Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Deep dive into browser caching and HTTPS
- Live Webmaster Level 6 chat today
- How to get the bloat out of your site for better speed
- Why we may be seeing updates to our favorite caching plugins
- Why we’re doing a bonus workshop on images for the DIY SEO course and the full schedule for March on SEO for blog posts is up
- Big changes for the Yoast SEO plugin coming in version 7.0
- Whether or not 404s blow your Googlebot crawl budget
- Why you must keep your plugins updated and the big plugins with current security issues
- What’s in the new premium version of WP-Optimize
- Why WordPress plans to add core support for GDPR compliance
- The new Genesis 2.6 Beta is ready for testing
- Why more plugins are adding a Lazy Load feature for images
- Why more online services are adding 2-step authentication by default and what that means for webmasters and site managers
- Why you don’t want to pay for the new SiteGround backup services
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join me live tonight around 8pm ish ET for the party and an interactive Tips Tuesday recap and breaking news discussion on the BlogAid Facebook Page. You can also catch the quick recap later that evening on the BlogAid YouTube Channel.
Deep Dive Into Browser Caching and HTTPS
Yes, I’m still doing speed tests.
This past week I started another series of tests on the response headers passed on to the browser.
Those are things that really speed up your site for folks visiting a 2nd page and for repeat viewers.
There’s a big difference in them when your site is HTTPS and if it runs through Cloudflare compared to the headers from a site without those extra elements.
My tests here will likely impact the forced regex webmasters use during HTTPS conversions, as well as settings at Cloudflare.
I’m tickled pink to be meeting with my Webmaster Level 6 peeps live today to go over the case study data from 1.5 month’s worth of speed tests.
And, I’ll be alerting them to the new caching plugin settings I’ll be releasing to the public in March too.
We’ll be looking at all the combos that work best and get them started on their own ultimate speed tests for production sites.
If you’re a designer, you can no longer afford to bury your head in the sand about real HTTPS conversion, site security, and speed.
More site owners are wising up and demanding these services, and that their new sites be set up the right way the first time.
My Webmaster Training is made specifically for you to go step-by-step, in terms you understand, for setting up a site securely, converting it to HTTPS, and making it super fast.
Site speed starts at the foundation of your site. It’s not all about throwing caching and other speed tweaks at it.
In fact, none of those will overcome:
- Bloated theme
- Resource hog plugins
- Un-optimized images
Get a site audit and get the speed basics squared away.
Then we can throw these ultimate speed tweaks at it and get your site super fast.
Updates to Caching Plugins
During all of these speed tests I’ve had super response from support teams at WP Fastest Cache, WP Rocket, and Cloudflare to help me get clarity on all the settings.
And, we may see either some nomenclature change on the settings, or extra documentation from them because of the questions I’ve been asking.
For instance, many of these plugins have a setting for whether to show logged in users the cached version of the site or not.
Come to find out, they don’t all treat that the same way, as to what they consider a logged in user.
And some of them require a helper plugin to differentiate between an admin user and all other logged in users, like Subscribers to a member site that have to log in to see the protected content.
So, the plugin devs may be renaming some of their settings, or providing extra documentation to users based on my questions and feedback.
Last week we had a live workshop for on-page SEO, which also includes the SEO on images.
One of the members, who is big on Pinterest, asked an interesting question, based on the radical difference in what I was teaching compared to a Pinterest course she had taken some time ago.
Here’s the thing, both SEO and Pinterest are moving targets and things change. All too often online courses are not updated to keep pace with the changes.
That’s specifically why I switched over to doing live workshops and included them for the full year subscription to the DIY SEO course. We can do another live workshop any time, to keep you up to speed.
During our private Facebook group discussion on images, we discovered specific elements this site owner will need to update about how she is doing the title and alt text for all of her images.
And, it was enough to warrant a bonus workshop so everyone can get up to speed with today’s SEO and Pinterest standards.
If you’re not already in the course, you still have time to catch up with us and get on the SEO bandwagon and diversify your traffic stream before the Pinterest bubble entirely pops and your revenue tanks.
DIY SEO Workshop Schedule Set for March
If you are in the course, look for an email I sent this weekend about all the upcoming workshops.
We’ll be doing all of the blog post related ones in March.
- The bonus image workshop
- On-page SEO for blog posts
- Categories and tags
- Special formatting for Google snippets and featured posts
So, mark your calendars now.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Last week, Yoast invited his beta testers to try out the new 7.0 version. I expect it will hit your update list soon.
This is a radical change to the labeling. Plus, a few of the functions are a wee bit different.
You can see screenshots on his announcement post.
I’ll be updating all 13-14 of my Yoast SEO tutorials in the coming weeks because of this. I’ll start with screenshots to help you map the new labeling and where to find functions now.
But I want to wait at least 2-3 weeks after the new version rolls out before I remake the video tutorials because I know he’ll continue to tweak on things as he receives feedback about the new labeling and where things moved.
So, if you’re planning to join my DIY SEO course, better do it quick, and before you update the Yoast SEO plugin so that the tutorials match the layout and labeling you have now!!
I was delighted to see John Mueller quoted as saying that Googlebots repeatedly crawling your 404s do not count against the overall crawl budget assigned to your site.
