Links from the show:
- WordPress 4.9 protects users from fatal errors created in the theme and plugin editors
- Google Photos now recognizes your pets as people
- New Google Calendar layout on the web
- HTTPS migrations don’t result in traffic loss
- Change of address tool unnecessary for HTTPS migrations
- PageRank is still valid
- Don’t move your images around
- Google uses the same algorithm for the top 10 as they do for 11-100
- Google Posts can now be automated with new API support
- Disabling right click and content selection doesn’t impact SEO
- Tip of the Week: Only think about cat food once
When you first start working in WordPress, you may be tempted to play with the code editor to make changes to your theme. It’s frowned upon because it makes it easier to crash your site, but people still do it out of convenience. However, a WordPress update coming soon will help protect users from breaking their site if they decide to use that feature.
Before we get into that though, I’m Mickey Mellen and this is A Brighter Web, Episode 22, brought to you by all of us at GreenMellen. Our goal with this podcast is to give you quick weekly insights for news, products, and ideas, so we can all make the web a brighter place to be. These might be actual web tips talking about strategies, search engines, WordPress plugins, and UX, or maybe productivity ideas to help you get more done and free up your time to do great things. We also want to thank our sponsor, ClickHOST.com. ClickHOST provides top rate web hosting at prices as low as $5.00 a month. Visit clickhost.com/abw for an exclusive 20% off discount for listeners of A Brighter Web.
Today we’ll talk more about new features coming in WordPress 4.9, Google Photos can recognize your pets, Google Calendar has a new layout, HTTPS migrations don’t result in traffic loss, and disabling right-click for your users won’t affect your SEO. Let’s dig in.
WordPress 4.9 is coming out soon, and one of the biggest areas they’re changing is the code editor. Right now if you edit code in there, you’ll probably be okay, but if you mess up one little character, it could take down your whole site, and you’ll have to know how to get in via FTP to fix things. Coming soon in 4.9, if you try to edit a file in the WordPress editor, a few things will happen. First, you get a pretty stern warning that you shouldn’t be in there editing files, but more importantly they have some great code that, if you do anything that causes a fatal error on your site, it’ll revert that file back to how it used to be to keep your site up and then pull up the editor with your original… revised code back in there so you can see what you did wrong, make the changes and fix it, and hopefully avoid those white screens of death caused by code editor features. There’s a bunch of other changes coming in WordPress 4.9, but that’s one of the biggest and you can expect that to come out hopefully on November 14th.
I love Google Photos. One of the neat features it has is it’ll group people together based on recognizing it as all one person from facial recognition and you can put a name on it. For example, I can go to Google Photos and search for Kelly Mellen and find all the pictures of my wife that are in there. It’s really neat. Now, Google has added the same feature for pets. It’ll find all of one of your animals and put them together, and you can name it. For example, I can go in there now and search for Roscoe and find all the pictures of my dog. It’s a great little feature and just one more way that Google really keeps pushing Google Photos forward. If you’re not using Google Photos yet, you really probably should be.
Another Google product that I use often is Google Calendar. They’ve just released a huge update to the look and feel of Google Calendar and it’s quite awesome. If you go into your calendar now, you likely have an option toward the upper right corner to try out the new version. I encourage you to do it. It’s a brand new material design with more recent design trends to it, and it’s fully mobile-responsive. They’ve added a lot of features behind the scenes, too, such as rich formatting and hyperlinks for your calendar invites, you can manage multiple calendars side by side, lots of neat things. If you’re a Google Calendar fan, this should be a great update for you.
A user named Barry Adams asks, “Google treats http to https as a site move, but you can’t use Google Search Console change of address for it. Basically, lose traffic and suck it up.” Google’s Gary Illyes replied very simply, “False.” Barry came back at him and said, “Citation needed.” Then Google’s John Mueller jumped in and said, “Do you want someone from Google to confirm it? :),” implying, of course, that him and Gary both work for Google and they really know what’s happening. This is something we’ve known for a while, that switching from http to https is a good thing and you won’t lose traffic as a result, and really you may gain some traffic in the long run, but you need to do it right. As we’ve talked about in past weeks, you should do it all at once, not do some pages here and some pages there. Just do it all at once, do it right, set up your redirects, and things should work out very well for you.
Related to that, Google’s reiterated again that the change of address tool is not needed for https migrations. A similar conversation was a separate conversation. Where it got interesting is that Google said, jokingly, “Should we provide a fake setting anyway?” People are always looking for that setting in Google Search console to say, “Hey, I’m switching from one to the other, switching to a secure site, and there’s not an option to tell Google about that because they handle it automatically.” But Google’s jokingly considering adding a fake setting to let people click the button so they can feel better about it. But again, switching from http to https is a great thing as long as you do it right with some basic precautions. Google will handle it well and it’ll be a great thing for your site and for your users.
