers.
And if you’re chomping at the bit to play with a purely Gutenberg optimized theme already, then you’re in luck.
Tom Nowell has developed a limited frontend preview of the Gutenberg editor. It’s available over on GitHub.
This will be a super way to get started with some deep poking into how a Gutenberg theme works, at least on the front end.
And it’s simple enough to really get a grip on the coding too.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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