Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- BlogAid Holiday Sales are LIVE!
- Where the link to my Helpful Posts page is hiding
- A holiday fundraiser I may be setting up
- Why I’m once again modifying my office hours
- A surprising update on what my video SEO research revealed
- The schema markup the Astra theme uses
- Why case studies are so incredibly important
- WordPress 5.6 Release Candidates are out and what I’ll be testing
- What to look for when you migrate from Atomic Blocks to Genesis Blocks
- What’s up with that email you got from Amazon S3
- Why the AS3 interface changes are making me crazy
- Big news about YouTube inserting ads into all videos
- Mediavine creates a mid-roll video ad placement and why you might not want to use it
- What I think about the Yoast Zapier integration
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join for tonight’s livestream at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on the BlogAid Facebook Page. It’s a great way to get the deeper story on what’s reported in Tips Tuesday. And, I almost always have breaking news for the day too. So come join us live for the party.
Who I Help
All tips, advice, and suggestions in this, and all BlogAid posts and tutorials, are intended to empower DIY site owners who are serious about making money with their sites and are not on hosting that is restrictive in what you can and can’t do with your site and hosting setup. If you have any doubts about what type of host you are on and if the tips I give will work there, see this post on What is Managed Hosting?
I normally try to keep the Tips Tuesday before the Thanksgiving weekend short, as so many folks are traveling and/or preparing for large gatherings and shopping.
But, I’m not sure that is going to be the norm this year, so I’m keeping it standard as I think many of you may take the opportunity this year to get a little extra site success going for you.
And to help you with your site success, BlogAid courses and site services have big discounts running.
So, do jump on these savings while they last.
I know many of you are used to clicking on the banner at the top of BlogAid to get to the Helpful Posts page with links to all manner of tutorials and info. Well, that has been updated to link to the holiday sales page.
You can always find the Helpful Posts link under Blog and under Resources too.
Setting up a holiday fundraiser
I’m seeing a lot of folks in my city’s Facebook group asking if anyone is discarding an old Christmas trees.
And now one of my neighbors is asking in our ‘hood’s group for a nearby family.
That just hurts my heart to see.
I put up my tree earlier this year because of the joy and soothing those little twinkling lights brings me. And I can’t imagine what that little bit of solace would mean for families hit hard by CoVid this year.
There are plenty of programs to help with toys, but nothing I know of to help with trees.
So, I’m going to buy a few.
My neighbor is pretty connected with this community and maybe I can hook up with her to help distribute.
I’m also looking into ways to start a Donation campaign that I can post for y’all to help, if you like. I just need to do that in a way that doesn’t goof up my taxes. So if you have suggestions, let me know.
Modify Office Hours
Y’all know that I’ve tried to institute new office hours for the past few weeks.
Buddha says that our expectations are what cause us to suffer. And my expectation of time off on specific days is just not working, and that’s causing more disappointment than it’s worth.
So, I’m returning to my regular office hours of not allowing folks to book past noon on the weekend or on Monday afternoons when I produce Tips Tuesday.
I may still be working past those hours on those days, but not allowing bookings makes it so that I don’t have a set schedule.
This may sound like I work around the clock every day. It’s not like that.
When I was on call and on the road as an electronics engineer, I could make all of the plans I wanted to for regular client maintenance visits. But, if a client’s machine went down, then that’s where I had to go for the day, plans be damned.
And, I had time off when the schedule allowed during the week. But I did have off the weekends.
With the type of service work I do now, it basically schedules itself. Plus, it is scheduled ahead of time, as I don’t do emergency fix-it work. So, I do have an idea of what my day will entail.
Also, with the sheer volume of client load that I have, I’m going to have to return to working when work is due and taking off when the schedule allows.
There are days when most all of my clients are off doing their thing and my bookings are light. And then there are days when I’m booked back to back to back with meetings and deadlines.
That’s just the nature of this business and I’m fine with it.
So now, instead of expecting to be off, and not getting to be, I’ll return to having time off as it comes and that’s a treat!!
And that just works better for me both mentally and physically.
Video SEO research update
This past week I dove into the other schema markup testers available to us, since Google is taking their good Structured Data Testing Tool away, and replacing it with a the Rich Results tester, and since we have no idea if/when the Bing Schema Validator will return.
There really aren’t many of these things available y’all, especially free ones that you can use too.
I ended up going with the Yandex Schema Validator.
Yandex is the Russian equivalent of Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
You do have to sign up for a free account to use it. And they do most certainly track your use, as it would not allow me to run more than 10 tests at a time. That’s going to be a problem with all the testing I still have to do.
