Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- An update on my new image SEO research and the Pandora’s box that opened
- A WordPress Backup Checklist that is a must-read for all site owners
- New Backup Quick Checks for my Site Audit Plus clients
- Where to find a new Gutenberg Block Index
- How long the Classic Editor plugin will be available
- A radical split in vision from 2 major voices in forking WordPress and an LTS version
- What the release of PHP 7.3 means for site owners and plugin developers
- Why you need HSTS for your HTTPS conversion and what Google has to do with it
- Google begins notifying site owners of bad HTTPS conversions
- What your EAT score is and how to improve it for SEO
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join me live tonight at 9pm ET / 6pm PT for the party and an interactive Tips Tuesday recap and breaking news discussion on the BlogAid Facebook Page. You can also catch the quick recap later that evening on the BlogAid YouTube Channel.
Replay of Live recap and lots more breaking news
Welcome to Muesday for all of my U.S. peeps. Holidays that fall on Monday’s used to get me all confused for knowing what day it was for the rest of the week. But considering I work 7 days a week with BlogAid, I really don’t pay much attention to such things. I do enjoy the respite of my clients taking off on holidays, though. Really cuts down on the emails!!
Image SEO Research
In between runs over to the new house to meet contractors this past week, I’ve been researching Google’s renewed interest in our images.
I already cover image SEO in the DIY SEO course, but this new stuff Google is doing is on top of that.
I believe I’ll put this together as a new, live workshop for us, instead of a single tutorial because it’s turning into a bit of a Pandora’s box.
There was a reason WP took out the automated inclusion of the title attribute back in version 3.5, and adding it can affect your Pinterest shares and such too. And then there’s the image attachment page stuff to deal with, and 2 or 3 ways that has been handled over the years, not to mention the recent Yoast SEO 7.0 hoohaa with it back in March.
Like I said, Pandora’s box.
I’m already updating my DIY SEO course members with what’s going on and asking for their help with the tests. We’ll likely have live meetings to discuss this too.
If you’re not already in the course, now is a good time! You can get caught up on all the tutorials and workshop replays. And then you’ll be ready for the new ones as they come out all through the end of this year.
Site audit clients get a big discount on the course and I’m about to release that same discount for my Webmaster Training folks too. If you are a designer, content creator, or maintain sites for clients, you can help them get a serious SEO leg up on their competition with this training.
Your backup is the last, and biggest safety net in your site security setup.
Be sure to see my post from last week with a full checklist that covers everything you need to ensure you have for your backup.
If you ever need to restore your site, you’ll be glad you took a few minutes to cover this checklist.
That’s especially true if you’re trusting your host to do them, or even paying for a backup service.
New Backup Quick Checks
Every few days I’ve been sending out new Quick Checks, formerly known as Flash Challenges, to my Site Audit Plus clients. That’s the new name I’ve given to my site audit clients who have joined our private Facebook group.
We’re going deeper into that backup checklist.
The most recent tutorial is on how to download the files outside WordPress that your backup solution may be missing.
You should have received that email Sunday night, and follow up discussion is in our FB group.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
This is pretty cool. So many developers are making blocks for Gutenberg that theme developer Danny Cooper has created a library of them.
Only a few of the block sets can all be found in the WP repository. So, there is a huge need to have them all in one place like this.
I don’t think that this is something the WP devs thought ahead on, or maybe they did, they just didn’t realize how many folks would jump on creating them.
I’m betting we’ll eventually see a repository for them, like we now have for plugins and free themes.
If you’re wondering how long you can put Gutenberg on ignore by using the Classic Editor plugin that WP made, Matt Mullenweg says that it will be around for years to come.
He acknowledges that there are many enterprises using WordPress for their CMS base and they have tens of thousands of users and too much customization to switch over to Gutenberg anytime soon.
So, that’s why they made the Classic Editor so that folks can continue to get all WP updates, but not use the Gutenberg editor.
However, the Classic Editor is not the “turn Gutenberg off” switch that most devs favor. The Disable Gutenberg plugin goes much further, and is likely the one I’ll be endorsing too.
I’ll be testing it as soon as the WP 5.0 beta, with Gutenberg in the core, becomes available.
I have read this post from Morten Rand-Hendriksen three times, and watched the interview with him about it from Doc Pop at Torque twice now and I’m still trying to come to terms with what he is saying about Gutenberg and the future of not only WP, but the whole community, devs and users.
Morten gave the Friday keynote presentation at WordCamp US in Nashville this past December. The room was so packed that I was sitting on the floor taking notes. He really opened our eyes to the future of the Internet as a whole, and to why Gutenberg is the way forward for WP.
There was a big contrast between that presentation and the keynote given by WP co-founder, Matt Mullenweg the following day. And there has been a growing chasm between these two lead voices about Gutenberg ever since.
Morten has a clearer vision of the Internet’s future as a whole because he doesn’t just develop in WP. He also sees the growth in the development community and user base and is screaming for the WP decision makers to stop treating this thing like there are only 20 folks involved.