I continue to hear people say that Google’s PageRank algorithm is dead and I think Google has, too, because they keep coming out to make sure people realize that it’s not dead. A user named Andrew asked them, “Would using the original PageRank to model internal link weight have any value nowadays or has it moved on too much to be valid?” John Mueller replied, “It doesn’t have to be exact to be useful, though,” meaning PageRank still used. The exact model is different than it was back in 1997, of course, but it’s still being used. It’s still worth looking at, still worth understanding, and it does play a big factor in how Google ranks search results.
When it comes to Google Image search, things are a little bit tricky sometimes. Someone asked Google about whether they should use a CDN, a content delivery network. For example, having Amazon S3 or other places store your images to help free up the load on your server to help your site load more quickly. Google’s John Mueller said, “CDN URLs are fine, but I try to avoid moving image URLs too much, so I tend toward using your own domain or subdomain via a CDN.” What he means by that is in our case we wanted to use a CDN we could pay for one of those content delivery network services, but rather than having the images with a big, long Amazon address, we could set up a subdomain with a Cname for something like “images.abrighterweb.com” and host all the images there. That way, the names wouldn’t change often.
Really, the only place you can go wrong with a CDN is if they move things around a good bit, Google can’t keep track of them as quickly as you would like and you could lose chances to rank in Google Image search, which can drive some pretty good traffic from time to time. Many of you probably don’t need a CDN, depending on the size of your site, but if you do it’s worth looking into ways to make it a subdomain on your own site so you can keep those image names exactly the same over time.
Someone asked Google another good question that, frankly, I’d never even considered. They said, “Is the algorithm the same for the top 10 as it is for 11 to 100? I see websites jump directly from 100 to 20, but those that are in the top 10 take too much time to jump to fifth or fourth. I wanted to know if the algorithm that runs is on the same level or not.” Google’s response was, “Yes. It’s the same algorithm, essentially, that does all of this ranking. Usually what happens is there’s a lot of competition for the head of some of these queries and it makes it a bit harder to jump around in the top of the search results, whereas on the lower part of the search results things can shuffle around quite a bit. That’s kind of natural, because there’s just a lot less competition in those places.” Google’s confirmed they do use the same algorithm from results one through 10 all the way down to the end of the list, which again, something we thought we knew but it’s nice to hear Google confirm that kind of thing.
We’ve talked about Google Posts on here a few times, the new feature for Google My Business that lets businesses post, essentially, little temporary blog entries on Google. Now you’re able to create them through the Google My Business API. What that means for most of us is that we’ll certainly see some tools pop up soon from places like WordPress and others that will help you automate some of that posting. When you publish on your site, it’ll automatically add a Google Posts. I’ve not seen any third-party tools support it yet, but I suspect that’s coming very soon and we’ll try to share that if we see some.
One more question I saw Google answer this week that was interesting that, again, was one I hadn’t really considered before but it was good to hear. The question was, “Is disabling right click and content selection for content protection efforts affect SEO in a good way or a bad way?” This is where we have sites that when you try to right click it says, “Sorry, you can’t do that on this site for security” or whatever reason they dream up. They’re wondering if that can impact your SEO. John Mueller, I love his answer on this one. He said, “That’s a bit obnoxious and useless. Easy to do it anyway, but doesn’t affect SEO.” As John said, if you’re disabling right click to “protect your content,” it’s not hard to get around it. It’ll frustrate users more than it will help you. I discourage you from doing that. However, if you insist on doing it, it won’t have any SEO implications from it so you’re safe to do it from that perspective.
Lastly, for our Tip of the Week, it’s a very simple phrase. “Only think about cat food once.” David Allen wrote a book many years ago called “Getting Things Done,” which has really shaped how I handle many aspects of my work and how all of us work at GreenMellen. In a recent interview I heard him give, he said, “One of the cores to getting things done properly is to ‘only think about cat food once.'” The point is you should have trusted systems to put things. You have a calendar to put your events, a tool for tasks you need to manage, and in the case of cat food, a shopping list to put it on. If you have something kicking around in your brain all day, it’s hurting your productivity. Get everything in a trusted system so you can think about bigger issues while feeling good that you won’t miss any of the small stuff. I have a blog post with more info about this I’ll share in the show notes, but I encourage you to get all that little stuff out of your head, into a system you trust, and it can really do some great things for your day to day living.
That’s all we have for this week. You can find me on Twitter @mickmel or learn lots more at GreenMellenMedia.com. You can find out more about the podcast, including show notes and links, as well as video tutorials and many other resources, over at ABrighterWeb.com. If you’re in the Atlanta area, come check out our Meetup held three times each month. If you’re not in the Atlanta area, we post recaps on the site soon after each Meetup. Either way, you can learn more about that at abrighterweb.com/meetup. Thanks for listening.