Salty Blog

Stay current with all of the latest happenings from Salty Key and the web industry as a whole.

Yoast logo on destroyed city

The End of Yoast?


Acquisitions are nothing new in the WordPress world. Over the past five years, we’ve seen major – and well respected – companies sell out. (Post Status has a running tab of acquisitions on its site.)

One acquisition in particular has flown under the radar. Not the company that was sold, but the buyer. Yoast SEO announced in August that it was purchased by tech conglomerate Newfold Digital. I had never heard of Newfold Digital, but I’m very familiar with the two companies that were merged to create it.

Earlier this year, a private equity firm purchased Endurance International Group (EIG) and merged it with to create a new venture, Newfold Digital. EIG has long been scourge of mass frustration in the web development community. The company had a history of buying small, quality hosting companies and gutting them for parts, locking customers into long-term contracts, and turning them into plodding, poorly-managed digital sweatshops offering cheap hosting. Companies like Bluehost, HostGator, Site5, A Small Orange, and many others fell victim to EIG.

Needless to say, I’m not confident this is good news for site owners who use Yoast SEO (like me).

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AMA background

Salty Key Founder Joins Board of AMA


Salty Key Marketing founder and lead developer Michael Cook has been invited to join the board of directors of the New Orleans Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA). In this capacity, Michael will lead the overhaul of the chapter website, manage the chapter’s social media accounts, and assist the chapter’s Communications Chair with media relations.

AMA New Orleans hosts monthly programming in and around New Orleans, including luncheons, seminars, and networking/meet-up events. The chapter has a storied history in New Orleans and is recognized as the preeminent resource for marketers nationwide.

A mobile tablet running faster with Google AMP.

Google AMP: The Need for (Mobile) Speed


A little over one year ago, Google unveiled Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): an open-source framework hoping to give users a better mobile experience.

The AMP project was created to help publishers deliver high-quality content on an increasingly mobile web. While everyone understands that ads are necessary for online publications to make money, slow-loading mobile pages were frustrating users and actually losing publishers their readership.

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A photo of Penguins

Major Update to Google Penguin


When Google announced Penguin 4.0, the SEO world went nuts.

For those unfamiliar, Penguin is part of Google’s algorithm that fights web spam. Any site caught using manipulative link practices (e.g. using link farms to accumulate backlinks from keyword-rich anchor text) to influence their organic search ranking will be penalized by Google.

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An image of turning gears.

The Best Image Optimizers for WordPress


In regards to website performance, the single biggest mistake is not optimizing images. Let’s forget how page speed impacts SEO for a moment. Massive, high-resolution images are an anchor on your site. This kills page load times and leaves your website visitors frustrated. Performance is even more important for user experience (UX) than SEO, which is why page speed is so important to Salty Key.

There are dozens of free image optimizers available online, and a handful of WordPress plugins that will automatically optimize images (and bulk optimize images already uploaded) for you. But which are the best? We’ve done the research and we have the data to give you a definitive answer! Drumroll, please…

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The importance of strong passwords for website security

Don’t Listen to the FTC on Password Security


It may be hard to believe, but even in 2016, brute force attacks remain one of the most common attack vectors on the web.

While it’s impossible to guarantee 100% security against brute force attempts, you can get pretty close by using strong passwords, using HTTPS on login pages (also using stronger encryption algorithms), using two-factor authentication, limiting failed login attempts (and banning those IPs with failed login attempts), adding a CAPTCHA field to login pages, using a firewall to filter malicious traffic, etc.

We all know how important strong passwords are. As part of an experiment, Ars Technica reported that a team of hackers was able to crack 90% of a 16,449 password list — all of which were 16-character, cryptographically hashed passwords. In less than one hour. But security experts are adamant that site owners regularly change passwords as well. Not long ago I believed this was unnecessary, but the recent data breach of Dropbox has changed my mind.

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A photo of a dimly lit light bulb.

Have Digital Marketers Lost Their Creativity?


Earlier this year, freelance web designer Dave Ellis (based in West Yorkshire, England) noted a similarity with many of today’s websites: they all look similar. Strikingly similar. He created a generic, wireframe template (pictured below) that anyone in the marketing industry would recognize. I’m sure some of us are even guilty of creating this same layout for client sites. The post went viral, and many accused web designers of copycatting.

I have no doubt you’ve also seen a website that looks exactly like the template below. You’ll even notice elements from that template on Salty Key, even though I built this site from scratch. So what gives? Are we all just imitating each other?

I will argue that a number of factors have led us to “design convergence” and created an entire galaxy of clone websites. Are some designers just lazy? You bet. But if we begin to address the circumstances that got us into this mess, maybe it’ll lead to more imaginative web design in the future.

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The effect of website speed on SEO

Google Hints Mobile SEO Changes


Search Engine Land reported that Google “hopes to add mobile-specific page speed as a factor and not rely on the desktop version” when it updates its mobile-friendly algorithm.

Site speed has been a ranking factor since 2010, but Google still depends on page speed results from the desktop version of your site for both mobile and non-mobile rankings. This has always struck me as odd, since Google’s tool for measuring website performance provides results for both the desktop and mobile version of your site.

(For those who don’t know, Google has separate algorithms for its desktop (non-mobile) and mobile search results. To answer your follow-up question: no, Google does not consider tablets to be mobile devices.)

It’s no secret that Google’s primary focus for the past 5+ years has been mobile usability. Google does not crawl Flash websites since Flash isn’t compatible with most smartphones. It forced webmasters to adopt responsive design (or mobile-optimized pages, like m. sites) via “Mobilegeddon” to improve site readability on phones.

Since Google still dominates the search industry, these actions have undoubtedly increased mobile internet usage. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of all web pages will be served on mobile devices in 2016; Google’s mobile-first policies are a big reason why. These same policies enacted by Ask or AOL (which combine for less than 0.5% of the search market) wouldn’t make a dent in mobile web traffic. Same for Bing and Yahoo! (#2 and #3 in search market share, respectively). It took a powerhouse like Google to change how webmasters build websites.

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