Hello Happy Site Owners and Webmasters!
Tips this week include:
- An update on what’s happening with my speed testing
- We’ll be covering global SEO site guidelines in our next DIY SEO live workshop Thursday
- Why you may want to revamp your site layout
- An upcoming Instagram chat with my Site Audit Plus clients
- The secret deals happening that will make our domain name prices go up
- What’s in the WordPress 5.4 Beta release and what was just a wild rumor
- The new Gutenberg features coming in WordPress 5.4 that I’m excited about
- The temporary issues with updating the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin and what they stripped out of the free version
- The issues some folks are having with adding Google Analytics code directly to their site
- Why you need to update the Ninja Forms plugin immediately
- What’s really going on with SiteGround moving sites over to Google Cloud
- The new cookie blocking I’ve seen in both Firefox and Chrome this week
- A new star rating review snippet report in Google Search Console that recipe sites will want to know about
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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.
Speed Test Updates
I have a pretty long list of caching and optimization plugins that I want to test this year.
And, luckily right now I have a couple of site audit clients that are using two of the plugins I’m not at all familiar with. So, I have taken the opportunity to investigate them and the settings and see them in action on a site that is even more heavily populated with plugins and content than my test site is.
And because the variety of speed up plugins has changed so much in the last couple of years, I’ve revamped my testing reports so that they can reflect both caching and optimization features in these plugins.
In fact, some of the plugins, like Autoptimize have no caching at all. It just does things like minify and combine the css and js files and such. So, it’s purely optimization. That’s a good option if you want to hard code your own caching and combine it with server-side caching.
And then there are plugins like WP Fastest Cache and WP Rocket that do both optimization and caching.
So, I want to reflect these differences in my reports.
And, I’ll be testing different combos of plugins and hard coding because of this too.
My goal at the end of all this is to have a series of posts on site speed that really does cover everything, and not just a single post on the best caching plugins.
I’m about halfway through my list and aiming to be finished with this part of the speed tests by the end of the month or so.
It will be very interesting to see if the all-in-one plugins match up to using a combo of things.
Last week in the DIY SEO Workshop we covered how to track your ranking and other post performance stats in Google Search Console.
A few folks reported in our Facebook group how delighted they were to discover they had posts in Featured Snippets or position 0, as it is called, in Google search.
That’s very exciting!!!!
Both of those folks have been in the SEO course for some time and have been using what they learned in previous years to tweak their content.
And what they did with what they learned, plus stellar content, got them to the very tip top of page 1 on Google.
This week we’ll be covering your site wide SEO.
SEO is not just about a single post or page. There are SEO things you need to set up for your site globally. And those things matter to Google like crazy and affect every piece of content you publish.
If you’re ready to create a solid SEO foundation for your site, it’s not too late to join us!!
Revamping Site Layout
Last week I mentioned the new thing I tried for my Heartwood Art posts, and how what I planned didn’t turn out that way at all. What was going to be one post turned into a 5-part series.
Well, I finally got all 5 of those videos made last week.
And now I’m working my way through the post creation.
I also had to update my build plans page layout simply because I have so many more things built now. And with the bookcases and artwork and things that are coming, I needed to change that page so I could have category sections.
All this to say that I made a layout plan for the site based on what made the most sense at the time I did it.
But now that I’m growing, I have to revamp that layout so folks can find more of my content.
Have you taken a good look at your site structure lately?
Sometimes we get so busy making content that we spend all of our time in the editor and rarely look at the layout of our site as a visitor would.
I’m thinking this might be a good quick challenge for my Site Audit Plus clients.
We’ll have a series of quick checks to look at specific things on our site and see if they need refreshing.
Last month, I met live with my Site Audit Plus clients to trade Pinterest tips.
Next time we’re going to meet to chat about Instagram.
So, be sure to look for an email soon with meeting info.
That’s all the news from around here. Let’s jump into this week’s tips.
Last year there was an announcement about price increases for .org domain names.
And last month there was an announcement about the possibility of pretty extreme price increases for .com domains over the next few years.
Go read my post from Sunday on what’s going on with these Tier 1 domain extensions and the kind of price increases you can expect with them, as well as other Top Level Domains (TLDs).
The beta of the next version of WP 5.4 is available for testing.
I saw absolutely nothing in it about lazy load being rolled in.
You may recall my previous post a couple of weeks ago that WP 5.4 May Include Lazy Load.
Well, that certainly hit the rumor mill hard, and freaked some folks out, but looks like it won’t be coming to this release after all, which is good.
In that post I tell you about the WP feature plugin for lazy load that is being actively developed, and my concerns about the way they may be implementing this thing.
But for now, and for the foreseeable future, we’ll continue to use our premium caching plugins to do a far superior job of lazy loading for us and keeping our sites super fast while not hindering our image SEO efforts.
New Gutenberg Features Coming in WordPress 5.4
I’m pretty excited about the new Gutenberg features rolling into core when WP 5.4 releases to the public.
- Making parts of text inside a block colored
- Two new blocks: social links and two button layouts.
- More color options for Button, Cover, Group and Column blocks .
- A Welcome Guide modal.
- Tools for adding featured images in the Latest Posts block.
- Easier navigation in the block breadcrumbs.
And yes, I’ll be updating the Gutenberg Ninja course with these features near the end of March, as that’s when WP 5.4 is scheduled to be released.
Last week I had several of my site audit clients contact me saying they had huge issues with updating the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) plugin.
I was getting ready for my DIY SEO live workshop that morning and didn’t research the issue thoroughly before I put out a post to not update the plugin.