Plus, they list the schema markup in reverse order, which is crazy, since it is a hierarchy structure. So, I would have to get used to reading it backwards. It also does not point out the schema errors like the Google tool does.
And the next time I tried to log in, it said my account had been suspended due to likely having been hacked. The only way I could get back in was to fill out the security questions, a bunch of captchas, and then give them my phone number to send an authorization code. I did all that, and then it said the service was not available.
I’m thinking this whole thing was simply to get my email and phone number, and I’m pissed.
So, I went back to the Google Rich Results tester and it has changed since the first few times I used it. Now it looks like it has all of the results we actually need. I’m guessing what I initially saw in it was the beta type version.
But, it looks like this tester will be worthwhile after all, and I will be switching to it for all of my tests and tutorials.
Thank you to site audit clients helping with the tests
I want to send a huge shout out to my site audit clients who volunteered to help with this testing.
We met live last week to go over what I found on their sites, as everyone’s site came back with different schema markup.
I’ve got a LOT more testing to do and will be meeting with a couple of those folks individually so I can see the backside of how they insert their video ads and what they put, or don’t put into their recipe plugin to help us find the common schema errors that we are seeing.
Astra is using old schema markup
During these tests we also discovered that the Astra theme is using one of the older schema markup languages, just like Genesis uses.
Remember back when Yoast SEO 11 came out and Genesis theme users had to delay updating the Yoast plugin because it switched to the newer schema markup that Google likes and would directly conflict with what Genesis was outputting?
And remember that we all had to install a special Genesis plugin to temporarily make the Genesis schema back out so we could use the new stuff in Yoast?
Then about 4 months later the Genesis devs finally got around to creating a trigger that would auto detect if you were using the Yoast SEO plugin and it would auto back out the Genesis SEO schema markup to avoid the conflict.
Well, Astra has that same old schema markup, but it doesn’t have a way to auto detect that you are using Yoast SEO and back itself out.
So, if you are using Astra, you are running on its SEO output, not Yoast.
I contacted Michelle Phillips of Codefetti about this.
You may recall the 2 live chats earlier this year where Michelle shared a lot of great Astra info with us. Go check those out, as there are links to more of her Astra tutorials there too.
She let me know that there is a piece of code that you can install that will act as this filter so that your theme SEO will back out so the Yoast SEO schema markup can take lead.
But, we want you to hold off doing that, as Michelle is working with Astra support to get them to input that same type of trigger into the theme code, like Genesis has, that will auto detect that you are using the Yoast SEO, or other SEO plugin.
And honestly, I don’t want y’all to be goofing with your theme’s functions.php file, as you could blow something up. This Astra SEO is not doing any more harm than what we were on for years with Genesis.
Michelle will keep us updated, so if you are using Astra, then you may want to start following her directly so you get first word.
And I’ll keep you posted here in Tips Tuesday too.
THIS is why case studies are important
Folks, this sort of thing is why it’s so critically important for me to continue doing case studies.
They take a LOT of non-billable hours to produce.
But, it’s the only way that I’m positive that I am giving you good advice in my recommendations for what hosting, themes, and plugins to use.
And that, in turn, brings me more site audit business, and repeat business, as I know you are counting on me for things like this. And, so you can give good advice to your blogger buddies too.
And after I finish with this video SEO research, and get the course launched, I can see a new case study coming for recipe plugins right behind it, as I’ll already have a lot of the data. So, let’s all hope I can put that on my plate for this spring.
That’s all the happenings around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
The first Release Candidate for WP 5.6 became available last Tuesday, as I predicted.
This means that they have drawn the line on all changes and are now just doing bug fixes.
I suspect they may post RC2 today, as historically they have been pushing them out weekly.
I have started compiling my notes on it now for a video tour for you on what’s new in 5.6 that I’ll publish the day before it hits.
Plus, I’m making notes of what tutorials I’ll want to update in the Gutenberg Ninja course too. Those updates will be after the public release, as they sometimes make last minute changes in the full release, or within a week or so after release.
Migrate from Atomic Blocks to Genesis Blocks
During site audits, I’m seeing a notification at the top of the admin pages for those using Atomic Blocks to migrate over to Genesis Blocks.
I’m not hearing anyone scream about it, but that may be because so few folks have done it.
I don’t think I’ll have time to test that in the coming weeks for you.
So, I’ve asked my webmasters if they have tried it yet.
Marcy Diaz of Amethyst Website Design said that the migration should be fine. But, some Genesis themes have added styles to the Atomic blocks and those styles will not migrate. However, fixing that involves a simple CSS change to two files.
Just be sure you take a full backup before you do that plugin migration, as I believe it is one-way trip with no rollback potential.
