Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The BlogAid Holiday sale on courses and site audits is still on
- Where you can see a preview of the new Gutenberg landing page templates I’m building
- How Gutenberg Made it Easy to Monetize My Site
- A refresh on the DIY SEO course
- What’s up with Google getting super serious about speed and why you need to pay attention
- If you haven’t updated your PHP version to at least 7.2, you’ve now got a security risk on your site – and what to do about it
- Why you need to check your PHP version even if you did update it, especially if you’re on SiteGround
- What I’m seeing with bad bots pulsing and possibly priming for an attack
- The new potential ghost bot hitting Google Analytics
- Whether it’s safe to update to WordPress 5.3 yet or not
- How to disable the big image threshold in WordPress 5.3
- A new post for webmasters with database table prefixes of popular WP plugins
- My take on the Google Site Kit plugin and whether you should use it
- What’s up with Google personalizing what you see in the Knowledge Graph and why it has all pro SEOs shaking in their shoes
- A super roundup of everything you need to know about the big Bert update
- And what prompted Yoast to hashtag #neveragain on Twitter
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join for tonight’s livestream at our new winter hours of 7pm ET / 4pm 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.
I hope all of my US buddies enjoyed the holiday weekend. And one of my UK clients told me that they have a big Black Tag sale on the Friday after Thanksgiving too, even though that’s a US holiday. It’s because of Amazon and their Black Friday sales in the US, mainly. I thought that was really interesting.
And don’t worry, you didn’t miss the savings on BlogAid courses and site audits.
They are still discounted, so you can get your goodies.
Go check out the deep discounts on:
- Gutenberg Ninja
- DIY SEO
- Webmaster Training for Designers
Plus, site audits are still discounted too. You can request to get on my wait list for January, which means you don’t pay anything until 2020.
Gutenberg Landing Pages are SO Easy!
This weekend I was having a blast creating all kinds of landing and home page layouts for the Gutenberg Ninja course!
I showed off one of them on Saturday evening over on the BlogAid Facebook page.
And I can’t wait to get this batch into the course and then schedule a free webinar later this month so you can see the true power of Gutenberg.
You don’t have to buy anything to do these layouts – no page builders or landing page services. And you’re not locked into their template layout or colors or anything.
And everything about them is fully customizable and it’s so easy and fast!
It takes me about 15 minutes to create the layout and then I just add the images and colors I want, move blocks around, or swap out for another block layout. It’s a lot of fun to do.
One of the most powerful features of Gutenberg is Reusable Blocks.
And boy did they ever make it super easy and fast for me to monetize my Heartwood Art site.
Jump on over to my post from Sunday on it and see how Gute can make it so crazy easy for you to create optins, CTAs, and affiliate links to use over and over, anywhere on you posts and pages, with ease.
DIY SEO Course Refresh
This week I’m getting the DIY SEO course ready for the new year.
We start our live workshops again in January, so the current replays have come down.
But, all of the video course material is still there, and we’ll be doing quick checks on them before we dive into the workshops.
- Google Analytics connections
- Yoast SEO settings
- XML sitemap
This course is all about laying a solid SEO foundation for your site.
And this is the stuff that most SEO courses don’t teach you. They start with keyword research and such.
Honestly, you can’t expect to have success building a house if you try to raise the roof before you pour the concrete for the foundation and create the framework.
We start from the ground up and take you all the way through so you have a total search engine optimized site and content that Google will love.
Speed Matters for SEO
Google is getting super serious about speed as a ranking factor.
You might want to have a look at last week’s Tips Tuesday about what’s up with the new speed report in Search Console and how Google may use that info to put badges on sites to tell potential visitors if the site will be slow loading.
Best to get your site audit now and get ahead of this thing hitting.
And yes, we’ll be talking about that report in the DIY SEO course too.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
If you haven’t updated your PHP version to 7.2 or higher, then you have a security hole on your hosting account.
Support for PHP 7.1 dropped on Dec 1.
Be sure you see the post above and get this done right now.
Check Your PHP Version Even if You Did Update
I’m doing pre-migration checks for a client that is leaving SiteGround. And she just had a site audit checkup a few months ago, where I congratulated her on already being on PHP 7.3.
In the checks today, the PHP version was not set and was at the lowest system default of 7.1.
So, even if you are sure you changed it, go check it again anyway, especially if you are on SiteGround.
Bad Bots Pulsing
For the past few weeks I’ve been watching some bad bot networks pulse. That usually means that they are probing with a new attack vector to see how it’s working.
I don’t know if we are in for a major attack soon or not. But I’m starting to see the early warning signs of that now. When they come to surface with a pulse that is traceable, that usually means that they are getting ready to spring.
I’ll be keeping my eye on it for us.
If you have not had a site audit and gotten your account secured from the root of the hosting up, then you seriously need to think about getting on my wait list now.
Folks, I’m already booking into January, so don’t delay on this.
And audits are discounted for the holidays.
New Potential Ghost Bots in Google Analytics
I’m hearing reports that folks are seeing automatedtraffic4free.com traffic in their Google Analytics.
