Another Google Update? WordPress 5.6.1 Bugs, Cheap Blog Hosting, SEO Testing Best Practices, Google Passage Ranking, and so much more.
Seems like there might be another round of Google updates with SERP trackers going crazy starting on Feb. 7th - Search Engine Roundtable.
I had a big drop in traffic on Feb. 11th all of a sudden in Google Analytics, but when I look at Google Search Console and Ezoic's Analytics, I actually see a slight increase in traffic from the day before.
Not sure what happened, but it seems like GA had a bad day for the site. I don't see the same drops for other sites. Weird. Thinking it was a potential caching issue, I cleared the cache on the site and on Ezoic. Don't know if either of those were the issue, but it seems fixed now.
February has been a relatively slow month with traffic and because of that, I got downgraded again by Ezoic Premium hah. I'm now on the 4 Star Elite plan that's $220 per month from the 5 Star Elite $440 plan.
At this rate, I may be kicked off the Premium plan altogether by the end of February hah!
It's actually motivating though. It's given me a bit of a kick in the butt to get more content up.
Google's John Mueller said Google does not have manual action penalties for building sites that are missing logos, or missing the menu links at the top or even the footers at the bottom. John said on Twitter "I'm not aware of any manual actions / penalties that we'd apply for lack of those items.
BUT that doesn't mean that you should avoid those completely either, because they add to user experience. Whether you generate revenue through affiliate sales or display ads, you want to give your users a good user experience. That's one of the biggest drivers to making money.
John Mueller also suggests in his tweets, especially the 2nd tweet, that not having those items is a "suboptimal" site. He adds:
...you'd be leaving open room for competition by being suboptimal
Passage indexing is finally here, for better or worse. Google announced it back in October 2020 with a blog post explaining what it does. They apparently call it passage ranking now, instead of passage indexing.
If you want to stay up to date yourself, here's the Google SearchLiaison Twitter Thread that you can follow.
I have mixed feelings about this. Passage ranking allows all parts of your article to be found, indexed individually, and featured in SERPs.
But it also means there's less potential for click-throughs to your full article, because the search intent has already been answered in the SERPs feature.
But your article might not have been featured otherwise either. It could've been buried on the Page 3+, never to be seen.
SEO Testing - separating Beginners from the Best of the Best
Matt Diggity covers why SEO tests are important and how to run them.
3 main challenges to overcome:
Experimental and Control Groups
Random Ranking Factor
When testing things out on your sites, keep in mind these 3 things to ensure your test results are valid.
I need to do better when running my own tests too and not introducing too many variables at once. The difficult part is not having many sites to make one test and leaving there for a month or more to get results. So I'll rarely do site-wide tests as it's difficult to control. As I grow my portfolio and revenues, I'll be more able to spend the time and money into testing.
TOOLS AND RESOURCES
WordPress 5.6.1, which many sites auto-updated to, has introduced a bug that makes it difficult to save a post. A temporary patch has been created to address the issue but it’s not an official update to solve the problem.
According to several reports the bug could be triggered by editing related plugins like Tiny MCE and Advanced Custom Fields. Turning off those plugins stops the unload message from spawning.
The bug apparently only shows for people using those plugins and the Classic Editor. If you're running across the bug, there are a couple temporary fixes until WordPress gets out an official update. Click through to the article and scroll to the 2nd half of the article.
How do you manage your blogs? What tools do you use?
AdThrive shares their publishers' Top 5 favorite tools for content management and planning. I've used 4 of them myself. ClickUp is the only one I haven't tried yet.
If you run a business, or an organized group of any kind, you know how important it is to have the right systems and tools to help you keep things humming along.
I'm a productivity nut and love project management and task tools. Things that can help make me more productive and efficient. These tools help with:
Scheduling your content creation, production, and promotion
Breaking projects down into bite-sized tasks
Tracking due dates and to-dos
Managing team members like employees, contributors, and VAs
I use Nifty myself, because it's...well, nifty.
It's actually a good mix of all the different things I like. Plus, I got it on a lifetime deal on AppSumo, so it makes it even more worth it. Depending on how many people are on your team, the current monthly plan isn't too bad.
