Stop Focusing on WordPress Searches and Serve Your Customers

Episode 24 September 16, 2021 00:28:45
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WP Review
Stop Focusing on WordPress Searches and Serve Your Customers
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Joe Casabona

Show Notes

Over the last few months, we’ve seen several outlets report on the seemingly alarming decrease in search terms year-over-year in the WordPress space. But does it matter that the specific search terms are decreasing (sometimes marginally) even as WordPress and WooCommerce usage reach new heights. While well-meaning, I don't think these reports solve the problem they think they're solving.

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Episode Transcript

Hello. And welcome to WP Review, a show that provides analysis on what's happening in WordPress and what it means for users and business owners in the ecosystem. I also tell you about helpful tools to build better WordPress websites. This podcast is brought to you by GoDaddy Pro. You'll hear about them later in the episode. My name is Joe Casabona. Now let's get on with the review. Hello. Hello. It is the second, I guess, third week in September. It's the second full week in September. And, there's been a lot of news since the last episode. First of all, WordPress 5.9 gets a proposed scope. This is going to be a major push towards full site editing, plus a new default theme as is the custom in the last release of the year. There's good coverage as usual over on the WordPress Tavern, or WPTavern. And so there are a few things that are underway. But we'll hopefully make it into WordPress 5.9, which should be released to the general public on December 14th. So blocks and intrinsic web design, navigation menus, and interface for theme.json, redefining editing flows for block themes, a new default theme, an additional design tools. There are also a few things being considered for the roadmap, but they may not be ready in time. Pattern, insertion and creation, I think that's a big one. That's one that I've been talking about for a long time. I think we should make it easy for people to create block patterns, not just reusable blocks. Unzip and Rollback, fail safe PHP unit tests and improved compatibility with PHP 8.0 and 8.1. Now, the proposed timeline for this makes the Go No-Go date for features, October 12th. Beta one releases a little bit more than a month after that on November 16th and then releases to the general public as I said on December 14th. So, what does this mean for the general WordPress space? Well, we are probably going to be in that typical crunch time again where a major release is coming out around the holidays. Beta one is released about a week before Thanksgiving here in the United States. And the official release is slated to come out about 10 days before Christmas here in the United States. Though, I guess Christmas is a little bit more global than the United States. And likely that will be accompanied by a State of the Word somewhere around there as well. Although I guess WordPress WordCamp US is back on October 1st so we're probably getting a State of the Word in a couple of weeks as this record. So my recommendation, follow this closely. I'll be following it closely and reporting here. The new developments, especially what the result of the Go No-Go is. And start testing with beta when it comes out in November. I think there are a lot of great features, full site editing. Obviously a big push we want to while the core team wants to get that as polished as possible to get it out or a lot of it out this year. Because next year is supposed to start phase three, which is the more collaborative tools of the block editor. Tthe Google doc, Google drive, as collaboration tools. So we'll see what happens. In the meantime, lots of themes are kind of doing their own stuff. Again, I'm a big fan of Kadence. Blocksy is doing some cool things. So keep an eye out for that. Before we get to the, probably the biggest news of the week, I do want to mention over on the [make.wordpress.org] site the applications for in-person WordCamps have started again. There are updated guidelines. So, gosh. I hope I pronounce this name, right? Rocio Valdivia. Sorry if I'm saying that just completely incorrectly. But they have a post on the [make.wordpress] blog about the guidelines being updated. So, I'll just read this verbatim. I'll also link to it in the show notes over at [wpreview.io]. The WordPress community team is not expecting or acquiring local organizations or local organizers to organize in-person events for only fully vaccinated people. We’re simply removing the barrier to doing so under one of these two sets of conditions: If…here's the first set of conditions. Local public health authorities say people can gather in-person and your region passes the in-person safety check as outlined by the community team. I'll reference that in a second, then go ahead and hold in-person WordCamps, following the local health guidelines. So what is the safety check? The safety check, it looks like people who are fully vaccinated or recently tested negative or recently recovered from COVID where recently is within the next last three months. And then there's a visual representation of the safety checks. So the public health authority permits in-person gatherings. Does your region pass in-person