Are Website Uptime Monitoring Services Reliable?

uptime-monitor
Example of downtime email notification.

When your website is down you miss out on sales and make a poor first impression. Oh, and it’s bad for SEO. Never fear–it’s easy to get notifications when your site is down. And if your webhost sucks, you can switch to a better host. (See previous post re: the best managed WordPress hosts. Spoiler alert: Free migrations!)

I’ll blab specifically about Uptime Robot below, because it’s the uptime service with which I’m most familiar, but I’m not endorsing anybody here. There are several other similar website monitoring services: Pingdom, StatusCake, and if you’re on WordPress, JetPack offers monitoring. …There are others, too.

The competitors are all more or less the same; they’ll send you an email when your website goes down, and then again when it comes back up. These services are almost always free for basic use. Extra features most people don’t need cost a little. Note: Pingdom does not have a free tier.

But how accurate are the outage notifications?

Sometimes not very. But it’s easy-ish to fix.

When I sent my host a note about outage notices from Uptime Robot, my host had this to say:

“We’ve been getting more complaints specifically from uptimerobot users. There are literally just that many people using their service so at times it triggers a throttle because the checks come from identical IP addresses, often across many sites at the same time. We’ll look into updating IP ranges in our firewall.”

Since that exchange about 14 months ago, notices about alleged outages have almost disappeared.

What causes website monitoring false positives & how do I fix it?

When Uptime Robot (or one of its competitors) checks to see if a site is up/down, it’s actually checking many sites on each of the big hosts. Those pings can easily be misconstrued as a malicious DDOS attack. Hosts try to stop DDOS attacks, which might inadvertently cause your monitoring service to show your site as offline.

I’ve worked for and owned parts of web hosting companies a couple times in my life and can appreciate how hard it must be to choreograph the careful dance between security and being able to automate measuring uptime. That said, a good host can balance the two.

If you’re getting an inordinate number of “Monitor is DOWN:” emails from Uptime Robot, I recommend you start a discussion with your host to see if they have anything to say about the alleged outages.

If your host claims they’re just false positives, tell your host to update the IP ranges in their firewall to allow for reasonable pinging from Uptime Robot’s IP addresses.  If they’re unwilling to do that, find another host.


 

Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO. And apparently hosting, too. He knows enough about hosting to know better than to own a host for a third time. His favorite number is 867-5309.

WordPress Managed Hosting Comparison

A good host and webmaster grease the SEO wheels. One of my clients is with ProntoMarketing. They’re awful. I loathe working with them. (Pronto, not the client.) I more or less told them, “It’s them or me.” Rather than leave a great client in the lurch like the prima donna I sometimes aspire to be, I’m helping them look at managed WordPress hosting options. If you’re impatient, you can just skip to the chart.

Pronto Marketing Sucks

What’s wrong with Pronto? I won’t dig into the abysmal non-hosting side of Pronto Marketing here; that hole’s too deep and dank. But even if their other aspects were acceptable, their hosting platform isn’t.

Pronto hosts all of their clients on a single multisite WordPress install. Both ssh and sftp access are therefore off the table for all of their clients. So there are things you or your web team can’t do. Conveniently, Pronto’s business model includes access to an expensive, on-demand team of unqualified non-experts to do things for you! …I spent far more time checking and correcting Pronto’s work than if I and my team did it ourselves.  Enough about them. (Edit: Well, Pronto got worse. I’ll add more about that at the end, if you’re interested.)

Comparing Managed WordPress Hosts – Which Ones?

wordpress-hosting-comparison
Teaser of the managed hosting comparison spreadsheet. Click to go straight to it.

Sure, my corybantic contender counts when comparing rank tracking vendors and choosing the best tap tremolo pedal were perhaps excessive, but not this time; I kept it simple. Here are the four contenders and why I picked them.

WordPress.com – They’re the oddball in the field. Owned by Automattic and more tightly controlled than other options. Not to be confused with WordPress.org, the self-hosted version of WordPress. (This blog is hosted on WordPress.com, and I’ve been impressed with their services, SLA, etc.)

