Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Why I’m doing so many host migrations lately
- How Gutenberg helped me make a super snazzy affiliate link page
- Why it’s time to have another look at all the new Gutenberg Ninja course tutorials
- A zero-day vulnerability in the Chrome browser
- Why you need to immediately delete the Broken Link Checker plugin and better alternatives
- Why you don’t want to rely on your host to update your PHP version for you on Dec 1
- Why you need to stop cleaning your database so often
- We’re getting close to the next WordPress release – find out what’s in it
- How to use Astra Widgets
- What I’m watching for in Google Search Console’s new Speed Report rolling out
- And check out the extreme speed on one of my site audit client’s site
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join for tonight’s livestream at 9pm ET / 6pm 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.
I hope all of y’all are having a good start to the fall season. I sure have been thinking about my buddies and clients in California with all of the fires and turning off the electricity to help avoid them. I know it’s been very disruptive to your lives.
Around here, me and Zak have adjusted to the 20 degree drop in temps and adjusted the time of day we go for our walk. We keep this mid afternoon schedule for most of the year and I’m delighted to get back to that routine. I need a break about that time of day from computer work and it invigorates me for the rest of the day.
Doing LOTS of Migrations
In my site services work, I’m finishing up with three huge client jobs where they had multiple sites that were all a mess and we got them all secured, cleaned up, and fast. Plus we got them all properly converted to HTTPS and the PHP version updated. So, they’re all set for a while now.
I’ve been slipping in migrations to NameHero for my previous site audit clients. Lots of them are pouring out of SiteGround prior to the control panel changeover, which I’m so delighted about.
And SiteGround has not charged for making the cPanel backups for the last 2 clients.
It’s been a real guessing game as to whether we could get our own cPanel backup or not, and whether it had to be paid for or not up until now. So, maybe they’ve worked out some of their goofiness on their end and made this cookie cutter. It’s so crazy that we have to open a support ticket to do it at all.
Then I have a whole list of stuff I checked prior to the migration to warn the new host to take out during the move so the site will work properly when the DNS is pointed to the new host.
After those migrations I have to take out 30 things that were SiteGround specific and don’t work at any other host. It’s fast. But that’s nuts.
And then of course I delete everything site related at SiteGround so that account can safely be terminated. And I change over the security keys and such on the new host so there is no chance that anything is the same between the two.
And I’m so glad that me, and those clients don’t have to deal with the SiteGround goofiness anymore.
Get Help With Your Migration
If you want to move to better, and faster hosting, check out my Migration Checklist to see what’s involved.
And then if you want help with all that, then see my Site Services page and we’ll get you going with it.
Keep in mind that you’re not just changing hosts, you’re changing hosting environments. So, it’s not just pick up and move easy like it used to be.
Monetizing Heartwood Art
Well, it took a while, but I finally got my Shop Tools page created on Heartwood Art with all of my Amazon affiliate links.
Gutenberg made that so easy!!!!
I decided to make my own photos for them because I plan to get on one of the big affiliate programs where Home Depot is one of the vendors. They are making a huge push to have folks order online and either pickup at the store or have delivered the same or next day, all with no membership.
So, I’ll be adding Home Depot links, and maybe even Lowe’s links to it as well.
There are a lot more details I want to share with you about it, so look for a new blog post in my Hobby to Money-Making Site series soon.
Speaking of Gutenberg, I’ve been a tutorial making maniac again this past week and I did finish up all of the updates to existing tutorials, plus all new tutorials in every section up to the Specialty Blocks section.
That took a couple of weeks longer than expected because I added so many new tutorials as I went than I originally had on my list. They include things like:
- Creating links every way possible on everything possible
- Coloring single words
- Scheduling a post
- How to check your site on mobile
- How to edit or change images
- How to hide Pinterest images
I sent an email out to current Gutenberg Ninja course members about all of the updates and that it’s now time to jump back in and check them out.
