Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- DIY SEO Workshop for Tracking SEO Performance is this week
- The Video SEO course creation is underway
- BlogAid’s phoenix journey and the big changes I’m making and why
- What hosts have to do to protect against sophisticated hack attacks and how it impacts speed
- ModSecurity is blocking certain words
- More Full Site Editing features are coming in WP 5.7
- The plan for Full Site Editing to be a reality by the WP 5.8 release
- Why WP had to draw a line in the sand with plugins controlling their own updates
- Mediavine’s take on Web Stories
- How Gutenberg’s faster performance is eroding page builder dominance
- Where to get real-world, up-to-date tutorials for Gutenberg
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 business-minded, hands-on bloggers who are serious about making money with their sites and who are on hosts I can work on.
What a joy to kick off our first live workshop in the DIY SEO course last week with a good look at our Technical SEO to ensure that Google has no issues crawling and indexing our content.
This week our live workshop will include a downloadable spreadsheet so we can track the SEO performance of our posts.
It’s a good idea to get a baseline before we start making improvements.
It’s also a good idea to check it every month, or at least every quarter, to keep tabs and get all that valuable feedback on what’s doing well in search and what can be improved.
Video SEO course creation underway
Woot!!! I’ve started writing the course.
And I created a Facebook group for all of my BB Hub site audit clients who are helping with the SEO testing and such too.
As you know, I like to pull on real-world examples for my courses. And for this one, I’m scouring my own videos for examples of specific tutorial topics.
I’ve also started inviting my tester helpers to share examples of their videos on those specific items too. It’s a great way to get more variety into the course and show off the folks who have been making videos for a while too.
There’s a lot more testing to do, especially with the video player plugins that are sanctioned by Yoast and can incorporate the special schema markup his Video SEO plugin gives us.
I’ll be testing those players for speed too, as that is a big part of my we want to use them as well.
BlogAid Phoenix Journey
For those of you who have been following me for a while, you may know that I was an electronics engineer for 30 years and 18 years of that was in field service where I went to the client’s location and worked on multi-million dollar machines. Those folks were losing $10k-$15k a minute when those machines were down.
And yes, that job carried a lot of responsibility and stress with it.
And I developed some pretty awesome coping skills for it too.
My nature is to stay with it until the job is done, constantly learn and improve my skills, and have a zero excuses attitude.
I bring that same ethic and attitude to BlogAid.
Too Many Changes
I’ve enjoyed my work with BlogAid, especially creating courses and teaching. In fact, that was the mainstay of my business when I went full time with it. I got into performance and site service work later, after the DDoS attacks started taking hosts to their knees for weeks at a time many years ago. I realized then that security and performance go hand in hand.
About 4 years ago, the pace of change with WP, themes, plugins, and hosts began to ramp up significantly. And I had to spend at least 20 hours a week just reading 100+ vendor blogs to keep up. That’s where Tips Tuesday comes from – all that reading, plus all of my site service and course creation work.
And that’s also how I keep all of us ahead of the curves so that we can manage our sites in a calm way.
But, the constant increases in change also meant that I’ve had to increase the time I spend doing course and tutorial updates or hurt my business by letting those publicly available tutorials get too out-dated. And that hurts me with SEO and hurts me on YouTube.
But with the increased rate of change from all sources in the last year it has become almost impossible for me to keep us ahead of the fires because too many times now there is no longer any warning.
Vendors everywhere just pop new things on us. I see it on my own sites and those of the clients I’m actively working with and hear about it from my webmasters.
And I have to drop everything and go find out what’s going on AND find us a fix for it.
It’s been so bad lately that I can’t even run my business at all due to the chaos.
If you’ve been following Tips Tuesday for at least the last 6 months, then you know I’ve been struggling to find a way to run BlogAid better.
My site service wait list is getting unbearably long, current courses have to be updated more frequently, new courses are running into all manner of unexpected testing delays, the very online testers I rely on have become unreliable, and these new fires keep popping up.
Last week I hit my breaking point with it all due to two new fires from my preferred host.
Those were the last straws that broke this camel’s back, as it also brought back memories of the nightmare I went through when I finally had to leave A2 Hosting, and the crazy hit to my reputation when their ship started burning.
My entire schedule, that is packed to the limit already, got entirely blown up over it. And I had to take more time off for a couple of days for some extra self-care.
Time for a major change
During those respites, I also realized that I cannot continue down this road, this way, and I need to take a new path with BlogAid starting now, not gradually.
Y’all know that I pivot this biz all the time to keep ahead of online changes and bring you the courses and services you need to keep ahead too and make more money.
This time, it’s not a pivot. It’s a total refocus of what I do and who I do it for.
Putting Out Fires
The reality we all have to face is that the entire internet is constantly under attack.
And that user expectation is that access to your site must always be available and fast, and a good user experience, else they seek life elsewhere.
The other reality is that blogging can be a lonesome experience. And bloggers have few places to turn when they run into trouble.
