Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Caching and Cloudflare
- New WebPage Test tutorials
- Mobile Speed Test tutorials
- Blog Post SEO Workshop this week
- What’s next for Rand Fishkin since he left Moz
- Why I’m excited about Google’s new Multi-Intent Featured Snippet test
- Whether you should be worried about Chrome filtering ads now
- Two-Factor authentication coming to WordPress without a plugin
- The huge DDoS attack last week that has all server farms quaking in their shoes and how to protect your site
- What’s in the new Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Chart
- A super tutorial for styling themes for Gutenberg
- A great place to get free images for your blog and more
- A fun way to put motion into your still images
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Caching and Cloudflare
I’m digging hard into the next phase of my deep speed tests, and looking at the combos of local caching plugins when using Cloudflare.
To me, having Cloudflare is non-negotiable. And you’ll find out why in a moment.
It is an essential site security tool, especially with the addition of the Web Application Firewall (WAF) on the Pro plan. I just wouldn’t sleep well without it these days, given the new attack vectors of hitting the elements that have an open door to your site, like 3rd party services and plugins.
Cloudflare has its own compression and caching features.
And, since we are all required to have HTTPS sites now, there are forced redirects in place to ensure that all visitors, including bots, go to the HTTPS version of our site.
Those redirects create hops, and I want to be sure that my advanced local caching plugin directives are making it through all these hops, and the reverse proxy of Cloudflare.
Quality of Test Results
One of the things that made some of these tests take so long was an online tester lying to me. It’s the WebSitePulse header checker that I use to see redirects and response codes.
It’s super for one-off testing, but it caches or falls behind current site status if you’re making lots of changes and rechecking, like I’ve been doing in these tests.
I’ve come to rely on the testers in Chrome Dev Tools now for this level of deep testing.
The more I use it, the more I like it.
And it is instrumental in finding mixed media and other issues for HTTPS conversions too.
New WebPage Test Tutorials
This past week, I began revamping all of the online tester tutorials in Level 4 of the Webmaster Training courses.
You’ll find a whole new series on my fave tester, WebPage Test. It includes what to look for on each screen, as well as what normal and super bad looks like too.
This will definitely help you run better site audits and make sense of the data for both you and your clients.
With WebPage Test, it’s easy to find the resource hogs on your site and what is slowing down your page load time.
Next up is a new tutorial series on GTMetrix, including why you want to get a free account with them.
And then a series on Chrome Dev Tools.
Mobile Speed Test Tutorials
All of these new Webmaster tutorials include mobile speed tests as well, which is super huge now because Google considers the mobile version of your site as the primary.
I was shocked to see that the mobile version takes 4-8 times longer to load than the desktop version. That’s even on a 4G connection.
Right now BlogAid loads in 2-3 seconds on desktop, which is respectable. But on mobile, that is 8-16 seconds, at best.
So, getting your site as fast as possible really matters to how high your abandonment rate is on mobile.
Live Site Speed Tests Coming Up
Hopefully I’ll be finished with my current combo speed tests this week.
And then I’ll start in on BlogAid with all I’ve learned.
I’ll be pushing it until it breaks, just to see how fast I can make it.
And, it will help me identify the bloat I want to remove in my upcoming theme and content revamp.
After that I’ll be ready to start in on a selection of my site audit client sites who volunteered to let me push hard on their sites too for speed.
I asked them for 3 different types of sites, including those that run ads, so we can apply methods that fit with those restrictions and see how much we can speed things up.
Me and DIY SEO peeps had a super live Workshop last week on image SEO.
I included bunches of tips to perform prior to and during upload. And that included some embed tricks, linking tips, and tips for featured images as well as special image features for social.
This was the first of our Blog Post SEO series of workshops that we’ll be doing all this month.
In this week’s workshop, we’ll be focused on the 14 elements Google indexes on every post and how to make the most of them.
If you’re wanting to up your SEO game and get a head start on diversifying your traffic stream, it’s not too late to join us!
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Rand Fishkin has stepped away from the company he started with his mom and he’s already off on his next adventure.
We will still see him for a while on his infamous Whiteboard Friday series. He recorded several ahead of time.
Over the years, Rand has been at the center of a few major disagreements in SEO community, not the least of which was one that still lingers today as to how Google treats sub-directories vs sub-domains. Google says they treat them the same. Rand and other say not, and just as many others say do, and all of them have the data to prove their position.
Rand is stepping away from SEO and going into more of the online marketing side of things. You can read more about it in this post from Spark Toro.
I am super excited about this new test Google is running on their Featured Snippet.
All of search is now intent based. But Google still has to guess at exactly what you are looking for in your first query.
So, they are now delivering multiple featured snippets with the top possibilities.
The example shown in this SEO Roundtable post is for the query “garden needs full sun?”
Google doesn’t know if you’re looking for plants that do well in full sun or whether you just need to know what qualifies as full sun exposure.
So, they will deliver a snippet with both guesses.
This is going to help more of us get featured by Google.
