Hello Happy Site Owners! Tips this week include: best practices for XML sitemaps, managing your 404 error pages, changing your content strategy for growth, creating HOAs and podcasts folks want to listen to, new Twitter Audio Cards and integration with SoundCloud, and for dessert, paying tribute to the man that gave me one of my fondest memories of playing in a jazz band. So let’s dive in. Listen to the podcast.
I hope this past week has been easier for you than for me. It’s been pretty tough here, mainly due to attacks on hosts. As reported last week, my preferred vendor, A2 Hosting has been targeted in an extortion DDoS attack. Big kudos to them for keeping client sites alive with only infrequent blips of down time. And the attack is still ongoing. They were already in the process of beefing up bot protection and this thing hit before they could complete that task. But, they’re hard at it by doing things like physically moving the servers closer to the switchers that pop on to stop an attack, making the response time much faster.
But, it hasn’t just been A2. Every host on the planet is now having to deal with a new attack called POODLE. Several of my clients on other hosts have been severely affected with down time or database timeout issues.
All of this makes it pretty tough to do maintenance too, like even getting a backup. Please do share with us what you’re seeing with all of this and what host you’re on. It will help us get a bigger picture.
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Podcast Feed Issues
On top of that, a few loyal listeners to the podcast let me know that the show has not been updated at iTunes for a month now. I discovered that the feed is not properly validating. I also found an increase in Google bot crawl errors for the last month as well. With a little help from Joel in the A2 Guru Crew Support, we discovered that the W3TC caching plugin was creating an .htaccess folder, instead of just the .htaccess file that the server was expecting. I’m checking into why it did that. Considering that I’ve been running it for months, I’m thinking it’s a glitch.
And let that be a lesson to all of us. Subscribe to your own stuff and actually view it once in a while. I do subscribe to my podcast, but I don’t listen to it. So, I’ll now start checking the updates better now.
And, be sure to subscribe to your own newsletter or RSS to email feed too. You want to see what’s being delivered to your subscribers. Be sure to check it on mobile as well, if you have your email setup to do that.
I’ve got some really exciting news to tell you about podcasting in a moment.
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Webmaster Training Launch Delayed
Because of all this and a few extra things, I’ve decided to delay the launch of the new Webmaster Training site.
One of the extra things is a big update to the WishList Member plugin that I’m using that will come out tomorrow. I’ll be attending a webinar on it. I’ve been trying to use it in a slightly modified way that is causing some glitches. I’m hoping this new release will fix that.
But, in the midst of all that’s going on, I’ve been plugging away at making new video tutorials.
Be sure to visit the site to see the progress. The list is changing as I continue to add new topics. I believe the total is up to 55 videos at this point.
And be sure to subscribe to the special email list for Tips Tuesday listeners that will receive a special link with a super discount on membership too.
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I had actually wanted to use MemberPress for this new site, but it just didn’t have some of the features I needed for my content delivery and upgrade structure. But I’ve been very impressed with it on other client sites that have recurring subscription payments and drip content. So, the best plugin is the one that gets the job you need done.
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I want to send a big shout out to +Lena Sinclaire for mentioning me in her excellent post with a checklist to help you clean up your messy desktop. Yesterday was Clean Your Desktop Day and this checklist will definitely help you break the project into manageable chunks. And I’ll be doing it along with you this week.
As the number of hackers and the sophistication of methods and technologies increases rapidly, there is hope on the horizon. This post on Forbes by Jason Bloomberg gives us a glimpse of the calvary that is riding in. I see this dispersive technology being adopted by big targets and cloud services very quickly. I’ve got my eye on when my favorite CDN, CloudFlare adopts it. They already have good bot protection, even on their free level. This would really take it up a notch.
Google Penguin 3.0 Update Complete
Google rolled this algorithm update out across this past weekend. SEO experts are still sorting out exactly what it impacts. You may want to check your site stats to see if you got a big dip or jump because of it.
And you may wonder why I don’t talk about such things more. Frankly, it’s because me and most of my clients don’t play the SEO game in a way that attracts penalties. We consistently do 11 levels of SEO on the good content we write that builds authority and that seems to be doing the trick to build our businesses. After all, that’s what it’s about, right?
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Thanks to +Brian Jenson for alerting me to a recent post on the Google Webmaster Central blog about how the site’s XML Sitemap and RSS feed both contribute to the info Google crawls.
Interesting how they distinguished between the two as XML sitemap being the less updated of the two, and then saying to update it daily. Okay Google, which way is it?
In previous tests, I noticed that Rich Snippets picks up on the last modified timestamp only if the theme is HTML5 compliant and outputting the proper microdata.