Y’all may know that I called out Matt on some issues about a year ago and he contacted me. We had a private conversation about the future of WP, hosting, and site security, and all that goes with site ownership.
I just don’t know how Matt holds competing visions of the future in his head so clearly. On one hand, he is the visionary leader of WP. Even Morten acknowledges that Matt’s leadership is why WP has grown to power 31% of the web.
But Morten says we need to have more of a corporate hierarchy of the development. Whereas Matt holds this both/and vision of his leadership, and then community development for everything with no set hierarchy.
Morten talks about the needless, and destructive rift that has popped up in the WP community, namely around the ClassicPress fork of WP that I mentioned last week. It’s supposed to be a way for folks to get WP updates and stay off Gutenberg. But Morten says we need an even better LTS, or Long Term Solution than that.
But Matt holds to the Classic Editor as being the solution for folks who don’t want to use Gutenberg yet.
I’m not a dev. And I don’t know what all the differences are in the Classic Editor plugin, the Disable Gutenberg plugin, the ClassicPress fork, and the LTS that Mort has in his head.
From my perspective, they all do the same thing in the end.
Here’s the only thing I do know for sure.
Whatever becomes of all this, I’ll be here, helping you find your way through it in the most calm, and least disruptive way possible.
We need our sites to continue making us money.
So, I’m going to continue to cover Gutenberg, and the drama around it, because I have to keep as far ahead of the curve as possible. At the same time, I suggest not switching to Gutenberg, even for new sites, at this time. It’s just not mature enough, and there is no clear vision of where it’s headed because of this rift.
PHP is the language that WP, themes, and plugins are written in.
PHP 7.3 has been in beta for only a little while and they just formally released it.
That means that support for lower versions is no longer happening.
I’ve had too many clients reporting issues on any version above 7.0 to recommend going above it for everyone.
And 7.3 doesn’t have all the kinks worked out either, so I can’t recommend even trying it.
WordPress is going to have to light a fire under plugin devs to get on the ball with making their wares 7.3 compliant.
We are all putting our sites at risk by not keeping them on the latest PHP version. There are security and speed functions in PHP.
So, go up to 7.3 if you can. But if you can’t, hang at 7.0, as it is at least stable for most all sites.
I hope to be making a video tutorial on how to switch your PHP version at both A2 Hosting and SiteGround, but there’s a little more to it than just flipping a switch. You have to set up your PHP error log file reporting again too.
And all of this could be a little more techie than I want to release to the public. I may just do it for my Site Audit Plus clients for now in a Quick Check or live workshop. But I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.
I was really happy to see this post on Search Engine Land about why websites need to be using HSTS to improve security.
HSTS stands for HTTPS Strict Transport Security.
This is a specific HTTPS security header that Google requires for your site to be placed on the Chrome preload safe site list.
And every other browser copies that list with Google’s blessings.
I set up HSTS via Cloudflare, so that header can travel along with the SSL certificate that the visitor’s browser is reading, and has to trust.
If you use Cloudflare, then the SSL certificate you have at your host encrypts the connection from it to Cloudflare. But Cloudflare issues its own certificate from Comodo, which is the most trusted brand in the world. And that’s the one that your visitor’s browser is reading. It has to trust that SSL certificate’s authentication, and the extra headers that come along with it.
Want to see the header score you’re getting? Go to SecurityHeaders.com and run your home page through it. Be sure to include the https part of the link.
If you’re not getting an A score, then you’re missing things your site needs.
All this time I’ve been saying that doing HTTPS the free way will bite you in the butt. This is just one of those ways.
There are so many incomplete HTTPS conversions that Google has now started sending notifications via Search Console about all the links it can no longer find and have been dropped from search.
HTTPS conversion includes more than just switching your database to HTTPS links, or cheating and using a plugin to redirect them.
There are 6 Google related updates you need to make too so you can avoid issues like this.
And they are all included in my HTTPS conversion service.
This post on Sticky Eyes is one of the most important SEO articles you can read.
Go about half way down in the post and look for the section on Understanding the E-A-T Principles.
EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.
I believe in previous Tips Tuesday’s I said the E was for Engagement, and I apologize.
One of the new workshops we’ll be doing in the DIY SEO course will be on our content and ways to raise our EAT score.
I believe the Medic algorithm change back in August was an indicator of Google’s direction with this, along with previous big algorithm changes like Panda and Penguin and Hummingbird. I think they are cracking down on sites with thin and weak content and lots of ads.
I have LOTS of clients in the craft/lifestyle/foodie niches and this is a big deal for them. Too many images and too little content. And the content that is there does not help their EAT score.
So, this is definitely at the top of my radar to watch how Google moves on it, and what we need to do to help ourselves do better with it.
The bottom line here is more eyeballs and more money. That goes beyond SEO. Great content is going to help you build a loyal tribe of folks that share your stuff for you too.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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