safety checks? Yes, organize in-person meet up for anyone. If no, because there's limited vaccine access and limited testing access, organize online meetups if your region does not pass the in-person safety check. But vaccines are fully available and testing is freely available to all to organize in-person meetups for people who are vaccinated, recently tested negative or recently recovered. So that's the first set of criteria. Local public health authorities say people can gather in-person, your region passes the in-person safety checks, you can hold WordCamps. The second set of conditions. Local public health authorities say people can gather in-person and your region doesn't pass in-person safety checks, but vaccines or COVID tests are available for anyone who wants one in your region. So additional guidelines, pre pandemic meetup communities can organize a WordCamp without the requirement of organizing several events the previous month. The new guideline would only apply to a local community's first WordCamp, post pandemic, and brand new communities will be asked to organize meetups instead of a WordCamp right away. So if you started a WordPress meetup during the pandemic, you'll have to organize meetups first before a WordCamp. WordCamps need to be prepared to raise 100% of the expenses for the WordCamps, because the global sponsorship program for 2021 does not currently include WordCamps. The conversation for global sponsorships in 2022 has begun. So that's a really interesting one because one of the big benefits of organizing a WordCamp through the WordPress foundation or the WordCamp foundation, whatever the official sort of nonprofit, profit, organization is. One of the big benefits is you have that big safety net. Now you've got to do your due diligence. The foundation has to do their due diligence. But if you come up short, the foundation has your back. Thanks to the global sponsorship program. So probably if you're a bigger WordCamp, like New York city where the expenses are just outrageous, you may have a hard time, right? Raising a hundred percent of the expenses. If you have a small close knit community where, you know, I think WordCamp Scranton only costs us, I think it costs us like 5,000, $6,000 back in 2015, you could probably raise that if you're well connected or you have a few good community based organizations. So I'll link this in case you didn't like my recitation of it. But it looks like under some fairly strict conditions, we could have in-person WordCamps for this year. Of course, for this year is three months. Right. It's September. So we'll see. Okay. And the biggest news of the week is MailChimp is planning to be acquired by Intuit. I think this is really important. The acquisition hasn't happened yet. Intuit announced its intention to buy MailChimp. MailChimp has agreed. But again, I'm sure there's a bunch of due diligence. So there's a link to an announcement by the co-founder and CEO. But you know, the promise here is like MailChimp understanding small businesses is embedded in Intuit's DNA, which affirms his Benz belief that this is the right next step for MailChimp, their employees, and their customers. Intuit is a mission driven global financial technology platform that enables small and mid-sized businesses to prosper. So combining that with Intuit's AI driven expert platform will allow them to create products and services. That's all customers' biggest challenges. They plan to deliver innovation, you know, blah-blah-blah, right while their ownership will change once the trend action closes, which they expect to happen prior to the end of Intuit’s second quarter of fiscal 2022, the platform will stay MailChimp through and through. The same user friendly products and tools, the same resources and support, and the same brand. The goal of all these things is to get even better as part of Intuit. And in the meantime, you'll have the customer experience you've come to expect. Now, saying nothing changes when nothing's going to change when you do an acquisition, raises a lot of red flags, right? Because the parent company is not buying MailChimp for no reason. And they're probably not buying MailChimp for the customers or the talent. Because by the way, I don't think I said this and it's not here in the announcement. But the price is 12 billion with a B dollars. Intuit, to buy MailChimp for 12 billion, with a B dollars in cash and stock, according to CNBC. Surely they could hire some developers or spend way less than that to get new customers. So they're doing this to add to their portfolio of small business tools. And I understand a lot of people are probably worried because they maybe hate Intuit. People feel very strongly about QuickBooks. I am generally not. I try not to poo poo acquisitions right away. The last one, the last major one that happen in the WordPress space was Yoast being purchased by Bluehost's parent company, which is Endurance, which has a terrible track record. But again, we'll see what happens, right. Lots of acquisitions are happening lately. I don't use MailChimp. I use ConvertKit. I stopped using MailChimp a while ago. I felt like I outgrew them. I happily pay for ConvertKit. Nobody thinks that the tool that they know and love is going to be acquired. But for the right offer, you know, I'm not going to say, I don't think Nathan Barry will never sell ConvertKit. It's just not