Dreamhost WordPress HTTPs Redirect

No Apache does not need you to restart it. Yes, you are doing it wrong. Follow the instructions at the link:

https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/216385837-Enabling-Shell-access

Make sure you are in <address-of-your-site.com folder> and not the web subdirectory. There are multiple .htaccess files, but I am not sure how missed the first one.

Enable shell access, but then be smart and enable SSH keys for password-less connections.

https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/216385837-Enabling_shell_access

It helps to use the proper user name when trying to log in.

https://help.dreamhost.com/hc/en-us/articles/216499537-How-to-configure-passwordless-login-in-Mac-OS-X-and-Linux

Updating Dreamhost PHP and getting Homebrew

I got here trying to install homebrew to play with node/npm per:

https://treehouse.github.io/installation-guides/mac/homebrew

Paying attention to the output and getting Xcode to properly install reminded me how much a pain and how bloated Xcode is again. After unneeded obfuscation, I got the error below but was able to recover and move on.

https://discourse.brew.sh/t/xcode-select-error-invalid-developer-directory-library-developer-commandlinetools-failed-during-usr-bin-sudo-usr-bin-xcode-select-switch-library-developer-commandlinetools/693

Xcode finally installed but Mac could not let me be. Time to update the Mac OS. I used the time to figure out how to upgrade PHP and determine how htaccess/http redirect works on my “Dream” host. Dreamhost makes managing your site both easy and obfuscated. Want to setup SSL? Go to Manage Domains and click the SSL link and follow the on-page instructions. Want to update PHP? go to Manage Domains. Oh and then head to edit and select a new version PHP. For both, they will graciously update in some time at their convenience between now, 5 minutes, and a day. Go get some coffee.

Back on the Saddle

3 years of paid and unused service, but lets try this again

Started looking at serverless tonight to play around with something. Want a simple way to log and show production checkout test for systems I work on. Got to looking at https://aws.amazon.com/free, then looking at getting npm updated and running on my MBP. That got me installing homebrew and xcode (reminding me again how bloated and update driven xcode is). Just logging in, I had to remember how to use WordPress.

Then came the whys: Why is this site slow, why doesn’t it have https enabled, why am I paying so much each month? Why is PHP outdated and how do I get to a console to update it? Oh yeah – why did google tell me my site had issues again? Oh, it looks like crap too. Why did I setup up OpenShift last week on my Workstation (12 Core/48 GiB RAM) to play with containers when the web is moving on to serverless?

So here we are. A new post, homebrew installed, but NPM is not yet updated.

Troubleshooting SEO Issues

Troubleshooting SEO issues to start getting Google to give you search analytics is a little difficult. There is a lot of information out there butmost of it is focused on moving you up the search index. When you are just starting, you want to focus on getting your site on Google and getting Google to index you. For the most part – if you keep creating content and get any kind of link back – Google will find you, but I want to make sure we get a site up and know that Google knows about your/our site.

To start troubleshooting SEO issues for this post I completed the following actions over the past week or so:

  • Fix redirect issue – Using the Crawl > Fetch As Google tool I get notified of a 301 Redirect
  • Move from strt-nw.com/web to strt-nw.com and verify with google.

Fixing 301 Redirect Issue:

In some ways this ended up being a bit non-issue, but let me give you some background and help you help Google help you.

The issue ends up being on the web address where you say your website is actually at. From the aspect of your website (I will gloss over some of the details for brevity) www.site.com and site.com are processed as potentially differently pages but most people want them to link to the same thing and it does not make sense to have a duplicate of a page. In general, most people want visitors to get to the same content using both addresses, so a website will catch the request for the page that does not actually exist and redirects it to the real page. Generally which page is the “real page” is configurable, but there maybe conflicting settings at the web hosting side and WordPress side. I will ignore the hosting settings, as I resolved the issue without having to mess with those settings. In my case, I did not add the real site to Google Webmasters/Search Console. Let me show you have to resolve the issue.

The resolve the issue – start by figuring out what your site address is:

  1. Log in to your WordPress site
  2. Go to Settings > General
  3. Note the WordPress Address and the Site Address – you want the site address. See below.

Troubleshooting SEO Issues by updating WordPress Site Address
Updating WordPress Site Address

Now that you have the site address you will need to make some updates on Google Search Console:

More information on steps 1-3 can be found at: Additional Details

  1. Add the new address/domain to Google
  2. Upload a sitemap – yes it is the same as before but it will nudge Google to take action
  3. Verify your domain/address.
  4. Use the Google Fetch As tool to confirm the issue has been resolved.

