Hello Happy Site Owners! Welcome to the BlogAid Tips Tuesday Podcast for March 24, 2015 and I’m your host MaAnna.
Tips this week include:
- new Webmaster Training videos
- the launch of the new Site Success Interview Series
- what’s in the WordPress 4.2 Beta 1 release
- testing WordPress for mobile
- a great recommended plugins list
- whether to replace Akismet with Antispam Bee
- security plugins becoming a security risk
- the best place to find security news
- and how to get the best image optimization
So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Last week was full of webinar fun.
Website Review Webinar
On Thursday we enjoyed another super Website Review webinar with special guest +Carrie Anne Foster who was kind enough to let us use her site as an example of just how differently things can appear on the front of a site compared to the backside during a site audit.
And, we ran every site being reviewed through my preferred performance tester, WebPage Test.
I want to send a big shout out to Sara who set the bar so high no one could hold a candle to her site speed, which was 1.2 seconds! Way to go Sara!
Webmaster Training Webinar
And then Saturday we had another super webinar for the folks in the Webmaster Training Level 5 membership where we discussed the code I’ve been testing to block spammy bots like SEMalt, more security settings, and the skinny on what I’m seeing in site audits lately.
The replay is available to members on the Webmaster Training site. And unless something drastic happens, through the spring and summer we’ll be going to a quarterly schedule for them.
And speaking of the Webmaster Training course, I’ve been making a slew of new videos, mainly in Level 3.
All of the Google Connections section is complete, including the easy ways to connect a site to Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and how to create and submit an XML sitemap, plus include a path to it in the robots.txt file.
And I’m finishing up the videos in the Schema markup section right now, including an overview of what makes a site and theme HTML5 compliant. That is so important now to give your site the edge it needs to be found in SERPs. Sites that have it just do better, all things being equal because Google loves the schema markup and eats it like candy.
Is your theme HTML5 compliant? I had mine converted as soon as WordPress started supporting it 2 years ago. It’s that important. And I’ve been reaping the rewards since. If your theme is not, then your site is just falling further and further behind in search.
I’ve started my deep audit on BlogAid. Holy cow does it ever need to be cleaned up. I’ll probably end up tanking at least a quarter of the site because my offers and packages have grown and changed so much in the past two years.
And because the design will be changing from the mobile hybrid I have now to something more fully responsive, some of the page templates I have in use just won’t work. So, I’m working my way through those, making a list of all the pages that use them, and then I’ll start converting those pages to a new layout, even before we begin work on the new theme.
As I go through this super deep audit, I’ll be making posts so you can follow along. I’ll be sharing the tools and techniques I’m using that help speed up the process.
It’s my goal to make BlogAid cleaner and leaner than it already is, and to ensure that it properly reflects my current messaging so that my target audience can more easily find what they seek.
Speaking of making big changes to your site, yesterday I posted the first podcast in my new Site Success Interview Series.
And I’m delighted that +Denise Wakeman agreed to be my first guest. She has been at this online marketing thing since 1997 and she brings that unique perspective of having tried just about everything there is to our chat.
If you want to know what it’s like to run a successful site for a couple of decades, then take a few minutes to listen to this interview. The blog post has a nice timestamp of our discussion too, so you can see just how much ground we covered and still only scratched the surface of what Denise had to offer.
I’ve got several more guests already lined up for this series, including several of my VIP clients as well as clients who have taken their sites through extensive revamps so you can hear exactly what that process is like, plus the all the benefits they received from doing it.
That’s all the news from around here.
Let’s jump into this week’s tips from around the ‘net.
The first Beta of the next WordPress release of 4.2 is out. This means that they have stopped all development and are now just working out the bug reports. The final release is expected sometime in April. I’ll have a “what’s new” video for you as we approach that time.
Of paramount interest to me are all of the significant changes to TinyMCE, which is the native text editor. And these will impact better text editor plugins, like TinyMCE Advanced, which is the one I use and recommend. I’ll let you know when that plugin updates for the new WordPress version, and if you’ll want to delay updating because of it.
Mobile patch testing with VVV and xip.io
The core devs are also having more serious discussions about testing their patches on mobile devices. The push is on to get sites right on mobile for when the April 21st ranking factor for it goes into effect.
It’s okay if your site doesn’t meet Google’s mobile guidelines by that date. But, it is a line in the sand to say that mobile must become a priority for your site.
Did you know that I have a whole page of recommended plugins? It gets updated as I find new and better plugins.
One that I’ve been testing for a while is Antispam Bee. It was endorsed by WordPress creator, Matt Mullenweg, so you know it has to be okay.
I’ve been using it to replace the Akismet/GASP combo that I’ve been using for years. Now, if you’re using Akismet to help combat spam on your contact form, then you might have to keep it. I have no idea how running both of them together would work. Seems like a conflict to me, so I choose to protect my contact form, which is Contact Form 7 by using the built in math quiz instead.
Thanks to +Yoast for a nice post on what got fixed and why, and more about how the severity of vulnerabilities are gauged.
Have you noticed that there are no screaming headlines about Yoast plugins on the Sucuri Labs blog? That’s because they are official partnered with Yoast.
But watch out for lots of other blogs to cash in again on the headlines.
Again, it’s always wise to keep everything on your site updated. And again, don’t turn over the furniture getting to this one. It’s probably already been auto updated for you.
Think security plugins don’t have security issues themselves? Think again. Case in point is the recent SQL injection vulnerability of the All In One WP Security & Firewall plugin. And this is one of the risks it’s supposed to protect your site from. And it’s one of the reasons that you can’t afford to have a false sense of security from using one of these plugins.
I’m not saying not to use security plugins. I’m saying that if you do, you still need to keep an eye on them and your site. You also need to ensure that they are configured properly so that they don’t worry you needlessly or become serious resource hogs that slow down page speed, eat system resources, and clog up your database with logs you never check.
If you really want to be the first on the block to know about plugin security vulnerabilities you can look where I look for them. The WP Security Bloggers keep us all in the know with first reports straight from the white hat hackers that find the problems.
Even if security is not your main thing, you owe it to yourself as a site owner to at least scan their feed and see just how many plugins have issues on any given day. It will give you a new appreciation for just how important it is to keep everything on your site updated, and how you only hear about the tip of the iceberg on these things with the most popular plugins.
Getting the Best Image Optimization
Lack of good image optimization is a prime reason site pages load so slowly. And there are just too many good tools available now to have excuse in not properly optimizing prior to uploading your images to your site.
And that’s the first key. Do it before the image is uploaded.
Counting on plugins after the fact is nearly useless.
Take a look at this Image optimization chart.
Things like Smush.It don’t even hold a candle to the other optimization options listed there.
When reading the chart, be sure to pay attention to whether the original image is a jpg or png file. Use jpg for photos and png for graphics, especially if you need a transparent background.
And then check out ImageOptim and pay close attention to the order in which you take your images through the optimization process. In fact, I think the explanation in this article is a super primer for anyone wanting to understand more about good image optimization techniques, or just the basics and lingo of it all.
Now, if the ImageOptim setup is over your tech head, then at least have a look at JPEGmini and TinyPNG as good online alternatives. They come pretty close to ImageOptim, they just don’t have a way to optimize your images in bulk.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday. Thanks for subscribing on iTunes, and for giving this show a rating and review. I really appreciate it. And do drop by and say hey over on my Google+ page too. That’s where I hang out. Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.