New and Improved Blog Posts! Updates and additional information on my past musings…

According to our CMS dashboard, we at Netvantage Marketing have published thirty-two blog posts authored by Yours Truly.  Truth be told, I’ve written more but the others didn’t make the cut when we switched our CMS a few years ago.  My first currently-published post was written on February 26, 2015 which is, for all my Rip Van Winkles out there, not that recent.  In fact, a lot has changed in the last seven years so I thought it might be good to go back, take a look at my old posts, and see if anything needs to be updated or clarified.  For the most part, I don’t have much to add to my old posts but there are a handful that could use a few extra words.

Here we go…

Old Post #5 — “Should I Encrypt My Website?” — December 15, 2015

Yes.  Point blank.  Full stop.  Yes.  You should encrypt your website.  Here are three good reasons:

  1. Google prefers websites that are encrypted.  You will rank higher than non-encrypted websites.
  2. It helps prevent cyber-snooping.  Zee Böse Herren (let’s be honest, most likely just your ISP) will have a harder time finding out what you’re doing online.  Even if your activities are perfectly legal and normal and in no way embarrassing, it’s a good idea to keep your data with you instead of with them.
  3. It’s free*…completely free*…no cost*…no strings attached*

(*when you use Let’s Encrypt)

“How do I use Let’s Encrypt,” you ask?  I’m not going to get into custom setups on your personal server or anything.  I’m just going to tell you that it’s dead simple when you use a hosting provider that supports it.  Here is a highly detailed list of hosting providers that support Let’s Encrypt right out of the box…many have it enabled by default for new websites.  Also included are hosts that do not support Let’s Encrypt.  Honestly, that’s enough for me to recommend that you not use those providers.


Old Post #6 — “The Easiest Way to Insert Schema Into Your Website” — January 28, 2016

In this post I detailed how to insert HTML schema into your webpage and have the browser not display it to your visitors.  There’s a better way.  Google now prefers schema to be implemented via JSON instead of the old methods.  You can find a gajillion of them online by doing a quick search for JSON Schema Generator.  Pick one that’s good for you, generate some JSON, dump it just about anywhere in your page, and be done with it.

Just for completeness, the new & updated JSON form of that same HTML I used in the Jan 28 article would look like this:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "http://schema.org",
"@type": "LocalBusiness",
"name": "Netvantage Marketing",
"address": {
"@type": "PostalAddress",
"streetAddress": "435 E. Grand River Ave., Suite 211",
"addressLocality": "East Lansing",
"addressRegion": "MI",
"postalCode": "48823"
},
"geo": {
"@type": "GeoCoordinates",
"latitude": "42.735623",
"longitude": "-84.479845"
}
}
</script>

Old Post #20 — How to Boost Your Website to Ludicrous Speed! — October 18, 2018

In post #20 I suggested using WP Fastest Cache to handle all your site speed needs.  WPFC is still a solid option, but we did run into trouble with its performance enough times that we went looking for an alternate solution.  What we ultimately landed on was WP Rocket + Imagify + Stackpath (plus PHP 8 plus better themes).

NOTE:  We are not affiliated with any of these products or companies and we get absolutely nothing from our endorsement here.

  • WP Rocket is a caching and minification plugin.
  • Imagify is an image compression plugin that also will serve next-gen images (e.g. WebP)
  • Stackpath is a CDN & edge computing provider.

Yes, those services are all premium / paid services.  It has been our experience that free is nice…but the added benefits of a premium plugin are clearly evident.  We’re willing to pay a bit when the advantages are clear.  Fortunately, those plugins and services are reasonably priced and offer “unlimited” tiers which allow us to use them on many many websites concurrently.

Generally speaking, the newest version of PHP is going to be faster than the older ones.  There are a few exceptions…Drupal is a notable one.  It performs better on PHP 7.4 than anything else.  WordPress on the other hand crushes it on PHP 8.0 if you have a theme and plugins that can support it.  Read Kinsta’s full analysis here.

Speaking of themes…  We went all-in on Divi a while back.  What I’m about to say is highly controversial…just do some quick searches and you’ll get shouted at from both sides of the aisle.  Unfortunately, in our experience, Divi sucks gloriously when it comes to site speed.  We were seeing terrible load times and horrible scores on GT Metrix and Google Page Speed.  I really wanted to like Divi…I really did like it for a while…but it just got too bloated and slow.  So we undertook an effort to re-develop our core sites using other themes.  Astra + Beaver Builder have been a good solid choice that we’ve been happy with.  Your mileage may vary.

Now that I’ve just slammed Divi, Elegant Themes has claimed that they’ve made a ground-breaking update to Divi to drastically improve its speed.  I haven’t had a chance to test it yet.  Let me know if you do and whether or not you see anything good from it.  (I still have a couple of sites to update yet and this would be the least painful way to do that.)


Old Post #25 and #26 — “Two-Factor Authentication” (Parts 1 & 2) — December 2019

Post #25, Part one.

Post #26, Part two.

In these posts I recommended Google Authenticator as my 2FA app of choice.  I’ve changed my tune.  Now I recommend Authy.  Simple reasons…  Primarily, Authy allows you to set up a username & password to recover your 2FA credentials in the event that you lose your phone or the data doesn’t properly transfer to a new phone.  My favorite secondary reason is that Authy also provides an app for my smartwatch so I don’t have to open the app on my phone.  …a couple of taps on my wrist and I have the auth-code I need.

To switch from one authenticator app to another, follow these steps:

  1. Log into the account you want to switch over.
  2. Go to settings and disable 2FA.
  3. Re-enable 2FA.  (you may have to log out and log back in first)
  4. Use Authy when you’re prompted for a 2FA app.

PRO TIP:  If you share an account with multiple people and want to enable 2FA while still letting everyone access the account, go through the normal 2FA setup process in whatever account it is and save a copy of the QR code or authentication number that is displayed when you’re setting up your own access.  Then share that number or QR code with the other person or people that also need access to the account.  They can set up their authenticator apps using that information and everyone can access the same account at the same time all with 2FA enabled.  Make sure to securely delete the QR code or auth number.  Anyone who finds it can use it to set up their own 2FA access to your account!


Conclusion

Times change.  Technology changes.  Recommendations change.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to revisit my other blog posts at some point and make updates as newer, better, faster, more, coolness becomes available.  If I missed something, leave me a comment.  I’d love to hear what y’all are doing out there for some of these same topics!

Jerod Karam

Jerod Karam is Vice President of Technical Operations at Netvantage Marketing, an online marketing company specializing in SEO, PPC and social media. Jerod consults with internal teams and external clients on all manner of technical projects, manages the flow of information surrounding the company's online objectives, manages relationships with external partners and suppliers, and is a constant bother to everyone in terms of maintaining online security.

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