File Storage Tips
Email from Amazon S3
Have you gotten your email from Amazon S3 yet?
They are so insanely unclear in their communications that I can’t be sure if the way I understand it is correct.
But here’s my best guess.
It seems to me that they are changing the issuer of their SSL certificate who guarantees the encryption of file delivery from AS3.
If that is the case, I don’t believe that it will have any impact on those of us who use AS3 for:
- Backup file storage
- PDF delivery
- Video for membership site delivery
- Podcast file delivery
I’ll be keeping my eyes on this and will let you know if there are any changes for us to make.
AS3 Interface Changes
Amazon S3 has also been making changes to their interface.
So far I have seen 3 different interface setups between logging into my own account and those of my site audit clients when I setup their backup file storage.
I even made new tutorials for my Webmaster Training folks a couple of weeks ago and damn if AS3 didn’t make yet another interface update the very next day.
So, I’m waiting until I see the same thing everywhere before I update those tutorials again, as well as updating my public tutorial on BlogAid for how to setup an AS3 bucket.
Even the bucket settings have changed and it now looks like Versioning is required.
That might mess up some folks who are storing their PDFs there and are in the habit of updating the file without it changing the file URL. Versioning won’t allow that.
I’ll keep you posted on when this settles down and when I have new tutorials available.
YouTube announced that they will now begin inserting ads to videos even if you are not in the YouTube Partner Program.
This is a significant change in their policies.
To qualify for the YouTube Partner Program so you can get extra benefits like adding end cards, and placing monetized ads on your videos, you are required to have at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 minutes of watch time a month.
Up until now, we could all exclude ads from our videos, or if we met the YPP requirements, earn money from the ads on our videos.
In that program, we also had some control over the types of ads that were placed on our videos.
But, with this new change in policy, if you are not in the YPP, then you do not earn money on the ads, and I don’t think you’ll have any control over what ads are displayed.
Here are the 2 big things I’m wondering about it:
- How will this affect those with ad agencies who embed YT videos?
- How will we control competitor videos?
I think we’re going to hear all video creators screaming about this.
But, the reality is that YouTube has a monetization path with their paid subscription service. When on it, you won’t see any ads.
My guess is that most folks are not signing up for that, and YouTube wants to put more ads on more videos to generate slots for more ads, and to push more folks into their paid subscription service.
I guess we all need to start regarding YouTube like regular TV.
Free stations have ads.
Paid subscription services, like Netflix, don’t have ads.
Will this push more folks to consistently create videos?
And maybe this will also encourage more video creators to get serious about driving up their subscriptions and watch time so that they can get into the YPP and control the ads that are shown, plus get in on that little bit of revenue it generates.
That’s going to require that folks create video content on a more consistent basis. And it can’t just be fluff if they want to keep their watch time numbers high enough to stay in the program.
Honestly, I think this where my upcoming Video SEO course can really help, as it will get your video seen more often on YouTube itself, plus on your site, plus coming up in the featured Google Search video carousel.
And all of that contributes to watch time and subscriptions.
For video, most everyone enjoys short clips more than extended videos. And that’s super true of video ads on a site.
But, some blogging niches do well with long-form video content, especially with in-depth demonstration tutorials.
And that’s why Mediavine has now made mid roll ads available for long-form videos so you can monetize them too.
I checked in with my site audit clients who run Mediavine ads and overwhelmingly they say it will be better for them to stick with monetizing shorter video clips and save the long-form videos for YouTube, even if they choose to embed those on their site.
And with the possibility of monetizing those YouTube videos, that makes sense.
Plus, the watch time they get from embedding them goes directly to their YouTube stats.
And that also contributes to their time on site analytics metric, which helps their post rank higher.
With Heartwood Art, I’m getting 5-7 minutes of time on site because of these longer video embeds.
And this is the same sort of thing I’ll be teaching in my upcoming Video SEO course too, as a way to help you better navigate all of your choices.
The latest Yoast SEO premium plugin now has Zapier integration to auto publish your posts to other social media accounts.
Some of you are doing this with other plugins or integrations like CoSchedule and IFTTT.
While this type of automation may be enticing as a way to save yourself some time, keep in mind that most social platforms significantly lower the visibility of any posts made with such automation.
If the whole point of you having a presence on a platform is to get more eyeballs, this type of automation is not helping you accomplish that.
You’re far better off batch scheduling directly in the platform, if that platform has a way for you to schedule future posts.
On top of that, I honestly hate to see Yoast do this and further bloat and complicate the plugin.
What’s wrong with doing one thing well and leaving it at that?
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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