Hello Happy Site Owners!
This week’s tips include:
- free site review webinar with special guest
- Webmaster Training member webinar
- what’s up with me and host provider recommendations
- HTML5 tags coming to widgets in WordPress 4.2
- the hoohaa over the recent WordPress SEO plugin update
- clarification guidelines on all plugin auto updates
- what’s recently been updated in a few popular plugins that shows a trend
- new site maintenance packages from my favorite fix-it guy
- why you should give your best content away for free
- a new place to get super free images for your site
- 2 new additions to Google Webmaster Tools
So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Free Site Review Webinar
Thursday, March 19 at 3:00 pm ET
Yes, it’s that time again. I’m doing a free, zero-pitch site review webinar.
BlogAid News subscribers were the first to know about it and the ones to get first dibs on the limited review slots. It’s a live-only event, no replay. And you have to be present to have your site reviewed.
And some folks on the review list don’t show up. So, you still have a chance to by listed as an alternate.
Contact me with the following info to get on the list.
- Email Address
- Site URL
Special Guest – this time I’m also delighted to have a special guest with us. +Carrie-Ann Foster is a social media coach who had her site reviewed in one of these webinars, and then came back for a full site audit. She’ll share the difference in what each review revealed and what it really takes to have a successful site.
Bonus – As an added bonus, I’ll be running a quick performance check on at least one of the sites to be reviewed, so you’ll get to see some of what I see during an audit.
Our next Webmaster Level 5 member webinar will be this Saturday, March 21st at 3:00 pm ET.
This time we’ll be discussing new blocks and filters in the .htaccess file for spammy and bad bots, plus the new videos added for making Google connections like those to Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and how to submit an XML sitemap for easier indexing.
My new dog Zak and I are settling in. And it’s a nice spring day, so the windows are open and he’s getting accustomed to all the new sounds. So, you might hear birdies tweet or him grumble in the background as we adjust.
There are so many life events like that which can really disrupt your work cycle. That wasn’t as big a concern when I ran BlogAid on the side of another full time job that paid all of the bills.
And I know many of you can relate because you run your blog as a second income. It’s okay for it not to be the priority when needed.
But for me, it’s my primary source of income now and that changes things in many ways. Life is going to happen, and it’s up to me to provide myself with steady income even when I need to be away from the desk for a bit. For me, two video member sites help with that. For others, it’s ads on the site or other ways to monetize for passive income.
Do you have a plan for earning when you need or want to step away from the office? I’ve got some tips for you this week that cover the importance of devising a conversion strategy that works.
Some of you may have already seen the post I published yesterday that I will no longer be endorsing any host provider publicly, and will reserve recommendations for my private training and consulting clients. It took me several months to come to that decision of how and why it came to be in the post.
That’s about all the news from around here.
Let’s jump into this week’s tips from around the ‘net.
The markup surrounding widgets will change in the upcoming release of WordPress 4.2, which is due out in April. This will help search engines identify the main body of the content from the sidebars and such too.
WordPress has been natively supporting HTML5 schema markup for around a couple of years now. It’s a super SEO advantage. But, your theme has to support it too.
You may recall in a recent Tips Tuesday that I reported 10 million more sites using HTML were released in the past year alone. I’ve been finding more sites during audits that don’t have HTML5 compliant themes too, and I strongly suggest that the site owners get them converted.
Everything else being equal, a site with those tags will outperform a site without them in search. It’s that simple and that important if you want your site to have another edge and advantage in getting found online.
I’m sure everyone on the planet who uses WordPress has already heard about the recent vulnerability found in the Yoast SEO plugin. Every post I saw about it on blogs, social media, and even from some hosts left out all of the really important info and instead went for the sensational headline.
Here’s the only way the exploit can work:
“…a remote unauthenticated attacker could use this vulnerability to execute arbitrary SQL queries on the victim WordPress web site by enticing an authenticated admin, editor or author user to click on a specially crafted link or visit a page they control.”
In other words, it’s hard to exploit. A white hat hacker found this, reported it to team Yoast, and it’s been patched.
There are no reports of it happening in the wild.
On top of that, Yoast is one of the few plugin developers that makes use of the built in auto update feature in WordPress, which auto installs minor releases, like this one. So even if this had been a more serious issue where hackers were actively exploiting something easy, it would have auto updated for you.
I understand why all security minded folks use sensational headlines. That it includes me. Sometimes we have to scream to get folks’ attention and to take action. This is not one of those times. There are LOTS of plugins with this same sort of vulnerability, and they’re being patched all the time. You don’t see posts on them going viral do you? No.
Read my post WordPress Security Reporting – Let’s Get Real for more on how out of hand the security reporting has gotten and who stands to gain from it.
And on that note of auto updates for plugins, the core WordPress devs have a post clarifying the guidelines that plugin developers and WordPress will be using to determine when and how these updates will be pushed out. This is critically important moving forward so that it becomes a security fix and not a liability.
There is too much to it for me to make a meaningful synopsis for you, so I suggest that you go read the post.
I think folks are going to react to this much as they did when auto updates first came out for WordPress a couple of years ago. I was skeptical at first, but have grown rather fond of it.
But, for plugins, that’s another matter. We have the whole WordPress core team supervising the WordPress auto updates. We’ll have to keep an eye on these guidelines and how this built-in service gets used by plugin developers.
But right now, I’m thinking this is a good thing because the only pushes I’ve seen so far for these types of updates were warranted.
As always, keep your entire site backed up, so you can restore it at a moment’s notice for any reason, including these updates.
Popular Plugin Updates
A few more popular plugins got important updates recently.
Akismet – is now using HTTPS by default for all requests to itself. And, a fix to make .htaccess compatible with Apache 2.4 (that runs on your host server)
Simple Share Buttons Adder – Removed various PHP notices.
Contact Form 7 – security updates to CAPTCHA to make it harder for hackers to predict.
And I hope you take note of what’s being updated here. These are some of the core elements of host server software and the language used by all CMSs like WordPress. This is the root level stuff that hackers are going after these days. And this is why it’s so important for you to keep things updated, not just plugins, but your entire security setup.
If you haven’t had a site audit yet, consider getting one.
I’m delighted to tell you about new site maintenance packages from my fave fix-it guy in the whole world, literally. +Makis Mourelatos at FixMyWP.com takes super care of his clients, and mine, and this is a good deal on two new packages from him.
Donna Merrill has a most excellent post on whether you should give away your best info. It’s all about conversion.
Remember me mentioning at the top of the show that if your site is your primary income it changes how you work with it? Well, developing a conversion strategy like Donna lays out in this post is part of that plan. And it works. I’m not going to give you sound bites on this one. It’s better if you read the whole thing.
We all need great images for our blogs. Thanks again to +Makis Mourelatos for stumbling across Unsplash. They’ve got some super nice images, so go check them out. And they’re free
Google Webmaster Tools has a couple of new features that you’ll want to check out. They added a blocked Resources Report that helps you identify elements you’ve blocked that Google wants access to which keeps them from rendering your pages correctly.
And they have a new Fetch and Render tool, which shows you how a GoogleBot renders your page for indexing compared to how you see it rendered. You can view them side-by-side, which makes things a lot easier.
You can read more about it in this nice post on SearchEngineLand by +Barry Schwartz. And if you can’t tell yet from my most recent Tips Tuesdays, Barry has gotten to be a favorite blogger these days for SEO related things. He’s great to follow on G+ to get up to the minute skinny.
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.