Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- How my woodworking site is starting to pay off
- Why I’m celebrating videos for the win
- Is a Video SEO course coming to BlogAid?
- DIY SEO workshop on Thursday for Special Formatting to get you on page 1 of Google
- Why I retested Autoptimize and what I found
- New theme speed tests coming
- The DNS record and SSL certificate research I’m doing that will impact you
- Why you need to update Ninja Forms
- Status on the Yoast SEO update
- What was in the WordPress 5.4.1 update
- Why I can’t sleep without the extra protection in Cloudflare Pro
- The difference in a major and minor update
- The plugin you need to get rid of on your site
- What hosts should and should not update for you
- Why I’m excited about WPEngine acquiring Block Lab
- Why you want to become a Gutenberg Ninja sooner rather than later
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.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, y’all!
I’m sure you’ve seen the meme about the coincidence of Cinco de Mayo falling on Taco Tuesday and messed up by a virus called Corona.
It’s Starting to Payoff a Little
Woot! I made my first money from Amazon on Heartwood Art!
It was just shy of $25.
For all of the work I’ve put into revamping the theme and site to go fully Gutenberg, plus all of the keyword research everywhere, plus all of the posts, most of which have videos, that adds up to about 500 hours over the last 1.5 years.
So, that payout has me making around $0.05/hr.
I believe if I had been able to get serious with Pinterest last year that this would have been a different story. That’s on my plate for this summer.
Videos for the Win
But I am insanely encouraged by what’s happening with my woodworking videos showing up in Google search and delighted with all of the Heartwood Art YouTube channel new subscribers! They doubled in the last 2 months.
I had time over the weekend to collect all of my metrics for March and April.
Lots of woodworkers have had more time to be in their shops during this lockdown time. And with the big box hardware stores open, they’ve been able to get their supplies.
So, more folks have been looking for projects to do, and they are finding my video tutorials.
I’ve been sharing those video analytics with my DIY SEO course members during our live workshops and they are very impressed with how it has taken off too.
There are two kinds of SEO to do for videos.
- SEO for YouTube
- SEO for the post where the YouTube video is embedded.
Most of my new video views came directly from YouTube search. That was followed by my stuff showing up in Suggested videos on YouTube, and the rest were from being found via Google search.
I’ve been waiting for Heartwood Art to take off so I would have the metrics to show that I do know what I’m talking about with video SEO. And I can see doing a class on it in the future.
It’s insanely hard to keep BlogAid high in video search, as the tech is always changing.
So the videos go out of date and I have to start all over again with a new video.
It’s way easier to grow and rank with evergreen content.
And because most of my clients blog evergreen content, teaching all of this with the example of Heartwood Art makes more sense too.
I’m really looking forward to meeting with my DIY SEO peeps this Thursday for our workshop on special formatting that gets you into featured snippets, voice search, and more ways to get to page 1 on Google.
This is the last workshop before we do a super deep dive into on-page SEO.
So far we’ve covered:
- Technical SEO – to see if Google has any issues crawling your site
- How to check your rank
- Whole site SEO
- Link SEO
- Image SEO
- Ranking Factors
- How to build a content silo
And after this upcoming workshop on how to format our posts better, we’ll be applying all of that to our blog posts and pages. Then we’ll dive into how to do a content audit and revamp old content to improve SEO too.
And that part of it will keep us busy for the rest of the year, especially those of us with bigger, older sites. We have a LOT of content revamping to do!!!
It’s never too late to join us!!
In last week’s Tips Tuesday I reported that Frank Goossen, the developer of Autoptimize, reached out to me about the results of his plugin in my head-to-head best free caching and optimization plugin tests.
We ran a few quick tests with different settings and combos and they were quite impressive.
So, I ran more formal tests and asked him a few more questions over the weekend.
He suggested combining Autoptimize with WP Super Cache. I checked that setup against the hard coded browser caching I initially used. And then I also tested a couple of different settings with regards to font loading.
Even though most of the results were a little faster with these new setups, they also gave conflicting reports on the different testers.
So, I will not be updating the results on my head-to-head results post.
But, I did put a note in there about these additional tests and that I want to do a standalone post on just Autoptimize with all of the different testing setups.
