Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The Gutenberg Course is available to all with a grand opening discount
- Live session this week in the DIY SEO course for Yoast and Search Console changes
- Why I’m so tickled with my 2 latest video experiments for Heartwood Art
- Why I’ve taken to deleting cache after updates and the 3 places you need to do that
- WordPress 5.2.1 is scheduled to roll out today – see what’s in it
- More on the huge new feature in WP 5.2 of a signature key security code
- Why Yoast is dropping support for pre-Gutenberg WP versions and why I’m delighted about it
- Why cPanel is removing PHP versions 5.6 and 7.0 and what you need to do now
- What’s up with cPanel changing the way our SSL certificates renew and why it’s making me crazy
- Changes to your heartbeat and revision control code coming
- Why you need to get an annual site checkup
- Nginx is coming to cPanel and what I’m watching closely for that will impact our site speed
- Huge speed boost from Cloudflare with their new HTTP/2 Prioritization feature
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 open Q&A time for what caught your attention in this week’s tips or whatever you’d like to discuss about your site success. And, I always have breaking news for the day too. So come join us live for the party.
Woohoo! Happy week around here!!!
The Gute course is now open to the public.
I got caught up on all the recent SEO changes with Yoast and Search Console.
And I got the next video released for my woodworking site and I’m back in the shop making sawdust!
I’m delighted to present the Gutenberg Ninja course to you!!
This is so way past an introductory course.
It’s all about the real-world stuff you need to know.
And that’s because I know most of the folks taking it are established bloggers and you need to be able to recreate what you’re already doing on your site.
Trust me! You’ll be able to do that and so much more with Gute.
I’ve curated the info to be a fast course, as far as the instruction.
But I believe you are going to be so inspired by what you learn that you’ll want some extra play time with all the new stuff you can create to make your site even more visually interesting and fun for your readers.
Grand Opening Discounts are available!
I sent out emails on Sunday to my webmasters, site audit clients, DIY SEO course members, and BlogAid News subscribers with big discounts.
See the post from yesterday for the grand opening discount available to the public if you’re not in one of those groups.
And I’m really looking forward to your feedback on the course too!!!
Over the past month you’ve heard me reporting on all of the schema markup changes to the Yoast SEO plugin as well as the new reports in Google Search Console.
I did a deep dive into them and I’m currently updating a few tutorials in the course.
But first, I want to meet live with the DIY SEO course members to discover what they are seeing in the new reports.
So far, no one has any errors or issues, which is great.
And then we want to go over the changes in Yoast to ensure everyone is checking for errors or conflicts with the new schema markup.
And to go over the new schema for images all over your site to ensure you are making the most of the SEO available to you through the plugin.
I’ll finish updating the tutorials based on what folks share that they are encountering with it all.
So, do attend live and let us know what you’re seeing, even if it’s no issues. We need to know that too.
Look for an email I sent out on Monday with meeting details, or you can always find them in the bonus section of the Workshops list on the site.
I was thrilled to get back on track with my mitre saw station bench build this weekend.
Sunday I published the next post in the series for how to safely cut plywood on the floor.
This is one of those cornerstone pieces of content that I’ll refer to over and over again.
And I was tickled pink with the storyboard video!!!
It not only had still shots, but also had two video clips inside it that show me actually doing the steps I’m talking about.
I’ll have a post out later this week telling you how I did it and more on why I’m sticking to this posting method and focusing on videos.
Video on Instagram
This past week I just happened to catch a 3 day series from Mari Smith that was sponsored by Wave.video where she talked about video promotion in general.
A few weeks ago I shared with you my first experiment with video on Instagram on my @HeartwoodArt channel.
She confirmed the size issues I ran into and the dimensions I thought would be better. So, that’s good.
So, I gave that a try for the new post on Heartwood Art and it turned out pretty well.
It was also the right size for Facebook.
And both of them show my link at the end and have enough motion even without the sound.
Now I just need to figure out how to upload it to my Stories on Instagram so that it auto plays.
I’m seeing lots of them in my feed.
I’m using Gramblr to do the upload and I don’t see that it can post it to Stories.
If you know a way to do it, I’m all ears. I’m posting from my computer.
I uploaded it directly to the HeartwoodArtCreations page on Facebook and it looks great there and auto plays.
Are You Doing Video Yet?
Mari also shared stats on video for several platforms and folks, all I can say is that I hope me endlessly talking about all the things I’m trying with video encourages you to try your hand at it too.
