Hello Happy Site Owners! Tips this week include updates to Google Webmaster Guidelines, browsers going nutty cuckoo, the importance of database optimization, and changes coming to WordPress 4.1 to improve queries, the Google blacklist of Bit.ly shortlinks scare, home page SEO and optimization, being honest with your readers, help with marketing your own site, a stellar post example of using subheadings, and for dessert, a haunted house of lights set to music. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Tips Tuesday back in iTunes
I was certainly glad to see all of the Tips Tuesday podcast shows return to iTunes. And I hope all of my subscribers have enjoyed binge listening to get caught up. You may remember a glitch I told you I found last week. This is just one more reason why subscribing to your own stuff and checking your crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools is a good idea to do once in a while.
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Check Site in Google Webmaster Tools
And on that note, this past week I discovered that one of my client’s sites was no longer verified in Google Webmaster Tools and it also had outdated analytics code. Keep in mind that Google has made radical changes to both in the last couple of years. So, if you set these things up years ago and haven’t touched them since, it may be time to refresh them and bring them up to par with the way things are done now.
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And the new Webmaster Training site tech glitches continue. I’ve actually retained the best developers in the world for this specific matter and they have been unable to find the cause either, so I don’t feel bad about my troubleshooting skills. And what’s really got everyone scratching their heads is that my other membership site, WordPress Video Library, works just fine.
My typical MO is to have everything ready and spit shined before release. And wouldn’t you know the only thing I’ve released for pre-sale has a glitch. I appreciate y’all hanging in with me and I’ll be launching as soon as I can. Believe me, no one is sleeping until we get to the bottom of the problem. It vexes me like no other.
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Browsers go Nutty Cuckoo
Both Firefox and Chrome are rolling out updates. You may recall that I’ve been reporting glitches in them for a couple of weeks now. And I’m positive that is exacerbating getting to the bottom of what’s going on with the Webmaster site too.
Plus, I’ve been trying to put some new plugins through tests for Twitter Audio Card validation and getting random mixed results with that too.
I hope you’ve been faring better. But I am fielding more support questions from clients about random goofiness too, so betting lots of folks besides devs are seeing issues, including new goofiness with opening Google Drive Docs that started yesterday. They appear like a Word doc that has been uploaded.
Let us know what kind of goofiness you’ve been seeing. You know misery loves company, right?
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New Clients for Total Site Revamps
On a happier note, busy season is in full swing here at BlogAid. This is the time of year that folks get serious about becoming successful online and about getting real traction with their sites. It lasts through April and it won’t be long before I’m booked up an entire month in advance.
And, I’ve added a whole other segment to my courses, which is specifically on finding the real money in your business and revamping your focus toward conversion on that via content marketing.
And that’s a hint of the new mastermind group offering I’ll be releasing early next year. I’ve been doing this with all of my full training clients since this summer with some spectacular results. And along the way I’ve been developing a separate program for it. So, look for more on that toward the end of the year.
If you’re ready to get started now with focused 1-on-1 training, let’s chat about that.
Work continues on WordPress 4.1 and the devs have taken a bunch of redundancy out of query strings. That’s a super good thing and will likely speed up WordPress. Keep in mind that all of those admin pages you access on the backside of your site are really just fancy interfaces for the database that stores all of your content.
Whenever a visitor requests a page or post from your site, the database has to be queried to retrieve it. So, cleaning up the query itself is going to speed that find and retrieve process up and that’s a good thing.
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Database Optimization is Important
Keeping your database free of clutter also speeds that process up. I recently removed 3 GB of clutter from a site and brought the whole size of it down to 1 GB. That not only made the whole site run faster, it also made backups faster too. And that decreased hosting account resource use as well as money shelled out for backup file storage too.
And there’s not a single database optimizing plugin that would have found and fixed what I did.
Most of the time it takes manually removing all of that clutter, along with adjusting or removing the plugins that are the cause of most of it. I also find lots of orphaned tables from plugins that were tried and removed. While the plugin may be out of your list, it can leave all manner of stuff behind, like the folder for it with all of the settings and bunches of database tables.
Site Audits are the only way to find all of that stuff. So, if you’ve tried this tried that for a few years, it would be a good idea to get a clean sweep done on your site and remove the leftover bloat.
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You may recall a couple of Tips Tuesdays ago that I reported the devs are changing the default font in the text editor to sans serif. Well, now they are making it bigger too, which is great. It will better simulate the font styles most folks are using in their themes.
I really wish all theme designers would code in the font styles for the editor so it becomes a more accurate WYSIWYG representation of your site. WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get, and that’s what I want. WordPress has supported that for years. Theme devs just don’t do the extra coding.
The nice folks at +Sucuri dropped a little reporting bomb Saturday that Google was slapping big malware warnings on all redirects using Bit.ly short links.
Within a few hours the folks at Bit.ly issued their own statement saying that the “the root of the problem was Google Safebrowsing, a service provided by the internet giant to browsers such as Firefox and Chrome.”
It’s all been mostly fixed, and the links never displayed the warning on The Safari and IE browsers. And The Bit.ly extension is being used on all newly created links until they get this cleared up. So, no branded links available right now.
But, let this be a lesson to us about how much potential traffic and perceived trust we can lose as site owners.
