Hello Happy Site Owners! Tips this week include webmaster and total site success training, why you need to look beyond your site to fully secure it, an eye opening look at how poorly 3 site security plugins performed in head-to-head tests, an image optimization checklist, what’s coming with the latest update to the Google Webmaster Tools API, Google back peddling on the SSL ranking factor, why you need to stop doing copycat marketing, and why to get off the hamster wheel of creating it, why now is the time to add video and audio to your marketing mix, creating content that sells, and for dessert, hip babies on skates. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
Welcome to the last podcast of September. Can you believe we’re about to enter the last quarter of the year?
New Webmaster Training Site Underway
I’ve been in video tutorial making heaven across the weekend. I’ll be launching a new member site soon for webmaster training that includes how to manually install WordPress and set up all of the site security. It will also include training on backup strategies and site migration. All of that is in the first Level. The second Level will focus on SEO and Performance.
I’m gearing this site to cater to designers and developers who want to expand their offerings and separate themselves from the pack.
Plus, I literally will be grooming folks for my BlogAid team. Business continues to expand and I need more folks that I’ve vetted to handle specific parts of the workload.
I’ll let you know when the new site goes live, which will be as soon as I can finish the first Level of tutorials.
I also want to send a special shout and thank you to +Cyndi Papia of OfficeTo-Go.com who was my cohost on last week’s free Favorite Plugins webinar. And thanks to all those who attended and stayed for the whole 1.5 hours and for your questions. We had about 30 folks. It was very informative for everyone. We’re going to try to do it again before the year is out, and at a different time of day, just so it’s convenient for different folks.
Successful Site Training
And I want to send a shout out to all the folks that signed up for my 1-on-1 training classes before the prices went up. They didn’t go up much, but had to go up a little because I’m simply delivering a ton more info for successful content marketing now too. Nobody in my classes ever wonders what they are going to blog about. Most have their editorial calendars filled up for six months or more. And all of it has a purpose.
Busy season is ramping up. So, if you’re thinking about a site revamp, or ready to go up a notch in visibility and conversion, now is the time to start to have your new site ready before the holidays.
And it won’t be long before I’m booked up at least a month in advance. I can only take so many clients a month because each class is uniquely tailored to each site owner’s needs and goals. So, consider booking early, even if you want to start later, and finish up your site for the new year.
That’s all the news from here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips from around the ‘net.
iThemes Members Update Passwords
iThemes emailed customers last week that suspicious activity had been discovered on their membership database. As a precaution, they reset passwords on all accounts.
But, even when you change the password on this one account, you could still be at risk, and here’s why.
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A lot of folks use the same email/password combo on multiple sites. So, even if you change one, the damage is already done if any of those sites are hacked. That combo is now on the black market and hackers will use it to try to break into your other accounts, like your website, your bank account, any online account you have.
Read my post from yesterday and get real about cyber security for all of your accounts and get rid of all of that low hanging fruit that makes it so easy for hackers.
And then watch this HOA with me and Mia Voss about DDoS and Cybersecurity where we cover specifics on site security too.
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BASH Shellshock Vulnerability
The other big news this week is the Shellshock flaws found in the open source BASH code. It mainly affects web host providers who run Linux and Unix servers, which are the vast majority of them. And that’s where the fixes have to occur too. There are now plugins to check if your site is at risk, but there is little to nothing you can do about it, so I don’t encourage putting them on your site.
Patches started being released immediately and all reputable hosts jumped on it right away. I have not been seeing reports of sites down or attacked yet because of it.
There’s also a lot of controversy about whether this affects Mac and Apple devices. From what I can tell, not much. It’s mainly for Mac servers which run a specific shell.
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Y’all have probably noticed that I never suggest using big security plugins. In my opinion, they gum up the system to the point of actually slowing down your performance, and they don’t actually prevent some common forms of attacks. See for yourself in this most excellent post by Shylaja on the Blog Vault site where she puts three popular plugins to real world tests against security threats that are well known and well documented as to how they happen.
- BulletProof Security
- iThemes Security
None of them, I repeat, none of them, prevented 2 of the well-known threats. And in this case, 2 out of 3 is bad.
The fact is, there is no such thing as a perfectly secured site. However, there are best practices to give yourself the most protection possible, and within reason. And none of them involve using these heavy security plugins.
If you’re using the WP Touch plugin, it also had a vulnerability, and that has been patched. So, if you haven’t done so already, update it immediately.
Weary of Security Issues
Are y’all getting tired of hearing about security issues? Seems like there is something new every day, doesn’t it? I have to say that I wish I could spend my time focused on other things too. But, this is the reality we face as site owners now, and also as folks who are completely intertwined with technology. The hacker field is a multi-billion dollar industry and this stuff isn’t just going away. So, somehow, we’re all going to have to get with reality and be responsible for doing what needs doing, and then getting on with what we prefer to spend our time on.