Moving WordPress to the Root Domain:

The goal of this step is to start getting Google to give you Crawl stats – which it will only do for root domains. I found that more information came crawl details prior to showing up a Structured Data and getting search indexes and clicks.

I found a such a good writeup, I will defer to it:

http://askwpgirl.com/how-do-i-move-wordpress-from-a-subdirectory-to-the-root-directory/

The core steps as covered in detail at the link are:

  1. Backing up your WordPress site
  2. Set my Site Address to  www.strt-nw.com as seen in the picture above
  3. Move www.strt-nw.com/index.php to the root domain directory
  4. Make a small change the index.php
  5. Check Perma Links and save changes

Once you have completed all of the steps at the link, you will have to repeat the steps above used add another domain to Google Search Console. The only difference is you will have to copy or upload a new copy of the Google Verification file to the root domain. It is easy and will be the same for all addresses/domains you registered with Search Console.

First Google Clicks:

The first information I was able to get was under the Crawl Section > Keywords. After a couple of days, I even had a couple of clicks.

Troubleshooting SEO issues to First SEO Clicks
First SEO Clicks

 

 

WordPress Categories – Creating Some Structure

I went ahead and created some WordPress categories for the site. WordPress provides flexibility in the realm of creating categories and tags. At the end of the day there are about three reasons to create categories:

  • Content Organization – For yourself and visitors
  • Simpler Links/Permalink Structure – Easier navigation via an easier (to-a-human) link structure
  • Helping google help you – SEO

To get started – I recommend a creating a simple category structure with no parents. Add tags as you are will/are ready. It seems that the consensus is that you should always have a category when it comes to a post, but tags are optional in the realm of using WordPress Categories for search engine optimization.

If you want some background on WordPress Categories and Tags: WordPress Categories vs Tags

To add categories, or remove the uncategorized category:

  1. At the WordPress Dashboard, go to Posts > Categories
  2. On the Categories Page, hit add category.
  3. Enter in the requested information – try not to create names that are too long
  4. If you want to edit a category – specifically the uncategoried category, refer to the next section

WordPress Categories
Add a WordPress Category

Leveraging the Yoast SEO Tools:

Once you have created a new category, you will want to immediately update it and add in the SEO details. If you are using Yoast SEO, you can bring up a page like the one below by doing the following:

  1. On the Posts > Categories Page, hover over the new category and select the Edit option
  2. The Category Edit page will load, and there will be a Yoast SEO area to fill in
  3. Enter in the requested information

Yoast SEO WordPress Categories
Add in SEO Category Details

Categorizing Posts:

When you create a post it is simple to add a category, but I recommend only using one category when you first get started.

The reason is that there can be complications when using multiple categories (such as which category will get used for the permalink) and while there are solutions (plugins/etc) they will be a distraction to getting your site off the ground. Leverage tags for now if you want that kind of granularity at this point.

Creating better links:

You can create better links using your WordPress Categories by updating your WordPress permalink structure:

  1. On the WordPress Dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks
  2. Choose Custom, and enter: /%category%/%postname%/
  3. Hit – Save Changes

Note: Your posts will now be referenced using a new link. You may want to make sure your sitemap updated properly. Possibly even work on notifying Google.

Site Status – Part I

It is time for an update on the site status. It has been about two weeks now and I was about to state that I still have no site indexed on Google yet, but that finally changed tonight. One of the pages on the site is indexed, but I can not get much more details out of Google at this point. No structured data is available nor is data about my indexing available that I can see. I thought for sure after fixing a sitemap issue that Google would index my site, but I had a wait a couple of days for Google to look at my site again. Even then though it did not mention indexing a site then. It was only  when I was ready to put this post together I checked one last time – and there it was:

First page indexed!
First page indexed!