WPEngine – Probably top-mind or near it when most people think of managed WordPress hosting. I worked in their platform several years ago when I worked with the Baynote digital team.

Pressable – They don’t tout it much, probably to avoid complaints from their other host partners, but Automattic owns a majority stake in Pressable. If that’s not and endorsement, I don’t know what is.

BigScoots – Who? Yeah. Not a big name. But I host 99% of my sites with them. After EIG bought and destroyed yet another host I used, I spent a good chunk of time finding BigScoots. I don’t use their managed WordPress hosting, but I’ve been nothing but impressed by their other services.

“What is managed WordPress hosting?” (My Criteria)

My expectations of a manged WP host are that they’ll largely or wholly take care of:

  • Security
  • Core WordPress updates
  • Plugin updates
  • Speed and other infrastructure concerns
  • Backups
  • Providing full access to the CMS
  • Giving me back-rubs and making coffee

How is managed hosting different from other hosting options?

Most sites use unmanaged hosting. You might hear the phrases: shared hosting, dedicated hosting, or even virtual dedicated hosting tossed around; any of those could be managed hosting, or unmanaged. The “management” part pertains only to a higher level of support and services. But don’t be fooled by worthless, free add-ons to lower-tier shared hosting. Like Abraham Lincoln used to say, “extra chaff and turd-polishing doesn’t managed hosting make.”

Spreadsheet Comparing WPEngine, WordPress.com, BigScoots, and Pressable

This isn’t exhaustive. I.e. your criteria might be different than mine. And there are definitely other players in this space (Kinsta’s name pops up a lot.)

Here it is – a chart comparing several of the best managed WordPress hosts.

Want a narrative of the findings?

I won’t deprecate any contenders; I think most sites would be fine hosting with any of them. But two stand out in positive ways which may or may not matter to you.

BigScoots and Pressable both offer tangibles the others don’t:

  • more domain/site capacity (in case you want to host more sites)
  • more free migration of existing sites
  • control over whether or not you auto-update plugins

BigScoots adds:

  • the only one with full ssh/ftp access (which might not matter, really)
  • the only one with email (you have to use a third party for others, which is advisable, anyhow. GSuite FTW!)
  • …but costs more.

Pressable:

  • Is the cheapest

Pressable and WordPress.com:

  • are owned by WordPress’ parent company, which might be worth something?

WordPress.com:

  • The biggest hurdle here is their migration cost. It’s not unreasonable, but it’s not competitive with other migration options.
  • There are several notes in the spreadsheet for WordPress.com, not b/c they’re worse, but b/c their biz model is different than others.

WPEngine:

  • Migration cost is unknown. E.g. What if their plugin fails on a customized theme? Do I have to pay somebody hourly?
  • Some of the notes in the spreadsheet for WPEngine will likely turn more positive as they continue to roll out new services.
  • …but WPEngine is the most expensive

Adendum: Pronto Marketing is Worse than I Thought

Yikes. When trying to move away from Pronto, one needs to rebuild the site, almost completely. If you haven’t been with Pronto for at least a year, they seemingly won’t part with any of your data. If you’re lucky (??) to have been with Pronto for at least twelve months, they’ll give you some data, but they won’t give you your theme, nor will they let you use many of the several dozens of plugins they used on your site. It’s a mess. The first quote to rebuild the site to work on Pressable came in at 80 hours @ $65/hr. Friends don’t let friends use Pronto.


 

Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO and makes noise in several bands. He enjoys sketching, films, games, beer, and hanging with his hot triathaloner-doctor-wife. He plans to turn his front yard into a two-hole miniature golf course with a dragon sculpture.

SEO Writing 101

 

 

Google is like Pinocchio; they both want to seem more human.

pinocchio touching his nose

Write well.

That’s what Google wants you to do. Because that’s what your human audience wants too.

Become an expert on something and share well written content about that something.

But people (and Google) care about more than the naked content of a piece; we also care about its presentation. Is it easy to skim for quick grokking? Is it easy to categorize? Is it easy to find on your site? And so on.

