Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The big BlogAid Super Summer Sales Event is live – but for a limited time
- Last chance to get the DIY SEO course at the current low price
- Free webinar this Wed on the Power of Gutenberg – but you do need to register now!
- Replay is ready on how to avoid DIY theme mistakes chat with Michelle Phillips
- A chat coming on how to get started with Astra themes
- New guide on how to read the metrics of online speed testers
- New tutorial on how to run a site speed test accurately
- New Search Console Core Web Vitals checks in progress
- New webmaster workshops for deep performance checks
- My op ed on the latest Trellis theme from Mediavine beta update
- Why you need to check with your host about their plans for dropping cPanel, and what NameHero is doing for now with it
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join for tonight’s livestream at 8pm ET / 5pm 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.
Who I Help
All tips, advice, and suggestions in this, and all BlogAid posts and tutorials, are intended to empower DIY site owners who are not on hosting that is restrictive in what you can and can’t do with your site and hosting setup.
Well, here we are y’all. It’s the second half of the year.
Let’s hope it’s not as crazy as the first half has been!!!
Last week in the Tips Tuesday LIVE show I mentioned that I had a major brain dump coming for all the new speed stuff.
I’m delighted to report I was able to get the bulk of that done, including a 3,100+ word post, a new video tutorial, and more.
I’ll tell you more about all of that in a moment.
Woot!!!! It’s time for the BlogAid Super Summer Sales Event!!!!
I ran the first one ever last year and y’all came out of the woodwork for it.
Both courses and site services are on sale again this year.
But I learned my lesson last year and put some caps on the site services.
So, jump quickly!!!
Some of those services have a limit of the first 10 folks, like the site audits and such and they are almost gone as I record this podcast on Monday afternoon. I’ll likely be cutting off the discount for audits on Tuesday.
Last Chance on the DIY SEO Course’s Low Price
I also want to ensure you know that this is the last time the DIY SEO course will be offered for $147 with a $77 renewal discount.
This should be a $400 course and I will be right pricing it right after this Summer Sales Event.
Not only will the course be going up, so will the renewal.
If you’re already in the course, you’re grandfathered into your current renewal rate, so no worries.
Also, if you’re in any other BlogAid course or a site audit client, your discount rate will be going up too. So make sure you use that coupon code that you’ll find in your member dashboard before it expires.
And site audit clients, your discount is the biggest of all. So check your BB Hub member area for your extra special code.
Quick reminder of the upcoming Gutenberg webinar.
Date: Wed July 8 2020
Time: 1pm ET / 10am PT
This is a Zoom meeting and I won’t be sharing that link publicly.
Registration is required!!!!
The virtual seating is limited and I will be closing it once we fill up.
In fact, last year I had to ask my site audit clients and webmasters to not attend live as we ran out of virtual seats. I made that up to them later.
You’ll also need to register to get the link to the replay, in case you can’t make it live.
But I do hope you’ll join us live so you can ask questions.
Now, I’ll be answering your most common questions right at the start.
And you’ll see real-world examples of what you can do with Gutenberg.
And yes, the course is on sale, but you don’t have to attend the webinar to get that deal.
It’s part of the Super Summer Sales Event.
I want to thank all of the folks who attended the LIVE chat last week with Michelle Phillips of Codefetti.
We talked about the most common DIY theme design mistakes and how to avoid them.
And y’all had such great questions too!!!!
The video replay, as well as the podcast are on the post.
And, you’ll want to see links to all of the great resources Michelle has provided us, including her nice Astra tutorials.
Getting Started with Astra Themes
Next week, Michelle will be joining me again for another LIVE chat and this time we’re going to focus exclusively on Astra Themes, as that’s what so many of you are jumping into, especially those who are in my Gutenberg Ninja course.
I’ll have a post with details out to you soon, but go ahead and mark your calendar now for
Wed, July 15
1pm ET / 10am PT
You need to look way beyond the scores of online speed testers, as they are meaningless.
Even the good ones can lie.
You have to look at the data to see what makes up those scores.
And to help you do that, I’ve created a primer on how to read the metrics.
