Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- The new BlogAid theme is live!!
- A new Happy Clients page with success stories that just blew me away
- My new Gutenberg posts have launched, and more on the way
- WordPress 4.9.8 releases today and how to turn off the Try Gutenberg invitation
- The reports I’m seeing of the latest hacker probing attempts and how to protect your site
- What has me nervous about a new site cloning feature from UpdraftPlus
- What’s up with Google testing a new layout for images with titles
- Finally! Some corroboration about why you need to stop chasing green dots in Yoast
- New schema markup for speakable news posts
- 4 ways to write better blog posts immediately
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New Theme is Live!!!
Huge shout out to Marcy Diaz of Amethyst Website Design for her amazing work on the new BlogAid theme!!!
Besides the new fantastic look, I’m very pleased to have been able to get rid of 7 plugins that supported advanced coding on the old theme, and to have simplified all of the page templates.
I’m also delighted with the speed!!
Marcy did an amazing job on the base theme code to remove things like Font Awesome and bring in a much lighter way of using special font sets.
In other words, we didn’t give up any fashion or function to make the new theme fast.
Learn How to Speed Up Sites
Designers – learning about speed in the Webmaster Training courses will change the way you create themes for the better.
You’ll see how to easily identify the performance drags.
Then it’s just a matter of digging into the theme and replacing those items with lighter ways of doing the same thing.
A Site that Represents My Biz
I’m also beyond thrilled that the new layout does a way better job of presenting all of my offers and makes them way easier to find too, especially for folks new to the site.
I deleted about 40 old pages, many of which I thought I had already trashed.
But, using the WP All Export plugin revealed a ton of stuff that I still needed to delete, including the images that went with those pages.
I’m still tweaking on a few of the new landing pages, as well as remaining established pages, to ensure the wording and tone are as good as can be.
In fact, I’ve hired help for that task.
I need someone to do for me what I do for my Scratch to Published training clients I go over their content and CTAs to ensure it gets their message across well.
That can be so hard to do for yourself. Sometimes another pair of qualified eyes on it makes all the difference.
One of the extensive content revamps that really tripped me up on BlogAid was how to deal with the navigation of my client testimonials. I had them scattered all over the site.
Thanks to the suggestions from my site audit clients via our private Facebook group, I was able to finally get a handle on it.
I’ve got one Happy Clients page with client feedback on every type of thing I offer.
And I also have blurbs that point back to that page throughout the site, like on the home page and on the offer landing pages too.
On the Happy Client page, I used anchor links, often called jump links, to redirect from those blurbs to the appropriate section on that page too.
Last week I made a call for clients to send in their happy stories and I was blown away by those reports, especially on the DIY SEO course.
Things like a 4,000% increase in traffic, and #1 on Google search, including Voice Search and the Carousel.
I’m also blown away by how many folks say they rest easy now knowing their site is up to par with speed and security, and how much they learned in their site audit to keep it that way.
THAT is my primary goal with BlogAid!!
New Gutenberg Posts Launched
This past weekend I dived head first into Gutenberg.
See my first two posts on it:
I can definitely see a new course coming for early adopters!
And next week I’ll be diving deeper into Gutenberg. I’ll be loading it up on one of my speed test sites that has a Genesis child theme. And I’ll be throwing the kitchen sink at all those blocks to see how it handles the kind of custom formatting and page templates I use.
From what I’ve already seen, I don’t think it can handle all that yet, which is why I’m advising folks to wait a bit for all this to mature.
But, I want to see for sure what it can and can’t do so I can keep close watch for when those things get added.
Taking a Much Needed Break
As y’all know, it’s been a stressful year here with putting out every fire that pops up for our sites, plus the whole house hoohaa.
So, I’m taking a short vacation out in the boonies where my brother and wife live. They’ve got a river place that has little to no internet. In fact, I doubt I can even get phone coverage there.
I’m looking forward to completely unplugging for a few days.
I’ll be out starting Wednesday and will return Saturday. Just enough to remember what fully relaxed feels like again.
And now I have to go figure out how to put an autoresponder on my email for the first time ever!!
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
This release will have a nag at the top to try the Gutenberg plugin.
Don’t do it!
Just turn that thing off for now.
Go to your WP Dashboard and see the image below for where to find the Dismiss X
WP 5.0 is just around the corner and it will roll Gutenberg into the core, so you won’t need the plugin.
And as I mentioned in my first Gute post about advise on when to start using Gute, I’ll have more info coming with how to put it entirely on ignore as I test those methods out later.
Here’s the post I’m digging into for all the methods to turn Gute off and I’ll have top recommendations for you as soon as I can.
The bottom line is, you are not missing anything cool by not becoming an early adopter.
