Hello Happy Site Owners!
Update: The WPblab on this checklist is embedded at the bottom of this post.
Today, we’re going to go over a checklist of things you can easily audit and do right now on your site that will help ensure it’s up to the latest security and performance standards. And, we’ll check things you can do to help get your site ready to migrate to another host on the fly, if you ever have need to do that.
Plus this week, I have a spring cleaning Blab, and Plugin Review webinar for you too.
And, I have a special secret offer for you as well.
Listen to the podcast
Wed 3/23 1pm ET / 10am PT
Come chat live about what you found in the Tips Tuesday checklist on your site, or what you need more help with.
Thur 3/24 8pm ET / 5pm PT
Get your plugin list reviewed and see what resource hogs or potential conflicts might be on your site.
This is a zero-pitch webinar. Just straight up help for you and your site. And it’s free!
We’ll review as many lists as we can from those who send in their list and the live audience. Plus, we’ll cover my latest plugin must have, or get rid of list.
And BlogAid News subscribers were the first to hear about this and get the invitation to send in their plugin list.
Before we jump into the checklist, I want to give you updates on what’s going on around here.
Udemy Course Going Private and Changing
Over the weekend I made both of my Udemy courses private, meaning that folks in them can still have access, but no one can purchase.
If you are in one of my Udemy Courses please contact me immediately so I can get you in for free to those courses on my member site.
The Udemy courses are going to be turned into the “lite” version of the full course, which will only be available on my site.
Video Course Discounts
Over the weekend I secretly launched the Blab Like a Pro course on my own membership site.
BlogAid News subscribers got a 50% discount sent to them on Friday, which ended last night.
I have a 25% off the Blab course for Tips Tuesday listeners that starts today, and will be available through Thursday, when I go public with the new Video Marketing Library.
The minute it hits the home page to the public, the price for the VIP Library, which is all courses in all libraries for life, will go from $95 to $125. So, now is the time to get in on that bargain too because it’s just going to keep increasing with every new library I add.
You can get the VIP deal right now in the site store.
If you’re interested in the Blab discount, contact me for the special Tips Tuesday discount code.
Blab Course Updates
There are some pretty exciting new features on Blab that rolled out recently. And I uploaded new tutorials to the course for them. So be sure to see the New Features section in the course.
SEO Course Updates
It looks like the Yoast SEO plugin has pretty much settled down with the latest user interface in the 3.1 update, so I’ll be making all new videos for it in the SEO course starting tomorrow. Look for those to be rolling out all week because I’ll be uploading as I go.
The info is pretty much the same as in the tutorials now, it’s just the look, and sometimes name, of where and what you click that has changed.
I’m also going to be testing 2 other SEO plugins right behind making those videos to see if they are any better or easier to use. And I’ll decide if they will be going into the course once I check them out.
But, I can already guarantee that I’ll be expanding the course for more advanced SEO tips and tricks that you need to know to get your whole site SEO friendly.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into the spring cleaning checklist.
Why You Need to Do This
You know with all of the hosts going down lately in the recent edge attacks, lots of site owners are finding themselves in a lurch and wishing to heck they had taken care of their site stuff sooner rather than later.
Today, I’m going to share with you the tips that I wish a lot of site owners had known prior to contacting me for emergency service, and what would have cut down the chances of them being in a rough spot in the first place, and/or the expense of getting things fixed under duress.
Backup, Backup, Backup
A solid, full backup, stored off your hosting, that you know how to restore is your only real safety net these days.
My preferred vendor right now is VaultPress Lite service.
Here’s a MaAnna Minute video with 4 VaultPress Tips to save you time and money.
You will need to hook up the restore functions. I prefer to hook up FTP and SSH.
Let me know if you need help with that. It’s quick, easy, and cheap for me or one of my teammates to do for you, as long as your host allows cPanel access. And that’s another thing we’re going to talk about in a moment.
The other reason I like this service is that you can restore your site from that backup to another IP address.
If your host is dead down, then you can’t get in there to run a new backup. And another host can’t migrate you with a cPanel backup either because they can’t access it.
VaultPress gets you around those issues and you can migrate to a new host immediately, as long as email is not running through your hosting. We’re going to talk more about that in a moment too.
Check Your Plugins
Just do it. Make out that spreadsheet or list while you’re in there so you’ll be ready for the webinar on Friday. It will take you all of 10 minutes.
And keep a list of any that you delete because I’ll be talking more about the orphaned files some plugins can leave behind during that webinar too.
You’re going to want to:
- Get rid of any inactive plugins
- Make note of what each plugin does
- Make note of where you’re using a plugin, if it’s only on special pages
Get a Paid Email Service
I haven’t harped on this a lot since it became a problem two years ago, but I am now because it’s becoming a much bigger security issue.