But if you don't need a lot of features, the Free plans on Asana and ClickUp are my top choices for project management.
Shaun Marrs has a video on finding cheap web hosting that's a good look at various hosting options.
He covers forums with recommendations from others. He specifically covers these two popular hosting platforms that he uses: Siteground (shared hosting) and Cloudways (managed VPS).
I've used both of them before and think Siteground is great as a first step into getting your first site up. It's more user-friendly than Cloudways, but won't offer the speed and performance that a VPS server will.
As you build more sites, I consider the best value with a VPS. It's cheap and provides the best performance out of all the other options. But managing your own VPS server requires some technical knowledge or be good at Googling and following instructions.
Shaunn mentions both DigitalOcean and Vultr as VPS providers. I've used both and now only use Vultr's High-Frequency servers. I use the lowest plan at $6 a month and have installed anywhere from 1 to 10 WordPress instances on them. As sites grow, I'll put less sites on one server.
Vultr's basic servers that start at $5 a month are slower than the $6 for the High-Frequency servers, so the extra $1 is well worth it. The better servers are able to hold more sites, which lowers the average costs per domain.
Through Carl Broadbent, you can get early access to Ezoic's brand new program - Ezoic Access Now.
There are 2 dates in the video when registration is open
The first sign-up date is Monday, February 15th at 8:00 am PT - 4pm UK and the second sign-up date is Monday, March 1st at 1:00 pm PT - 9pm UK
They will be accepting 300 sign-ups each launch day.
It's essentially self-serve, so don't expect much individual help. They usually have good tutorials, so as long as you follow the tutorials, you'll be fine.
There's also an online course and quiz at the end that you'll need to answer 75% correctly. It should be pretty easy as long as you follow along in the course.
If you already have 10,000 visitors a month now, you can directly sign up for Ezoic under their regular application process.
Great video with Ron Stefanski and Sharon Gourlay. I've shared some of Ron's videos and blog posts before. You might not have heard of Sharon Gourlay who's site is digitalnomadwannabe.com.
It's a good chat that covers a range of topics, but with a focus on treating your blogs as a business. They're both successful affiliate marketers and have been around for many years.
The most interesting thing to me was Sharon talking about the biggest mistake she made at the 1:04:00 (1 hour, 4 minute) mark. She was focusing on pageviews and getting traffic. She hit 30k pageviews, but didn't make any money.
She didn't start making real money until she changed the way she approached her sites and didn't just focus on traffic. In the end, it's all about conversions and generating as much as you can from each visitor.
That's why I'm starting to share the average revenue per user (ARPU), because I also treat all that I'm doing as a business too. She said she aims for over $0.10 per visitor and has even had up to $1.00 per. She doesn't only focus on Amazon though, so that helps in getting the higher ARPU's.
She also recommends people learn as much as they can. If you heard me on the Niche Website Builders podcast, I was saying the same thing. There are no silver bullets. We should always be learning
A great article by Gael Breton on finding non-Amazon affiliate programs. He goes into analyzing competitors to see whether affiliate programs are profitable for them. The assumption is if they're pushing those affiliate products, then it's profitable.
Gael details other ways to find affiliate programs for your niche, so do check out the video or read the blog article.
Income School's Jim and Ricky analyze 4 blogging entries for their blogging competition. These are the finalists in the competition.
I haven't been following the competition, but it seems that the contestants do create a YouTube video and blog together.
The blog articles are much better than many others I've seen (heck, even some of mine!).
The sites are listed there in the YouTube video description, so take a look and see how you can learn from them. BUT don't copy the content and sites. That's just bad karma.
Google's John Mueller said that having a shorter domain name or a shorter URL is not going to benefit you in terms of your SEO and ranking in Google Search. He said on Twitter "domain name or URL length is not a factor, adding that "shorter is not better for SEO."
I prefer shorter domains myself, but it's not a must-have since I don't believe that domain name affects SEO.
Can a shorter domain affect click-through rate? Absolutely. It's about user experience and seeming trustworthy as a resource in the SERPs.
A shorter domain is just one of the criteria when selecting a new domain for me. Non-hyphenated and a .com are the other two top criteria for me.