Imagine this article without headlines. No paragraphs. No images.

Images are worth some amount of words. Right? Especially if we mark them up well with alt attributes and avoid web-image mistakes.  If nothing else, an image might make your page look better and/or encourage readers to linger longer.

Good headlines help human and robot readers quickly understand what’s in a document. Sub-headlines break up long sections of otherwise more-boring-looking text with contextual cues about what follows.

Link to relevant related content on your own site with good anchor text. Good intralinking strategy will help Google and readers learn more about you/your topic.

Invisible-ish bits are important too. (Because they’re not invisible to Google.) Learn how to write and use great titles and meta descriptions. Learn about microdata and some specific ways obscure bits of markup can help you succeed in Google.

Maybe those last two links are more “SEO 201” than SEO 101.

What else can I do for great SEO?

Plenty. UX plays a big part in SEO. Tune your website so it’s fast. Remove hurdles between visitors and the prize at the end of the tunnel. (Shorten the tunnel?) Run multivariate tests to figure out what works. Stay relevant. Integrate your social efforts with SEO and otherwise encourage people to connect with you and your excellent website. Backlinks are key.

And if you’re serious about ranking well for important keywords, your first foot forward is good keyword research. Yes. Keyword research. Those last two keyword research articles are almost a decade old. Don’t bother reading them. They’re there to underscore that “Stay relevant.” note.

…Some say video is the future of SEO. Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to optimize video SEO, too.

Good luck.


Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO for small large businesses, large small businesses, and non-profits. He doesn’t love working with large large businesses because he likes to quickly affect change. Is it ironic that those with the deepest pockets are often the slowest? Maybe. Final note: Do as I say, not as I do; there are way too many links in this blog post!

Google My Business Posts – What are they? How to? Why? Etc.

Is it too much of a pain in the ass/expense to keep adding timely content to your website or blog? Or do you already do that and you’re looking for a way to up your SEO game without trying too much? I know it was just half a year ago, while showing you how to automate Google My Business posts that I said I wouldn’t go into more detail about GMB posts, but when I find myself typing an email to a client, and I think I’ll type the same thing again later, I’ve been trying to turn those into blog posts.

Google My Business posts are a good, easy way to give Google a signal that you’re alive and well. While there’s little empirical evidence suggesting GMB posts do or do not directly affect SEO, (difficult to measure,) Google encourages them, and we want to keep Google happy, so…

What are Google My Business posts?

example of a Google My Business post
An example of a Google My Business post

GMB posts are short missives (no minimum length, maximum 1,500 characters, or approximately 250 words) published directly to Google Search and Maps. By creating GMB posts, you can place your timely text, video, or photo content in front of potential clients when they find your business listing on Google.

Posts can be about events, offers or specials, product updates, news or announcements. Many service related businesses (like law firms with no events/specials/products) will have to get a little creative while sticking to the latter. #FakeNews?

What makes a great GMB post?

Google has plenty to say on that. So just read their take, instead of what some guy on the internet says. That guy has this to add: Don’t get too caught up in great posts. I think giving a regular, crappy signal is better than giving a sporadic showing of greatness with long lulls of nothingness.

How to do a GMB post

To create a Google My Business post, follow these steps. (Click that link!) …Or, read the post I wrote a while ago about how to automate your GMB posts. (Click link in first blog post paragraph, above.)

That’s it.

…Says the guy who’s never done a GMB post of his own. I do them for clients. I don’t plan to get clients from GMB. That said, I do engage with a couple new clients every year. Let’s hookup? Thanks for reading.

 


Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO. He makes noise in synthband.com, icurd.com, and Gurtrudestein. He is a fan of the Oxford comma and he volunteers for a few causes, including: campaign finance reform, urban arts, and the right to die.

Answered: How do I get an image next to my site’s Google SERP listing?

Astute searchers have increasingly noted Google SERPs adding images next to regular organic listings, especially in mobile search. Here are a couple examples:

 

 

I want an image next to my Google results, too!