something. It's not a thing you can guarantee, especially if you take investor money, which I don't know if they did. I don't know if MailChimp did. But when you take investor money, or you have seed money, generally it's either exit or go public, right. So sell or go public so that investors can make a good return on their investment. So we'll see what happens. $12 billion is a lot of money. A lot of money. So obviously the value for Intuit is there. They could probably integrate it into their suite of products. I use QuickBooks. I really like QuickBooks. I recently jumped ship from fresh books to go to QuickBooks. My accountant likes that a lot better. And it has more of the things I need. So I don't, I mean, I don't see how MailChimp can integrate there. But I'm not the top brass. So we'll see. ‘ Okay. Now, the main segment for today is related to some of these WordPress search stats we've been seeing. But before that, I do want to tell you about this episode and this show's entire sponsor. This entire show sponsor, I should say. And that's GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro is an experience tailored specifically to the needs of web designers and developers and helps them more efficiently manage their work and deliver results for their clients by combining website, client and project management. GoDaddy Pro is an integrated solution made by and for web professionals. Whether you're new to web design or looking to grow your business, you'll find the tools, products, and guidance, and support to help you deliver results for your clients. At the heart of GoDaddy Pro is the hub. From one intuitive dashboard, the hub seamlessly brings your sites, clients, and projects together. Manage and monitor all of your client's WordPress websites from a single place. No more juggling multiple client passwords. With one click, perform bulk updates, backups and security checks no matter where your clients' sites are hosted. You will save time and free up your day. Integrated project management makes it easier to keep track of your client communications and deliver projects on time, electronically sign, notarize, and store documents. You can create a visual timeline to break down projects into smaller tasks and stay on track and on time. Access all your client accounts with a single sign-on through their tailored shopping experience by products that help clients grow their business like powerful ecommerce stores using Woocommerce. And you can always reach dedicated, and knowledgeable customers from our customer support 24/7. On top of that, you'll find a thriving community of web designers and developers who share advice, insights and learning opportunities. GoDaddy Pro, here's the most wild part, GoDaddy Pro is free to join. Head over to [go.me/wpreview] to get started. That's [go.me/wpreview]. Thanks so much to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring this and every episode of WP review. Okay. So the main segment this week are all of the WordPress search stats really that interesting? Let me tell you a story. When my sink was leaking water into the cabinet below, I had no idea what to do. I didn't even know the questions to ask. So I just Googled ‘leaky faucet’. I found some pop culture references, but also I found some YouTube videos. I tried with those videos recommended. I made it worse because that is how every home improvement project goes for me. And then I went to Home Depot twice. The first time, the guy just looked at me holding a faucet and said, I probably need an O-ring. And then when I went again, I said, “Hey, I didn't get any help last time. I need a little more help than o-ring.” And they told me that Moen was good for replacement parts. So I Googled Moen O-ring. I searched for the Moen O-ring on Amazon and I ordered some random parts that didn't fit. Nothing worked. I tried this every weekend for four weekends. So four weeks went by. It turns out we didn't know the problem was unfixable until we got two quotes from two different professionals who both said the same thing. Yet, this happens. Sometimes, you need a new faucet. Maybe if I had known a bit more about how faucets worked, I would have known what to look for and I wouldn't have spent four weeks trying to fix a leaky faucet. But what does this have to do With WordPress search stats? Well, over the last few months, we've seen several outlets report on a seemingly alarming decrease in search terms year over year in the WordPress space. One was the Post Status report about the decline in WordPress plugin searches. And the other is one that came out this week over at Ellipsis titled ‘What will the future of WordPress searches look like after COVID-19?’ I will link to both of those reports in the show notes over at wpreview.io. Now this report, this study by Ellipsis is incredibly in depth and it looks to be well-researched. I mean, they even spoke to a statistician at Oxford. They spoke to a statistician at Oxford. But much like every article that takes a short term snapshot of data, or maybe even some that take long-term views. But these articles that take a short-term snapshot of data without looking at a ton of other mitigating factors. Well, it's easy to back in to the story you want to tell. The article concludes with a survey that they provided, or they hosted that had a non-state statistically significant number of respondents. Though the actual number isn't made public. And then they say everything is fine before pitching their service at the end to market your WordPress business. And I'm not saying this because they're not entitled to do that. I'm not even saying this because the rest of the article was bad. But it does take a little bit of credibility away from the article because you're positioning it as COVID-19 was a crazy time. Let's look at some search stats year over year. It looks like we're seeing a dip in the market. But we asked some people we're not going to tell you how many, and they're all really optimistic about their business. So you should buy our service to market your WordPress services. So what's the point of all that data? What's the point of this article if we're going to take the optimistic approach of it wasn't just a giant pitch to sell their services? If search stats are momentarily down, but WordPress usage is up and it is, and has been going up for years, and every survey response. Again, we don't know how many survey responses there are, but if every survey response is at least somewhat confident, somewhat too very confident in the WordPress ecosystem who were exercising like this for? Who's the target audience? I'm not a statistician. And I haven't worked at an agency for years now. But I'm not convinced studies like these are asking the right questions. As more people start to use WordPress, there could be a few other factors that contribute to the decline of certain WordPress related search terms. For example, more WordPress website owners are relying on professionals. They've hired to answer the questions they have instead of searching for specific tools to do it themselves. Or more likely, people that are getting into WordPress and WooCommerce now don't know the specific WordPress terms and those people are doing the searches. Remember, I had no idea how to fix my leaky faucet or even where to start. I just knew that water was dripping into the cabinet below my sink. It's possible, even likely that the people using WordPress and WooCommerce to power their online businesses don't know how to search for Elementor, search WP, or Yoast. Instead they're searching drag and drop websites, or better website search tools, or how do I SEO my WordPress? If they're even searching for WordPress at all. So what's really the answer to questions like this when we look at search stats to see if it's an indicator of where the ecosystem and the market is going? The answer is to serve your customers by answering the questions they're asking, not by looking at the solutions that you already know exist. There's always fear when a landscape appears to be changing. Just look at the blow back from the block editor. People like what they're familiar with. And if there's fear that WordPress, whatever stats are down, they want their fears to be swagging. So these articles say, look, fewer people are searching for your plugin, but there are still businesses making money. So be cool. Right. But here's the thing. People will always need a roof over their heads. Even if the tools to build the roof change. Heck, even if the fundamental definition of roof changes, people will still need something to protect them from the elements. Similarly, customers will always have problems in need of solving. Even if that solution changes over time. All right. Let's wrap up this show with a recommendation. Now, I mentioned this last time, but now we are very close to the event. The 2021 WP MRR Virtual Summit is just under five days away as this episode comes out. It's an online conference 100% focused on actively helping as many people as possible responsively achieve their monthly recurring revenue goals. There are lots of great speakers. I've got to speak to the organizers a little bit in Slack and things like that. And it looks like it's going to be just an absolutely fantastic event. So check it out. You can find that over at [wpmrr.com]. Sign up for free. It's a free event. Likely, thanks to the fantastic sponsors of the event. And the last thing I want to mention before signing off here is my master full site editing course, and more broadly, [creatorcourses.com]. I'm reworking the memberships over there, the creator crew. And I'm really going to focus on well, creators, and how creators can more efficiently make better content, and grow their audience. And WordPress is going to be an integral part of that. So if you're interested in directly supporting my efforts to put on this show to create more tutorials and free content over on YouTube as well as some members only content, check it out over at [creatorcourses.com/join]. You can sign up monthly, quarterly, or annually. And you'll save a bit if you sign up annually. So thanks so much for listening to WP Review. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope the main segment was great. I hope you took something away from it. To get even more WordPress insights and to subscribe to the show, head over to [wpreview.io/subscribe]. You can find all of the show notes over at [wpreview.io]. And if you liked this episode, share it with a friend. Let them know. Hey, maybe focus less on the marginal difference in search volume and focus more on serving your clients. Thanks to GoDaddy Pro for sponsoring. Until next time. I'm Joe Casabona, and I'll see you out there.

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