Hello Happy Site Owners!
Tips this week include:
- Update on the Comment Reply Notification plugin tests
- A video to see just how much a Pinterest widget slows down your site
- Why we won’t be using the Gutenberg text editor when it rolls out
- A new Gutenberg test feedback link
- New SEO courses underway
- Changes to the Webmaster Training courses
- New services for after HTTPS switch help
- What’s in the WP 4.9 Beta release
- Major data breach at the Disqus comment service
- How to protect your accounts and site from attacks like this
- An epic must read post on the three marks of great content
- A beginner’s look at UX and SEO
- Why webmasters want to learn how to manage their sites from the command line
- The big news with the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin
- The best free and paid stock photo sites
Listen to the Podcast
Watch the Live Recap and Breaking News
Comment Reply Notification Plugin Tests Rolling Along
Thanks to 20+ testing volunteers, we’ve been quickly rolling through tests on several of these plugins.
So far we’ve tested:
- Comment Reply Email Notification
- Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
- Lightweight Subscribe to Comments
The last one on the test list is wpDiscuz
I also tested a bunch of plugins privately, but won’t be doing any public tests on them.
These plugins are just too old and have not been supported in years, making them a huge security risk. I can’t recommend that anyone have them on their site.
The old plugins I tested privately are:
- Comment Notifier
- Comment Reply Notification
- Custom Comment Notifications
- Send Email Only on Reply to My Comment
- Subscribe to Comments
So, if you’re using one of these old plugins, you’ll want to switch over to whatever I recommend at the end of these tests.
Did I miss a plugin?
Leave a comment and let me know of any other free plugins you would like tested.
Plus, I’ve been testing the performance hit you take from displaying Gravatars, especially when you have a lot of comments.
So, be watching for that series of posts with the plugin winners, reviews, and speed tests.
Bringing anything into your site from the outside world slows it down.
The worst performance hits are from your social media accounts.
And the worst of those are images from Pinterest and Instagram.
Oh yeah, it may only display little thumbnail images in your sidebar widget, but it’s bringing in great big images, and LOTS of them.
I was shocked at how slow these things make your site.
If you use any type of Pinterest widget, jump over to my post and see the video about what it’s doing to your site speed.
Plus see a super easy alternative as a way to keep something in your sidebar and still drive traffic to your Pinterest account.
We Won’t Be Using Gutenberg
Yoast has an op-ed post on what he thinks the best approach is with regard to them rolling the new Gutenberg text editor into the WordPress core.
Basically he’s saying it is not ready.
After reading hundreds of similar opinions in all the dev groups and forums I’m in, I have to agree.
The consensus is that Gutenberg needs more time to be developed and mature before it’s rolled into the core and that it won’t be ready for the WP 5.0 rollout unless that is severely delayed.
But, none of us think that Matt Mullenweg is listening and it’s likely that Gutenberg will be in 5.0.
But, I totally see Matt’s point on this.
The future of WordPress is a radical departure from the way it works today.
The changes have to start somewhere.
So, getting Gutenberg into the core is a major step in that direction.
Yes, there will be pain in the transition, and folks don’t like change. So, expect lots of complaints for at least a year over this. But, we will be moving forward all the while.
Gutenberg Fallback Position
When Gutenberg rolls into the core, there will also be a plugin to switch back to the regular text editor.
Andrew Ozz is the dev for the TinyMCE Advanced plugin we all use. He’s also usually the lead dev for anything that happens with the text editor in WP core, and he’s deeply involved in these latest changes.
My bet is that his TinyMCE Advanced plugin will work as an alternative to Gutenberg. And that’s what all of us will use instead. We won’t know for sure until WP 5.0 rolls out.
My Training Program Shift with Gutenberg
In any event, I’ve decided not to plan for formal workshops on how to use Gutenberg this winter when it comes out.
Instead, I’ll be making tutorials on how to use whatever TinyMCE editor works.
