Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- What I’m finding in my caching and speed tests
- Why where you host matters so much
- Are you chasing scores or speed?
- Why Google PageSpeed Insights is a worthless tester
- A super easy tool to list out all of your blog posts in a spreadsheet
- What’s in the recent WordPress 4.9.3 release
- UpdraftPlus acquires a new site manager plugin
- LiquidWeb purchases iThemes
- Major changes in Contact Form 7 and why I may not be recommending it much longer
- A super JotForm tutorial
- Why ranking in Google is all about user intent now
- A new image lazy load feature coming to Chrome
- What’s at the very top of the latest Google Webmaster Report
- What the new SEO audit extension in Chrome can and can’t do
Listen to the Podcast
Live Recap Tonight
Join me for a live recap of Tips Tuesday and breaking news tonight around 8ish ET / 5ish PT on the BlogAid Facebook page.
It’s a great chance for you to discuss what’s going in for your site success this week too.
Caching and Speed Tests Continue
This past week I’ve still been neck deep in my new head-to-head caching tests.
I finished testing all of the plugins and now I’m getting into the nitty gritty stuff.
Things like comparing the effectiveness of Gzip on Apache servers to APC on Litespeed servers.
Gzip is a way of squishing down data that the browser later explodes.
APC is Alternative PHP Cache and does sort of the same thing as Gzip, but it’s faster.
Both of these methods are different from minification, which actually changes the code by removing all the whitespace and formatting and such.
Minification gives you a 17% speed improvement, but I suggest doing it at Cloudflare, not on your site. Otherwise, anyone who needs to work on your code will hate you!!
If you do it at Cloudflare, it minifies a copy of the code, not the actual code.
Gzip and APC give you a whopping 85% speed improvement. So, they are the big ones to have.
Adding minification will get up to a 90% improvement.
Where You Host Matters
All of this to say, how you set up your caching, and the results you see from it, depends greatly on what type of host server you are on.
SiteGround (aff link) servers are Apache with nginx. That means you need to turn on Gzip to get the most out of them.
Same with A2 Hosting’s (aff link) Swift package. That is Apache.
But, their Turbo package is on a Litespeed server and it has APC built in. There’s nothing for you to turn on. Plus, you don’t want to add Gzip to it, else you’ll have two tools trying to do the same thing.
This is also why you can’t just follow generic tutorials about caching setup.
Speaking of generic tutorials, I hope you had a chance to see my livestream or replay of trying to replicate getting a 100 score on Google PageSpeed Insights.
I followed an online tutorial to the letter, but could score no better than 68.
The owner of the site that did the tutorial left a comment on my blog about it, and we had a nice little comment chat about the fact that they didn’t include all of the initial test conditions and that there was more tweaking to it than what was shown in the article.
Specifically, they were on a VPS host and had done lots of tweaks there.
And that’s what made up the 32 point difference in the score.
You can read the comments in the post for more details.
The point is, vet what you read and test the results.
Make sure you have all the info and that your setup matches the tutorial 100%. Else, you won’t have the same results.
Google PageSpeed Insights is Worthless
As far as even trying to get a 100 score on GPSI, forget about it.
GPSI is the least accurate, least helpful site tester on the planet.
I take performance checks on my site at least twice a year. And most all of my site audit clients come in for a yearly checkup.
So, I see changes in the online testers over time.
About 2 years ago, GPSI dropped everyone’s score by 15-20 for not using AMP.
Then about a year ago, they dropped the scores again for not using SVG images, at least that’s what I heard it was for.
About 3 weeks ago everyone suddenly got about a 30 point raise on mobile, but desktop scores tanked.
We have no idea why yet.
So, forget about those scores.
Use real testers that tell you exactly what’s going on with your site, like WebPage Test.
And stop chasing the score dragon. See what’s really going into those scores so you can improve your site without throwing darts in the dark.
That’s what a site audit is all about. So come get yours. We’ll figure it out together.
I’ve also been neck deep in doing my own homework from the Technical SEO Workshop we did in the DIY SEO course a few weeks ago.
I’m trying to fix all of the broken links I see in Google Search Console.
Plus, I want to do a full content revamp on BlogAid too, and delete some of those old posts that are contributing to the broken link situation.
That also means I need to identify the images that are being used in those posts and delete them too, so I don’t suddenly cause even more broken links.
One of my clients turned me on to the WP All Export plugin and it is truly a thing of beauty.
Now I can customize a report of all my blog posts with a list of the images that are in them. And I can include the date they were published, the category, and so much more.
I made a little vid tut for you so you can do it too.
This thing is the bomb for content audits and organizing your social media promotion too.
So go have a look.
Reminder to everyone in the DIY SEO course, our next live Workshop is this Thursday.
I sent a reminder email to you this weekend, and you can always find the upcoming meeting info in your member dashboard.
This time we’ll be switching gears to the more sexy SEO stuff, like our global SEO settings and our page titles.
So, mark your calendars now.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
WordPress 4.9.3 started rolling out yesterday.
This is mainly a bug fix and should auto update for you.
UpdraftPlus has become my fave backup solution for small and medium sized sites.
The day the plugin went live under the new team was 5 years ago last week and they just keep making it better and better.