Turns out that the issue only happened when folks used the Safari browser.
So, I pulled the original post down and replaced it with an apology to ExactMetrics, makers of the GADWP plugin.
The main 3 takeaways from the GADWP fiasco are:
- Stop using Safari for your site, and in general. It is NOT the most advanced browser. Use Firefox or Chrome.
- Consider adding the Google Tag Manager code directly to your site.
- Visit GA directly to glean real feedback about your site traffic that tells the whole story so you can create better content.
GADWP stripped down
Here’s what else happened in that most recent update of the GADWP plugin.
The free version of that plugin has less features and a non-dismissible notice to buy the paid version.
Keep in mind that the GADWP plugin, now called ExactMetrics, is owned by the same parent company that owns the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin. So, you’re no better off jumping to it.
I know a lot of you use Ninja Forms. It has a pretty serious vulnerability in it for hackers to inject something into the visitor’s browser.
So, be sure to update to the latest version that has a patch for it.
Add Your Google Analytics Code Directly to Your Site
Last year I started advising folks to dump all GA plugins and add the Google tag manager code directly to their site.
I even put a tutorial for how to easily do it in my DIY SEO course.
But, a few folks have reported issues when adding the code, and I even checked it myself in private sessions.
When adding through the header script of the Genesis Theme Settings via the Customizer, they get a message that something went wrong and to try again in a few seconds.
When adding through the Insert Headers and Footers plugin, they get a 500 internal server error.
We tried deactivating all plugins to rule out a conflict. And we sanitized the code to ensure it was clean. No joy.
All of the folks I met with are using different themes too.
We also tried turning off all cache, no joy.
So, I’m not sure what the conflict is, as I can’t see what they have in common.
But, I will try to find out.
In early Dec 2019, SiteGround posted that they had started using Google Cloud for some of their hosting.
Last week a few of my site audit clients let me know they received an email from SiteGround stating that their site would be moved to the new Google Cloud platform.
Now, this is may be different from moving folks to a new IP address, I think. They may just be uneven in the emails they send folks about what is going on. I’m not sure.
Here’s a little of what I think about this.
SiteGround has always had a goofy server setup. And they’ve run into a few limitations with scaling it because they have grown a lot faster than they expected and it’s just too expensive to update their current servers compared to moving everybody to new servers.
A LOT of hosts do this same thing simply because the software the server runs on, updates in a way that the old hardware can’t take.
The same thing happened to a lot of Windows 7 users. Their current computer hardware would not work well with Windows 10, so it was better to get a new computer with new hardware and Windows 10 rather than trying to update the old hardware and then update the software.
Mac users go through similar upgrades.
But, what’s different about SiteGround’s move and other hosts is that SG decided to no longer use “bare metal” boxes. Meaning instead of managing their own server farms, they decided to use cloud computing, which means they rent server farms owned by others that are networked in such a way that the files and resources are distributed across many boxes.
And SiteGround is spinning this to make it sound like it will be faster and cheaper. Whether it actually is or not remains to be seen.
A lot will depend on the stack they use, meaning how they configure their servers and the software they use. And it’s a LOT more expensive to throw more resources like CPU and Memory on a cloud setup than on a bare metal setup.
I’ve asked my site audit clients to volunteer for speed testing before and after the move so we can see if it’s really faster or not.
I’ll keep you posted.
Cookie Tracking Tips
Last week I saw my recently updated Firefox browser splash a notice that it had protected me from 3rd party cookie tracking on a site I was visiting.
You may recall my post from a couple of weeks ago that Chrome 80 will block 3rd party cookie tracking when the SameOrigin attribute is not properly set.
And you may recall my update in last week’s Tips Tuesday with what I’m seeing in site audits for how some hosts are taking proactive steps with this matter.
The problem we’re facing right now is there is no standard among browsers, hosts, and links as to how this is going to be handled. And until we have some reasonable standards on it, I can’t advise you what to do about it.
In other words, there is no generic advice I can give you about action to take, as everybody would need to handle this differently.
But, I’m keeping my eye on it for us and will have advice as soon as I can figure out what to tell you that I know for sure will work at all hosts and with all browsers.
In the meantime, see my post on how to update to PHP 7.3 at your host to at least square away your 1st party cookies that are internal to your site.
Chrome Ad Blocking and Possible False Reporting
When I’m on my iPad, I use the Chrome browser for general web surfing.
While I was on my own Heartwood Art site I got a notice that 5 ads were blocked.
There are no ads on that site.
So what is it blocking?
And I notice that all links I save while on the Facebook app have a ? at the end instead of the Facebook tracking ID.
On top of that, the Facebook tracking pixel is one of the 3rd party cookies that gets a warning in Chrome now too.
So, I have to wonder how much these changes with all of the browsers are already killing our analytics for things like running ads on Facebook. There’s no way you can get an accurate look-alike audience now if the browsers are blocking every way that Facebook is gathering that data.
Personally, as a web surfer, I can appreciate the appeal of not being tracked everywhere I go online.
But as an online marketer who needs the metrics for my own content creation and advertising, this is a punch in the gut.
I’ll be keeping close tabs on how all of this plays out in the coming months.
For those of you who have recipes with star reviews on your site, look for a new report in Google Search Console for them.
It was just rolled out last week, so I don’t know if it has hit everyone’s account yet, or if it has had time to populate the report for you yet.
Please leave a comment wherever you see this post and let us know if you’ve got it and what it tells you.
I’ll also be asking for volunteers from the DIY SEO course members to have a live look at it with you too.
That’s a wrap for this week’s Tips Tuesday.
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