I’ll still be reporting on Gutenberg news for my webmasters, who are designers and developers, because they will need to know how to style for it and such.
If you are testing Gutenberg, the devs want your feedback.
You could always submit it on GitHub, but most folks are not adept with how that works.
So now they have created a link to leave feedback that is much easier to use.
New SEO Courses Underway
This past week I met live with members of my DIY SEO group and spilled the beans on upcoming changes to that course, plus new courses that will be rolling out in early 2018.
I’ve also decided to hold my annual SEO Workshop around January instead of March because there are changes already afoot that you need to jump on asap.
So, be on the lookout for the public announcements.
Webmaster Training Course Changes
I also met with my Webmaster Level 6 folks last week and spilled the beans on the changes coming to those courses too.
The SEO tutorials will be coming completely out of Level 3.
And the performance tutorials in Level 4 will be significantly increased.
I announced other changes privately to them that I will make public as I get closer to releasing those tutorials.
If you’re a designer or maintain sites, you can’t afford not to be in this Webmaster Training, or partnering with someone who is in it. Big changes are coming and you don’t want to get caught off guard. Folks in the course are already able to separate themselves from the pack and they are getting the new in-demand business for secure, high performing sites that are fully converted to HTTPS with no host-side trickery.
Site owners, I would strongly caution you to ensure the designer you hire knows what’s in these courses. Else, they are going to unknowingly rope you into very expensive changes to put your site right later.
HTTPS Conversion Requests
Yes, I’m still booked every day with HTTPS conversion requests this week.
I’m working through a wave of folks that contacted me right at the end of September.
And I’ve got at least one more wave on the waiting list that I’ll be moving in as I finish the current projects.
We don’t know the day the new Chrome version will roll out, but I assume it will be soon.
I fully expect another huge batch of requests to come through when that hits. And it’s very likely that I won’t be taking any of that business without a full site audit first.
That’s because those requests will likely be from hands off site owners who are not keeping up, and will likely have a hot mess of a site to deal with.
I believe they are going to run into the truth that y’all know firsthand is so – free and easy costs way more to put right than just having done it right in the first place.
After HTTPS Switch Help
However, I will be taking requests to help folks with all of their 3rd party after conversion tasks that they didn’t know how to do, and no host will do for you.
- Checking Google connections
- Configuring HSTS and submitting to the Chrome safe site list
- Security headers for better SSL certificate scores
We’ll see how that pans out.
What I won’t be offering is to fix botched, free HTTPS switches done by others. I’ve already had a few of those come through. I expect there will be more as Google continues to require stuff folks didn’t get in their free switch from the host. But those penalties will likely be next year.
Site Audit and Theme Revamp Busy Season
October marks the beginning of my annual busy season.
Lots of folks start contacting me this time of year for site audits to get their speed and security taken care of.
Plus, folks want to get a new theme project going so it will be ready for the new year. I’m actually going to develop a formal offer for that soon.
I’m in the process of revamping several offers at BlogAid and I need a new theme myself to go along with it too.
So, holler at me if you’re in the mood to make some site success changes for yourself.
That’s all the news around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
The first Beta has been released for WordPress 4.9.
The public release is slated for Nov 14.
I’m already testing it.
I took a look at the new Gallery widget. It’s very nice!!
But, just like the new Image, Video, and Audio widgets that rolled out in WP 4.8, it doesn’t make a way for you to also add text.
I was hoping it would be the fix for the Pinterest widget speed issue, but without links, it’s pretty useless. And that’s why I suggested the alternative I did in the video.
There are 2 main focuses for the changes in WP 4.9
- Support for shortcodes
- Support for adding media directly
- oEmbeds anywhere, including widgets
- Frontend preview link
- Autosave of revisions
- Improved flow for creating new menus
- Video widget – support for more than just YouTube and Vimeo
- Educated guess mapping of menus and widgets when changing themes
- One-step activate/deactivate for plugins
I’ll have a video tour for you when it gets closer to the public release.