Using the Genesis framework and having the WordPress SEO plugin create the XML sitemap does a good job of the crawl accuracy for me. But this article makes me wonder about the setting in the plugin to hide the RSS feed. Normally I don’t hide it. Now I’m going to have to dig into whether it would ever be a good idea to for most sites. You do want to hide it for some member sites, depending on how the content is delivered. So, that’s an issue I’ll be checking into.
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There are a lot of examples online about improving your 404 error pages so that visitors who land on one don’t feel like the door just got slammed in their face and then leave your site. That’s very useful. I have such a page too.
But what’s important to keep in mind is that 404s are still error pages and no matter what’s on them, Google still considers it an error.
I’d like to invite you to have a look at how many error pages both human visitors and bots are finding on your site. You may be shocked.
Team +Yoast has a super post on the topic with plenty of ways to locate and fix those pages.
My favorite ways are to use both Google Webmaster Tools and AWStats from my host to see the 404 pages registered. You can even download a nice csv file from GWT and open them in a spreadsheet. That will come in super handy for making corrections.
And my favorite way to fix them is redirects in the .htaccess file. You can do it with the nice Redirection plugin too, just be sure to turn the logs off so it doesn’t become a site performance issue. But the .htaccess way redirects much faster.
If you have a similar page or post, then do a 301 redirect. If the page or post has been removed, then do a 410 redirect.
I’m currently doing this for one of my clients whose previous two theme designers decided that it would be a good idea to willy nilly change the permalink structure without informing Google or doing any type of redirect. So, there are lots of 404s popping up.
If you’ve changed permalinks in the past and have lots of 404 pages, contact me if you need help with getting everything fixed. It can be a little complicated if you don’t know how redirects work.
Content Marketing Tips
Have you ever noticed your site visitor numbers hitting a plateau and it just sits there for a long time? If you’ve been blogging a while, you’ve probably experienced this lack of growth.
+Mike Allton has a post that will help you turn that trend around and get back to a growth track. He has a nice case study to show you why that stagnation happened and exactly what was done to change it.
Multi Media Marketing Tips
That’s the question that +Debi Davis asks and then answers, saying that she certainly is. And she has made a nice timestamp for us on the +GetBizy HOA about this very thing. The panel covers what makes for a good HOA that folks want to watch from beginning to end.
If you’re smart, you’ll take this advice into every piece of content you generate including your blog posts and podcasts.
I love hearing from my podcast peeps that Tips Tuesday is one of the few that they don’t listen to at 1.5x speed. That’s because I get to the point and don’t waste my listener’s time. I try to do that with all content.
Respecting that folks are super busy has dividends.
And part of that respect means creating content on platforms for busy, on the go folks. Podcasts are popular for that reason.
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Super news for podcasters. Audio Cards are coming to Twitter.
Thanks to +Ana Hoffman for alerting us to this new development in her always excellent Weekly Marketing Skinny.
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And, I heard the news from +Denise Wakeman that Twitter is partnering with SoundCloud on this too. All the cool HOA kids are putting their audio only files on SoundCloud. So, this is a real bonus.
Now that I’ve got this podcast feed thing fixed for Tips Tuesday, this is the very next move I’m going to make. I want my audios on SoundCloud.
Validating New Twitter Audio Card
I’m also working on a tutorial for properly placing the code on your site to validate using Twitter Cards. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy or straightforward as adding the Facebook Open Graph tags. There are several tutorials online, but they didn’t work as easily as they made it sound. Made me wonder if they actually did the steps, or were just doing a rehash of other posts they read.
I’m actually checking the code output of each plugin, and where it’s placing it on the site because all of that matters. I’ll have a tutorial for you as soon as I can.
And, I pinged Joost de Valk (Yoast) to see if he plans to add this new Twitter Audio Card to the choices on his most excellent WordPress SEO plugin. Until then, I’m checking out other ways to add it.
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If you haven’t done so already, be sure to update your password on your BluBrry account if you store your audio files there. Now, if you just use the plugin and have no account, you’re fine.
Also, thanks to one of my clients, +Debbie Voiles who has two awesome podcasts for runners, that there was a glitch for a few podcasts and the files were no longer playing on the site. So, be sure to check that too.
I’d like to honor the passing of the founder of the best jazz vocal group of my generation, Manhattan Transfer. Tim Hauser is now in jazz heaven with the other greats.
My all-time fave song from them is Birdland. I was in a community jazz band for four years, and the rhythm section had been together for the entire time. We were totally tight. And for our last concert, we delivered their rendition of Birdland and the whole rhythm section played musical chairs, literally, by trading instruments for each section of the song. It is one of my fondest memories.
I hope you enjoy this video of Manhattan Transfer performing it live.
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.