It’s a 3,100+ word post, and keep in mind that’s just a primer.
I’ll be going even deeper into all of this with my webmasters.
For site owners, you’re likely going to need help sorting through all of this and that’s what my site audit service is for.
But do have a look and see what metrics you need to pay attention to the most.
Near the top are the 3 that are the most important.
I’ve also updated my video tutorial on how to accurately run a speed test with both WebPage Test and Google PageSpeed Insights.
This is a primer on how to set up the tests to run accurately as well as where to find the metrics and data you need to see what’s going on with your site.
And, I go way deeper into all of this in my webmaster training for folks who make a living offering performance checks.
So, do have a look at the video and see why the test results are so radically different between the two testers, and why the needle may barely move on PageSpeed Insights after you make speed tweaks too.
Google Search Console Core Web Vitals Checks in Progress
As you can see, I’m definitely putting a lot of time into digging into the new Core Web Vitals (CWV) data.
A couple of weeks ago I published a Core Web Vitals Guide that gives you an explanation of what these new metrics are and what you need to check on your site.
And now I’ve got these speed tester tutorials all updated for you.
I’m also checking in with a few of my DIY SEO course and site audit peeps for what they are seeing in the new Core Web Vitals tab in Google Search Console.
The info is all over the place.
And now that I’ve got more info about what the metrics show in the online testers, I’m starting to understand why the info is all over the place.
There can be a huge difference in the lab data and the field data that the testers report.
And the new CWV tab in GSC reflects that.
So, I have more digging to do, and will be calling on my village to help get to the bottom of what we’re seeing.
And then I’ll have tutorials in the DIY SEO course for you.
I appreciate your patience with me as I continue to dig deeply into all of this so I can produce actionable steps for us to take to improve our metrics.
A couple of weeks ago I sent out a survey to the members of my Webmaster Training for Designers and SEOs course to gauge interest in a new workshop that will take folks deeper into performance checks.
I already have tutorials in the course for how to run site audits just like I do.
But, having more personal guidance with it will be helpful, as all sites are different and generic tutorials on how to run the tests and where to find all of the data, especially on the host side of things, are not enough.
It takes experience to know what you’re seeing and if any action needs to be taken.
So, I’m putting together a new workshop series for those who want to make this a core part of their business so they can attract more clients who are savvy about the need for speed for their sites.
We’ll be starting those workshops right after the Summer Sales Event is over, so folks who are interested can catch the sale and get in on this series too.
That’s all of the news around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
And we are seriously shy on tips again this week for things you need to implement.
We’ll take it!!!!!!!
And we appreciate having the summer off from such things so we can focus on other site stuff, like Gutenberg, SEO, content revamp, and more.
So, this week I’ll be sharing the news that will affect a big batch of my clients around a new theme framework and the bigger picture of coding standards for all themes and plugins.
And I have some hosting news for you too.
Mediavine has been designing a new theme framework for the last couple of years.
It’s called Trellis and it is geared toward serving the needs of their clients who run ads through their agency.
At first they thought they would release it as a free framework to everyone. And they also thought they would have it out within about 6 months of when they first announced that it was coming.
That was my first caution flag going up, as there is a reason premium frameworks, like Genesis and such, are not free.
They’ve learned the hard way to be a LOT more cautious about their predictions with certain things like this since then, as WP changed right under them with the release of Gutenberg, and they got a taste of what’s involved in a project of this magnitude when working with WP.
In their most recent beta update post, that I have linked for you, they gave us a brief on what the theme does and what it still needs to do.
Folks, this thing is going WAY past just being a theme.
That was my next caution flag going up.
To help increase speed, they are getting into the optimization of so many things outside of the theme that you have on your site.
I think that’s a huge mistake, especially if they plan to release this theme framework to the general public, as they first planned.
It takes their support team going into your site and seeing how you have things setup now and then them making the necessary changes to accommodate the extra functions in the theme.
There’s no way to support that on a theme for general public use.
Of course, the theme is meant to integrate directly with their other plugins, like Grow for social media follow and share, plus Create for list post, recipe posts, and other specialty functions.
