Hello Happy Site Owners! This week’s tips include new secure email setup, the main reason to make investments in your business by hiring pros, security, performance and site audits, the danger of abandoned sites, the new menu customizer coming to WordPress, updates to JetPack, and Yoast plugins, author stats suddenly disappearing, new bot filtering from Google Analytics, a case study on what happened after author and video snippets stopped being shown in SERPS, 43 experts sharing tips on what works for them in growing your online visibility, cool updates to Scoop.It and WordPress integration, and for dessert this week, one of my fave artists on G+. So let’s get started. Listen to the podcast.
New Email Setup
It’s been a crazy busy week here at BlogAid. I’m delighted to say that I’ve contracted +Dave Webster to help me change over my antiquated email delivery to Google Apps. And he has been a doll! He’s made the whole thing so much easier with setting up the account properly, verifying the domain, and sending me bunches of tutorials, including my first day on GoogleApps. He’s got a test email setup for me to play with and as soon as I finish with that and the tutorials, he’ll be helping migrate my current emails over into the new system. I’m thrilled, and know just how much a relief it is for my clients when I provide these types of services to them.
Y’all also know that I’ve been cautioning you to ensure that your email retrieval is secure. Again, this is me practicing what I preach about securing against the man in the middle attacks that are growing.
Also, I finished interviews for a new VA (Virtual Assistant). I’ve chosen to start with Angi Shields. As soon as Dave and I are finished with the setup, she can start helping me get a calendar going and fielding some of the 300-500 emails I get a week. Too much of that has become selecting times for live meetings. So, I’m looking forward to having a scheduler set up too where folks can self-select. I want to thank +Stephan Hovnaian for hooking me and Angi up. He’s a great mixer that way.
Over the past year, as I was moving toward going full-time with BlogAid, and especially now that I have done so, I’ve been making investments in the business, including expanding my team and now hiring consultants and help with the back office stuff. No matter what it costs, I’m actually losing money by not doing these things.
And I plan to do more by hiring experts in their fields to help me shorten the learning curve of things that are not my specialty, like social media. I need to do better. And I want professional help that’s going to get me on the right track so I can attain my goals.
It’s a fact of business that you have to spend money to make money. And hiring pros is worth every penny. My own clients can attest to that! So, yes, I do practice what I preach.
Security, Performance, and Site Audits
The other things that have been taking all of my time this past week were doing more Site Audits for folks prior to their sites getting walloped by bots. And that’s super smart!!
We’re doing both security and performance audits and we’re uncovering so much!!! In fact, one of my clients, Larry Snow, signed up for one of those audits and after fixing everything on the site that it revealed, I’m delighted to report that he’s getting straight As across the board on all site testers. Plus, his site is as secure as my own now too.
We featured his site in last week’s free webinar on how to use all of the free online site performance testers. I did get a recording, but have not seen it since. If it’s okay, I’ll try to get up a replay for you. It was 2 hours, so I want to do a little editing, or at least split it into two videos, maybe more. One for each tester.
But the really big thing these audits also reveal are abandoned sites and orphaned databases that folks forgot they had. One new client told me that she only had one live site. At first glance in the hosting account, we found four. Once I got the credentials to poke around even further, I found a total of 10. We’re cleaning all of that up now.
So, you can do all kinds of stuff to patch the security holes in your main site, but if you have a bunch of forgotten stuff in your hosting account, you still have lots of holes in the boat. And all of your efforts would have been wasted.
The SSL Thing
And of course by now, you’ve probably heard that Google made a ranking factor for sites with SSL certificates. And nearly everybody has lost their minds over of it.
This is not something you want to jump into lightly, if at all right now. I’ve got even more posts coming later about how SSL does not play well with some caching and performance settings, like GZIP, as well as hacker attacks on SSL sites that have been around for a couple of years. So, they are not as secure as Google would make them out to be.
I also have to interface with multiple host and domain registrars on a daily basis and not a one of them missed jumping on this opportunity to sell folks SSL certificates. So, careful of that because all certificates are not the same, far from it.
Okay, let’s jump into the rest of this week’s tips from around the ‘net.
Security is again the top news this week. WordPress quickly rolled out version 3.9.2 to half way secure a vulnerability that I’ve been advising you since March to turn off. And for the last month I’ve been advising that you shut it down completely, which this update does not do.
I’ve got a rant post brewing over the way WordPress handled this compared to the way Drupal handled, which was also affected. But, I’m going to let that settle down a bit so I can write something more constructive than just a rant by itself.
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WordPress 4.0 Release Date
It’s scheduled to be publicly available on August 25. We’re still in Beta 3 testing right now, so I expect the first Release Candidate to be coming out soon. The difference in those two is where they draw the line on any new additions and just fix any remaining bugs.
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On the WordPress development blog, Nick Halsey reports that he’s pretty close to finishing the code that will allow us to see the menu in the new Customizer. This will not be included in the upcoming 4.0 release, but will eventually become a plugin.
