Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Replay is available on Get Started with Astra chat with Michelle Phillips
- More LIVE chats coming and who my guests will be
- The results are in on my head-to-head theme tests for Astra, Genesis, and Divi
- Gutenberg vs Elementor case study underway
- Webmaster bonus performance training has started
- What’s in the update to my WP Fastest Cache Settings tutorial
- Why you must get your site audit request in soon
- Why Cloudflare was down for a bit last week, and the reality of how fragile the internet is
- Confirmation that Yoast SEO already has the feature for turning off WP native XML sitemaps
- Astra Themes hits 1 million installs
- A synopsis of what was discussed in the July Genesis Shapers meeting and how Atomic Blocks will be changing soon
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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.
It’s been a super busy week here filled with case studies, new tutorials, and lots of client work.
And sweltering heat. Where I live here in TN, the temp has been in the 90s and so has the humidity. It’s like a sauna at times.
But, the older I get, the more I hate the cold, so I’m not complaining, well, not much.
Zak and I have a couple of fans going on the deck. And I do love being surrounded by all of the lush greenery and sounds of birdies and such everywhere. We’re not so crazy with the sound of the cicadas, but they’re only out for a few weeks.
I call that covered, but otherwise open deck my sanity room and I spend as much time there as I can doing all of the reading and research and post writing that it takes to deliver these tips and tutorials to you.
Thanks to everyone who attended the live chat last week with Michelle Phillips of Codefetti on how to get started with the Astra theme.
That chat sure clarified a lot of my confusion about when to make a child theme, whether to use the Starter Templates or not, and a good look at the best features that the Astro Pro plugin brings to you.
This was a follow up to our chat on how to Avoid DIY Theme Mistakes a few weeks ago.
Both of these chats, plus links to lots of Michelle’s Astra tutorials will also be going into my Gutenberg Ninja course soon too for easy reference there. And of course, you can find links to them in these chats as well, and on her Codefetti site.
And I want to thank Michelle for her generosity of time and expertise to make these chats and those wonderful resources happen for us too.
More LIVES Coming
I’ve got more live chats in the works for you with a few more industry experts plus client interviews.
I’ll be chatting with my site audit clients so you can hear from them what their site audit project was like and how much more traffic and money they are making since then too.
I’ll keep you posted on the schedule, and I’m really looking forward to sharing these with you!!!
Finally!!! I published my case study on the head-to-head speed tests I ran on the Astra, Genesis, and Divi themes.
Michelle Phillips of Codefetti was kind enough to create the exact same site on all three themes, and that was no small feat, let me tell you!!! It truly speaks to her many years of expertise in working with multiple theme platforms.
I hope you will go read the details of the case study, but in brief, I can tell you that Astra and Genesis were neck and neck for the most part.
And I think it clearly shows why not to use Divi anymore.
I’ve also got a synopsis at the bottom to help you choose which theme is best for you to start with.
And that opinion came right out of the live chats I had with Michelle too.
So, go give it a read.
Gutenberg vs Elementor Case Study Underway
I’m already into my next case study where I will be using the free Astra theme to build a home page using only Gutenberg and then using only Elementor and then run speed tests so I can prove just how bloated Elementor is and why there is no need for it.
I have yet to see anything built with Elementor that you can’t do directly in Gutenberg.
So why bother with a page builder?
I’ll also be sharing this case study with the nice folks at Astra because they push Elementor pretty hard, and there’s just no reason for that, in my opinion.
I should also probably do a case study comparing Astra Pro with Elementor Pro, as that gets into theme building. And again, I believe Astra Pro will come out on top.
If that turns out to be the case, then the Astra folks are literally shooting themselves in the foot by promoting Elementor.
I’ll keep you posted on progress, but I’ve got a lot of tutorial updates to do between now and the end of the month, so I’m not sure how fast I can get these case studies out.
Speaking of new tutorials, the new bonus training for my webmasters started last week.
This is for designers and SEO pros who want to go deep into speed and Core Web Vitals to help make their client sites super fast.
That also helps separate them from the pack of just graphic designers so they can get gigs they didn’t qualify for previously.
I already have this type of performance training in the course, but it can be overwhelming to do on your own.
So, that’s what this bonus training is all about.
We’ll be doing our first live workshop today to go over their first assignment of running speed tests on multiple sites.
Once we’re finished with this extra training, they should be able to run site audits just like I do and offer that as an extra service as well.
I didn’t realize that appending a query string to the end of a URL caused the post or page not to cache.
I discovered that when running a kill switch modifier to simulate a post load without ads when running it through one of the online speed testers. Made it look like none of the caching or optimization was working.
The same thing will happen if you use UTM tracking strings on your URLs too.
Fortunately there are tutorials from WP Fastest Cache with fixes for both of these issues.
And I’ve updated my settings post with a section on Query Strings.
The folks I see using UTM codes the most are big Pinterest users. I should probably read up on all of the ways folks are being told to implement these things and then do some testing to see just how much it affects your page load speed – which could be significant.
Sounds like I have another case study on my hands, huh?
Holler if you need help implementing these fixes.
