Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- My number one word for 2020
- More new Gutenberg Ninja tutorials released
- A caution about Gutenberg blocks and theme compatibility
- Why I need to outsource even more
- What’s new and not so new with the release of Genesis Blocks
- Why I suggest not using Genesis Pro yet
- The difference in Astra and Genesis themes
- Google adds a new Activities at Home section to Search
- What’s in the new Schema Tab in Yoast SEO 14.8
- The SEO difference in putting your site into Coming Soon and Maintenance Mode
- What was behind the major internet outage this past weekend
- A checklist of what it means to have a high-quality site
- What you need to pay attention to now with Core Web Vitals becoming a ranking factor in 2021
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 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?
Breaking News – WP 5.5.1 Releases – What you need to know
Link to SEJ post featured in the livestream
Welcome to September!!!
Here we go into the mad dash toward fall and the holidays for the last third of the year.
And when we hit this time of season, with the end of the year in sight, we ask ourselves if we are where we want to be with our online business.
That’s a tricky question this year, as so much of what has happened with our online presence has been turned on its head, both good and bad.
The word for 2020 is pivot
I think we’ve all had to re-evaluate what we’re doing this year.
For me, I’m both way ahead and far behind on my plans for 2020.
I’m way ahead in seeing, planning, and capitalizing on emerging business and trends.
But I’m way behind in a few of the plans I had for 2020, like starting on my new Video SEO course.
I hoped to get that done during the summer, but looks like those plans will be at least a month or two behind. But, I still plan to get it launched before the end of the year.
And I had to totally backburner several more case studies I hoped to do this year, especially those for more plugins and such to update previous case studies. I don’t know if I’ll be able to put them back on my plate for this year or not.
What I am up to speed on includes the new Core Web Vitals that Google announced.
And I did get my interviews setup to livestream on Facebook, with more of those coming.
Plus, I began offering rebranding as a service.
So, at least I have been able to keep up with the new emerging business that will be huge in 2021.
Plus, I’ve made some major decisions with regard to Heartwood Art and its role in all of this as a revenue generator. I’ll have a new post for you on that soon.
How have you had to pivot in 2020?
Did you have a change of focus in your content?
Did things go boom or bust for you?
How have you altered your plans for this year and into next?
Leave us a comment and let us know.
Site Services all day, every day
Thanks to all of my site services clients with open projects, or projects that have recently wrapped up. I appreciate you taking my “time is of the essence” clause seriously and getting your parts of the project done quickly.
We’re on target with the schedule and last week I onboarded folks who I guesstimated would start at the end of August.
A few of these current projects are annual site audit checkups and they go pretty fast. Because the site had already been secured and cleaned up, and the client was educated in how to keep it that way, I just do the updates and new additions as I go. It’s cheap and easy to maintain.
I also have several clients who are combining a migration to better hosting with their audit, and that saves them money over doing them separately. Plus it includes the security fixes and such. An audit is just that, a look at what’s going on with the site and it does not include the fixes.
So, we get to really beef up the security during that migration, and that ultimately also makes the site faster too.
I’m still plugging away at updating all of the tutorials in the Gutenberg Ninja course.
I’m making good progress on the Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg Blocks plugin, as I know that’s the one most of you use.
And I decided not to wait until I have them all done to release them this time.
I’m posting as I go.
I’m also making note of a few bugs and quirks I’ve found in them too since the WP 5.5 update.
If you’re in the course, please do comment on a tutorial if you run into a bug or quirk and I’ll make a note on the tutorial for us. Or, if you see any bugs fixed, let me know and I’ll take down the note.
Blocks and theme compatibility
Sometimes when you switch to Gutenberg on a theme that is not fully Gute compliant, things don’t act as expected.
In fact, we just ran into such a thing with one of my site audit clients.
She’s using the Essence Pro Genesis child theme, and it’s a version prior to it becoming fully Gutenberg compliant.
We hit a snag with using the most aggressive optimization tweaks in WP Fastest Cache paid plugin with it.
The CSS files that acted on the blocks were half the theme and half native WP and it got confused.
The client will be updating the child theme later to see if that fixes it.
So, some of the quirks we’re seeing with Gutenberg are not the fault of the blocks. They are a fault of the theme not supporting them.
That’s a big reason why I have not switched BlogAid over to Gutenberg.
I’ve got all manner of custom styling in that theme and we’ll have to go through and see what will need to be updated for Gutenberg so I don’t run into these quirks.
Or, it might be better, and time, to just start with a new base theme.
That was another one of those things I hoped to tackle this summer that ended up on a backburner.
That also tells me that I need to outsource the whole project next year.
