Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The DIY SEO Quick Start Challenge has begun
- More info about the cookie tracking fiasco coming on Feb 4 from Chrome 80
- An updated tutorial on changing to PHP 7.3 at your host and why you must do this now
- Whether organic traffic dropped after Google took away the 2nd post listing on page 1 if you are also in a Featured Snippet
- The structured data Google dropped support for and if the fault is with the Yoast SEO plugin
- A new Feature Plugin to natively add XML sitemap generation to WordPress
- What big changes we may see when WordPress 5.4 comes out
- A peek at how Gutenberg is becoming a full theme builder
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.
Thanks to all of the DIY SEO course members who have been reporting in this week on our Facebook group that you completed your Quick Start challenges.
These are emails that are coming out every couple of days with one quick thing to check to ensure you have a solid SEO foundation with your Google Analytics and Search Console settings, as well as your Yoast SEO settings.
And I know a few of you have taken advantage of all the Quick Start tasks being listed in the member site so you can do a bunch at once.
Whatever works for you is fine with me!!!
If you’re looking to go deep with your SEO, then it’s not too late to join us. You still have plenty of time to get caught up with the basics.
The goal is to get everybody ready for our first live workshop on Feb 6 for Technical SEO.
We’ll be checking if Google can crawl your site and what it’s finding there.
Also, if you are in the course, you’ll see new meeting times for the workshops have been posted all the way through the end of Feb, so you can mark your calendars now.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
And almost all of the big news this week involves changing with SEO, Google, Chrome, and other browsers.
A Cookie Fiasco is Coming
You may recall me mentioning in last week’s Tips Tuesday about the death of cookies.
Well, that will become a reality in early February when Chrome finishes rolling out its last update for version 80 of the browser.
I did a livestream for my Webmasters and site audit clients last week with more details of the warnings I was seeing in Chrome now, actually since the first rollout in Nov.
These warnings are for 3rd party cookies like YouTube, Facebook Pixel, and ads.
And I sent a special email to all BlogAid News subscribers with more details, including the action they need to take right now.
And Monday I put out a post of what’s going on and the action you need to take now.
READ: Chrome 80 to Block Third Party Cookie Tracking – Affecting Site Revenue for details.
And here’s a direct link to the action you need to take right away for this cookie thing.
You need to update to PHP 7.3 on your host right now if you haven’t already.
It has new code that will protect the first-party cookies on your site.
Those are the ones that are generated internally and just send info internally on your site.
I totally remade my video tutorial for it, and it only covers hosting accounts with cPanel.
If you don’t have that, then you’ll need to ask your host for help with it.
This will do nothing for the 3rd party cookie tracking issue, though.
That is a fiasco we are going to have to let happen and then scramble after the fact to see what we can all do about it.
No more double listings on page 1 of Google
If you are lucky enough to get one of your pages or posts into a Featured Snippet on page 1 of Google, they will now place your actual regular post listing on page 2.
Search Engine Land broke the news when Google first announced this last week.
And since then, Search Engine Journal conducted a case study to see if this change had any real impact on organic traffic clicks.
They report no significant dip in clicks.
They didn’t really give details on what was in those Featured Snippets, or what kinds of sites they checked.
What me and my clients know is that if you give away the whole answer to a query that shows up in a Featured Snippet, you can kiss your site visits goodbye. Nobody has a reason to click.
So, even though their report says no overall bad effects from this change, maybe the data is site type, and content type dependent.
Google drops support for data-vocabulary structured data
One of my clients reported that she got a notice from Google Search Console that they would be dropping support for the type of markup around her breadcrumbs.
And she’s not the only one that got that notice.
A support thread on the Yoast SEO plugin page blew up with folks reporting it too.
This is a very specific type of rich data schema markup that is being deprecated. Search Engine Journal has more on Google’s announcement.
Team Yoast says it’s not them, and that they have the type of schema markup that Google prefers these days.
I don’t have any more info than this, as I advise my blogger clients not to use breadcrumbs. We change things on our sites too much for that to work well.
I do have industry type clients with a lot of static page content and breadcrumbs work very well on those types of sites.
So, it’s super important for you to vet the SEO info you get and see if it is a good fit for your site type and content or not. What works for industry and enterprise sites does not work well for bloggers most of the time.
And keep in mind that enterprise level site clients are who pays the bills at Yoast SEO, not us bloggers using his free plugin. So, some of the advice he gives is not even for us. And that’s going to be true of a lot of SEO agencies that deal with much bigger clients.
It’s also why I focus my DIY SEO course directly on bloggers and our unique needs.
Several months ago I reported that WordPress and Google got in a room together to talk about how WordPress could improve its native SEO support.
A few years ago WP introduced native schema markup support. But most themes didn’t support it.
Genesis was one of the few to jump on that bandwagon immediately.
But that was pretty much the end of WP addressing this issue until lately.
And things have changed a LOT in the SEO world since then.
So, WP and Google invited Joost de Valk to the discussions.
What came out of those talks was an idea to have WP natively produce an XML sitemap.
They have now released that as a Feature Plugin. What that means is they are making it available as a plugin. And once enough folks have tested it and they work out all of the bugs, they will eventually roll it into the WP core code.
So what does this mean for us?
If and when this does come to the WP core code, we’ll see what Yoast and other SEO plugins do.
I suspect that they will either integrate with it fully, or they will keep their own way of generating an XML sitemap entirely separate, as their plugins offer a LOT more control over what goes into the sitemap.
So, I’ll keep an eye on it for us and let you know if and when we need to make any changes. I definitely don’t expect this to come to the WP core until the end of the year, if not later.
The next major release of WP is slated for sometime in March with version 5.4.
One of the things they are looking to add is an option to turn on auto updates of major releases.
I guarantee this is something me and all of my peeps will keep off.
They are also looking at an auto update panel for plugins. Again, something I’ll advise we keep off.
There might also be a bunch of core code updates for the editor, but those actual Gutenberg editor functions won’t roll in this time. They will be slated for a future release.
There are several other minor things, most of which are a continuation of cleanup for usability standards.
I’ll be keeping my eye on it for us and will have a full post, and likely a video tour, when we get closer to the release date for 5.4.
I watched the first part of this Gutenberg themes webinar last week and it sounds to me like they are doing this in a way that will make older themes work too.
If I understand it right the theme will look for the new type of page template first, especially one that was user generated. And those will be html.
If it doesn’t find that then it will look for the php version, which is what current themes have now.
All of this is still in the experimental stage, but it seems to me that if they can get this working, it may start rolling out pretty fast on existing themes and we’ll have a hybrid situation.
And that’s very exciting.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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