Do You Use the Customizer?
I believe most of us who had our Genesis themes professionally designed don’t really use the Customizer much.
But, that will change with the direction WP is going toward having more page builder capabilities.
And that’s why they have such a heavy dev focus on it now. This is all ahead of Gutenberg and the types of changes it will bring.
Do you use the Customizer much?
Leave us a comment on the blog or anywhere you see this post online.
Oh my. The Disqus comment service has suffered a major data breach. WPTavern is reporting that it affects 17.5 million accounts.
Disqus proactively reset passwords on all the accounts, but email addresses that it collected are in plain text, so consider your email to have been sold on the black market lists already.
Protect Your Site
This is the new attack vector, y’all. It started in earnest earlier this year with BlogVault.
If hackers can get to the mother companies, they can affect millions of users at a time.
Here’s how to protect your accounts:
- User super strong passwords – minimum requirements – 12 characters, a mix of capitals, numbers, and special characters.
- Unique passwords for every account – don’t reuse the same password.
- Rotate passwords annually – cyber security advisers suggest every 3 months
Here’s how to protect your site:
Get a WAF for your site – Web Application Firewall.
Every service and plugin you use has a wide open door to your site.
When the mother company gets hacked, so do you.
A WAF is like the bouncer at the club door.
It knows what should be let in, but it will check for things hiding under its coat.
The CloudFlare Pro plan at $20/mo has an excellent WAF.
Think of it as insurance for your site that is a whale of a lot cheaper than a hack repair.
There are a few settings that you’ll want to configure.
Let me know if you need help with that. We can do it in a super quick live session.
Magnum Opus. Those are the best words I can think of to describe this stellar post from Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting.
Mark, and his boss Eric, are my go-to SEO guys.
When doing SEO, it’s critical to keep in mind the goal of Google. For any given query a user types in, they want to serve up the most relevant, highest authority results possible.
For you and me, that means creating highly authoritative, super helpful content.
And that’s what this post from Mark is all about. In fact, it’s a good example of it.
It is a must-read, must-study, must-do post.
As I mentioned previously, I met live with those in my DIY SEO membership. One of the things I told them about were the rising SEO factors that will be critical next year.
One of those is UX, which is User Experience, and it’s going to directly impact the bottom line of many of my clients.
This is the main reason I’m launching new courses and revamping the SEO Workshop for early 2018.
It’s my job to keep successful site owners ahead of the curve and in the know.
This Team Yoast post touches on the bare minimum of what UX is all about, so worth the read.
But trust me, it goes way deeper than this.
I’ll have more for you later in the year, but start here now and get familiar with the terminology and some of what’s involved.
Let’s say you’re installing a new sandbox site.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to install a plugin in just seconds without even logging into your WP dashboard?
Or how about updating your site without logging in?
You can do all that and way more with WP-CLI, which is the Command Line Interface for WordPress.
This has been a staple in every developer’s toolbox for years now.
And it’s definitely something I’d like to dive deeper into.
If you’d like an introduction to what WP-CLI can do, A2 Hosting has a super post to get you started.
Congrats to Alex Mills!! He’s the dev behind the wildly popular Regenerate Thumbnails plugin.
It just passed the 5 million download mark.
This is an indispensable tool for all designers.
The image thumbnails have to be regenerated anytime a theme is changed.
It’s typically a use and delete plugin.
But during site audits I’ve seen it in the plugin list of clients who insist that they continue to use it regularly.
If you’re using it regularly, please do let us know what for in the comments here on the blog, or anywhere you see this post online.
Even though the plugin doesn’t currently require a lot of maintenance or updates, he hopes this rewrite will future-proof it with regard to the major changes coming in WordPress core.
Need some fresh images for your site, or just fresh places to look for them?
WPExplorer has a new list with super free and paid image collections.
Be sure to check out the MMT one. I had not heard of them, but their license and use policy sound pretty good.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
Find these tips helpful? Share them with your peeps!!!!
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