In fact, that’s one of the workshops we’ll be doing in the DIY SEO course, which is what kind of topics to write about, and how to format posts so that they make it into the Featured Snippet.
Chrome has started filtering intrusive ads.
I believe everyone with reputable ad agencies like Mediavine and AdThrive will be fine. And those with Google AdSense and Amazon should be okay too.
This is part of their push to further eliminate render-blocking pop ups and such too. So, be sure you have those on a delay.
Mostly, they are going after low quality sites that have more ads than content, and those ads jump in your face the minute you get there.
You know, the kind of sites all of us abandon the minute we get there?
Plus, this will help a lot with sites that fire off browser warnings that you’re about to download malware and such too.
I’ve seen those come across in ads from the low-barrier to entrance ad agencies.
Folks, stay away from those things for all sorts of reasons, not just this.
Build your traffic until you qualify for the more reputable agencies.
Or better yet, run sponsored ads and just bypass the whole problem.
You may recall in last week’s Tips Tuesday that I reported more 3rd party services are now implementing some type of 2-factor authentication, whether or not you optin for it.
Well, WordPress is jumping on the bandwagon with it now too.
Based on the Two Factor plugin, they are beta testing rolling 2-step authentication into the WP core code. That way you’ll be able to implement it without needing a plugin.
You can read more about the test directly on the Make WordPress site.
And I’ll keep you posted on when this becomes available.
Last week Cloudflare and others reported a brand new attack vector that is scaring the beegeebees out of every company that has a server farm.
The new attack is being called Memcrasched because of the way it exploits a popular object caching system that runs on most web host servers called memcached.
Digital Ocean, OVH, Linode, and Amazon servers were hit super hard last week.
Fortunately, they have identified what is being exploited. It’s the User Datagram Protocol, or UDP port.
UDP and TCP are protocols for sending data.
Think of the ports they use as a doorway to enter and exit a server.
Most of our site traffic runs on the TCP port.
But some software and app developers still use the older UDP port.
Think of the TCP port like a regular door and the UDP port like a doggie door at the bottom.
So, the call is going out to anyone who makes use of UDP to upgrade their software. In the meantime, hosts are upgrading their servers to mitigate the attack.
Site owners who have Cloudflare are already protected from this type of DDoS attack.
And this is just one more reason I see having Cloudflare as non-negotiable.
Folks, new attack vectors pop up every day. And this new one is super scary in the sheer volume of bloat it sends down the line, overwhelming everything in its digital path.
Cloudlfare will reroute your site traffic to avoid such issues and help keep your IP from being spoofed by hackers too.
You get all of this protection even on the free version of Cloudflare. I honestly can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to use it.
On top of that, in the Pro plan, which is $20/mo, you get a Web Application Firewall (WAF). Such a thing saved my clients who were using BlogVault when it got hacked about this time last year. I just won’t sleep without it on my site now.
If you do have the Pro plan, holler at me to help you configure the WAF settings. Will take about 15 minutes and you’ll see it all live.
The new Gutenberg editor will roll into the WordPress core in version 5.0, which I believe is due out this spring.
One of the big holdups for adoption will be plugin compatibility.
In an effort to make a list of all the plugins that are not fully Gutenberg compliant yet, Daniel Bachhuber has compiled a Gutenberg Plugin Compatibility Database.
There are 4,500 plugins on the list.
The WPTavern post where I read this says that the list represents 90% of all active plugin installs.
I’m betting 99% of us don’t have any Gutenberg compliant plugins on our site now. You can check yours against the list.
So, we all are hoping this gets the plugin devs in motion to make their plugins Gutenberg compliant, if they haven’t started that process already.
I’m thinking many of the big ones have started on it, like Team Yoast and other big names on the list.
But the ones that are the most surprising are the plugins made by Automattic, you know, the folks that make WordPress. Two that stuck out to me were Jetpack and Woocommerce.
So, we really do have a ways to go before we have enough compliant plugins to make the switch to Gutenberg and retain all of the functionality we have now.
But we have to start somewhere, right?
ThemeShaper has a super post on the 3 Gutenberg compliant themes they created that are purely CSS.
Designers, this could be a fantastic introduction to get familiar with the blocks and other features that are central to how Gutenberg operates.
This is an ongoing project for them, and they plan to add the type of support needed to get the themes released in the WP theme repository soon, like Woocommerce support and widget support.
You can download them on GitHub now, though, while they are still less complex.
This would be an excellent series to follow too, so bookmark their site.
Finding images, or even eye-catching backgrounds for text, to use on our blogs and other places can be a real chore.
WPShout has a nice write up on Unsplash, which is a great place to find free images that have a “do whatever you want with them” license.
I still like Pixabay best, but I do jump over to Unsplash for something different now and then too.
Well this is just fun. Have you seen Splish yet?
It lets you mask a certain region of your still shot and put other parts of it in motion.
Go to the site and check out some of the Splishes, especially at the bottom.
You need to hover your mouse over the ones at the bottom to get them to play, but they will autoplay if they are above the fold on your site and not lazy loaded, as I expect these are.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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