I’ve also totally outsourced updating my optin giveaway too.
In fact, I semi-outsourced the content by asking my Site Audit Plus clients what they wished they had known when they first started online.
Their replies, plus a few tips from me are what will be in the new optin.
And one of my webmaster/designer colleagues is revamping the whole look of it and sorting those tips into logical sections so it reads well.
And soon I’ll be outsourcing the making of new funnels and ads for my courses because I need to start regarding each one of those as a niche site.
Folks, I’ve had to own up to the fact that I just suck at some things, and I don’t have enough time in the day to do it all anymore.
BlogAid is likely on the cusp of flipping into an agency or at least outsourcing more things that others can do, especially the things that others can do better and faster than me.
I clearly see what’s coming for 2021 and there’s just no way for me to do it all.
So, I need to focus my attention on the things that only I can do that are the most profitable and then outsource as much of the rest as I can.
For you, that’s going to translate into more courses, free tutorials, case studies for best plugins and themes, and a shorter wait list for site services.
So, it’s definitely time for me to consider BlogAid as bigger than what I can run alone anymore and time to make that next step up that will benefit both me and you.
Like I said, it’s all about pivoting this year.
What changes do you need to make to step up your online business?
Is it time for you to start outsourcing more, or changing your focus on what you spend the most time on?
Is it time for you to invest in speed, security, or SEO so your site can trounce the competition and grow your traffic and tribe?
Is it time for you to jump on the Gutenberg train and revamp your site?
Or maybe it’s time to rebrand and niche down.
Leave us a comment and let us know what’s in store for you that you need to outsource and get the ball rolling on to set you up for success in 2021.
That’s all the happenings from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Genesis has released a new Gutenberg block suite plugin that will work on any theme, not just Genesis themes.
Basically, this is a rebrand of Atomic Blocks with a few new additions.
And I’ll be reflecting that when I revamp the Atomic Blocks section of the Gutenberg Ninja tutorials, which is coming right after I finish up the UAG section.
And this release is also why I waited to do that Atomic Blocks section.
If you are currently using the Atomic Blocks plugin, there will be a new migration tool to switch you over to the new Genesis Block plugin.
I’m going to do my best to make a tutorial for you on that when that migration tool becomes available.
What they are saying is that everything you had designed with Atomic Blocks will port over, so no worries.
There is also a Genesis Blocks Pro version that is only available to those who bought the new Genesis Pro framework, if I’m understanding their article about it correctly.
You may recall me reporting on the new Genesis Pro framework in previous Tips Tuesdays earlier this year.
Basically, it’s a total split from the current Genesis framework that will support what’s coming in Phase 2 of Gutenberg later this year, when it flips into support as a full theme builder, not just a post editor.
The Genesis framework we’re all currently running on will continue to be supported for at least another couple of years.
So, if you’re thinking about a theme revamp, I would not have any hesitation on using the current Genesis framework. In fact, I think that is what most Genesis designers will want you to use for now anyway, as the new theme builder functions won’t be stable in core WordPress until sometime later in 2021. And even then, there will just be too many changes and additions to make it a stable choice.
In fact, Genesis’ more mature code and stability is one of the things discussed in my live interview with designer Michelle Phillips of Codefetti on how to Avoid DIY Theme Mistakes.
Astra has quickly become the number 1 installed theme, but its code is bleeding edge to keep up with, and even outpace, changes to the WordPress core, especially with regard to Gutenberg.
So, while you get all of the new functionality, its code is not as mature and stable as Genesis.
But then, you can totally build your own site with Astra, and you still need a designer to help with most of the Genesis customization.
Michelle and I addressed those differences in our chat to help you decide which theme base you want to start with.
For me personally, I love Astra and all of the choices it brings to the table. But I choose Genesis for my own sites as I always hire out the design anyway, and I need that level of stability more than I need the latest whizbang.
Now, for my Gutenberg Ninja course, I always use the free Astra theme for the tutorials, as I want to show everyone the latest whizbang that they can create with Gutenberg.
For my clients, I would say the split of theme is probably 70% Genesis and 30% Astra, with Astra quickly gaining ground as folks jump over to Gutenberg.
And they still hire a designer for the final Astra tweaks on their theme. But, it does drive down the design costs.
You can see my chat with Michelle on Getting Started with Astra for more on that.
Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg now has defer of most current post in Grid Block
I sure was glad to see the new setting in the UAG Post Grid block to Disable the most current post.
That way you can display your most recent post in a big grid at the top. And then have other recent posts in a smaller grid below, and not repeat the most recent post.
