Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- Ultimate speed tests have started on BlogAid and client sites this week and what I’m encountering
- Update on the status of the WP Fastest Cache and WP Rocket Tutorials
- Issues at SiteGround you may be encountering
- What’s not in the latest WordPress 4.9.5 release that rolls out today
- The big change to Caldera Forms coding that will affect all plugins
- How and why you must switch to PHP 7 immediately
- Getting your site ready for GDPR with a new plugin and whether to use it or not
- Facebook cracks down on email list uploads and what it means for your privacy statement
- Cloudflare launches a DNS Resolver that you’ll want to use
- How HTTPS sites are going to be harder to snoop on soon
- Google announces the shutdown of their goo.gl link shortner service
- Why it’s time for an RSS revival
- Which words convert the best and how to test them
Listen to the Podcast
Join me Live to Discuss Tips Tuesday
I hope you’ll join me live tonight around 8pm ish ET for the party and an interactive Tips Tuesday recap and breaking news discussion on the BlogAid Facebook Page. You can also catch the quick recap later that evening on the BlogAid YouTube Channel.
We have a lot of super important news to get to this week. But first, I want to share an update with what’s happening on the BlogAid sites.
Ultimate Speed Tests on BlogAid This Week
I’m running live speed tests on BlogAid this week.
I’ve already cut the page weight in half and knocked the load time down another second or so.
The site was already loading in under 3 seconds, so getting more speed out of it is not as dramatic as it is on my client sites.
Those changes included the new settings on Cloudflare that I went over with my consultant last week. And unfortunately, they did affect the member sites and knocked out access to the tutorials for a day for some folks on Sunday.
I’ve contacted the consultant again to see what’s up with it. And this makes me concerned that there was a change at Cloudflare or something that is knocking these settings stupid, as I’ve been using some of them for years without issue.
So, you may see some goofiness on the sites this week. Fair warning.
Ultimate Speed Tests on Client Sites This Week
And I’m delighted to start the first of my live client ultimate speed tests this week too.
Of the 5-6 site audit clients who volunteered, I chose 3 that I’m most familiar with and that have pretty standard mix of plugins.
The first one is a site that most closely resembles my test sites, so thinking we’ll easily be able to push that one to ultimate speed.
The second one is pretty heavy on images, but has no ads. And I think we’ll get ultimate speed on that one too.
The third one is heavy on images and runs ads from an ad network. That one will have some restrictions, due to what the ads require. But, we’ll be working with them to see what all we can and can’t do and get the site as fast as it can go.
After these tests, it literally will come down to differences in the mix of plugins. Well coded ones will do well with these ultimate speed boosts. Poorly coded plugins won’t and things are more likely to break or have issues to contend with.
There is something to be said for keeping your site simple!!
Site Audit and HTTPS Conversion Waiting List Update
I completed a couple of projects last week and am bringing on new projects right now.
So, if you’re on my waiting list, look for an email I sent last week giving you an update on when I think we’ll be starting your project.
I expect 2-3 of the projects I have right now to go pretty fast.
But, I’m still booked to the end of April.
WP Fastest Cache Tutorials Update
I got a great start on the new Webmaster tutorials for the more advanced settings in WP Fastest Cache this weekend.
The WP Fastest Cache tutorial I have for everyone on BlogAid are the safe settings.
You’ll definitely run faster with them. But the advanced settings make your site speed really zoom!!
However, they also carry more risk and require more testing and coordination with Cloudflare.
And that’s why it’s worth hiring someone to help you do it.
And that’s also why I’m taking so much time with 3 month’s worth of testing on sandbox sites and for all manner of site types too.
Experience matters here!
WP Rocket Tutorials Delayed
I got notice last week that WP Rocket is radically changing their interface yet again.
So, I’m poking around the beta release this week to see where all the settings are and what they are labeled.
I already finished up with my tests on the plugin and all of its settings.
So, as soon as they make a final release, I’ll get started on those tutorials for my Webmasters too.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
SiteGround Issues with Nginx and Cloudflare
Over the weekend, a couple of my site audit clients reported strange issues with their sites, like being logged out randomly or posts not rendering correctly.
Monday, I saw reports in one of my dev groups about it.
Seems the issue is at SiteGround. At first, they were blaming it on Cloudflare, but last I heard, it’s an issue with Nginx. That’s a proxy layer over Varnish that is needed to smooth out some things, like the connection to Cloudflare and the SSL certificate renewal via cPanel and other things.
We had to stop work on those client sites until this blows over.
See my BlogAid Today livestream tip on it for more.