And while they are doing that, I’m making all the new tutorials on the Ultimate Addon Blocks for Gutenberg plugins. That’s the one I’ve been so delightfully using on Heartwood Art and I’m super excited to be sharing it with you.
And then I jump right into making all manner of snazzy page templates and I hope to set that up so you can just swipe them too.
This is the stuff I’ve been so itchy to get to for the last couple of months and I’m glad I’ve had so much experience working with it on Heartwood Art, and hitting it perfectly for the release of WordPress 5.3 where all these fun Gutenberg features roll into the core.
So, very exciting times ahead!!!
And, if you are a site audit client in our BB Hub membership, or in any of my other courses, like the DIY SEO course or the Webmaster Training, look for the link to your Gutenberg Ninja discount code up in the boxes at the top of your course member dashboard. You get a bigger discount than anything I will be running for holiday sales or such. So no need to wait.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
A zero-day vulnerability for the Chrome browser was announced on The Hacker News last week, and it was actively being exploited in the wild. Chrome rolled out a patch for it. And I posted about it on the BlogAid Facebook page the minute I heard the news. So be sure you are following me there to get news as it happens.
Later I sent out a note to all BlogAid News subscribers to manually update Chrome.
By this time, it’s likely that your browser has already auto-updated, but always good to check.
And as far as I know, this only affected the desktop browser as there has been no new release for the mobile app.
I hope you are not using the Broken Link Checker plugin, but if you are, delete it immediately.
It has an XSS (Cross Site Scripting) vulnerability that will not be fixed, and the plugin is no longer being maintained.
This is one of the most common types of plugin vulnerabilities and is why I am so very glad to have the Pro version of Cloudflare. It has a WAF (Web Application Firewall) that protects us from XSS and other common plugin vulnerabilities until the plugin dev issues a patch or we can get the thing off our sites.
It’s some seriously cheap peace of mind and I won’t sleep without my money making sites being on it.
Now, back to checking broken links.
Please be aware that any link checking crawler is going to be a resource hog on your hosting. And that slows down page load and could put you into an overage situation with your host.
Plus, the Broken Link Checker plugin was notorious for being inaccurate too.
I normally recommend using Google Search Console to check for broken links on the Coverage Report with your 404 items listed. But GSC has been so far behind all year in its reporting that I don’t think we can rely on it for this.
So, go read this post from Ana Hoffman on alternatives that do work. Or, consider getting a checker plugin that you can run when you want to do it, so you can set it to check overnight, and not when a backup is running or such, and run it sparingly at that.
Site Maintenance Tips
You have exactly 24 days to update your PHP version to 7.2 or higher before support for 7.1 drops on Dec 1.
And if you’re relying on your host to do it for you, then you may be in for a hell of a shock when they auto update you and some of your plugins or your theme breaks.
This is why I advocate DIY site ownership instead.
It’s easy to learn how to do this stuff, and I make tutorials for you so all you have to do is click where it shows and get it done.
And I remind you in Tips Tuesday when it’s time to make those changes.
It just doesn’t get any easier than that!!!
And saves you a lot on hosting costs too.
I can hear some of you saying, “But MaAnna, I’m not a tech!”
That’s okay. None of my clients are either, and they’re taking care of their sites with ease. And they rarely to never call the host for anything. For one, they don’t need much because everything on their site is squeaky clean and running at top performance. And second, they know how to keep it that way and stay out of trouble with junk plugins and such.
So, get an audit and get in the know, and get out of panic mode and worrying about what may hit next.
Stop Cleaning Your Database So Often
I hear a lot of site owners say they clean their database once a week or once a month.
Stop that practice.
Start thinking about it like cleaning leaves out of your gutters.
There is a risk involved.
And you’re not going to get up on that ladder for 2-3 leaves.
You’re not really improving anything for site speed with more frequent cleanings.
That’s especially true if you have properly hard-coded directives to control the heartbeat frequency and revision build up, and have it clean up after itself automatically.