My followers turn to me.
So, it’s worth my while to chase and put out these fires as I have the power of the village behind me to report what they are seeing, for me to see it in their audits, and for them to help verify and test as needed.
They count on me. I count on them. It’s mutually beneficial to all of us.
So, I need to leave space and time in my weekly schedule for this reality.
And the way I justify the non-billable hours is by making the resolutions available only to my paying clients via our private email lists and Facebook groups.
THIS IS the reason folks hire me and stay with me year after year – I’ve got their back and we’re all in it for the long-haul.
New Messaging on BlogAid
I want to send a huge thank you to Krista and Marissa for helping rewrite my new home page message. We did it in a live session in the BB Hub Facebook group. I’m still tweaking on it, but they sure helped me hone what I’m trying to say to ensure I help define what I do and who I do it for.
You’re going to see lots of new messaging all over site in the coming months as I continue to refine my offers and the types of clients who can get the most out of my services and courses.
But, the gist of this is that I want to work with bloggers who are business-minded and hands-on with their sites and who are super serious about making money.
New Prices on BlogAid Services
2020 was just not the time to raise any prices on BlogAid.
But, I have to raise the site audit rate to at least what it actually costs me to provide that service instead of looking at it as a foot-in-the-door pricing, or the low-ball price when compared to my competitors.
That rate will be changing as soon as I can get it on my schedule to update on the site.
For those who are already on my site service wait list, you will get the price you signed up for.
My hourly rate for consults and tech work will remain the same.
Real Teeth into Time is of the Essence Contract Clause
I already have a “time is of the essence” clause in my site services contract. And it has a statement that if I have to constantly bug you to get your part of the tasks done that I will charge for the admin time. And the contract has a statement that if this nagging is constant, I terminate the contract and free myself up to work with someone else who is serious about making their project a priority.
I had to start putting real teeth into those clauses this past fall. And I will continue to be super serious about enforcing it as drag-ass clients inhibit my ability to earn income, and keeps others on the wait list even longer.
Course Prices Stay Put
Instead of raising course prices, I’m making new courses that are focused on one topic, like the Video SEO course, for those who need that info, instead of including it in the DIY SEO course and raising its price.
I also hope to have new flash courses, challenges, and masterminds this year that will be offered for a limited time. They will have a lower price point compared to a standing course that I have to constantly keep updated. I’ll update the new one if/when I offer it again.
As I mentioned last week, I’ve already changed over my site service requests forms to be applications, and they have a lot more questions on them. This is the best way I know to ensure that me and my clients and their project are a good fit for the services I offer.
I HAVE to do case studies, even if that means letting my wait list for site services get longer.
You rely on me for theme, plugin, and hosting recommendations, and I require the actual test data to be able to provide you with those recommendations.
If I have to delay onboarding new clients to lighten my workload for a few days while digging into the tests for the case study, then so be it.
More Hosting Recommendations
I have always looked for hosts that are a good fit for all of my peeps. That includes hosting at every price point and on multiple continents.
But the fact is, my ideal client has a super-specific hosting need.
And I have specific needs with the host too, like cPanel and for it not to be fully managed.
My webmaster designer folks aren’t as restricted with the same needs that me and my ideal clients have.
So, I will be opening up my hosting recommendations that meet a variety of needs.
If you want to know which one I would recommend for you, where I can help you have the best speed and security, and where you don’t overpay, then you will need to become my paying site audit client so I can gather the info needed to make that recommendation and provide that service.
And hopefully this will keep me from being so tied to just one hosting recommendation, as we never know what’s going to happen at any of them over the years.
FYI, in the 15+ years I’ve been doing this, I’ve had to change hosts 4 times, and I stayed at all of them a little longer than I should have just because it was such a pain to vet new hosts and actually migrate, not to mention giving the disappointing news to my clients that they would need to move to better hosting too.
But that is the reality these days.
I sure do appreciate all of my clients and webmasters who sent support and well wishes this past week while I was literally melting.
I appreciate all of the existing and new clients that are such a pleasure to work with, and all the new ideas you bring to the table for new ways to make more money with your site too.
And I appreciate everyone who helps put the power of the village to work to get to the bottom of these fires and to help test new ways to improve your site.
I could not do this without you.
What is the BB Hub?
Y’all may hear me mention my BB Hub clients and wonder what that is. All of my site audit clients are invited to join a private membership area and our private Facebook group where I share info/tutorials that I don’t make public.
BB Hub is a shortened version of the name of those private areas.
There are a LOT of perks like this for my site audit peeps.
That’s all the happenings from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
More Sophisticated Hack Attacks
In 2020 we saw a dramatic uptick in bad bot attacks.
And I didn’t mention this too much as we all had enough stress already, and there was nothing we could do about it.
And the sophistication of them has ramped up too and they are far harder for hosts to mitigate now.