If using Atomic Blocks for this one function, consider switching to UAG and testing if this works for you first.
I don’t think as many folks are as stuck at home as they used to be, but for those who are, Google has added a new featured section to SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for Activities at Home.
Currently it’s only for exercise related videos. But they may expand it.
Folks, take note that this is all about video.
If you do craft or other DIY classes or videos, this could be coming to you.
Now, Google already highlights food in a couple of different featured sections, especially food videos.
And now you know why I’m chomping at the bit to get my Video SEO course out.
This is the stuff that will help you get into those featured sections in Google Search – which is WAY more exposure than you’re going to get with just your text post.
So, if you haven’t put video creation on your to do list, you are going to be outpaced for traffic by those who do.
Last year, the Yoast SEO plugin added full and correct schema markup to our sites.
It caused a bit of chaos for those running Genesis themes for a while, but they finally made a way to fully back out their outdated schema markup and let Yoast SEO take over.
Well, now in the latest release of Yoast SEO 14.8, they have included a new Schema Tab in the on-page module that lets you further tweak the schema markup.
Folks, schema markup is a very specific set of tags that must be used correctly in order not to goof it up and confuse the crap out of Google.
So, I would suggest you hold off tweaking on this for a bit until I can get a new tutorial for you in the DIY SEO course on it.
I’ll be doing a new round of updates to that course as soon as I finish up the new Gutenberg tutorials. And I’ll keep you posted on when it goes live.
Every now and then we need to temporarily hide our site while we are making changes to it.
The Coming Soon plugin by SeedProd is my go-to plugin for this.
But did you know there is an SEO difference between putting the site into either Coming Soon or Maintenance Mode?
Yep, Google treats them differently.
So, if you’re hiding the site prior to launch, then use the Coming Soon mode.
But, if you’re doing fixes or changes and the site just needs to be temporarily hidden, then use Maintenance Mode.
That sends a 503 HTTP header message to let Google know this is a temporary situation and it will not negatively impact your SEO.
Go read the article on WP Beginner for more details.
I didn’t hear my peeps screaming about it, but there was one of the biggest global internet outages on Sunday.
I got an email from Cloudflare about it, and betting all of my site audit clients did too.
A U.S. internet provider called CenturyLink misconfigured something and that outage rippled out to other services like Cloudflare, Amazon, Twitter, Reddit, Hulu, NameCheap, OpenDNS, and many more.
CenturyLink’s datacenter is actually in Canada and that’s where the issue started.
It caused a 3.5% drop in global internet traffic.
It’s worth reminding folks that the internet is just a bunch of interconnected wires and hubs and any of them can go down at any time.
The whole thing is a lot more fragile than folks realize and we’re lucky that it is up as much as it is, especially with the insane demand on it these days.
Site Success Tips
The nice folks at Torque have an interesting post that defines what constitutes a high-quality site for 2020 and beyond.
You really ought to go read the whole post, but I’m going to break down the highlights for you here.
High-quality site requirements include:
- Easy to use
- Clear navigation
- At-a-glance familiarity – easy to discern your topic
- Intuitive content flow
- Fast loading
- Fast theme
- Optimized images
- Lazy load of images
- Good hosting
- Delivers quickly on visitor expectations
- Responsive and mobile friendly
- SEO optimized
- Meets accessibility standards, especially on mobile
- Current theme design
- Minimalist with lots more whitespace
- Dark mode option – which got popular this year
- 3D design elements, especially with navigation, these are hamburger type menus that expand
Are you sure that your site meets all of these standards?
A site audit checks the majority of them. Come get one.
A few months ago, Google released its own set of standards for sites.
They called it Core Web Vitals (CWV) and they will become a ranking factor in 2021.
Read my post on Core Web Vitals: What You Need to Know and Do for more details.
Folks, meeting these standards is not a quick fix like converting to HTTPS was.
In fact, if you used the cheater, free ways of going to HTTPS, you’re not going to comply with the Core Web Vitals standards.
I’ve been telling folks for years that doing it the free way would bite them in the butt.
And here we are.
Read the Top 10 Reasons NOT to Use Free HTTPS Conversion for details.
My wait list for site services, including audits and HTTPS conversions, is 6 weeks.
And it’s not going to get any shorter between now and when these CWV metrics become a ranking factor next spring.
Now is the time to get serious about your site’s success and invest in what it takes to by fully compliant with site standards for 2020 and beyond.
And thanks to all of my clients for getting way ahead of this curve and keeping your sites up to date with all these standards, including coming in for your audit checkup every 12-18 months.
You can relax while everyone else is panicking when this stuff hits next year.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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