It’s a good plugin. It’s just that you have to bring your own custom browser caching to it.
I think that’s a good fit for webmasters, but not a good fit for my clients. They will want the thing that gives the best results while being easy to configure.
And that’s going to be the winner I cited in that results post anyway.
My Webmaster Training members also have access to the full case study that shows everything in more detail and I updated the links to the latest test results.
Theme Speed Tests Coming
Next up I’ll be doing a head-to-head case study on theme speed.
I’ll be testing the exact same site built with:
From my site audit experience, I can already tell you that the winners will be in that order.
The case study will be to show by how much.
And, I really need to build out a page in Astra with Elementor just to show how insanely much that bloats your site too. I may split that off into its own case study.
And now that I have the caching plugin results, I’ll be throwing that at the sites to see how much good optimization and caching can help.
And then I’ll be throwing them on Cloudflare to see how much of a difference that can make.
So, lots of testing to do this month!!!
DNS Record and SSL Certificate Research
In the last 2 years cPanel has changed the way they handle updating our free SSL certificates 5 times!
Rarely do I find a host that knows anything about these changes. And even more rarely do I find any documentation about it from cPanel. So, it’s very time consuming for me to keep up with what’s going on and make the necessary changes and tutorials about it.
Well, this latest method cPanel is using makes more sense than anything they’ve done before.
They’ve added a new DNS record that helps their AutoSSL tool find the path to the keys to renew our SSL certificates. That’s required if you have any redirects like forcing HTTPS or you use a proxy like Cloudflare or Sucuri or other WAFs (Web Application Firewall).
The problem is that the new DNS record has been added at the host, but that is not picked up by Cloudflare, as it only does a DNS scan of your host records when you first put your site on Cloudflare.
So, I’m busy doing a bit of research into when that record gets issued, as the keys are different from host to host.
That goofs us up during migrations, as old keys get copied over sometimes.
I’ll have a tutorial out about all of this for my Webmasters soon, including how to check the keys and add the record to Cloudflare.
If you are a site audit client, this is something I’ve been checking and updating for you as you come in for your audit checkup.
You need to have one every 12-18 months, as things like this and security change all the time.
The SSL certificate at your host could be toast and you would never know it, as Cloudflare is delivering its SSL certificate to the browser.
But you don’t have end-to-end encryption on your site, as that SSL certificate from your host secures your data as it travels to Cloudflare.
So, be sure you get your audit checkup if it has been a while. I’m only running a 2 week backlog at this point, and you’ll be good to go before summer gets here.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Update Ninja Forms
Wordfence released a post about a vulnerability in Ninja Forms last week.
They made it sound worse than what it was. You had to be tricked into importing a contact list.
So, be sure to do the update, if you use that plugin to get rid of the problem.
The Yoast SEO plugin had a major code revamp with version 14.0 that they released last week.
Since then they have had at least 4 patch releases due to stuff that broke.
Many were edge case issues. The majority of site owners were not affected.
Some of those edge cases were due to folks running a super old PHP version.
You should be running version 7.3. Some of these folks were running 5.6.
Yoast keeps claiming these changes make the site faster but I have yet to see test data by them or by anybody who ever claimed it might have made the site slower to load in the first place.
It may have been slower on the backside, and now that is faster. And the reason I suspect that is the case is because in that post they mentioned using Query Monitor to test speed. That’s what you use for back, admin side speed testing, not front side testing.
I’ve run my own front side tests and have NEVER seen Yoast SEO play ANY part in slow page load – ever.
I’ve seen folks in speed groups swear that removing Yoast sped up their sites – but not a single one of them has ever provided data to show it.
I have the data to show that it doesn’t slow down the site.
So, until someone shows me data to the contrary, plus their testing conditions that can be replicated, it’s just a rumor and I will continue treating it as such.
Bottom line, we are still going to hold off a bit with updating Yoast SEO and allow them more time to encounter and fix all the bugs.
Last week WordPress released a security patch with version 5.4.1.
This would have been an auto update for everyone, and I’ll have more on that in a moment.
There were 7 vulnerabilities patched and several included XSS, or Cross Site Scripting issues. That allows things to cross talk to each other in ways they shouldn’t be passing info from one thing to another thing.