This may be ghost bot, as the referral page is not set or identified.
You’ll want to Google how to block ghost bots from Analytics, as they never actually open a page/post on your site and you can’t block it there.
I’m not saying it is a ghost bot, that’s just what it is indicating.
Is it safe to update to WP 5.3 yet?
Nope, not yet. And I’m shocked that 5.3.1 hasn’t come out yet.
There have been some reports of minor issues, especially around images, but I’m not hearing massive screaming about it.
And I honestly don’t know if that’s due to the lack of folks having issues or the lack of folks delaying their update. And maybe the lack of updates is contributing to the lack of issues being reported and that’s why WordPress hasn’t been spewing out minor bug fix releases.
I do know that many specialized theme developers are still telling folks to hold off.
And I’m still having issues even getting the update to complete on 2 of my test sites.
One says it can’t authenticate WP 5.3 and the other just froze.
So, I’m holding off until I can get those 2 things to work.
My other test sites updated fine.
So real toss of a coin on this one and I’m just not prepared to declare it safe yet.
One of the bugs I’ve heard about with images is the new feature in WP 5.3 to optimize huge images. I wasn’t a fan of this when I first heard about it, as I preach constantly about why you should always optimize your images prior to upload.
READ: the Speed section on the Helpful Posts page for more on image optimization.
Some folks are reporting that WP is taking their images down to thumbnail size and nobody is sure what is tripping the wire on what WP thinks is too big about the image that makes it kick in this reduction feature.
I know some of you have some mighty big images for Pinterest and such, and I don’t want you to get popped with this.
But if you do, there is a way to disable the feature. Go read the post I have linked for you for more details if you need it.
One of the big fixes we do after a site audit is to clean out all of the orphaned files, folders, and database tables left behind after you delete a plugin. Some of them just don’t come out cleanly.
And that can also leave behind a junkie, bloated database too.
That’s a problem for speed.
Imagine looking through a messy closet for something. How much longer does that take you than finding it in an orderly closet that only has the stuff you need in it.
Well, it’s the same thing when a request for something in your database hits and needs to pull something up for a post or page.
Getting that database cleaned out causes an uptick in speed that’s noticeable.
In fact, many of my clients tell me how much faster their sites are running just after we clean all the junk out and get rid of the resource hog plugins. And that’s before we even get to the speed tweaks.
So, to help my webmasters I made a post with the table prefixes of popular plugins. It’s linked on the Webmaster Training site too. But I wanted to make it public so I can share it with speed up groups and such as well.
Sometimes it’s not always easy to identify which plugin those database tables belong to. And we certainly don’t want to drop tables of active plugins!!
And no, those database cleaner plugins will not take care of these orphans. They need to be done manually.
Google has finally acknowledged that at least a full quarter of the entire web is run on WordPress. And they decided to make a plugin for it that brings in data from both your Analytics and Search Console account.
I am not a fan of this.
Anything you bring in from the outside world is going to slow down your site. In this case, that will be the admin, or logged in side of your site.
And while it’s fun to see those stats when you log in, they don’t show everything.
If you’re serious about the awesome feedback you can get from both Analytics and Search Console to help you create even better content that drives traffic to your site, then you need the whole picture and all of the stats. And to me, this plugin does not deliver that.
Well, this should send a bit of a shudder down the spine of all pro SEOs.
Google is going to personalize what you see in the Knowledge Graphs it displays to you.
That’s the info block that is usually on the far right of a search page.
That will be dependent on your location and search history in Chrome, and more.
Go read the article to see just how many data points they are collecting that go into this thing.
Now, the only saving grace for most bloggers is that our content rarely makes it into the Knowledge Graph anyway.
It’s mainly for business searches or popular figures like those from history or pop icons, or for places and other info you could get from books.
But, this type of personalization will spill over even more than it already does into regular search.
And with so many personal data points in play, that only Google has the info on, how can any SEO tool tell us how our content is performing against other similar content?
Besides the average rank shown in Google Search Console, I don’t know how pro SEOs are going to datamine their competition. We’ll see how this plays out.
Speaking of personalization of search, the big BERT update that Google did promises to do an even better job of guessing your search intent and providing the most appropriate links.
The nice folks over at AimClear have collected all of the reliable info out there about the BERT update and what it means for us and the future of search.
And yes, we’ll be talking about this in the DIY SEO course workshops too.
Yoast says #neveragain on running ads in the WP admin area
If you logged into your site over the holiday weekend you may have noticed an ad at the top for buying Yoast SEO premium plugins.
The blowback on that was so big that Yoast released an update to the plugin to remove the ad. And replied on Twitter with the hashtag #neveragain.
Lots of folks, including other plugin devs jumped him hard for it, asking what would it be like for end users if all plugins did something like this.
So, hopefully we won’t see that trick again.
And I hope WP does something about all of the top notifications and they start requiring devs to actually stop showing them once they have been dismissed. They are a real pain to work around if they don’t stay gone.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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