Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- An progress report on switching my hobby site to Gutenberg
- Where to embed your main Pinterest image in your post and why
- 8 new Webmaster tutorials
- Multiple issues at A2 hosting that you’ll want to check
- Why you need to turn off auto renewals at your host
- Updates to my WP Fastest Cache Settings tutorial
- SiteGround announces their new control panel and when everyone will get it
- Why UpdraftPlus is having an issue storing files to Google Drive and alternatives to use
- What’s in the latest Gutenberg 6.2 plugin update
- A new Gutenberg code block I’m excited about
- A year in review post from StudioPress on how things have gone since the WP Engine acquisition
- A new proposal from WP to raise the minimum PHP level and action you should take now
- What will become of CalderaWP now that the parent company of Ninja Forms has purchased them
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join for tonight’s livestream at 9pm ET / 6pm 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.
It’s been another super productive week here mainly filled with super fast loyalty audits for my site audit clients. They come in for a checkup every 12-18 months and I just update the security and performance tweaks while I’m doing the audit.
So, if you’re on my audit wait list, just know that we are clipping right through and I’ll be emailing you as your project comes to the top.
Flipping Heartwood Art to Gutenberg Progress Report
As I mentioned in last week’s Tips Tuesday, my big project for August is to get the Heartwood Art site flipped to Gutenberg and with that, a new theme.
So I cloned my site and started looking through the fully Gutenberg compliant themes.
And that’s where I got stuck. I don’t think any of them are going to work for what I want to do with that site.
So, I made an appointment to chat with my designer this week and go over some options.
My focus all year in this hobby to money-making site journey has been squarely focused on establishing my SEO and video presence.
And now it’s time to turn my attention to Pinterest and get that going. And that is impacting my theme choice. The trend with niche themes now is to make use of those Pinterest tower images in the thumbnails on the home page as well as the archive pages, like the blog and category pages.
So, I did an informal survey in 3 pro blogger Facebook groups about where folks embed their main Pinterest image and if they used it for their featured image too, and why to both of those questions.
I was amazed at the results, so I created a post to share that collective wisdom with you as well.
It definitely had an impact on the choices I’ll be making for my new theme, for sure.
New Webmaster Tutorials Underway
Security and performance tweaks change all the time and I’ve been busy the last couple of months with revamping the Webmaster Training for Designers site. Last month it was all about updating and testing Cloudflare settings.
This month it’s all about new security tweaks and the new control panel interface at SiteGround, which I’ll touch on more in a moment. I have 8 new tutorials done and more are on the way. So, look for them to be rolling out this week.
If you are a designer or maintain sites for clients, the webmaster training is a must have tool chest of ways to make it super easy for you to fully secure a site and make it super fast.
Multiple Issues at A2 Hosting
I am so very sad and sorry to see A2 Hosting struggling so much now with their server setups. They were such a good host for so many years, but the problems there just keep mounting.
Two recent issues are:
- A warning on sites submitted to the Chrome Preload HSTS list
- Inability of Cloudflare to scan DNS records from the host
I’ve been working with support on behalf of two current site services clients on these. And I’ve put in some super scathing replies on their useless boilerplate responses that are just wasting everyone’s time and my client’s money.
I finally convinced them to stop pointing fingers at Cloudflare or the site’s setup for the HSTS warning and to actually check the server settings and guess what? Yep, they found issues in the server setup. But they said they can’t guarantee a fix for it.
I’m still going round and round with them on one of the other issues and even gave them the name of the tech working on this with me and the other support ticket to reference. And still they waste time with boilerplate replies from others or saying things like they need more info from me to know what to check on their servers. This, before they attempt any look on their own. It’s truly beyond awful now.
And I hope all of my clients on shared or shared reseller hosting there will move to better hosting when their renewal time comes up, as it’s going to get expensive for me to support you when things like this come up.
Thank You to All Who Spoke Up
I want to send a huge thank you to all of my clients and webmasters who checked their sites for the issues I found at A2 and SiteGround, which you’ll hear about in a moment. And for speaking up to A2 support and on the SiteGround blog post.
I appreciate you not leaving me out here alone to fight these battles on your behalf. I am just one voice that they can dismiss. When they hear from all of us, they pay attention.
And, I don’t feel so stressed about it when y’all are helping support my efforts. I don’t like battling with any vendor and I’ve chosen to advise folks to leave them, just as I have, for better services. But when we do need to voice concerns, it’s better in numbers.
Turn Off Auto Renewals
One of my clients, who maintains sites for her clients, was already on my project list to move one of her client sites from SiteGround to NameHero, but SiteGround auto renewed the account for another year – 15 days early. She can’t get her client to argue the renewal and go month to month, so they are stuck there for another year.
So, if you are planning to move to better hosting, turn your auto renewal off now so you don’t have this problem down the road too.
If you use WP Fastest Cache, be sure to see the settings post I updated this week.
And if you are on the free version, go ahead and max out the settings you have as the dev has made the plugin even more intelligent and there is far less risk with breaking sites with the more aggressive settings.
Be sure to test your site speed before and after you make the changes. And for Pete’s sake don’t just look at the scores. Look at all the numbers just like I show you how to do in my speed test post and just like we did during your audit.
If you are on the paid version, be sure to see the new exclusion for Amazon ads using iframes if you have lazy load turned on.
I’ve also been going back and forth with the dev about the Cloudflare integration settings. Mine are better, and I have proof, which I have shared with him. So just turn off that notice to integrate with Cloudflare and don’t do it.