That’s something I add during site audit fixes for you.
I only run a database cleaner once a year when I do my audit, and it’s fine.
Plus, we are no longer using the WP-Optimize plugin for database cleaning since they have now made it into a caching plugin also. Get rid of it.
And change to WP-Sweep. Now, that said, WP-Sweep is more aggressive when it comes to cleaning the database and even has a warning that it could wipe out drafts.
I haven’t seen it do that, but I wouldn’t be keeping a bunch of drafts on the site anyway.
Do your writing elsewhere, like Google Docs or Word or such. And only start making a post when you’re getting ready to publish it.
Not having all those drafts will help keep your database a lot cleaner than using a plugin cleaner on it anyway.
For the last several weeks, WP has rolled out the latest Release Candidate for 5.3 on Tuesday afternoons, so betting we see an RC4 today as they continue to fix bugs.
The final release will be out on Nov 12, so we are getting close.
At Matt Mullenweg’s State of Word address this weekend at WordCamp US, he said there were more contributors on this release than ever before.
They are throwing the kitchen sink in this one, folks, on a LOT of different functions, so we will not be the first to update.
She did it again!!! Michelle Phillips at Codefetti has another outstanding post in her Astra Themes series.
This time it’s on how to use the Astra Widgets, which bring a ton of extra functionality to your site.
So, go check it out, and see the whole series while you’re there.
And folks, she’s doing all of this while using Gutenberg, including things she learned in my Gutenberg Ninja course, which is why she is also an affiliate.
So, if you want to show some gratitude for all of the hard work she is doing with Astra, and making it so easy for us, get the course through her link on her site. And then hire her to help you do the finishing touches on your Astra theme too.
Gutenberg and Astra themes help you cut down radically on your design costs. But, you’ll still need a designer for some special things that make your site totally unique.
Google has been testing a speed report in Search Console since May.
And now they are rolling it out to users as an “experimental” version.
It classifies URLs by speed and is supposed to help you identify the issues.
Here’s my concern.
Google PageSpeed Insights was a worthless, inaccurate tool until a year or so ago when they started basing it on Lighthouse, which is an open source tool that Google didn’t create. Lots of speed testers use it.
So, what’s this new experimental speed thing based on – their old, inaccurate way of testing, or Lighthouse?
I’m betting it’s their old, proprietary way of doing it.
And that means the info in this GSC report is going to have folks screaming when things aren’t really messed up on their site. And if it is based on their own tester, then you can forget about getting any accurate or useful suggestions from it either.
All that said, it still may have one good purpose – it already crawls your entire site. And even if you can’t get accurate info about each page and post, it may give you a clue as to which ones need attention.
And you can run those through a very accurate and helpful tester like WebPage Test, and get the info you need.
READ: How to test your site speed accurately for a primer on how to read the test results.
Better yet, come get a site audit. https://blogaid.net
That tester is just one of the things I look at for speed issues. Most of the info is actually on the back side of your host.
On average, I find 26 security and performance holes that no tester can see much less identify.
So, speed testers are good, but they certainly don’t give you all the info you need.
And acting on just a small part of all info available is going to have you guessing at best.
I don’t guess.
I get all the info, show it to you, and then we make good decisions based on data.
Check out this speedy site
Yesterday, I finished up the annual audit check for Marilyn Lesniak of Marilyn’s Treats.
We also recently moved her off SiteGround, which is a medium-fast host, to NameHero, which is a lightning fast host.
See the results for yourself by running https://www.marilynstreats.com/ through both WebPage Test and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Bet you’ve never seen a site get a 100 score on PageSpeed Insights before. That’s on desktop.
Mobile is getting a 92.
And WebPage Test shows the full site load time as under 1.5 seconds. And while that’s great, the perceived load speed is under a second. And you can’t beat that.
The page weight is under 500KB and you can’t beat that either.
Let’s make you a happy client like Marilyn.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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