Hello Happy Site Owners! This is the BlogAid Tips Tuesday Podcast for September 24 2013 and I’m your host, MaAnna. This week’s tips include what’s new with Jetpack and Google integration, StudioPress is on a role with new theme releases, including their own site, an update on that big BotNet causing so much Brute Force attack trouble and where it is now, major updates to settings that affect your SEO and authorship, the real power of a +1, misdirected authorship attribution, a new test for how Google indexes updated posts, plus plugin updates and hacks including Sociable, Blubrry PowerPress, Genesis Simple Sidebars, Contact Form 7, a premium version of WordPress SEO by Yoast, a new Google+ Follow Box, and the Redirection plugin. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Last week I told you how excited I was that Google was integrating with WordPress.com. Well, they’re doing it via the JetPack plugin. I’m no fan of JetPack because the code is so horribly bloated.
Basically, on WordPress.com sites, there are severe restrictions on the plugins you can install. So, they rolled a bunch of plugin functions together and called it JetPack.
Of the 15,000 things it can do, most folks only use one or two of them. So they’ve got this behemoth of unused code sitting there that just clogs up the site and load time.
And, for every one of the pieces that do get used, there’s a better standalone plugin that’s lighter on the system.
Now, last week I told you that you weren’t missing anything that the WordPress.com folks were getting. We’re just doing it other ways on self-hosted sites. And some of those include non-Google sanctioned plugins or other coding hacks.
For now, my advice is to stick with what you have and don’t install JetPack.
WordPress.com and JetPack are simply offering a controlled environment for public testing of all these new integrations. At some point there will be sanctioned plugins for the few integration features you want.
The only exception I’m making to this advice is for multi-author sites because they are tasked with hacked ways to provide their writers with authorship credentials. On the JetPack post about all of this, I saw Sarah Gooding, who wrote extensively for WPMU.org, ask about this very thing and they said it could be done. So, anything that makes multi-author tasks easier is worth making an exception for.
For everybody else on self-hosted WordPress, just hold your horses.
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And speaking of one of my fave bloggers, Sarah Gooding, she is moving her writing desk to WP Tavern. Sarah had written for WPMU.org for years, and that’s where I followed her faithfully. I’m really looking forward to seeing her “chronicle WordPress history as it’s unfolding,” as she said in her announcement. Some of you may be aware that WordPress creator, Matt Mullenweg is the owner of WPTavern.
Some of the links below are to the plugin developer’s page, but you can find most if not all of these plugins in the WordPress plugins repository.
The Sociable plugin was hacked on Friday. If you have not done so yet, deactivate it immediately.
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The Blubrry PowerPress plugin was recently updated to version 5.0. Now, I had issues when trying to update this plugin along with one other simultaneously. So, I suggest doing it by itself.
This is THE plugin to use if you run a podcast. And if you want to know how it’s done, I’ve got two super duper folks for you to follow.
The Genesis Simple Sidebars plugin was updated to be compatible with Genesis 2.0.1 updates. It now uses the actual sidebar names instead of hard coded names. This plugin allows you to easily create custom sidebars and use them on the pages of your choice. Just one more reason I love Genesis.
The Contact Form 7 plugin has had several updates lately. But I can’t tell if the issue I reported on with the checkboxes has been fixed yet. The developer is so buried in bug repairs that it seems he hasn’t had time to update the plugin’s changelog. I can tell you that I did the update and my checkboxes are fine, and that’s on two different forms.
Don’t wait too long to do this update, as it also contains security patches.
And if you use this plugin, seriously consider making a donation. It is only through the sheer generosity of the WordPress developer community that we have all of the free tools that we depend on. $7 is his suggestions. That actually goes a long way if enough of us give. And did you know that you can send the developer a little note, thanking him? Yep, when you go to PayPal, there’s a little section at the top for Special Instructions that you can send the seller.
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And woot, I’m excited about this! Yoast is already pre-releasing the premium version of his WordPress SEO plugin. It comes with support and two new features. I’ve been waiting to hear what they are. The new plugin will include Google Webmaster Tools integration and a redirect feature.
The Google Webmaster Tools integration will be able to track crawl errors. In an interview Joost did with Brian Krogsgard on Post Status, Joost said that more SEO features are planned and they are trying to decide which will go into the free or the paid version.