Get the News as it Happens
And be sure to Like and Follow the BlogAid Facebook page so you get info like this as it happens.
You can also see most of them on the BlogAid YouTube Channel as well, but not in real-time.
WordPress 4.9.5 Slated to Roll Out April 3
Last week I reported that the beta of WP 4.9.5 was going to release today.
Sorry, I read the news too fast. The beta was already out. The full public release was slated for today.
And, because it is a minor release, it will auto update unless you have that turned off, and I hope you don’t.
One of the big changes is the recommendation to increase your PHP version level at your host to 7.2. That’s up from 7.0. You can try that, but some of your plugins or theme might have issues. You can read more about making the switch in the Plugin Tips section.
This notice to move up in PHP levels is only in the readme file, which I doubt much of anyone actually ever sees.
Another change they made was to remove lyrics from the Hello Dolly plugin that may be offensive to women. I can’t imagine that anyone still uses that plugin, but I do appreciate the sensitivity the community is showing by requesting the lyrics be dropped, and the devs taking action on it.
The rest of the bug fixes are pretty minor and nothing that you will notice on the site.
Call to Try Gutenberg Booted out of WordPress 4.9.5
Last week I reported that the WP devs were thinking about putting a notice at the top of your admin pages when version 4.9.5 rolls out to give the Gutenberg plugin a try.
The outcry from the community was so great against it that the devs decided to punt the idea.
Thank goodness, because it would have caused a lot of unnecessary mayhem.
Here we go!!!
I reported last week that plugin devs are going to start dropping support for old PHP versions.
Well, the devs at Caldera Forms did just that!!!
They no longer support PHP below 5.6.
That’s because the PHP coding language is not supported below that either.
Switch to PHP 7
If you haven’t done so already, read my post on How and Why to Switch to PHP 7
It has a link to a tutorial for how to run a compatibility check, as well as where to find the switcher at your host.
If you don’t do this, you’re liable to update a plugin and it break, or get the white screen of death and not be able to access your site.
So, definitely not something you can put off.
This is just one of the things I check in my site audits too.
Is your site ready for GDPR? It’s the new European privacy regulations that are going into effect May 25, 2018 for all sites that collect info on European citizens.
The WordPress core devs have been working hard to make WP itself compliant.
And this is ahead of plugins, such as the WP-GDPR plugin, that gives folks a way to change the personal info you keep on them.
It natively integrates with several popular plugins that hold the visitors info in your database.
- Gravity Forms
- Contact Form DB 7 – which is an add on to store form info in the database, which just the Contact Form 7 plugin doesn’t do by default
The new GDPR regulation states that folks should be able to:
- View what data you have stored on them
- Make changes to that data
- Request the data be deleted
- Transfer the data – and this is the one that bothers me
I’m a little concerned about using such a plugin, just for security reasons.
Right now, I have a way for everyone who has given their personal info to me to make all the necessary changes.
For example, folks who subscribed to BlogAid News and my blog posts via email can click the link at the bottom of any of those emails and do the first 3 requirements of seeing the info they gave me, make changes to it, or unsubscribe.
Same is true of my member sites.
Same is true of folks who subscribe to comment replies. The Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin I use has a way for folks to see, change, and unsubscribe their data.
So, I’m not sure I want to add this WP-GDPR plugin, or that I even need it, since I’m a US based site and I don’t use a European domain extension such as .uk.
How about you? Are you jumping through any hoops to become GDPR compliant?
I am beyond thrilled to hear this news! Facebook is working to put new protections in place that force those who run ads to state that they have expressed consent from subscribers to upload their email address in an effort to create a custom audience to run ads against.
And in the wake of all the Facebook hoohaa, that might be a big deal.
On Sunday, 4/1, Cloudflare announced its new DNS Resolver service. And because that fell on April Fool’s day, some folks eyed it with suspicion, including me.
But, they chose that day on purpose because the DNS is 18.104.22.168. In other words, four 1s, hence the press release on 4/1.
DNS resolvers are not new. Google has had one for years. And there are all kinds of anonymous IP proxy servers that have a similar function built in so folks can browse the internet and sites can’t track it back to them. These are mainly used to visit porn sites in digital privacy.
So, this is how a DNS resolver alone works.
In your browser, you input a domain, like BlogAid.net.
Your browser goes to a DNS resolver to translate that into the IP address where your site files live on a server farm somewhere in the world.
Think of that like the street address of your house, but they are for your site files.
Then your browser runs off to that address and asks your host for the files of the post on your site.
A 3rd party DNS resolver provides the same function.
But, it protects your surfing privacy in doing so.