Read my post on why you must get your email off your hosting.
The MX record for your email sticks out like a sore thumb and will lead bots right back to your hosting IP address. Once they get that IP, they just run end around other security measures you install so they are not nearly as effective.
Don’t keep putting this off, folks. It’s something you need to do as soon as you can.
If you need to migrate your site to a new host, you won’t be able to use the VaultPress restore, or one from BackupBuddy, or any other migration type tool because all it will get are your site files and database. It won’t get your email.
That’s the big difference in using a migration tool and letting the new host do a cPanel migration. It gets the whole account, email and all.
So, if you don’t have email on your hosting, you don’t have that restriction.
Plus, there are other reasons to move your email, including space considerations and inode connections. So go read that post for more.
My email service of choice is Google Apps. And I have folks on my team that can assist you with making that move.
Change Your CloudFlare Settings
There have been a couple of changes at CloudFlare too. The biggest is that it now points out all of the DNS records that expose your IP address to bots.
I’ve been testing running them all through CloudFlare and have not had any issues, or needed any more than the standard 3 Page Rules that come with the free version.
I hope to be making a quick MaAnna Minute video showing you how to update your settings soon.
And this is precisely why I take site audit clients through a live session when we set up CloudFlare, so they can make any needed changes themselves, or know how to pause it or disconnect if they are changing hosts.
Log into your hosting control panel and check your AWStats.
You do have them turned on, right?
See what’s hitting your site.
Check Error Logs
On many hosts, there are two error logs. You’ll find the system error log in your cPanel. Many times you’ll find the PHP error log file in the public_html root files.
The PHP error log will tell you about database and plugin problems, while the system error log will show your site security working and all of the client denials that were turned away.
Now, most hosts will give you AWStats and Error Log access, but only a few hosts will give you meaningful access to system resources, like
- Physical Memory
- Virtual Memory
- I/O Usage
Some hosts will only give you a 24 hour snapshot, and that’s not really enough to see problem trends.
Other hosts, like A2 Hosting, (aff link) give you access to some super nice meters that let you track anywhere from the last 30 days down to the last 10 minutes. Makes finding resource hogs and bad bots way the heck easier.
Some hosts only give you access to bandwidth, and even that can be iffy, like on Bluehost. You can’t see anything recent on most accounts.
But almost all hosts will post a message there to let you know if your site has been limited in the last 24 hours due to overages.
Now, if you’re on Managed VPS, you probably won’t have these nice meters, even on A2. It’s just the difference in the way the server is set up.
Check PHP Version
If you have cPanel, your PHP version is likely listed in the sidebar of the cPanel dashboard. You need to make sure that you are on at least version 5.6.
If you’re on a version below that, you really do need to check those error logs and see if all of your plugins are still functioning or throwing errors. That’s because a lot more plugin devs are cutting off support for older PHP versions.
Folks, we’re in the process of jumping up to PHP 7 as being the standard because it’s lightning fast. Hosts and devs are pushing on us to get there. So, that old version won’t be good for much longer, and you need to know if you’ve got anything on your site that will break if it’s upgraded.
Run Performance Tests
Do you have any idea how your site is performing?
My workhorse tester is WebPage Test but getting super good runs on it may be a little techie.
Try GTMetrix as it has less testing choices.
And stay away from Pingdom. It is by far the least accurate of all the free online testers.
Look at those waterfalls too and see what things have really long bars.
If it’s your images, you need to find a better way to optimize prior to upload. Those image squishing plugins won’t do a lot for the problem. Read this post from Mary Iannotti for more on optimizing. My team provides bulk image optimization services too. So once you learn how to do them, then draw a line in the sand and from that day back, get the rest of your images optimized in bulk.
And then try Google PageSpeed Insights too. They’ve recently changed their scoring system and scores have dropped. In my opinion it’s because of AMP. Be sure to check both the mobile and desktop version scores. And ensure your site is rendering properly on mobile.
Then check it in Google Mobile Friendly to ensure it is rendering the same, because they check sites differently.
What Does Your Audit Tell You?
All this should take you about an hour to check. And it’s time very well spent. You’ll learn all sorts of things about the health of your site, and be in a way better position to get to a better host too if you need that.
I go way deeper than this in my site audits but running your own will give a super good look at what’s happening.
Be sure to register for the plugins webinar on Thursday.
And do drop in on the Blab tomorrow and ask your questions live.
WPblab Ep 25 on spring cleaning checklist
And lots of great questions asked during the show
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
Find these tips helpful? Share them with your peeps!!!!
Subscribe to all BlogAid Posts
Drop in on my BlogAid Blabs and say hey in person.
Subscribe on iTunes
Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.