Business image thumbnails like these are one example of what Google calls SERP enhancements. It’s important to remember that Google will do what they want to do. Nothing will guarantee an image with your listing, but you can do a few things to nudge Google toward that goal.

1. Check your Google My Business listing

Add several good images to your GMB listing, and don’t forget to add a profile photo and logo. Google sometimes uses data and assets from biz listings to enhance other, related listings. Give them something good to work with.

2. Use link tags and Open Graph meta tags to suggest a thumbnail image

Meta tags let you share information about your page with other sites. Link tags allow you to define interrelationships between assets. Various social networks use this markup to auto-set images when you share a URL, and maybe Google will use it as a signal for what image to slot next to your organic SERP listing. You can do it with either or both of these snippets:

<link rel=”image_src” href=”https://www.foo.bar/imgs/foobar.png" />

And/or

<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://www.foo.bar/imgs/foobar.png ” />

3. Google Custom Search markup

Google Custom Search allows you to adapt and configure Google for searching your own site, and the image thumbnail syntax for it is concise. Does Google use it or ignore it for regular SERPs? We don’t know. But it’s easy, so it’s another option. There are two different markup options:

<meta name=”thumbnail” content=”http://example/foo.jpg ” />

Or put a PageMap DataObject in the area. …Don’t know what the latter is? Just do the meta tag!

4. Use structured data to get an image next to your listing

This section should have been the lead, but it’s more dense, and I didn’t want to scare you off. Structured data, specifically, using bits of microdata or tags defined by schema.org, is arguably the best way to help Google understand your intentions. So why not tell them about image-enhanced SERP options with it? I’m not going to go into excruciating detail about syntax and best practices here. It’s easy to find plenty of resources about microdata best practices and schema implementation if you use a little Google-fu.

I will highlight these points:

  • Google likes it in JSON-LD, but Microdata or RDFa will work for big-G, in a pinch.
  • Definitely use markup for relevant data types available to an “organization” and a “local business”, including but not limited to “image”.
  • If you have products, specify product images and other product meta data in the code for those pages.
  • Remember to add markup for your logo in addition to your other images.
  • And when in doubt, always defer to Google’s structured data guidelines.

5. General image best practices on your site

Use good alt attributes.

Name images sensibly. (img1.jpg = nonsense. [something-descriptive].jpg = sensible)

Size images appropriately. Don’t upload huge images (dimensions or file size) unless you have a good reason. Definitely take dimensions into consideration when you’re specifying a potential SERP thumbnail enhancement. E.g. don’t make them smaller than 160p x 90p or larger than 1920×1080. Oh, and don’t use images with weird (long or tall) aspect ratios. Stick close to square, or typical TV/film aspect ratios of the past and present, at least when you’re thinking about SERP thumbnails.

Make Google’s indexing job easier, and they’ll (likely) make your SEO life easier, eventually.

Two end notes:

  • Anybody telling you to use rel=author to accomplish this sort of image-enhanced SERP listing hasn’t figured out that it’s deprecated. Just ask Google.
  • None of the above methods are guaranteed to work, but they’re about as good as it gets. If Google doesn’t love your site for some reason, you might not get an image next to your listings. Oh, and if you do get your image next to some SERP listings but not others, don’t be surprised; that’s exactly what will happen, if you’re lucky.

Good luck!

 


Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and loves running multivariate UX tests for his clients. He also helps businesses optimize certain aspects of HR (hiring/firing/training/software UX/etc.) Check out some of his improv noise at synthband.com.

I’m a fan of the Joyo American Sound effect pedal. (JF-14)

joyoamericansound“American Sound reproduces the sound of a Fender 57 Deluxe amp, which performs great from clean, driven, and everywhere in between.” So says Joyo.

I can’t argue with that. Here’s my review.

It’s a good amp emulator/cab simulator. Up until a few days ago I had three reasons for my American Sound love affair:

  • I can put it toward the end of a pedal board (before reverb!) and then patch the board straight to the JamHub (basically a mixer) and get good, amp-ish sound without an amp.
  • Costs about $28 including shipping (Try eBay.)
  • Lots of tone options from tube-ish clean to crunchy drive. 3-band EQ. Etc.