Before I get into some items I want to tackle over the next week or so, you may have noticed – I updated my WordPress Header. The header is what WordPress calls the image you see at the top of the website. It may not help Google, but it should make more sense to viewers. It is possible that it could help Google, as Google may hash images and notice that the header is a default image. The process was simple: I went to a stock photo site, entered a couple of keywords, and downloaded the image I liked. I did crop the image and compress it before uploading.
Items might help more of my pages get indexed fix the problem:
  • Move from strt-nw.com/web to strt-nw.com and verify with google. At the very least, this will help me as Google will only give crawl information to the root domain (strt-nw.com). It may help Google, as of right now I have no homepage/index.html at strt-nw.com.
  • Fix redirect issue – Theme caused? If I use the Crawl > Fetch As Google tool I get notified of a 301 Redirect. Resolving should not fix the indexing problem, but it is supposed to help improve your site index.
  • Get some external links to my site – well I thought that might be a key part of the problem, but after tonight Google says I have at least one page indexed. Though it does not make that clear which page. Google is still not reporting structured data and such. At the very least a couple of links should help improve indexing and the rate at which Google looks at the site.
  • Update all Posts to have SEO data properly filled out.
Items to help improve my search index and website:
  • Caches: Using caches will improve page load time, which in turn helps with indexing. People and in turn Google like fast/responsive web pages. Caches basically allow the site to have certain key information stored for quick access, so it does not have to go back to disk each time the resource is requested.
  • Optimize images for web: Generally loss-less photos are larger and dominate the amount of data vs the text of website. So optimizing photos so they are no larger than they need to be and effectively compressed will reduce the amount of data a viewer needs to load to see your page. Less data to load, means faster page loads.
  • Categorize post/change permalinks to use category/post-name. I am not sure how much categorizing will help search engines, but it should help viewers by making it easier to find related articles.
  • Figure out how to use H2 headers in posts. This issue could be a theme issue, but it causes a warning from Yoast SEO. Think of this like using headers in MS Word.
Do sooner, not later:
  • Install some analytics – most likely Google Analytics. See #s/who is visiting the site, and how they interact with the site.

Yoast SEO Sitemap Error & Fix

So in my last post: SEO 101  I created an issue with the sitemap.xml I previously created using the Google Sitemap XML Plugin. Even though Yoast SEO detected a potential issue, it was not properly dealt with, so we need to clean that up. No worries though the solution is simple. The steps below walk through fixing the Yoast SEO Sitemap Error I caused.

Check out the error Google Search Console gave me:

Google Error Processing sitemap.xml
Google error processing sitemap.xml

 

Steps to fix sitemap and create a new one:

  1. Logged in & on Dashboard, go to  SEO > XML Sitemaps
  2. Uncheck the setup a sitemap check box
  3. Hit Save Changes
  4. Check the setup sitmap check box
  5. Hit Save Changes AND done!!
  6. Double check the results by hitting the sitemap button

The Yoast SEO Sitemap Error was that easy to resolve. If you never turned off the Google Sitemap XML Plugin, you might need to do that and repeat the process. Check out the image below for reference.

Yoast SEO Sitemap Settings
Yoast SEO Sitemap Settings

Couple of Notes:

  • Prior to resolution, if you went to the Sitemap button on the Yoast SEO Plugin page you would get a 404 – File not found error
  • Even though Yoast SEO correctly detected the competing plugin and appeared to have deleted the old sitemap, it did not create a replacement
  • I used an FTP client to ensure that the previous sitemap.xml was no around

Now update Google:

Go to Google Search Console and add your new Sitemap. Yoast SEO should have name the Sitemap sitemap_index.xml . You can delete the old sitemap. To get more information about uploading a sitemap to Google Search SEO see: Upload Sitemap to Google

I saw a couple of threads online about the issue, but no quick definitive answer so did a little trial and error. Hopefully this post will help resolve the problem for some other people out there.

SEO 101 – Getting Started With Search Engines

UPDATE: Adding Yoast SEO over the Google Sitemap XML Plugin will cause a problem with sitemap. It takes a couple of extra steps to resolve, the steps are covered here:Fix Yoast SEO Sitemap Error

Start SEO slowly. Consider this SEO 101. This post to ease into getting your site ready for search engines. I recommend trying WordPress SEO/Yoast SEO. It is widely used and well regarded. This post more learn by doing, less what is SEO. It will become clearer after you work with it, and make more sense when you go back and read up on what you are doing.

Before we get going I want to make two notes:

  • Per Google – Still 0 Clicks, no structured data, no real data from the Webmasters tools
  • I updated my first  post to be more SEO friendly. Check out the results: the WordPress – Hello World

Lets go ahead and jump into getting Yoast SEO installed:

Note: Google Site XML will get disabled in favor of the Yoast SEO equivalent. The Yoast SEO will warn you as soon as you install it, so no need to deactivate it ahead of installing/configuring the Plugin.