That’s how the core devs have been doing things for a while now. They release new features as plugins first to give more time for working out the bugs and such. It’s a far better approach than making it mandatory and then working out issues across all sites and with all other plugin and theme developers.
And that’s something I want to mention. If you think it’s tough keeping up with the rapid pace of WordPress changes, just imagine how tough it is for free plugin developers. Consider picking out your favorite free plugin and making a donation to the developer. Even small amounts are encouraging to them.
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JSON REST APIs plugin for WP 3.9
A few Tips Tuesdays ago I mentioned that the JSON REST API would be more integrated into WordPress soon. Well, there is already a plugin coming out. And if all goes well, it will be placed into the core soon. I won’t go into any tech details right now, but the gist of why this is exciting is because it could radically impact the way plugins and themes are developed. Not only might they have more of a User Interface for customization, but it could improve performance as well. You know I’ll keep you posted as this development progresses.
JetPack has released a pretty major overhaul with version 3.0. My gripe with JetPack is the absolute bulk of it and loading up a bunch of code that you’re not using and don’t need. Or a bunch of stuff that is more of a performance hit than it’s worth. Sarah Gooding has a nice post on WPTavern about the new Bulk Module Manager, but it really doesn’t go into detail about whether it really help kills the bloat or not. And something it offers is new Twitter Open Graph support. If you’re using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast or another plugin to do this, watch out for that potential conflict. They’ve also changed the social share feature, so watch out for conflicts with that too. My opinion, I still don’t like this plugin, even with the new features. Enough said.
And thanks to Larry Snow who did that Site Audit with me, we found that one of the JetPack modules affected by turning of XML-RPC is custom CSS. I still can’t get anybody to tell what the other one is, although there are rumored to be at least two that are affected.
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I’m hoping more plugin developers follow suit and have their plugins regularly scanned. Especially important for this one considering how many enterprise-level clients Yoast has, and then how many of us bloggers run plugins like the WordPress SEO one.
Author Stats Missing from Google Webmaster Tools
Google’s mixing things up again and looks like they’re moving away from promoting, or even tracking authorship any more. At last check, the link is still there in GWT, but it goes to a 404 error page. And that’s not all they’ve changed.
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There’s a new checkbox in Google Analytics where you can “exclude traffic from known bots and spiders.” I’m going to do that and then check it against the stats on my host and see the difference in bad bot traffic. May help me run down even more attack vectors. I’m sure most of you are going to use for real tracking of real people, which is great too.
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Cyrus Shepard published a case study on the Moz blog about what happened to their traffic once all of the gimmicks of author images and videos came out. Basically, it dropped.
Let me save you some time on reading the whole case study because it all boils down to the last paragraph.
“For the past several years web marketers competed for image and video snippets, and it’s with a sense of sadness that they’ve been taken away.
The smart strategy follows the data, which suggest that more traditional click-through rate optimization techniques and strategies could now be more effective. This means strong titles, meta descriptions, rich snippets (those that remain), brand building and traditional ranking signals.”
The moral of the story – ALWAYS do the SEO and content marketing basics. As +Stephan Hovnanian says, Google is always moving the cheese. Write what your audience wants to read and promote the beegeebees out of it in ways that get you a bigger audience.
Content Marketing Tips
Eyeballs. It may not matter how great your content is if few folks ever see it. On the Blogging Wizard site, Adam Connell has assembled tips from the top folks in the biz on how to get your content in front of more eyes. It’s a stellar list from all backgrounds and niches, so you’re sure to find at least five or six you can do right away. And the rest will open you up to new ideas.
One of my favorites was from Chris Garrett – ChrisG.com – who said:
Get to know the intersection of:
- How you can help
- What people need/want
- What people find difficult to get help with
- How your approach is unique and better
Jon Morrow – Boost Blog Traffic – said:
Make your blog about your audience, not about you.
That’s just one of the tips that I can tell you works for real. And this post is full of them. Adam even made a PDF version of this post so you can download it.
My advice to you is to pick at least two of these tips that you’re not already doing and get busy. You might just amaze yourself at how well it works.
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+Ana Hoffman has some breaking news about updates to Scoop.It that will make all content curators stand up and notice. +Ileane Smith first introduced me to Scoop.It a couple of years ago in a great podcast interview I did with her.
I wish I had taken up Scoop.It then. But now with this new branding and WordPress integration, I’m going to have find a way to put it on my plate. I suggest you do too if you curate content.
One of my fave folks that I found on G+ when he first started there is +Sam Stormborn Ormandy. He posts the most wonderful pictures and is the first person I put in my Circle labeled Pretty. Like all artists, he goes through phases and right now, that’s some pretty cool Steampunk stuff. I would like to invite you to stroll through all of his posts. It’s like a sweet dream that will take you away from the everyday for a while.
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.