But hosts have to do something – and that something is walking a tight rope between sever security and performance.
In the last 2 weeks many site owners experienced 403 and 503 errors, and some even saw new plugins added to their sites that wreaked all manor of havoc.
I sent emails to my BB Hub site audit clients as well as my webmasters with more details.
All I can say publicly is that these hosts are trying their best to protect you.
And this is going to get worse before it gets better, as the entire internet is under attack.
You will need to be patient with it as hosts and brand site owners figure out how to deal with this and until more pressure can be put on governments world-wide so that cyber criminals have no safe harbor.
ModSecurity blocking certain words
I’ve had a couple of clients and webmasters report that ModSecurity is blocking their ability to save posts based on certain words it finds offensive.
One of my webmasters has a client who reviews firearms, so the words guns and ammo show up a lot in his posts, and ModSecurity doesn’t like it.
Given the climate of government affairs and civil unrest all over the globe, I doubt we will see those rules relaxed any time soon.
READ: Fix ModSecurity errors when adding JS code to your header for details on how to temporarily turn off ModSecurity. Doesn’t matter if it’s JS code or words, it all works the same. There’s also a link in that tutorial to another post for what ModSecurity is and why not to permanently turn it off.
Next week we should have the RC1 of WP 5.7. That’s the first Release Candidate, meaning they will freeze all new additions and just do bug scrubs.
Among other things, WP 5.7 will include more WP core support for Full Site Editing, which will allow you to place Gutenberg blocks in other areas of your theme, like the header, menu, and sidebar – but only on full block-based themes that support such things.
FYI, they just recently made the TwentyTwentyOne theme fully block-based, so we’re still in the super early stages with all of this.
And you can read more about all of the new Gutenberg features coming in WP 5.7 in the Gutenberg Times post I have linked for you.
FYI, the final public release of WP 5.7 is slated for March 9.
Now, even though more Full Site Editing features will be rolling into the WP core in the upcoming 5.7 release, it won’t be all that is needed to make FSE viable.
As this WPTavern article points out, the devs hope to finish rolling it all in with the 5.8 release this coming June.
That’s a big deal, and a big job, and we’ll see if they can do it or not.
Even so, it’s still going to be a while before I see the fully block-based themes as being fully viable. Maybe that will hit by the end of the year and we’ll start considering them by early 2022.
Last year, WP 5.5 introduced a native way to control your plugin’s auto updates for major revision releases.
The problem is that some plugins had already slipped in auto minor release updates, which we actually like, as most are just security and bug fixes.
But, we do not like auto updates for major releases. We want to control when those get done.
My advice was to simply leave the new WP auto update setting at the default off setting when you updated to WP 5.5.
Well, some plugin devs thought they would run end around these core WP settings.
And that made WP put out a statement that drew a line on such actions.
This is a quote from the WPTavern article about what WP said:
“Unless your plugin has the purpose of managing updates, you must not change the defaults of WordPress’ update settings.
You may offer a feature to auto-update, but it has to honor the core settings. This means if someone has set their site to “Never update any of my plugins or themes” you are not to change those for them unless they opt-in and request it.”
All of this came on the heels of some popular, yet unnamed plugin, doing a major update automatically that broke a lot of sites.
Site owners screamed about not being able to trust their WP settings to not have auto updates turned on for that plugin.
And that’s why WP had to step in and make this statement, and will have to continue to step in to keep it enforced.
Web Stories Tips
For folks who run ads on their site and want to incorporate Google Web Stories, you should read this article on Mediavine about How to Make a Google Web Story.
In it you will also find a link to their article about why you need to set up a separate Google Analytics property for Web Stories.
Now, that might not be necessary for folks who don’t run ads on their sites, but maybe you should read it and determine for yourself what would be best for you to do.
READ: How to Create a Web Story using that plugin
I sure am glad to see this post on WPTavern.
Some heavy hitters are publishing their case studies on how sites built with Gutenberg are smoking those built in Elementor and other page builders for speed.
READ: Gutenberg vs Elementor: Which is Faster? for my own case study where the exact same page was built on an Astra theme with one using Gutenberg and the other using Elementor. I had to throw the kitchen sink of speed tweaks at the Elementor one to get it as fast as where the Gutenberg one started.
READ: Astra, Genesis, Divi: Which is Fastest? too see that head-to-head theme case study too with all of them having the same home page and blog posts built on Gutenberg. Both Astra and Genesis totally smoked Divi. So, it’s not just about going Gute. The theme you use makes a difference too.
My Gutenberg Ninja course will have you building any kind of page you want so you can ditch your page builder.
In fact, I show you how to exactly replicate several popular theme builder templates.
So, if you’re considering going Gute this year, or you want a new theme, definitely take this course and it will completely change your mind about what theme base to start with, as you won’t care what’s on their home pages anymore. And that’s what most folks look at when choosing a theme.
You’ll be able to build that, and fully customize it yourself with Gutenberg.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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