Hello Happy Site Owners! Tips this week include Plugins Webinar Do Over, 51% off hosting, who I just hired to help me with social media, new videos in the Webmaster Training library, the Ghost vulnerability and why you need to turn off XML-RPC more than ever, what’s finally coming in WordPress 4.2, and why I think the devs are out of step with reality, creating a great meta description for SEO, Google’s new structured data tools and caching issues, how to generate over 3000 blog post ideas this year, how and why to write for curation, the proper links to use with YouTube’s videos streaming in HTML5 only now, and how to easily add schema markup to your pages. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Plugins webinar rescheduled
Feb 4th at 3:00 pm ET
Thanks to a tech glitch at GoToWebinar, you still have time to get in on the free, zero-pitch plugins webinar. We’ll be reviewing 5-6 real plugin lists. I’ve had a look at them and can tell you that there are some conflicts and resource hogs in those lists. And most of them all very popular plugins. So, you’ll want to get in on this.
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51% Off A2 Hosting
Holy Cow y’all. A2 Hosting (aff link) has a 51% off sale on all shared hosting going. They plan to run it for a while, but I don’t know how long. That means you can get in on the super fast SSD (Solid State Drives) for what other hosts charge for just plain ole drives and speed.
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Focus on Social Media
I’m wrapping up with the foundation I’ve been building for BlogAid over the past few years and will be making 2015 the year of solid promotion. I promised myself that January would be the month I finally gave some love to my long neglected social media accounts, all of them. They need to be brought up to par and I need a system I can work.
I’ve been interviewing folks to help me do that quickly and effectively, the same as I do for my site revamp clients.
I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be training with +Mike Allton, The Social Media Hat himself, and the author of The Unofficial Book on Hootsuite that even Hootsuite is happy to endorse.
I’ve also retained a social media VA to help me organize the base of the new system once I go through the initial audit with Mike. I’ll keep you posted on how this journey goes, as I keep track of the ROI too. I already know that it’s costing me not to have this done and is worth the investment. We’re about to find out exactly how much.
I’m delighted to announce that all 42 videos in Levels 1 and 2 of the Webmaster Training site are now complete. Well, it’s actually 45 videos if you count the bonus of the WordPress SEO 1.8 Beta Case Study and the 2 videos I’ve already updated due to Google moving the cheese a couple of times in a month.
The Webmaster Training is designed for folks who need to know how to install and secure WordPress properly, as well as those who want to maintain and speed up performance and get the best SEO possible.
If that’s you, I guarantee you won’t find a more comprehensive program. And membership is for life, so you’ll always have the freshest content. Plus, Level 5 Webmaster members enjoy live webinars. The info in those is worth the price of admission. And I’m probably going to start doing those monthly at this point.
Coming in Levels 3 and 4
I’m now creating the videos in Levels 3 and 4 and going in the order requested by current Level 5 members who are already in the program. Next up is a revamp of the WordPress SEO plugin settings. I’m going to bust this one out into shorter modules from now on because +Yoast is always changing it and this will be easier and quicker for me to keep the videos current.
I’ll be updating the WordPress, SEO, and Genesis Video Library with these videos as well. There are about 10 videos that cross populate in these two libraries. In total, there are over 100 videos. Wow, that’s a pretty remarkable thing to say!
That’s what’s happening around here.
Let’s jump into this week’s tips from around the ‘net.
Ghost is the name of a new vulnerability that has been found in the Linux software that powers hosting servers. A patch has been released and hosts are busy implementing it. Over the past three months, multiple such patches have been pushed out for Linux, Apache, cPanel, PHP, and other software that host servers use. They’ve been delivered so quickly that they sometimes have bugs. Some hosts are dealing with those better than others. So if you see a lot of glitch stuff at your host, that’s what is going on.
The thing we’re watching about Ghost now is whether it will morph into a PHP attack. That’s the core language the powers a lot of what you use online, from most of the CMSs like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, to the backend of the system that lets you build your own pizza and purchase it online.
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Ghost can also affect pingbacks, which use the XML-RPC function, as mentioned in this post by +The Hacker News.
I’ve been telling for months to get this thing turned off fully. It’s a security hole and the hackers are not going to let up in finding ways to exploit it.
See how you can turn XML-RPC off fully on your site either with a plugin or via code to protect it from this threat as well as having your site used in a DDoS attack.
Yay! The next major release of WordPress of 4.2 that will be out in April, will have pretty permalinks set by default. Let’s see now, that became vogue about 2.5 years ago. About time, huh? Will certainly save a lot of new site owners the trouble later on of switching their permalinks and the hassle of correcting the SEO damage already done.
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You may recall in last week’s Tips Tuesday that I mentioned the WordPress devs were working on the Press This function and I was scratching my head on why. The only thing I could think of was a push for mobile posting. Well, that suspicion has been confirmed. They’ve released a peek into the new mobile flow improvements that are slated for the 4.2 release. And this explains a lot of things.
Last year there was a joint release of a security patch for both WordPress and Drupal that stopped short of completely denying access to login from mobile. While I can understand that, as it would anger folks who create and use apps to do that, I can’t understand this latest move.