XSS is one of two of the most common security issues with WordPress, and especially with plugins.
The other is mySQL injections, which allows things to be put into your database that shouldn’t be there.
Get WAF Protection with Cloudflare
The Cloudflare Pro plan has a WAF (Web Application Firewall) that protects you from these 2 common vulnerabilities until the patch in the plugin or WP can be released.
It also protects you from 20 other such OWASP security issues.
That’s why I can’t sleep without having my money-making sites on it.
$20/mo is peanuts compared to repairing a hacked site and the loss of income while it’s down.
Not to mention having to throw down everything you’re doing to deal with it.
Cloudflare is some seriously cheap piece of mind. Even the free version gives you tons more protection than you have now.
But it does have to be configured properly, and you don’t want to go through your host to do it. I have yet to see a host who knows how to configure it fully.
I take my site audit clients through the setup live so they can see all that Cloudflare is doing for them.
Difference in major and minor updates
Going from WordPress 5.4 to 5.4.1 was a minor update.
Going from 5.3.x to 5.4 was a major update.
Minor releases should auto update.
Major releases will not auto update.
If you have any code on your site that stops minor updates, take it off.
You want minor releases to update as soon as they roll out because most of the time they contain security patches, like the ones we just discussed.
15 plugins a day have XSS and mySQL injection issues.
We want those patched for us immediately.
Delete Easy Updates Manager
If you are still using the Easy Updates Manager plugin, delete it.
We installed that just prior to WordPress 5.0 being released, as they were putting major changes into minor updates prior to Gutenberg coming out.
We haven’t used it in 1.5 years.
Get it off your site so your minor updates can happen automatically.
Some of y’all are on hosts that do some updates for you, or warn you when there is a security issue.
SiteGround is pseudo managed hosting like that. They sort of put themselves in the middle of some updates, but not all. I STRONGLY suggest you get out of that system.
Other hosts, like A2 Hosting have Patchman, which is a scanner that looks for malware on sites. I’ve heard from one client that has not updated Yoast SEO to version 14.x that Patchman flagged it. I hope they don’t try to update it for you.
As I mentioned at the top of the post, my tips and advice are for folks not on hosting that has restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your site, and when. That includes you being in total control of your updates.
READ: What is Managed Hosting? for more on the radical differences in hosts now.
Help with Migrations
Contact me if you’re ready to move to better hosting that puts you in the driver’s seat with your site changes.
It’s not easy like it used to be to migrate to new hosting as all of them now have radically different server environments. And security is a way bigger concern now too, as you need to properly and fully delete everything at the old host before you terminate the account. Plus you need to have your security keys changed at the new host and get that brand new IP address hidden asap.
READ: How to Migrate Your Site to a New Host for more on what it takes to move these days.
WPEngine has scooped up yet another independent company.
This time it’s Block Lab.
Last year WPEngine purchased StudioPress and Atomic Blocks and helped them start integrating together.
Atomic Blocks are okay, but I far prefer Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg made by the folks at Astra Themes. Their blocks are lighter and faster. For that matter, Astra is far lighter and faster loading than Genesis is too.
As the article on WPTavern says:
With WPEngine funding, they can continue some excellent development with this project.
And I believe that will be a boon for all of us, as we are likely to see even more specialty Gutenberg blocks become available and we’ll soon be able to replicate all of the functions we can do with our current themes and theme builders.
So, this was a super smart move by WPEngine for R&D purposes, as Genesis and Atomic Blocks will directly benefit first and foremost by having help incorporating new blocks even faster.
They plan to support the current Block Lab plugin for another year and then switch subscribers over to the WPEngine tool offerings.
My clients who have switched to Gutenberg just love it.
That, coming from a place of dreading it prior to getting into my Gutenberg Ninja course. They say it right there in the testimonials on the landing page.
Folks, Gutenberg will rule WordPress and completely revolutionize theme design in less than a year.
It’s time for you to take the plunge and get on the bandwagon with it.
You will be stunned at all you can create yourself and the styling options it will open up for you to jazz up your posts.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
Gimme some love!!
Share this post with all your blogger buddies to support all the free info and help you get on BlogAid – and help your buddies too!!
Subscribe to all BlogAid Posts via email so you never miss anything!
Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.