Read this post on the difference in the free and premium version and see if it’s a good fit for your backup needs too.
Speaking of making it better, UpdraftPlus just purchased the Easy Updates Manager plugin.
I’m definitely going to check into this, as I have finally decided I have too many sites to manage individually. Between all the sites I own for me, I have lots of test sites going, plus all the sandbox sites for my training clients.
So, being able to put them all under one management umbrella for regular plugin updates and such will save me a lot of time.
There are other such plugins, like ManageWP and MainWP. And my webmaster training peeps use both of those.
So, lots of choices for me to investigate.
UPDATE 2/7/18: I checked into this plugin and it is for a single site install or a Multisite install, not for managing multiple sites like the other 2 plugins mentioned above are. So, will be checking into those for my needs.
And, speaking of backup and site management plugins, I was super shocked to hear this.
iThemes has been acquired by LiquidWeb, which is a hosting company.
The press release says LiquidWeb wants to continue their focus on Managed WP and Woocommerce hosting, while they further integrate iThemes backup and security functions with their managed hosting solutions.
I have to be honest here.
The folks at iThemes lost me a few years ago over the extremely poor support and instability of BackupBuddy. Not to mention what a resource hog it is.
And the iThemes security plugin, it is a behemoth from hell with the bloat it creates, including an .htaccess file that slows down everything coming to your site.
So, if that’s what is going into the managed hosting at LiquidWeb, that would make me think twice about it being a good solution for hands-off site owners now.
I want to thank webmaster Steve Dougherty of PLR Video Direct for the heads up on this news.
I’ve used and recommended Contact Form 7 for years.
I was helping a client set it up last week and discovered that the redirect to a Thank You page after form submission no longer works the way it used to. Would have to do a bunch of coding to get it to work, and nobody’s going to do that.
It’s not a big security issue, but it is a wee bit of one, which is why they killed it.
This happened at the end of 2017, and I’m just now finding out about it.
On top of it, CF7 loads all of its js and css on every page, not just the pages where the form is, and that’s a speed issue I was about to look into.
So, not sure if CF7 will stay on my recommended list much longer.
I’ll be checking into new forms to recommend, and testing on a lot of different levels now – speed, and security included.
My fellow webmaster and trainer Larry Snow, just uploaded a new video tutorial on his favorite form builder, JotForm.
It will be on my list of new contact forms to have a look at.
It’s a little different from most, in that it is a cloud service.
So, go give his tutorial a watch and see what you think.
SEO these days is all about user intent.
That’s why I’m revamping BlogAid. Not only the theme, but the content and my conversion points as well.
SEO Roundtable has a nice article on what it takes to rank with Google now that user intent is such a big part of the game. Well worth a read so you can figure out what you should be doing with your content too.
It’s definitely not all keyword focused anymore.
I want to thank fellow webmaster John Sawyer of The Small Business Website Guy for alerting us to this announcement from Google.
At some point in the future, the mobile version of Chrome will have a built in lazy load feature for images. They say they will first release it for Android, but have not ruled out releasing for desktop at some point.
Lazy load is something I’ve been testing in my head-to-head caching tests.
While it is the bomb for reducing overall requests dramatically, I was absolutely shocked that there weren’t real speed improvements.
I also checked to see if there would be any negative SEO impact.
Most of the articles I found about it were from 2015 and said to not do it.
And, I did ask Joost de Valk about it, and am awaiting his reply.
The trick is to test it on Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render feature.
If the images can be seen by Google there, it should be all good.
I tested the three top lazy load plugins and all of them passed that test.
Plus, I didn’t see any delay with images loading on the actual site as I scrolled.
So, lazy load will be one of my recommendations to use, but don’t count on it giving you tons of speed improvements.
SEO Roundtable has released a report of all the announcements and changes for Google that happened over January and are to come this month.
Right at the top is speed on mobile as a ranking factor.
If you haven’t been all that concerned about your site speed yet, now is the time to get ahead of this curve.
The new penalty will go into effect in July.
Come get a site audit and see what your real load times are, plus what’s dragging it down.
And if you’re using something like Pingdom to test your site, just ask any of my site audit clients why that’s worthless and makes you think nothing’s wrong.
Here’s something I’m looking forward to trying as I take BlogAid through a content revamp.
Chrome already has several nice Dev Tools that I use during HTTPS conversions and such.
Now they are adding an extension for an SEO Audit called Lighthouse.
It’s open-source code and runs as a browser tool, so you can do it for any page on your site, including those that are on a staging site.
Here’s what they say about the tool:
“The current list of SEO audits is not an exhaustive list, nor does it make any SEO guarantees for Google websearch or other search engines. The current list of audits was designed to validate and reflect the SEO basics that every site should get right, and provides detailed guidance to developers and SEO practitioners of all skill levels. In the future, we hope to add more and more in-depth audits and guidance.”
So, I’m looking forward to seeing what it will tell me about posts on BlogAid that have been a featured snippet for going on 4 years now.
In the Yoast content analysis, I get a mix of red, orange, and green dots on those posts. I definitely don’t shoot for all green dots. And those posts have been sending me loads of traffic for years.
So, be careful with any SEO analysis tool like this. Sometimes a perfect score on them would actually do more harm than good.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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