Well, what if you don’t want to use those features in those plugins? Can it handle other plugin integration?
Mediavine is also now working with the folks at Feast Design who made the horrible mistake of putting too many functions directly into the child themes, and then having to take them out and put them into a paid plugin instead. What they literally said was that there was no money in supporting their current themes, and that their whole business was geared toward new sales.
The way that was handled truly upset my clients who were using the theme, and it caused a storm of comments in blogger groups I’m in as well. The overall consensus was that they had a lot of time and money tied up in their current theme design and it would be too much time, money, and hassle to change over this right away – but that they would change themes and get out of this type of setup.
That was my third caution flag going up and it changed from yellow to orange.
Setting of My Caution Lights
I love Mediavine for being the best ad agency around – bar none.
But, I’ve always had a caution light on because they don’t come from the WordPress community of developers. They come from a non-WordPress, enterprise level development community.
And we’ve all had some pretty bad experiences with other plugins created by devs that didn’t have a WP background.
Y’all have been through some of those meltdowns with popular plugins.
There’s 14 ways to code anything. And some of the ways they have chosen, especially with their plugins, don’t play well with other WordPress themes and plugins and setups.
We’re seeing that play out with Grow since they purchased it from the Social Pug developer in just how many more bugs we’re seeing.
Plus we’ve seen it with Create and the way they suggest altering your security, especially on Cloudflare, to make the plugin run end around ModSecurity and OWASP security settings that folks are paying extra for in the Pro plan. There’s another way to do it that I show my clients that’s far better than leaving that kind of hole in their paid security.
I’ve also worked with them on other code directives for a CSP (Content Security Policy) which is an HTTPS security header that you need to deter mixed content warnings.
The way they do it does not play well with some of the top caching and optimization plugins. The way I do it plays well with everything. And I’ve told them such.
And I believe we’re going to see these same concerns with Trellis coding too, plus functions that should never be at the theme level.
I’m going to reserve further comment on details of this until I get to see the backside of Trellis and all of their integrations.
Experience in the WordPress World Matters
Just know that I’ve been working with plugin and theme developers and vendors for many years.
And I don’t give a damn about how pristine you may think your coding is.
If it doesn’t play well in the greater WordPress environment, then you need to come off your high horse and get with the community.
And I would caution site owners to be careful about blindly jumping on this new theme bandwagon until it has been fully vetted by independent sources, like me.
I’ve seen these same issues with social sharing plugins, podcast player plugins, and more. And I tried to warn the developers as well as end users. Some listened. Others saw their house burn down because those things did eventually have catastrophic failures.
I believe the folks at Mediavine are sincerely doing the very best job they can and strive to have the very best products and services.
We just have a serious disagreement about the underlying code base and how intrusive this particular theme’s functions reach into other areas that should not be included in a theme.
We also have serious disagreements about best hosting, caching, and other optimization techniques to use. The ones I recommend play well in the WordPress environment and give DIY site owners full control over what’s happening with their sites.
And all of this stems from a lack of being in touch with the greater WordPress community on their part, in my opinion, and/or from having coding standards that are based outside of that community.
Consider the Audience
I am not saying Mediavine’s coding practices and recommendations are wrong.
I’m saying that they are better suited to a non-WordPress, non-blogger, enterprise-level environment.
I’ll give you another example of that.
There are a bunch of incredibly great hosts that you never hear me talk about, like Digital Ocean, Cloudways, and even Amazon Web Services.
That’s because they are better suited to enterprise-level sites and for agencies that have their own server admin folks.
None of those hosts are suitable for DIY site owners and bloggers.
But that doesn’t mean any of those hosts are bad – far from it.
I’ve had clients that started out with me and then got to a million pageviews a day and had to step up to enterprise-level development of their site. That included a change of hosting, and even dumping WordPress because it is database driven and that has limitations when you get up to that much traffic. So, they graduated beyond my wheelhouse for the type of services I offer, and me losing that business is a good thing. I’m happy for them!!!!
I feel the same way about some practices from Mediavine. They come from a different development space than what most bloggers are accustomed to that is more suited to enterprise-level clients. And for those types of clients, that’s a good thing. But maybe not so good for WordPress bloggers.