It may be time to change habits if you use link shorteners. Folks want to know what they’re clicking on nowadays. I use the ow.ly shortlinks from Hootsuite to auto post to my G+ biz page and Twitter. And Twitter would especially be decimated if shortlinks were banned. But I try not to use them anywhere else.
How about you?
I’ve been seeing reports from folks that they stopped using bit.ly and other services when they encountered similar glitches once before.
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That’s the question posed on the +Yoast blog. And the conclusion drawn is that it doesn’t. But, if you read the comments on this post, that seems to not be true of local businesses who are finding ways to max out SEO for local. So, definitely no blanket, generic answer to this question for sure.
From what I’ve experienced with my own sites and my client sites, SEO for the home page is a very small part of the whole SEO picture. The real meat of it comes in the core content and blog posts. And that’s pretty much the conclusion drawn in this post too. But, still worth a good read, especially about the differences for ranking locally.
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And then they did a follow up post about the kind of optimization you should be concerned with on your homepage, and it boils down to guiding your visitors to the content they came to your site for in the first place.
I’m about to revamp the BlogAid homepage for this very thing, specifically to get rid of the clutter. My offers have grown and the homepage has grown out like a cactus to accommodate it. Most of the time, folks never see the lower half. They hit the four boxes at the top, self-identify their needs, and click into the site from there. And that’s exactly what I want folks to do, and what this post suggests is the key. So, it’s mainly a matter of revamping what’s working so it works better, and to remove the distractions and the clutter.
And yes, I’ll be getting help with it because this is something that is super hard to do for yourself. It’s really better to have another set of qualified eyes on it to help you make the changes, especially if radical ones are needed.
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So, yesterday they issued new guidelines saying to not block Google bots from those two things specifically, or risk suboptimal rankings.
Guess I know what I’ll be updating this week. But, I do still want to keep all bots out of certain sensitive parts of the site. Since ill-behaved bots disregard those directives, I know that any bots hitting those areas are bad bots and it helps me see attack vectors.
You’re welcome to have a look at the robots.txt file I use and I’m happy to hear your suggestions for tweaks that you know are bringing you better crawl results. There are so many different opinions about how to make this file work for you, so if you have data to back up your tests and tweaks, we’d like to see that too.
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Performance Counts for Higher Ranking
In that same Guideline, Google also mentioned merging and minifying the CSS and JS files. I find those to be the biggest performance drags during Site Audits.
Folks get all manner of plugins that put widgets all over their pages without regard to how they affect both security and performance. And it’s not just all of the individual CSS and JS files. Many of those plugins are pulling info from other domains and that slows up things too, not to mention opening another attack vector.
It’s time you check the ROI on those plugins.
Do they actually help you make money?
If not, you need to seriously consider getting rid of them and reduce both the performance hit and the clutter along with it.
Here’s an example. If you’re a social media expert, you may need to show your live Twitter stream in your sidebar. If social media is not your core business, and you can’t verify that showing that stream garners more followers, then it needs to go. Your site is taking an unnecessary hit on security, performance, and ranking.
I have yet to do a full Site Audits that didn’t shock the client with all the stuff found that was killing the site. They had no idea all of that was going on in the background.
Business Marketing Tips
I like +Jay Baer. His near-daily top of mind videos show us the workings of his mind and how things strike him as both a marketer and a customer. In this vlog he shares his perception of a marketing message from Delta Airlines and why he would have preferred just hearing the truth.
I’d like to add one thing to that. Even if Delta had wrapped the message as he suggested, many folks would have still been upset because the bottom line is that changes were being made that will negatively impact all but the highest end clients, and that’s the majority of their clients.
But, perception is everything and some days a bitter pill wrapped in sugar still leaves an aftertaste that can’t be avoided.
This hit home for me in telling folks the truth about what’s going on with the new webmaster training site. Some folks realize that tech glitches are unavoidable to everyone, even techs. Some folks hold techs to an unrealistic standard. All I can do is keep it real.
Content Marketing Tips
That’s what +Heather Lloyd-Martin asks in the post on the SEO Copywriting blog. And she details 5 common problems and then gives us the solutions.
- trying to be Superman or Superwoman
- being stuck
- not having a plan
- not setting enough time aside
- needing outside accountability
Heather also speaks to how easy this is to do for clients but so hard to do for yourself. You remember earlier when I said that I get outside help for my site revamp, well, I do the same for my marketing revamp too, but it’s not an individual coach. I watch the folks who are doing well with it and try to adapt what they do to my own topics and audience. But more than anything, I try to understand why what they do works, regardless of my own feelings about it. Something may initially turn me off, but I can’t ignore the fact that it is working gangbusters for them.
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Your content exists on the Internet. That means it is super important to make it visually entertaining and scanable. +Mike Allton has a superb post on the use of subheadings, which are your H2 tags. And the post itself is an excellent example of how to use subheadings, single sentence paragraphs in bold, and bullet points to direct the eye and keep folks on your page longer.
That’s very important for multiple reasons.
Time on site and bounce rate are Google ranking factors. And the longer you can keep folks on your site, the more opportunities you have to put your CTA, or Call to Action in front of them. And that’s your ultimate goal. So, post formatting matters big time.
Since Halloween is just around the corner, I hope you enjoy this fun house of lights set to music with jackolanterns singing to the tune of Fireball.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
Please take a moment to jump on over to iTunes, and leave a review. I really appreciate it and your review means so much in helping get the word out about this podcast. And drop by and say hey over on my Google+ page too. I love hearing from you. Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.