I’ll have more info for you when I get my hands on it. He has several licensing packages. A single site license will be $89 a year.
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My thanks to Muhhamad Haroon over at Softstribe for his faithful posts of plugin updates and releases and bringing these plugins to my attention.
There’s a new Google+ Follow Box plugin that has a similar look to a popular Facebook follow box. It shows images of the folks that have you Circled on G+.
And here’s his tutorial for how to add it to your site. (I had a little difficulty with that URL last night, so hopefully they will have it fixed for you shortly.)
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The Redirection plugin was recently updated and you need to be sure that you do a full backup before you update this one. And, you’ll want to update it all by itself. This particular update will make changes to your database. So, use due diligence here and do your backup first. I had no issues with the update.
StudioPress is on a role. Have you seen their new site yet?
I kind of let the cat out of the bag Saturday night when I went to the site to check out one of the new themes I’ll tell you about in a minute. Said the site was in maintenance mode. When I checked in a little later, poof, there was the new theme. I posted about it on the Genesis Framework Community on G+ and +Brian Gardner himself replied to shush, it was still in launch.
They’ve now brought in several of the themes from the community site that are from other designers. You’ll see a little 3rd party tag in the upper right corner on those. They also have new previews for mobile.
They released another HTML5 compliant theme. This time it’s Executive Pro. They freshened up the design a bit too, which has been the trend for the updated themes. Go have a look for yourself.
And the new Expose theme is out. Great for photographers and sites that are heavy graphic oriented.
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I also want to remind you of a new video tutorial I made on how to get started with the newly updated Minimum Pro theme from Genesis. It’s a bit of a different animal than other themes and their tutorials just don’t tell you everything you need to know. This video takes you step-by-step through building it to look like the demo, and has a few extra tips for things not shown in the demo or the StudioPress tutorials.
Remember that big Brute Force attack that was targeting WordPress sites a few months ago? The Sucuri blog reports that it’s hitting Joomla sites now. Last I heard this thing is 90,000 computers strong. You can bet that it will continue roaming the Internet and will be back to targeting WordPress sites or certain hosts again.
It’s too easy to protect against it not to do so.
Go get the Login Lockdown plugin. Yes I know it has a warning that it hasn’t been updated in a while. That’s what happens when you make it right the first time. And, it’s super light-weight on your site.
Once you install it, there’s nothing else to do.
As with all plugin recommendations, check what you already have on your site. You don’t want two plugins fighting to do the same thing.
I’m in the process of updating all of the video tutorials in the SEO and AuthorRank Video Library. There have been very important changes recently by Google and to the WordPress SEO plugin that you need to know about.
And, I’ll be making some price changes to everything in the library soon too. So, don’t buy it yet. Look for big announcements when I get those changes made.
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There’s a big, well publicized debate running on G+ and elsewhere about whether +1s on a G+ post increase PageRank. Everybody’s running tests and showing their results. Matt Cutts even chimed in about it, saying they don’t.
Personally, I don’t care about the debate because it misses the bigger picture. Engagement is good. Period. It increases authority, even if that is only a perception to the readers instead of the way Google defines it. It’s not all about search and PageRank. Social media, of which G+ and +1s are part, is about relationships too.
If you don’t care about +1s because you don’t think they increase your PR, fine.
I’m delighted for every engagement signal. It’s an opportunity for me to connect with the person who is on the other end of it.
That’s the real value of a +1 to me.
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And a couple more posts from +Mark Traphagen. If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, he’s one of the most important SEO folks you can follow, and G+ is the place to do that.
This post is about wrongful authorship attribution. This is especially important on multi-author blogs.
And then this G+ post from Mark about updating old content and Google’s preference for fresh posts. Like Mark, I’ve read several posts about this too, but nothing about tests on how Google is indexing the updated timestamp.
So, I’m running my own tests. It will take a few days to complete, so look for a post from me as soon as I have the data.
This data is super important to know and will tell us whether you need to update your theme or not to output the timestamp how and where Google indexes it. There are several places for timestamps and I intend to get to the bottom of it. Way too many folks run off at the mouth about benefits of this that or the other and have zero tech knowledge or test data to show you exactly why something is happening or what exactly you should do to take advantage of it. So look for that post soon.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday podcast. Please feel free to share this post and podcast with your friends.
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