If you haven’t had a site audit, seriously consider getting one and stop being an easy target. If we all do that, we are all safer, and that will take a big bite out of making this so profitable to hackers.
It’s like living in an apartment. If you and the folks around you are not safe, none of you are safe.
As the web gets more visual, images are getting bigger. So that means image optimization becomes a more important factor for SEO. I’m always on the hunt for good tips and this list from Christina Hecht on the Vertical Measures blog is a good one.
It’s broken down into tips for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. I have to tell you, my own practice with this and for my client’s sites skips right over the intermediate section. We do the beginner and advanced stuff. So, I’m looking into adding more things from the middle section, but it’s not likely that many of them will make the cut.
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All summer, Google has been improving the Google Webmaster Tools API. This past week they announced that it now allows for more and easier integration to do things remotely like:
- list, add, or remove sites from your account (you can currently have up to 500 sites in your account)
- list, add, or remove sitemaps for your websites
- get warning, error, and indexed counts for individual sitemaps
- get a time-series of all kinds of crawl errors for your site
- list crawl error samples for specific types of errors
- mark individual crawl errors as “fixed” (this doesn’t change how they’re processed, but can help simplify the UI for you)
APIs are used by developers to build plugins and such that bring information from another source. So, I’m betting we’ll be seeing more plugins that deliver info from you GWT account directly to your WordPress Dashboard, and that’s a good thing. There are probably some already available. This change will just help there be more of them, with more info.
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You know that whole SSL as a ranking factor thing? Looks like Google may be back peddling the idea now. In a recent Google Webmaster Help Office Hours HOA, John Mueller flat out said that “using https will not visibly increase your rankings.” You can read the rest of his comments in this super wrap up post by Jennifer Slegg on The SEM Post blog.
Content Marketing Tips
Are you tired of reading the same o’ same o’ on blog posts and social media? Well, your readers are too, and it’s time for you to stop doing it like everyone else and find your unique voice and approach. In this excellent HOA, +Denise Wakeman invited +Nancy Marmolejo to chat about exactly how to do that. Nancy runs The Instersection of Talent and Genius, or T.A.G. coaching site and has a knack for helping folks find their unique positioning in the field of what they do.
You’ll pick up all manner of idea and tips in this conversation.
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So, once you do find your voice and start creating stellar content that is unique, you don’t want to just fall back into your old habits of doing only that. If you’re always focused on getting out the next post or the next program to attract new readers and clients, you’re missing the point.
There’s a saying where I live. “Dance with the one that brung ya.”
Nurturing existing clients is much more profitable than all of the work it takes to attract new.
And I would strongly suggest that you consider this approach. Long-term relationships are at the heart of my success with BlogAid because they bring repeat business and referrals that I don’t have to do any extra work to get. And I’m as loyal to them as they are to me. Investing in their success is a big part of my success.
And if you haven’t caught on yet, maybe you should subscribe to Denise’s Adventures in Visibility YouTube channel or podcast. It’s one of my favorite things.
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More Visibility with Video and Podcast
Over the past few months, you may have noticed that I’ve started to cite more HOAs on Tips Tuesday. That’s because more of the folks that I follow are doing them. And these conversations are just as important and informative as the 100+ blogs I follow each week that have mostly written content.
Videos are becoming a bigger part of content marketing, and I suggest you start thinking about how you can participate in more of them, whether that’s creating them on your own, or getting yourself invited as a guest for someone who does video interviews.
And, there are more and more podcasts starting up all the time and those hosts are always in search of guests to interview as well. So, maybe think about jumping over to iTunes and getting to know shows and hosts that cover your topic of expertise. Follow them. Comment on their blog or social media. They’ve already built an audience. Help the host introduce you to them.
Content marketing seems to be falling into two major tactics. One is direct intent to sell. The other is the zero pitch approach. +Doug Kessler has a nice post on the Convince and Convert blog with SlideShare examples of both.
I do both on BlogAid. I inform and educate mostly, with the aim to become a trusted resource. And what folks purchase from me is a cohesive method of stepping through all of that information in a way that is actionable and tailored to their needs and goals.
What I don’t do a lot of is story telling. That has had very mixed results for me. I see others go big guns with it, though.
You have to find what works for both you and your audience.
But at the end of the day, no matter what tactic you take, you have to eventually convert viewers into buyers. And that is what is at the heart of this post on creating content that sells.
I don’t know how Evian made this video of babies on roller skates, but it’s hip and it’s funny and I loved it.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
Please take a moment to jump on over to iTunes, and leave a review. I really appreciate it and your review means so much in helping get the word out about this podcast. And drop by and say hey over on my Google+ page too. I love hearing from you. Be sure to visit BlogAid.net for more tips and resources and I’ll see you online.