  1. Logged in/Dashboard up, go to Plugins > Add New
  2. Search WordPress SEO, Select what should be the first-ish result and click Install
  3. Make sure the Plugin is activated upon installation
  4. Confirm disabling the Google Sitemap XML Plugin
  5. Take the tour, if you miss the tour link go to the Left Hand Menu > SEO > General. A button for the tour will be there

Configuring your SEO Plugin:

You should only need to take a couple of steps to get started. There is more to do and play with at some point, but this should get you started.

  1. Update your search console: Go to SEO > Search Console > Get Authentication, follow the steps. NOTE: Not sure if this conflicts with: SEO > General > [ Tab ]  Webmaster Tools – Google Search Console
  2. Update your information: Go to SEO > General > [ Tab ]  Your Info – Select if you are a company or a person, save changes
  3. If you have some settings or did not want Yoast to do your sitemap.xml, edit options at: SEO > Sitemap XML

Creating a Post with SEO Data:

A lot of the benefit from making your site ready for search engines is making sure each Post is updated per the instructions below:

  1. Create a post, set the title to start with a keyword
  2. Write most of the Post
  3. Go to the bottom of the draft page, then review and update the Yoast SEO data
    1. Check the snippet preview and make sure your title is not to long
    2. Being careful in the previous step and depending on how you configured WordPress will have the site URL include your title/keyword
    3. Set your first keyword, try to align it with your title and post. Try to move the keyword to the beginning of your title.
    4. Add a meta-description,  it is what someone who is searching. Include keywords, they will come out if a searcher used them
    5. Go to the Page Analysis Tab, review the data and update to improve your Page Analysis results. The results will tell you exactly what to do.

Focus on repeating this for each post, and less on dumping meta data and keywords of old. This completes a SEO 101 Walk Through. If you want some more information, check out: Yoast SEO General Guide

Now that we have Yoast SEO installed and done the basics, its time for you to start playing around. The plugin tools are pretty helpful at helping you get your WordPress site and Posts SEO ready.

Stopping the WordPress SPAM

There are numerous Spam fighting mechanisms, but the easiest and probably best to get started is Akismit. It is free for Personal use. Even if you think you want to become a commercial site at some point, go ahead and register as a Personal account and get your spam blocking on. They make it easy to upgrade when you BECOME ready. I would also argue that to be something beyond Personal you would have to be a) selling something b) operating the site under a business or LLC, or b) making more money than your hosting costs from ad-revenue or similar mechanism. At a quick glance I could not find any helpful clarifications on the website. Commercial plans start at $5 a month.

Other Spam Plugins can be found here: Dreamhost Wiki Article – SPAM

Steps to enabling Akismet:

  1. Log-in to your WordPress site
  2. If it is not pre-installed (Dreamhost 1-Click WordPress install will have installed the Plugin), on the left menu bar go to Plugins > Add New. Repeat the process from the first section of: Finding/Installing a Plugin
  3. Go to Askismet
    1. Signup for a WordPress.com account, if you do not already have one. Links will be on the Akismet page.
    2. Subscribe to a plan. The Askismet page will walk you through the process
    3. Get the your Activation Code
  4. Go to Plugins > Installed Plugins
    1. Select Activate Plugin
    2. Go to the Settings (Link will be where the Activate was previously) and enter your activation code. SAVE CHANGES.
  5. Pat yourself on the back you are done.

Now that you are finished you should get a lot less offers for the most random things the internet can think up.

 

FOLLOW-UP: Site indexed by Google

There is some work yet to be done, but you can now at least find this website on Google. Right now indexing has not offered any help on the search front for click generation, but we will work on that. One step at a time. I will continue to post my progress and hopefully show how important each step is in creating and driving traffic. For comparison – right now I can see on google.com/webmasters that Google has generated 0 clicks via site results. In future posts I will cover checking google.com/webmasters to track traffic, preventing spam/back link traffic, and help with creating structured data for indexing/search engines (or as some say the dreaded “SEO” acronym).

The clip below shows how you can find the site using the Google search tag site: to find this website. I included

Website Indexed
Google Site Tag Search Results

Now that you can use the site: option in a Google search you can also see that by including the website title and author, you can find the site on Google now.

Google Search For Website
Word Search Result by Author