Like anything, it takes practice and trying new stuff for me to produce what I’m putting out now. And stuff I put out years ago looks cheesy by comparison. And I’m sure what I’m doing today won’t look as polished as what I produce a year from now.
That’s how it works.
So, whatever is holding you back, get over it and just do it.
You’ll grow, you’ll learn, you’ll have some fun, and you’ll keep getting better at it.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
I’m seeing more reports of folks having site issues after updating plugins.
I’ve taken to deleting cache after I do updates now.
See my post on how to delete cache everywhere as you likely have 3 places to do it now.
This is a minor revision and should auto update for you.
There are several bug fixes as well as some polishing on the new security features.
I don’t anticipate any issues with it, but will keep my ears open for us.
One of the new security enhancements that came in WP 5.2 that I haven’t covered for you yet is a new signature key that ensures a proper verification before a file update is allowed.
This is huge!!!
One of our main site security concerns are all the unchecked, open door policies we give to plugins and even WP itself.
If they have an update available, it comes from the outside world.
The Cloudflare Pro plan with its WAF (Web Application Firewall) is the only protection we have right now for protecting us from malicious code coming through those updates.
In other words, if the site storing those plugin files got hacked, so did we.
For most of us, those plugin files reside on the WordPress repository.
And that’s why this new change is so big.
Even if the WordPress servers get hacked, we won’t because the new key on our site won’t be properly verified by the plugin carrying the malicious code.
Now, don’t let all of this give you a false sense of security.
Only a handful of plugins are participating in this new security check.
It will take years for more plugin devs to revamp their code and get on board.
Plus, it will take site owners being on at least PHP 7.1 to make use of it.
I know most of you listening to me are on at least that PHP level or higher.
If not, read How to Check or Change Your PHP Version and ensure you are up to date so you won’t have plugin update issues.
Also read How to Restore Plugins to a Previous Version with WP Rollback in case a plugin update goes goofy on you over all this.
Yoast SEO has been on the Gutenberg train prior to it leaving the station, meaning prior to the WP 5.0 release.
He’s reading the writing on the wall just like I am and sees that this is the future of WP we want to embrace.
He’s also seeing the financial burden of keeping his plugin compliant with pre-Gutenberg code.
So, as soon as WP 5.3 releases, he will be dropping support on the Yoast products for any site still running WP 4.9 or lower.
The code is very different in the core since WP 5.0 and he has decided not to remain backwards compatible.
I’m thrilled he’s leading the way on this and I hope more plugin devs follow suite sooner rather than later.
This also speaks to how excited he is about all that we can do in Gutenberg that was not available to us before.
I do cover the basic Yoast SEO module in my Gutenberg course and I’m looking forward to doing the tutorials on his two new blocks for it, especially the how-to block. That, coupled with the improved schema markup in the last few releases is a game changer for anyone who does how-to posts.
I do those on both BlogAid and I’m doing lots of them on Heartwood Art.
I know many of you have craft and lifestyle blogs where you can make use of this too.
I’ll be comparing the Yoast how-to block with the same function in the Create plugin from Mediavine too.
The Create plugin outputs its own JSON-LD schema markup just like Yoast SEO does now and I want to see if they cooperate or conflict.
It’s the same sort of test I’m currently doing on recipe plugins that also output their own schema markup.
Both of these PHP versions came to end of life in January.
So, cPanel is removing them as a profile option when creating new sites.
I don’t believe that means the PHP versions themselves will actually be removed.
They just won’t be an option you can select anymore.
That’s good news so that folks can’t downgrade to an insecure level and put the whole server at risk.
It’s super bad news for site owners who are not keeping up with the latest changes, as I imagine that hosts themselves will jump on this bandwagon to contact those site owners and strongly encourage them to update. I’m also betting some hosts may eventually resort to doing a forced upgrade, like it or not.
The good news is, by following me, you are 2 years ahead of this curve and you already have it taken care of.
cPanel Changes DCV Code for SSL Certificate Renewal Again
I just wish they would make up their minds!!!!
I also wish they would tell us when they make these changes.
During site audits, I’ve been seeing a reversal of the code cPanel used to ensure all links have 3 rewrite conditions to ensure they don’t goof up cPanel’s AutoSSL program.
It’s the thing that triggers auto renewal of your free SSL certificate every 90 days.
They introduced this DCV code a couple of years ago, but the way they wrote it to your .htaccess file was ineffective.