Do I Update to WP 4.9.8 Now or Wait?
For those of you using the Easy Updates Manager plugin to control your updates I’ll let you know tomorrow if I think it’s safe to allow this update, or as soon as I can, if reports come in that it goofs stuff.
For those who have not taken control of your updates, this will be an automatic one, as it is a minor release number.
I’ve heard from several clients of small DDoS attacks on their sites.
These are clients using Cloudflare and on SiteGround, which has an extra dome of bot protection like the kind used at WP.com.
The reasons they knew about the attack was because they were getting slammed with comment spam. They were all using Antispam Bee.
One of those clients is on the Pro plan at Cloudflare and she used her “I’m Under Attack” feature for about an hour. Stopped the attack butt cold immediately.
My other clients had to either ride it out or ask their host to block the offending IP address. And that’s a whack-a-mole game you can’t win.
So, this looks like a probe attack. It’s small enough to get under the radar of a DDoS attack.
And obviously they spoofed their IP or cloaked the bot in such a way that they were able to get through undetected and make a change on a site, like leaving a comment.
It’s been nearly a year since we’ve had a crippling DDoS attack, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see one before summer is out.
And, I’ve been hearing reports of how hackers are starting to find the cracks in HTTPS setups so they can once again read data as it travels the internet and gather email addresses and such.
Here’s how to protect your site from the new hack attack vectors.
- Get a site audit if you haven’t done so already, or get a checkup if your audit was over 1.5 years ago, as security stuff changes all the time.
- Get on the $20/mo Pro plan at Cloudflare and holler at me for a super quick live session to turn on and configure the WAF (Web Application Firewall).
- Get a full HTTPS conversion and get away from that free way you might have done, as that will come back to bite you, and this is one of those ways.
- Ensure that your PHP version is 7.0 or higher as it has some extra security features too.
If you’re relying on one of those behemoth security plugins to handle this, I have hack specialists on standby for when it doesn’t stop it.
And the cost hack repair service will be twice what all the prevention I just mentioned costs, including a year’s worth of the Pro Cloudflare plan.
When you add in your stress, and site down time, and recovering with Google to salvage your SEO that a hack causes, the cost goes through the roof.
Prevention is WAY cheaper!!
This scares me a little. I can see folks using this clone tool to create non secure sites in the same cPanel and then forgetting about them, putting their entire account at risk.
If you are already running multiple sites under one cPanel, that practice has not been safe to do since 2013.
A2 Hosting (aff link) has a very reasonably priced shared reseller account that will allow you to put each site in its own cPanel.
And I have a service https://blogaid.net/wordpress-site-services/ to split those sites for you. Everything comes over to the new cPanel including FTP accounts, emails, etc.
I think Google has a little Pinterest envy again.
They are testing a new layout for Google Images that displays the image title. They did this once before for just a month, I believe.
I don’t know what’s different this time, or how long it will last, so don’t go changing anything on your site to accommodate it just yet.
A few years ago, WP removed the image title from automatically being entered. Now you have to go into the Advanced settings of the Image editor to put a title in.
That little Title field you see in the sidebar when you upload an image is just for a title in the Media Library, which you can’t even see unless you do a search on the library, so it’s silly and useless.
So, most of us have just been dutifully entering our Alt Text, which is something Google requires for SEO.
But, if this image title thing they are testing looks like it is going to stick, we’ll all start jumping through the hoops to add SEO related titles back to our images.
I’ll keep my eye on it for you and keep you updated.
I was SO happy to see this post from Yoast – saying to stop trying to get all green dots in the content analysis tool.
I’ve been saying this for years – that it does more SEO harm than good.
In fact, I wrote a post about it back in 2015.
And within a few months Yoast changed the dots to words, like “needs improvement” or such. Everyone hated the wording so much that he changed it back.
I don’t think any of my posts that have hit page 1 of Google have more than a yellow dot score.
They are following my advice for on-page SEO instead of that tool and seeing positive results.
Schema markup for speakable news posts
Y’all have heard me reporting on this for months, and here’s more proof that Google is going full bore with Voice Search.
Here’s a post from SEO Roundtable about Google adding Voice Search schema markup to news posts.
And here’s a post directly from Google about it.
First it was voice schema markup for recipes now for news articles.
This news one is in super beta right now.
Read the guidelines carefully at bottom of the SEO Roundtable post.
If you have a news site, your schema markup section should be a short summary, which is broken up into single sentences, and only 2-3 of them.
I really enjoyed this post from visibility expert, Denise Wakeman.
She gives you 4 great ways to write better posts immediately.
The list she has in the first tip alone is keeping me busy as I continue to revamp the pages on BlogAid. And they will definitely pour over into my blog post creation and revamp too.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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