With the attacks increasing on the XML-RPC security hole, what are they thinking? Or are they just that out of touch. The very last thing I would be doing with WordPress development would be to create a bunch of shiny new toys that make mobile posting attractive.
Now, before the WP devs come pop me on the head for saying that, let me also reiterate that WordPress is secure. Some of the PHP elements that it depends on are not. And that’s not just a WP issue. It affects everything that is built on PHP and makes use of XML-RPC.
I’m just saying, going this direction in light of the current security threats seems out of step and shows signs of insular thinking to me.
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Fork WordPress Already
It’s past time to fork WordPress development into three branches.
One branch for those hosted on WordPress.com where there are restrictions and security is taken care of.
One branch for the majority of small and medium sized businesses who are on self-hosted or managed hosting.
And one branch for larger business sites and multisite users.
Above that, at the enterprise level, they likely won’t be using WordPress. It will be a fully customized installation.
There is no one-size-fits all solution and the core WordPress devs are leaving it up to the open source and private development communities to do the forking. That’s where offerings like RainMaker came from.
But, there’s hardly enough of that going on, and it’s expensive R&D and an expensive service.
I’m calling on WordPress to expand in a way that addresses the real needs and concerns of the bulk of its users.
How about you? Do you see the upgrades WordPress is making to have anything to do with what you need your website to do? Let us know in the comments.
You can control the meta description in SERPs to help your pages and posts get more clicks by using that feature in the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
For those of you getting your lingo on, do a search on Google. Doesn’t matter what it is. The page that you see links on is called a Search Engine Results Page, or SERP. The blue link is the title of that page, followed by the permalink. And the little text snippet below that is the meta description. By default, Google bots pick that up from the content on the page.
Instead of that, you want to customize it to ensure your page is the one that gets the click in the SERP.
This nice post from +Team Yoast has suggestions and examples for how to create a great meta description that helps you get those clicks.
And for all of you who have installed the WordPress SEO plugin, but haven’t configured the global settings, you may be doing more harm to your site than good.
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I’ve been running new baseline tests for myself and all of my site management clients. Yes, even all the sites I maintain need a site audit refresher once or twice a year. It’s good to get a deep look to ensure everything is up to par and optimized and that nothing snuck in under the radar.
Part of that audit includes using every tester Google gives us to ensure the sites are super SEO happy.
The new Structured Data Testing Tool has me scratching my head. And I wish to heck they would come up with another name for this thing because it’s different from the original tool that is still live. I think they’re just calling it Test Tool. Silly.
The new tool tells me there are errors on the page, while the old tool tells me that the output is fine. Same thing happened with the mobile rendering between Google PageSpeed Insights and the new Mobile Friendly tester.
And Google is not forthcoming about telling exactly what the source of the problem is.
The theory that I’ve heard about the new Structured Data Tool is that aggressive caching may be throwing off the Google bots.
Oh great Google. First PageSpeed Insights tells us to minify CSS, JS, and HTML to speed up our sites. But when we do that, it throws off your bots. What the hey?
So, I’ll be adding a new set of tests for those baselines, along with a mix of SEO plugins, including those that affect social, to check output on each one. I’ll have a case study for you when I’m finished.
Content Marketing Tips
Do you struggle to come up with blog post ideas? Well, how about 3,640 of them. No, this excellent post from Heather Lloyd-Martin on the SEO Copywriting blog doesn’t have a long list of them. What she provided is so much better, which are lots of ways to collect and create all of those ideas for yourself. More of a teach a man to fish thing that will have your blogging calendar filled up in no time.
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Write for Curation
Here’s a content creation strategy I pass on to my site revamp clients. Consider creating an end product for all of that content. It could be a collection of posts that end up being an ebook or free giveaway, or a specific curation page.
When I first created the Site Owner Starter Guide I realized that I only had a few posts in some of the sections that I wanted to include. So, I started writing more posts on those topics and peppered them into my editorial calendar.
If you write for recurring events, such as seasonal or holiday posts, then consider creating a curation page with links to those sorted by category. You can add to it every year.
You can also curate your most popular posts by topic too. It’s your own best of the best and ensures those posts just keep driving traffic through your site.
Multi Media Tips
YouTube Streams in HTML5 Only
YouTube announced that it will stream all videos in HTML5 only now. And while you can just input the watch link in your WordPress posts, YouTube suggests that you use the iframe code instead so you get all the fully responsive and mobile goodies from the player.
But, to do that, you’ll need a text editor that doesn’t strip out your code tags.
My fave is the TinyMCE Advanced Text Editor plugin.
See the nice little video on the quick and dirty configuration for you too.
Thanks so much to +David Prophit who took the TinyMCE Advanced video a step further by showing us how to easily add schema markup from the text editor. See my G+ post for all the skinny on how it works and what you need to look for on your site first.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday. Thanks for subscribing on iTunes, and for giving this show a rating and review. I really appreciate it. And do drop by and say hey over on my Google+ page too. That’s where I hang out. Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.