This week I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the new DIY SEO Back to School Booster series of super quick checks to do on your site, and some motivation to dig back into your content revamp project. So look for that to roll out soon.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
SiteGround has released the news about its new control panel interface on their blog and that it will be rolling out for everyone starting in September.
Recall that I told you back in August this is the way they would likely go with it.
I left a comment on that post about lack of metrics such as AWStats and CPU, Memory, and I/O usage.
I hope you will take a moment to leave a similar comment and tell them how important those metrics are for your site security and performance so I won’t be a lone voice that gets dismissed easily.
The whole reason they took them away was that they think no one ever uses them.
And I see that several days later they gave us all boilerplate replies about the missing resource meters. I don’t expect those to return, ever.
Also keep in mind that I am flying blind without those metrics to help you with overage issues should they pop up. What’s worse, they are flying blind without them too and even they can’t help you. They will send you to the detailed stats that show the files getting hit the most and suggest you tweak them. That’s absolute bullshit, as those files are simply showing the symptom, and have nothing at all to do with fixing the actual issue.
And I hope my clients on SiteGround will consider moving to better hosting when your time is up.
More importantly, I hope you will start telling your blogger buddies about all these hosting issues. Everybody still thinks things are fine at SiteGround and they are still recommending them.
I am putting together a public post and video tour, while I’m making my new Webmaster Training tutorials on the new SiteGround interface, and will have that out for you very soon so you can see what you’re getting.
UpdraftPlus Having Issues with Google Drive Storage
Google Drive now includes a new security measure that could prevent your backup files being stored there. Here’s what UDP support says:
“If an upload to Google Drive starts to fail due to an OAuth token refresh error, the backup will re-bootstrap the Drive client and try again.”
It’s actually far better to store your files on Amazon S3.
See this post on how to setup an AS3 account and bucket and then holler at me to setup the IAM user and policy for even tighter security.
The 6.2 version of the Gutenberg plugin was released last week. You can see all the details of what was added in the post above.
The one big thing they added was the ability to nest blocks in a cover image overlay and a few similar improvements to the Media & Text block. So that should be great for CTAs.
And, there is a link there for the progress of bringing blocks to widgets. They are hoping to get the last issues with it resolved so that they can roll it into the next WP 5.3 core release.
I’m keeping super close eye on what will be in that next release so that we can stop using the Gutenberg plugin, which is a beta, and most of us don’t want to help them test it on our production sites.
We really only need two of the functions that can only be found in the plugin right now, and I’m so hoping those get rolled into the core soon.
I’ll keep you posted as I have more news on this front.
I’m tickled pink to see a new Gutenberg related plugin that allows you to display code snippets. Things that do that are called syntax highlighters.
This is one of the things I was waiting on to come to Gutenberg so I can switch over my member sites to Gute, as I display code there, especially on the Webmaster Training tutorials.
I enjoyed this post from Brian Gardner, the original creator of StudioPress, with a review of what has happened in the year since he sold the company to WP Engine.
The pace of development to keep the Genesis framework and themes as not only the leader of the pack, but now the leading innovator with Gutenberg, is astounding!!!
Brian mentions how unclear the future was at the time of the acquisition, and still is in his mind. But I think this review of the year clearly shows the direction WP Engine wants to take with all of this, and that it is working out beautifully.
While the Yoast SEO 11.x releases have opened the door for any theme to compete with Genesis for adding schema markup, few can touch the clean, fast code of Genesis, and fewer still are keeping pace with Gutenberg. And none are doing as much innovation with Gutenberg.
So, I’m sticking with Genesis themes for now for my own sites.
The one thing you need to be super careful with when looking at StudioPress for child themes is to keep in mind that they also feature 3rd party themes. And while those are beautiful, many of them are super bloated and slow loading or require extra paid plugins to get all of the functionality.
I hope that StudioPress will address the severe lack of quality control displayed here, including not being able to easily tell which themes are fully Gutenberg compliant or not.
Late last year WordPress finally got on the bandwagon to help more site owners become aware that they need to upgrade their PHP version.
More importantly, they are finally starting to show PHP level requirements for plugins. And that is finally getting the attention of plugin developers to start keeping their wares up to date with this seriously important security and speed coding platform.
I’ve been telling my clients about this for nearly 3 years now and they are way, way, way ahead of this curve. Most all are on PHP version 7.1 through 7.3.
And as I mentioned a few Tips Tuesday’s ago, support for 7.1 ends Dec 1 2019. So now is the time to move on up to 7.3 if you have it. I find 7.2 to be buggy for some folks. So, if 7.3 doesn’t work for you, make note of what is broken and find a fix for it, even if that means changing to a more modern plugin for a specific function.
WordPress’ current minimum PHP level requirement is 5.6. And they have a new proposal to start requiring PHP 7.2, due to the end of support on 7.1 coming soon.
READ: Why You Must Upgrade to PHP 7.1 or Higher for details on why it is critically important that you make this switch, and links to tutorials to help you do it.
Saturday Drive, the parent company of the Ninja Forms plugin, has acquired the CalderaWP forms plugin.
This move will take CalderaWP from a part-time project to a main focus of improved development and support.
So, if you use either of these plugins for your forms, don’t worry, all will be well, or even better with them.
I checked into both of these plugins when I got ready to dump Contact Form 7 and neither met my needs.
READ: Contact Form 7 vs Formidable Forms for why I switched to Formidable Forms instead.
READ: Formidable Forms: Getting Started Tutorial for creating your first form on Formidable.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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