It can hide all the info you normally give away when surfing, like your IP, which identifies your location, and the type of device and software you are running, and info about your browser and maybe even your surfing history.
The new DNS Resolver from Cloudflare ensures that none of your personal info is written to their disks and whatever is collected on you is wiped clean regularly, like every day.
Why is this important for you to use as a site surfer?
Because the FCC granted the right for browser companies to not only collect and keep and use this personal info about your browsing history, they can also sell it without your expressed consent.
The Cloudflare DNS Resolver doesn’t keep your browsing info or the history and promises never to share or sell it.
What does this mean for site owners?
I’m concerned about how anonymously IP addresses of visitors are about to become.
We count on that info for GEO tracking of our analytics.
We also count on that for protection from DDoS attacks, especially from hackers that already spoof IP addresses so they look like they come from a country we haven’t blocked, namely the U.S.
My other concern is that this service relies on Anycast. You know, that DNS resolver service that went down about this time last year and knocked out access to any server farms in the northeastern U.S. It was the worst DNS outage ever, but then, that sort of thing is pretty rare.
So, time will tell what becomes of this as more folks start to use this particular service.
Who knows, maybe it will help Cloudflare protect us our sites even more, as they will be able to spot and shut down rapid fire hits from a single source.
If you want to start using the new service, there is a nice tutorial on Gizmodo that takes you through the setup on Windows, Mac, Android, and iPhone.
The whole point of this move to HTTPS is to encrypt the data as it travels from the host to your browser and back.
That’s especially important if you need to input data and send it back to the site, like your email or other personal info.
HTTPS puts the equivalent of a brown paper wrapper around the data as it travels so peeping Toms can’t see it.
That wrapper is called TLS, or Transport Layer Security. It’s an encryption protocol.
Right now, we are running on TLS version 1.2.
Version 1.3 has been in Beta for a few years and has now been approved for use.
The encryption on it is much, much stronger and will make it even harder for hackers to peel the wrapper off and see data as it travels through the web.
If you’re on Cloudflare, and I certainly hope you are, you’ve had the benefit of TLS 1.3 for about a year now already.
So, there’s nothing you need to do to take advantage of this extra data security.
Big thank you to webmaster Larry Snow for passing along this super news!!
If you’ve been using Google link shortener, goo.gl, head’s up.
The links you’ve previously created on it will still work.
But after April 13 folks who have never used them before, or for over a year, won’t be able to create new short links.
If you are actively using it, you’ll be able to access the ones you’ve already created for up to a year from now.
I use Bit.ly for creating the shortlinks I use on social media.
It’s free and they give you analytics for tracking clicks too.
I was really happy to see this post on Wired. They say it’s time to revive RSS feed reading of posts rather than relying so much on Twitter and Facebook or other social platforms.
I couldn’t make it without Feedly, which is what I switched to when the Google FeedReader bit the dust.
I have to follow 80-100 blogs a week to keep current on industry news.
And Feedly makes it super easy for me to do that, and find most of the posts that are included in Tips Tuesday.
Do you send your blog posts out to email? Well, that’s via the RSS feed on your site.
Since I follow so many sites that post multiple times a day, I would be absolutely overwhelmed to get all that via email.
So, being a power RSS reader is the best way for me to go.
Do you use an RSS feed reader?
Go check out this post that talks about several of the readers available and see if it’s a better fit for you to track more sites and read more blogs than just stacking up emails of posts to read later.
When you subscribed to BlogAid News, which is my newsletter, you probably left the little box checked to subscribe to all blog posts too, like Tips Tuesday, which is not my newsletter.
That’s why you get my posts via email.
The problem is, most of you never open them.
I’ve heard from several subscribers that you’re piling them up to read later.
You know what I wish you would do?
The info I provide you is timely.
If you don’t make a habit of at least scanning them, then the info does you no good.
So, relieve yourself of the overwhelm and just delete them all.
Then, get in the habit of opening the next post you get and take 1 minute to at least scan it.
That’s all it takes.
And you will at least be a whale of a lot more informed than you are now.
Everybody that blogs knows that words matter.
But some words convert better than others.
And that’s going to vary from niche to niche too.
Do you know what words convert well for your audience?
This post from Content Marketing Institute gives you examples of how to test different words, and explanations of why some work better than others.
It’s a fascinating read.
See how I did that?
I told you it was a fascinating read.
And that made you want to click, right?
Sure, who doesn’t want to be fascinated?
Two of the words that work best for BlogAid are:
And it may sound lame, but good ole “how to” works really well for me as well.
What are the words you see getting more clicks for you?
Leave a comment for us here on the blog or anywhere you see this post online.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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