NY Meetup site clinic notes from February 21, 2019

The following is a synopsis of the discussions and fixes we had at our last North York Meetup at the North York Civic Centre in February:

Due to many bookings during the short week of Family Day holiday we were only able to reserve a boardroom on the Thursday at 6pm which brought out a bunch of fresh faces whom we were happy to have join us. We are returning to our third Monday of the month format for March so check out the Meetup page here for details, to RSVP and pose your questions.

Alex started off the Meetup with a presentation on the WordCamp Toronto 2019 organizer team’s roles and structure created by the WordPress Toronto organizing committee after the December 1, 2018 WordCamp Toronto 2018 event.  The document can be found here and we encourage any interested members of our community to get involved regardless of your WordPress proficiency.  There are roles that will suit anyone from designers and developers to brand new enthusiasts (whom we really want to recruit for the many non-technical roles so please don’t be shy). Your participation at any level will help us put on a great event and gain you free entry to our 2019 WordCamp.

We started with Ronan who had the following question posed on the Meetup message board:

I have just launched a new redesign site for Petersfield & District Beekeepers Association. It appears Google Analytics/Tag Manager is not working as it should be. The page views hit are not registering. When I preview the container, I see the all pages event firing, but cannot find the value in Google Analytics. Yes, I have checked that I am looking at the correct account. I have checked my other GTM accounts where I know they were working before and now they are not.

Google Analytics can show you a lot of things including page load speed as well as page hits and activity on your site. We started by seeing if, Google Analytics was actually installed because although we could see ‘tags’ we couldn’t find the actual Analytics piece at first. Chrome can be outfitted with a browser plugin called ‘Built With” which will tell you a lot of info on the technology being used on a site. We looked at the page source and found that Analytics was indeed installed and we couldn’t figure out exactly why out of his 3500 pages, only 1000 of them were registering. We directed him to contact his host to see why these pages were not being indexed. It’s also possible Google Search Console is not reporting the correct amount of pages.

Victor was looking for help with tips on improving speed, editing, Woocommerce checkout experience, and which plugins to avoid. We focused of page load speed which Alex says is often overrated since much of the software designed to run these tests aren’t always reflecting page speed alone will give you a low score when in fact your page load speed is adequate. Victor had switched to Siteground recently (whom Fernne believes gives the best advice as a hosting support team) and his performance has increased slightly. We then took on the question of how to change the default checkout of WooCommerce from PayPal to another payment gateway. Alex showed us how many payment gateways WooCommernce supports and suggested that Stripe is an excellent choice since they have a flat 2.9% charge (+0.30c per transaction). He also cautioned to remove any extra fields for the consumer to fill out so as to avoid drop off during the transaction.

Jeanette had a question as to how to remove/fix a page on her site that shows Google maps.She is using a directory theme from DirectoryBox on her site https://bayanihanonline.com. To begin the discussion on the Google Maps new policies, Alex explained that from now on, you have to register with your credit card to use Google Maps even thoug,h the chances of your being charged are very slim unless your map gets millions of hits. There are mapping alternatives that we can look into to avoid this situation (especially if you are creating sites for other people). We realized after inspection that the DirectoryBox is a very sophisticated directory theme with a split mapping system that comes with it. It was suggested that anyone interested in a directory site with a mapping function should check out the WPDB plugin. Jeanette was urged to open a support ticket with DirectoryBox and in the meantime make a duplicate of her site using an app such as ManageWP or a plugin such as WPStaging so she can work on her site without compromising the online version.

Muhammad had a question about his website www.oassignment.com which he had switched from from Godaddy Shopping Cart to WordPress but now finds Google de-indexing pages (of his 4500 pages only 1000 are being indexed).  Drew suggested that Google might still be trying to use the sitemap from Muhammad’s old Godaddy shopping cart and offMeetupered the advice of using the Yoast SEO plugin to authenticate your site with Google Search Console (in Google Webmaster Tools) and submit a new sitemap. https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/add-website-google-search-console/.

Muhammad needs to regenerate his site map and get the Google algorithm to naturally reindex his site so he should:

  1. Disable his sitemap feature
  2. Clear any cache
  3. Re-enable sitemap feature

See: https://kb.yoast.com/kb/sitemap-does-not-update/. Here is advice from Google on why pages are not indexed: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7474347

It was also recommended that Muhammad check his backlinks to make sure they are all working.

Dennie was struggling with a logo and it’s placement on one of his sites. We started with a discussion on how to resize your images for your site’s optimal performance. The consensus was that it’s easier to resize your images outside of WordPress and then import them. Photoshop is of course a great resource but Dennie didn’t have it and was trying to use Paint. He wanted the logo to appear transparent and hover about his hero image however the group cautioned that it may be difficult to control where the logo is placed when the theme decides placement according to it’s responsive (mobile friendly) design. Instead Dennie was encouraged to put the logo directly onto the hero image and upload it as one so that Dennie can decide where the logo is placed and where it will always reside no matter what screen resolution is used.

Fernne had questions about how to change the wording on some of her featured portfolio items. After searching through her theme, we were able to find where to make the change and gave Fernne the directions on how to make future changes to these descriptions inside her complex theme.

Tess wanted help with an RSS aggregator to connect with the Canadian Press news feed for her new media website https://farwestherald.com  Dan suggested that she look at this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-rss-aggregator/

And from the Meetup message board we received a few compliments that I’m happy to share:

Thanks Alex, Kristine and Dan for hosting. I’ll try using Stripe to streamline my checkout process. As I learn more… maybe one day I can help with WP Meetups! 🙂 – Victor

It was my first Meetup experience. It was great learning and networking experience. Looking forward to the next Meetup. Kudos to Alex and the rest of the organizers. – Jeanette

Our next “Let’s Fix Your Site” Meetup is scheduled for March 18, 2019 at 6pm. Remember to RSVP early (remove yourself if you can’t make it) and post your fix request on the message board for priority in the Meetup page.

I’ll catch up with you in April and in the meantime Drew Mathers will be hosting the March Meetup.

See you then, Kristine

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