We’re moving. After 5 years at 481 1/2 Haywood Road, we’re moving to State and Amboy. Right across from the park, right above a bar. It’s a new epoch for Blue Dozen – and Asheville really needs to take notice – because IT IS ON. We’re in our new digs, and we’re ready to kick ass…
This eleven or so minute video will teach you everything you need to know about the internet. Safety, setup, tips & tricks – it’s got it all! Be sure to watch before it becomes obsolete! It’s information you can’t afford to miss, ignore or something. Hurry!
What do you get when you throw a couple of boys from Erwin High into the same room with a lot of computers, too much coffee and a branding freak from NYC? A great new WordPress site – and a whole lot of giggling.
All right – we’re kind of done with the left side of the cooler. I swear – if I have to drink one more freaking Highland crap (crapft?) brew or a Leinenkugel ANYTHING, I’m going to need to start drinking scotch to keep me from doing something rash, sans clothes, up and down Haywood Road.
Yeah, I know we said we’d go through ALL the beer in Ingles, but I swear to God – I couldn’t bring myself to waste the time, calories and blogging power on a frigging Corona Light. The regular Corona was so bad that I figured light cat piss can’t be any better than regular, full-flavored cat piss. So, we passed on that one. We DID, however, drink a few beers…
“Yeah – I’ve got a logo. You can just grab it off our website.” That’s not something any designer wants to hear. You need a VECTOR version of your logo – especially if you plan on using it anywhere but the web. What does that really mean, and how can you get there? You didn’t think I’d raise a question and not give an (absolutely correct and overly folksy) answer. Come on, I’m not THAT guy…
Well, here we go. Week 1. We embark on a great endeavor to drink ALL THE BEERS in Ingles. So far, I’m feeling pretty good. Liver’s feeling right and I’m ready to do this. We got the first sixer today – and, for the most part, it looks doable.
Now, I’m not saying that I deserve to served a fluffy coffee by an icon of the (punk) music industry, but I’m a little offended that Mr. Albini hasn’t made me a hot beverage lately. Or, at all for that matter. Where’s my joe, Steve?
And, for your coffee break – a little auditory caffeine from Shellac of North America:
Happy rainy Monday, Asheville. Keep your beans safe and poop free.
Well, we’re finally to Day 4 of our series. We lost some momentum (read all about it here,) but we’re back in the saddle and ready to help you turn your site into a traffic machine.
Today, there’s no video – just some links and some ideas that can help you make sure your site is really ready to rumble, from a search engine standpoint.
Making sure your site is healthy is super-important when it comes to a good showing with Google (and Bing and Yahoo, to a lesser extent.) If you’re infected, slow, outdated or out-of-bounds from a standards standpoint, you’ll be facing a serious uphill climb to good rankings.
So, without any beating about the bush:
5-point Health Check for Your WordPress Site:
- Make Sure You’re Not Infected. Head to Sucuri’s Scanner and run your site. This is a reasonably low-level scan, but it can tell you if there’s anything funky going on. If you see any errors – get them fixed. Sometimes, this is a pretty simple process, sometimes it’s far deeper. But this is the first place to check. Now, they’re going to try to sell you a firewall for your site – but we’ve found this to be somewhat unnecessary. It’s up to you if you want to pay for their services – but with judicious tinkering on your site and a little legwork, you can do what they do – for free.
- Make Sure You’re Fast. Google LOVES a fast site. If your site is slow to load, it’s going to be harder to reach high ranks. To test your site speed, head to Pingdom’s site by clicking here and checking out your site’s load speed. You want to see that your site is AT LEAST faster than 50% of the sites tested. If it’s slow, find out why. We’ve found that the vast majority of slow sites suffer from images that are unnecessarily large, software that is out-of-date, or just a straight-up poorly built theme. Make sure you’re using a caching plugin (we use and recommend W3’s Total Cache,) make sure your images are sized appropriately and that you don’t have any plugins that need to be updated. Also, look at your Pingdom results and see if you have any slow-loading scripts on your site. We’ve noticed that a lot of social media plugins are slow – especially if they query Facebook. Slim down, speed up.
- Make Sure You’re Valid. At least to an extent. You don’t have to go crazy here – but if you have a lot of errors, they can bog your site down in the rankings. Head to W3C’s validator and run your site. If you’re seeing a bunch of errors, you need to fix them or have them fixed. Coding errors or outdated methods of coding can make your site less than favorable with Big G – and anything you can do to make Google happy will help you in the long run. Making sure your site, plugins and theme are all updated is important here. Update! Then, if you still have errors, fix them (or have us fix them for you.) Not ALL errors have to be eliminated – but if there are big warnings, it’s time to get fixed.
- Make Sure You’re Not in a Bad Neighborhood. Being on a crappy server isn’t a good thing. Having crappy backlinks (as we’ve discussed) is a bad thing. Check them both by clicking here. If you’re on a shared server, consider having a dedicated IP address so that you’re not getting bogged down by weird sites, porn or gambling sites. It’s not the biggest factor Google looks for, but it IS a factor. Check your neighborhood, make sure you’re in a good subdivision and that you’re not getting lumped in with a bunch of web garbage. Go with a reputable host and talk to them to make sure you’re on a node with good, clean sites. If you need to move servers, we can suggest a few that have excellent service and that don’t put up with a bunch of bullshit on their servers.