And to be honest, they are actually ahead of the game with some of their coding standards than 90% of other theme and plugin developers.
And I wish to heck that WordPress itself would get where they are with some things.
But that’s not where we live now with what else is on our sites. And Mediavine needs to adapt in that direction, in my opinion.
Working Through This
As mentioned, I work with theme and plugin devs behind the scenes every day to help them create better wares for all of us DIY site owners.
And I’ll continue to work with Mediavine, as my site audit clients are about half of their client base.
And we all want what’s best for those clients so they can make as much money with their sites as possible.
I have lost no confidence in Mediavine as the best ad agency on the planet.
Nor have I lost confidence in their desire to strive for transparency and integrity in all that they do.
And they have my full confidence that they are taking action on the things they see that are holding them and their clients back in making all the money that can be made.
We just disagree on how those changes are being implemented, as it could very well position our shared clients into a spot where I can no longer help them, and those clients will then be entirely reliant on Mediavine and whatever hosting is in use for help.
That’s a great concern for me well beyond losing the business.
It also means that those site owners will not likely be able to implement many of the tips and tutorials I share regularly to the public as well as in my courses due to conflicts with some of the functions of the new theme, or from moving to a fully managed host where access to certain areas are locked down.
In other words, I couldn’t help them no matter how much I wanted to. Nor can I help them qualify my tips for use in their unique setup.
That’s specifically why I give the disclaimer that I do at the beginning of every Tips Tuesday post about who my tips are intended to help.
I’ll have more for you when I can dig deeper into Trellis and have some data to share.
That will likely be when the theme is more widely available and does not touch on the non disclosure agreement that beta testers signed.
But I don’t expect them to back off this track they are on that is raising my caution flags so much so that I feel compelled to address it before more folks blindly jump onto the next shiny, new thing.
Is your host about to drop cPanel?
This past week I had a live session with a current site audit client whose host switched from cPanel brand control panel to Plesk.
They completely wiped out all of her server-side security and HTTPS security headers in the doing of it.
They also completely disconnected her from Cloudflare.
So now every bad bot on the planet has her host’s IP address and is chewing up her hosting resources like crazy.
I was livid.
Her site is sitting wide open for a hack attack. And it lost all of the headers required by Google now too.
In other words, she has lost much of what she paid me to do, and put her site at extreme risk by not paying attention to this change by her host.
And there is nothing I can do to help her at that host.
The only choice now is to move, and that means losing whatever time is left at the current host, as there likely is no prorated refund available.
And that means extra out of pocket money for an unexpected move too.
Check on your host’s control panel plans
Last year, cPanel dropped a bomb on everyone by suddenly tripling their prices.
Hosts reeled and screamed about it.
The press was so bad that cPanel actually began negotiating for lower prices with some hosts.
But, that put every host on notice to make plans to dump cPanel down the road.
Until now, most hosts have been absorbing the price increase, but they won’t do that forever.
So, you need to check to see what plans your host has for changing the very foundation of the server setup you have, as it could wipe out all of your site security and HTTPS security.
NameHero will be dropping cPanel eventually, but not today
Right now, NameHero has retained cPanel for their shared hosting, and shared reseller plans.
On VPS, they still make cPanel available, but at an extra cost of $10/mo, as they can’t afford to keep absorbing that price increase at that level of hosting.
In a brilliant move last year, Liquid Web purchased Interworx, the closest cPanel rival. And they have been pumping resources into its continued development to bring it up to par with their server and client requirements and needs.
It is now the default control panel on VPS hosting at NameHero.
FYI, NameHero uses servers provided by Liquid Web, so they have a direct say in feature improvements for Interworx, which is great.
I don’t know when they will make this change to shared hosting, but I do know that it is coming some day.
And they have granted me access to a test server so I can get familiar with it and so I can make Interworx tutorials for my webmasters and start including it in the tutorials I release to the public.
I’ll keep you posted on when they may be making the switch, but I don’t expect that news to be coming around the corner just yet.
So we’re all good for now.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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