Whenever you manually added a redirect, or caching plugins added one, no DCV code got added.
So last year, they changed it to the only thing that made sense to me, which was putting a path at the top of the .htaccess file to say where the keys for the SSL cert renewal could be found.
But they didn’t tell anyone about that either. I found it buried in a support forum thread.
And they didn’t make it mandatory to add to the top of the .htaccess file either. So again, totally ineffective.
Well, now it looks like they have reversed course and the DCV code is now once again being auto added – but in an effective way. It looks like they are actively scanning for a redirect and adding the DCV code above it.
I even removed the DCV code on a site to switch over to the new path way.
The next time I checked, the new path had been deleted and their DCV code added back.
Again, I can’t find any documentation on this change.
And I’m going to raise holy hell with them about that this time too.
I’ll be updating our webmaster tutorials with the new info soon.
And FYI, you likely have 2 SSL certificates on your site. The AutoSSL one issued by cPanel, and then the Let’s Encrypt one most hosts offer that is issued by Let’s Encrypt. You’re only using one of those and it encrypts your connection from the host to Cloudflare.
And then Cloudflare issues its own SSL certificate from Comodo and that’s the one that your site visitor’s browser reads.
Revision and Heartbeat Control Changes
For the last several years I’ve been hard coding the controls for how frequently WP does an auto save and how many revisions it allows in the database before overwrite.
There are plugins to do both of these things, but they are not always kept up to date.
Well, turns out that the heartbeat code needs to be in a different place in the wp-config file than what we’ve been using.
Again, this is something I had to dig super deep to find, as no one talks about it much.
So, I’ll have an updated tutorial in the Webmaster Training for you on that soon too.
Get an Annual Site Checkup
If you’re a site audit client be sure you return for an annual checkup.
Besides the things I just mentioned, there have been 20 updates at Cloudflare in the last year. And security things change all the time.
A checkup is done by the hour and I fix and update things as I go. So, it’s cheaper and faster than your first site audit.
Think of it like getting an oil change and tire rotation on your car.
A little bit of maintenance goes a long way to keep your site running down the road without issue.
cPanel is currently beta testing adding Ngnix as an alternative to Apache.
Ngnix is another layer in the hosting software that smooths connections to other software and apps. Think of it as a translator and connector of sorts.
It also makes things run faster.
SiteGround has Apache with Ngnix. That’s why it’s shared hosting is a little faster.
A2 Hosting has Apache on their smallest and cheapest accounts, and then Litespeed servers, which they call Turbo, for their more expensive accounts.
NameHero, which is where I am these days has Litespeed on all servers.
Apache alone is the slowest. Litespeed is the fastest of all.
And all of this is why you need to match your caching and other speed improvements to the type of server your host uses.
In a few weeks I’ll be doing new performance checks on all 3 server types and will be releasing my findings on what it takes to get as fast as possible on each.
This is also why there is no best optimization plugin or why folks can’t get a generic speed tutorial to work on their site like the examples shown in the tutorial.
This is also why a site audit is so critically important if you even hope to speed up your site for real.
We see all the drags and fix them.
We don’t throw darts in the dark and spin our wheels trying this, that, and the other and hope it works.
And speed matters for SEO and viewer retention more than ever now too.
Wow! This is a big deal that I’ll be checking into.
On the paid plans, Cloudflare now has a toggle to provide Enhanced HTTP/2 Prioritization.
It literally gives Cloudflare control to reorder your page load to be as efficient as possible.
And that is going to make it super fast – like a 50% increase!!
So, you better believe I’ll be checking into this for us.
And don’t get this confused with HTTPS settings. HTTP/2 is the delivery protocol all HTTPS sites can use. Think of it as a fast lane for HTTPS sites.
And Cloudflare is always on the cutting edge of speed enhancements.
You get many of them on the free plan too.
Things like Brotli compression, which is going to eventually replace GZip as the compression model of choice. Not all browsers support it yet, which is why hosts have not changed over to it.
But with Cloudflare, if it detects that the visitor’s browser does support it, you get faster delivery of your post or page.
With all the security protection and speed enhancements you get, I just can’t imagine why anyone doesn’t use Cloudflare.
And Cloudflare setup is something I teach in the Webmaster Training too.
It takes more than just submitting your site, pointing the DNS, and installing the plugin.
In fact, your site will go down if that’s all you do.
If you’re a designer and you want to know how to speed up your client’s sites, this is one easy and cheap way to do it!!!
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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