- Make Sure You’re Mobile. Mobile-responsive sites are all the rage these days – and for good reason. 33%+ of all internet users use mobile devices (solely) to view the web. Google has taken notice, and they will penalize your site (especially on mobile searches) if your site doesn’t pass their mobile test. Click here, enter your domain and check it out. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s not time to panic – but it IS something you want to address as soon as possible. It might mean a just little bit of tinkering, but it might require a full rebuild of your site. We can help with either path – but you really, really, really want to be responsive and mobile-friendly. Mobile web surfing is just getting more and more prevalent – you don’t want to be left behind.
So, there’s a reasonably simple (and basic) health check-up for your site. Making sure you’re clean, valid, fast, mobile and in a good neighborhood will help you reach better rankings with Google. This is just a small portion of the stuff you need to do to rank your WordPress site – but it’s horribly important. If your site is in poor health, all the good SEO in the world will only go so far. If you’re clean, you’re in much better shape to dominate. And, isn’t that what it’s all about?
Get healthy, get ranked.
Up Next: Titles, Descriptions and Keywords.
We left our beloved Asheville. In a Dolphin. Six of the seven of us.
Why? Because it was the best thing we could do. It was silly, but it was absolutely necessary.
With all the health shenanigans and strange family issues we’ve been cartwheeling through, we’ve all suffered to one extent or another. It’s been a trying, exhausting spell. But – Life™ has a tendency to come in spells. Good spells, bad spells. But nothing really lasts forever. That’s good and bad. The bad stuff doesn’t last. Thankfully.
Through all of it, though – we have these kids. 5 amazing people. 5 wonderful, funny, crazy, creative, beautiful kids who have rolled with the punches and kept on smiling. Thankfully, we have a family that has a wonderful time all the time. That’s always helped us through. But, when things go sideways, they suffer along with us. And, with all the goings-on and day-to-day stresses in our lives, we’ve missed a lot of opportunities to connect and enjoy our kids and each other (Beth and I.) We also miss a lot of opportunities to just have fun.
With everything that had been going down, we needed to escape. Not work, not responsibility – but we needed to escape our routine of worry and stress and chores and errands and reconnect. We knew if we planned and waited for the right opportunity to make that escape, it might not come for a long time – if at all. Work and bills and household duties and the stress of the day will always be here – but our kids are getting older every day. We’ll eventually lose them all to the dreaded teen years when they REALLY think we’re uncool. Time is precious. Family is preciouser. It was time to do something silly and make some memories and grow closer to our kids before they grow further away. Since they rolled with us through all the trials, we thought it was time to roll with those precious little souls – literally.
So, we left Asheville in a 1987 Toyota Dolphin. We didn’t know where we were going, but had a faint idea of seeing Niagara Falls. We packed some food, some clothes and an axe. We’d never done anything like this before. Heck, we’ve only camped a few times in our 23 years of marriage.
We’d seen some YouTube videos, and figured that was all the training you could possibly need on how to live in an RV.
We didn’t have a plan. We didn’t have a map. We just hopped in and ran.
We stayed in WalMart parking lots. We ate cereal (a LOT,) and we swam in bodies of water I don’t recall the name of. We saw Niagara, DC, Gettysburg and Chincoteague Island. We stunk. We were hungry. We got on each other’s nerves. The RV leaked. We did laundry in several states. We laughed and sang and hollered and got to stand in awe of a lot of amazing things. With each other.
It was simply wonderful. I don’t regret one damned second of it. I feel better now. A deep down soul better. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t have a map for that, either.
Now, granted – I had planned on working more than I did. But, that didn’t happen thanks to spotty electricity and spottier cell coverage (I’m looking at YOU, US Cellular.) Probably not a good thing, but in a way – a really good thing. I’m recharged. I’m excited. We’re all excited.
We’re going to renovate the RV now. We’re going to turn it into the ultimate adventure machine, and we’re going to cart our kids as far as that bucket of bolts can take us – and we’re going to see some amazing things and have some amazing times. Because time is always running. And you never know when it’s going to stop.
There – that’s why we left. We’re back. We will leave again. In the meantime – we’re going to kick ass on some projects, we’re going to dream. We’re still going to laugh and fool around with the kids. We’ll cherish our memories, and we’ll grow increasingly excited to make more.
So, where am I going with this? Life is short. Kids grow so fast. Health ebbs and flows. Families do crazy shit. You never know what’s going to happen. But, dammit – you can MAKE something good happen. Now. One way or another – take the time you have and make something great. Make it great with the people you love.
Tomorrow, God willing, it’ll be back to your normal bloggy goodness about web design, SEO and logos and such. But, today – this was what I felt I should write. I’m exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in a real bed. Now, go forth and create something.