I think there are going to be a WHOLE LOT more site owners interested in speed and Core Web Vitals soon.
And site owners will definitely want to know about how to improve those scores come next year when they become ranking factors.
But they are going to be way behind the curve by then.
Folks, this isn’t like HTTPS conversion. There are no quick, free fixes for it.
You can’t wait until the last minute to address your speed and User Experience issues.
Now is the time to sign up for your site audit.
I’m already booked into September and that wait list is not going to get any shorter as fall begins my heavy season that lasts until at least April.
And that’s about the time these CWV will go into effect as a ranking factor.
So, you have to give time for your project to come up on my waiting list, plus time for the fixes on the things that we find.
For some folks, that means a change of themes, or other projects that take a while to do.
So, you have to plan ahead for it.
And that time is now.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Cloudflare had an outage for a few minutes last week and it caused all manner of sites and services to be down.
Last year they did an upgrade that took out a big part of the network for several hours.
The year before that, one of the main DNS resolvers we all use went down for nearly a day and knocked almost the entire internet for the Eastern half of the U.S out.
And the year before that, Verizon dumped a bunch of new IPs out all at once and crashed the internet for over a day.
I don’t think most folks realize just how fragile the internet is. It’s just a bunch of wires and hubs that run on routers and server farms scattered all over. Redundancies are built in, of course, but catastrophic failures do happen.
I’m surprised that it is as reliable as it is.
So, don’t get in a huff with your host, or your site tech, or anybody for that matter if stuff goes down for a bit.
Yes, we lose traffic and money. We’ll recover.
It’s just part of doing business online.
Yoast SEO 14.5 disables native WP XML Sitemap
Y’all may recall that last week I reported XML Sitemap generation will be coming to the WP core when version 5.5 releases in August.
And I reported that the Yoast SEO plugin will auto detect that update and turn off the native WP XML Sitemap.
What I didn’t know was whether that feature would already be in the Yoast plugin, or after the WP release.
Well, it’s already there in version 14.5.
So, when we do update to WP 5.5 in August, that’s one thing we won’t have to concern ourselves with. It’s already done for us. Thank you Yoast!
Woot!!! Congrats to the folks at Astra for hitting the 1 million mark on active installs.
They are the only non-default WordPress theme to achieve such a thing.
I am so very happy for them!!!
They are nice folks working hard to put out a good product that has end-users in mind.
And they are doing their best to stay cutting edge with all WP changes too, like Gutenberg editor and Gutenberg Phase 2 as a theme builder.
In fact, they are bleeding edge with some things in that they are getting ahead of what’s in the WP core. And that can lead to a bit of instability, sort of like a beta product.
But, I still feel confident in recommending them for you to use because it’s only going to get better, if their past track record is any indication.
You may recall a few months ago that I reported Genesis will be forking their framework into a new version that will cooperate with Gutenberg Phase 2, which is to make it a full theme builder.
The new framework is called Genesis Pro.
Now don’t worry, the current Genesis framework will continue to be supported for a few years to come, and it’s likely it will be the framework most Genesis designers will use until Gutenberg Phase 2 becomes more mature. I expect that will be at least through 2022.
But, they are marching forward on other fronts as well.
Atomic Blocks will soon become Genesis Blocks.
A few years ago WPEngine purchased both Array Themes, the makers of Atomic Blocks, as well as Genesis/StudioPress.
And Atomic Blocks has been the default Gutenberg block plugin suite they include with Genesis and suggest you use.
I like Atomic Blocks okay, but it is more bloated than the Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg block suite plugin from the folks at Astra.
I hope with this move that Genesis will address that bloat issue and make it so that the plugin does not load things not in use.
They plan to release Genesis Blocks in mid August, which will be right after the WP 5.5 update rolls out.
For those already using Atomic Blocks, they are making a direct migration path for you to switch to Genesis Blocks. I’ll have an update for you on that as soon as it becomes available.
I’ll also be updating the Gutenberg Ninja course with that info too.
And I’ll have tutorials on the new Genesis Blocks as soon as I can after the rollout.
They also clarified that the Genesis Blocks plugin can be used with any theme, not just Genesis.
This will also impact the new Genesis Pro page builder. They plan to rename it too when they include Genesis Blocks.
So, lots of changes coming for Genesis for the rest of the year, and I say the rest of the year because I’m betting there will be even more changes as the release of Gutenberg Phase 2 rolls out around December or early in 2021 and all of us get to see what’s going to be included in the WP core.
So, it’s all still very much up in the air right now.
But revolutions are messy. We’re just living through one.
I predict by the end of 2021 we’ll have a super powerful theme and page builder experience across the board. And that there will be very little resistance to using Gutenberg by then.
But, you don’t have to wait.
We’ve got a very powerful Gutenberg experience going right now!!!!
You can build an amazing site with Gutenberg and Genesis as it is right this minute.
That’s what I did on Heartwood Art!!
So don’t be shy. Get in there and get it done.
If you’re a designer, you’ll definitely want to go read all of the news from that Shapers meeting, as it’s a clue about what’s coming down the pike for all themes, not just Genesis.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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