That’s good news, as you may recall that I reported in a previous Tips Tuesday that Google has radically reduced the re-crawl budget for all sites.
So, continue to get your 404s fixed, but don’t worry about the regular crawl budget.
And oh, how I wish we could 410 things to force Google to stop crawling them and get them off the list faster.
Keep Your Plugins Updated
Lack of updates is the #1 way sites get hacked.
So, be sure you stay on top of your updates, and be sure you have a solid backup strategy that includes everything, and where you keep your own files off your host.
There are some very popular plugins on the vulnerability list this week, including:
- Mailchimp for WordPress
- Ninja Forms
- WP Fastest Cache
- And more
I received an email last week from the UpdraftPlus folks, makers of WP-Optimize, that they were now offering a paid version of the popular database cleaner plugin.
I really like WP-Optimize and find it a super safe bet for getting rid of all manner of junk in the database and keeping it clean.
But, during these latest speed tests, I’ve seen the same sort of service offered in both WP Rocket and WP Fastest Cache Premium, which are both paid caching plugins.
I’ll be comparing the options in the paid version of WP-Optimize to the settings in these two caching plugins and seeing if it’s apples to apples.
But to be honest, if you need more database cleaning power than what’s in any of these plugins, it would be safer to do a manual clean. I wouldn’t trust plugins to do aggressive database cleaning, or catch everything that needs to go. I say that out of my experience from site audit fixes.
The new GDPR Compliance standards will hit this spring and I’m shocked not to be hearing more about it.
Site owners nearly lost their minds over the EU Cookie law thing a few years ago. But folks are mostly silently over this more sweeping set of standards that is so big, even WordPress will be rolling compliance into the core and making better guidelines for plugin developers that it will affect.
You can read more about the new privacy standards on the EU GDPR site.
The latest version of Genesis is ready for beta testers and I would imagine it will be publicly available for update within the next couple of weeks.
Nathan Rice, the lead dev, is continuing the work they started in versions 2.4 and 2.5 with bringing the Genesis code into compliance with all the major changes in WordPress core. They also addressed 128 tickets, so this version should be nice and clean.
A few new features have been added, most notably, allowing more customization features to be accessed via the WP Customizer.
Is Your Theme Up to Spec?
Now, that doesn’t mean your theme will allow being tweaked via the Customizer, or bring it up to spec with the latest code.
When Genesis changes, your child theme does not.
And it even takes a while for the stock StudioPress themes to be updated so they are in compliance with the latest Genesis version, and even the current WordPress version.
That’s one of the primary reasons I’ll be starting with a new base theme when I do the BlogAid revamp. I’ve been tweaking on the current theme for about 4 years now and some of the underlying code is not up to spec.
I also had a ton of custom coding done back then that is natively available now.
So, like many of you, I’m looking to unload some plugins and code bloat, and that will make the site faster too.
Speed has become such a major factor that more and more plugins and services are jumping on the bandwagon.
JetPack has added lazy load, which will help bump your speed a bit, but not as much as you think. And nothing, absolutely nothing will replace actually optimizing your images well prior to uploading them.
But the reason I bring this up, is that you really need to be aware of what settings each plugin has, so you don’t set up conflicts between two of them trying to do the same thing.
My preference for lazy load would be to do it with your caching plugin, if it has that capability, or to do a standalone plugin so it is top of mind that you have that function enabled.
This is also why it’s a good idea to make a spreadsheet of your plugins with what they do and where you can test them and such.
The Impact of More 2-Step Authentication
The newest attack vectors for hackers are to hit mother companies. I spoke about this in last week’s Tips Tuesday too, regarding why you need a Web Application Firewall (WAF) now for your site.
This past week I received an email from LogMeIn that they will now be enforcing a strict OAuth 2.0 authentication protocol on their API.
That’s 2-step authentication where a token or security code is emailed or an SMS text is sent to the account owner to verify the login attempt.
Cloudflare recently made this move too. It will recognize your IP and, if different from the norm of the account holder, will require a token.
Even when you’re logged in already, requires your password and reCaptcha to get the API key. (I’m thinking this locks out managers of the account that don’t have the master password.)
I believe all this is great for better security, but as more companies move to this, it will create an issue for remote workers like me and other webmasters and designers, for logging into client accounts without first coordinating a time with them to get the token.
SiteGround Offers New Backup Services
Like most good hosts, SiteGround offers free daily backups. And now they are expanding that service to offer a one-click restore feature as well as an Instant Backup on Demand that you can initiate yourself.
Pricing differs according to what package you’re on. The one-click restore is available for free to GrowBig and GoGeek plans. But the on-demand backup is only free on the GoGeek plan.
These are nice things to have, if they are free. But, even so, I would not trust a host’s backup, even if you’re paying for it. They are not guaranteed.
I can tell you horror stories about that for days with clients relying only on the host’s backup.
Get your own backup solution, and store your files off the site, like at Amazon S3.
And that way you can rely on the host’s free backup as a secondary safety net, instead of the primary one.
READ: UpdraftPlus Free, Premium, and Migrator series for more, including a link about storage at AS3.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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