But I found a new reason to like the JF-14.

I had my Electro-Faustus Drone Thing plugged into one of my American Sound-equipped pedal boards last week and noticed that the Drone Thing’s usually very responsive (Read: danger of clipping) volume knob wasn’t doing much. Was it broken? Then, after some fiddling I realized that the American Sound was acting as a hard limiter of sorts.

It didn’t matter how I turned knobs on any pedal before it in the signal chain; the output level coming from the Drone Thing/pedal board remained fairly consistent. No more clipping.

I already had two American Sound pedals. I bought a third.

American Sound with a mic?

I’m contemplating running a microphone through one to see what happens. I don’t have enough compressor channels for every mic, and the JamHub’s recordings sometimes skip when a singer is pegging a mic into the red. These pedals are way cheaper (and easier to operate) than a compressor, but I’m concerned about going from the more desirable balanced XLR to the high impedance quarter-inch. Hmmm.

Potential Caveats

I haven’t tested to see exactly how stringent the American Sound’s limiting is. That might matter, sometimes. E.g if you want to use a pedal earlier in the chain to significantly boost for a loud section, or to subdue a quieter part of a song. …Too much compression will limit dynamics.

I’ll whip out the db meter and get some figures. Eventually.

My Only (major-ish) Complaint

This pedal’s labeling/layout could easily get it a mention on /r/crappydesign. “AMERSOUNDICAN”? Who thought that looked good? Knob labels in a cutesy font, ALLCAPS, slanting this way and that isn’t helpful or legible either.

Joyo American Sound To-Do List

  1. Test with microphone (DONE: see comments)
  2. Test limits of, um, it’s limiter (DONE: see comments)
  3. New paint job (DONE: see below)
  4. Keep making noise (IN PROGRESS)

Thanks for reading.

IMG_0339


Dan Dreifort reviews effect pedals, blogs about UX, SEO, petty infosec, and other stuff. He’s a fan of San Diego noise collective Synth Band Dot Com.

New Pedal – JHS Kill Gaze!

JHS Kill Gays Pedal
Another classic shoegaze sound-mangler from JHS!

Great new JHS shoegaze guitar effects pedal. Dial it in using five different controls over the Kill Gaze.

Ah… Just kidding. Though JHS did sell a Shoegazer mod, they didn’t actually make the JHS Kill Gaze pedal. It’s pure parody. I’ll clarify early on that I’m not insinuating JHS wants to kill gays. Nor does its founder (we think). But as fellow members of my election issues group know, I like to follow the money.

I was going to provide several links to details of how and why many sensible people are opposed to JHS Pedals because they say JHS Pedals founder Joshua Heath Scott long-attended services at and helped fund an evangelical Christian hate group (IHOPKC) allegedly one of the many responsible for spreading anti-homosexual hate in the USA, Uganda, and elsewhere in Africa. Hate that, like Yoda says, leads to the murders of countless innocent people.

But you can Google about JHS and homosexuality on your own time. Or not.

There’s no denying Joshua Heath Scott’s (former?) church is staunchly anti-gay; the pastor unequivocally blames LGBTQ for opening portals to the demonic realm, amongst other not-very-love-thy-neighbory bits.

Is it OK to patronize companies if their principal officers are associated with hate?

Companies associated with would-be sheep like Josh H Scott will not get my money, lest they keep giving theirs to the wolves of the “Christian” army somewhat effectively outlawing homosexuality and other LGBTQ stuff in Africa and elsewhere. These are not Jesusy actions. Not even close. Even an accusation of queerness can lead to murder, whether it’s state-sanctioned or “Christian” mob justice.

JHS Kill Gaze Pedal - custom shop design
Hand-painted limited edition Kill Gaze. Sure, it costs a little more, but it helps to quickly convey how you feel about the gaze.

I won’t put a JHS pedal on my pedal boards. If you gave me a JHS pedal, I’d scrap it for parts and make something new. (Oh yeah, some people also say that JHS steals other pedal company’s ideas. If you care – I don’t – I’ll let you look into that on your own.)

So, what grinds my gears? Plenty. But close to the top of the list is veiled, hateful monsters masquerading as Christians (or as adherents of any religion). I know many great, loving Christians. How do I know they’re Christians? Not just because they say they are. Because they also act way more like Jesus than the next fella. They care about the poor. They see past borders. They love regardless of skin tone. They would never give their money if they thought for even a second that it would lead to hurting innocent people in the name of God, or otherwise. If they found they were supporting a hateful group by mistake, they’d renounce it. Coincidentally, that describes plenty of non-Christians too. You know: non-assholes.

JHS pedals should endeavor to convince would-be customers that proceeds from JHS pedal purchases won’t go toward hate groups. Unfortunately, founder Josh Scott gets some of those proceeds and he has a history of associating with hateful groups, so, good luck with that.

jhs-fb-msg-A friend on fb sent a note to Josh today asking him why he hasn’t publicly renounced IHOPKC’s very public anti-gay propaganda. I’ll let you know what he says, and modify this post accordingly. …Hopefully, considerably. I truly hope he’s the good guy he says he is. But without renouncing his connections to those who preach gay=demon, I don’t believe it.

 

 

.


Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO. When he’s not doing that, he jazzes it up in synthband.com, scares kids and normies in gurtrudestein.com, and stretches boundaries (of decency) in icurd.com. Though he earned a degree in pre-theology, he is an irreligious, recovering, fundamentalist Unitarian Universalist. His mother is Jewish, so that makes Dan Jewish, to some. #religion

Tap Tremolo Pedal Comparison/Guide

 

Updated for 2019. When this UX snob of a pedal junkie caught the tremolo bug, he started referring to himself in the third person and made a spreadsheet comparing 30+ different tap tremolo pedals. …Then he blogged about it.

If you’re lazy or impatient, use these links to skip to a juicier section of the tremolo pedal roundup. But keep in mind: my trem criteria, while not so odd, might not be the same as yours. Spoiler alert: I initially got the EHX Super Pulsar, but found reasons to replace it with the superior Swindler Effects Red Mountain V2. Couldn’t be happier.

  1. What is tremolo?
  2. My tremolo criteria
  3. Other tap tempo trem features to consider
  4. Results: Best tap tremolo pedals
  5. The 30 tap tempo tremolo shootout chart

Quick Intro: Different types of tremolo?

Tremolo, in the classical sense, is a rhythmic wavering of a note. E.g. like that produced by a violinist rapidly shaking the bow hand. But then some doofus decided to call the electric guitar vibrato system “tremolo,” a misnomer which caused a few generations of guitar wankers to not understand what tremolo means. (“Whammy bar” is a much better name for guitar vibrato, anyhow).

In the effect pedal sense, which is why we’re all here, there are two main types of tremolo.

Amplitude tremolo changes the volume of the signal at a specified speed and depth. From abrupt on-off-on-off square-wave chop, to a subtle waveform barely imparting a warble, and everything between.

Harmonic tremolo chops the signal in half, treble (high pitches) and bass (low-end), and modulates them out of phase with each other. …Which is to say, it’s more of a tonal wobbling.

All of the pedals in this tremolo pedal roundup can do amplitude tremolo; only a few of them can also do harmonic tremolo. So if you’re stuck on a harmonic tap trem, your choice is much easier. Me? I got the Swindler Red Mountain V2 in part because it is dual-mode. I like it both ways. 😉

Tap Tempo Trem Criteria

First I thought I wanted a tremolo pedal with the ability to control the tremolo speed via an expression pedal, but I quickly realized that easy, onboard tap tempo was more important. As I dug deeper, I found other things I cared about. You likely have at least slightly different tremolo criteria.

To be considered a contender for my tremolo affections, a pedal has to have all of these features:

  • Dedicated, onboard tap
    Pedals with dual-purpose tap buttons aren’t welcome here. TC Electronic Pipeline Tap Tremolo and Line 6 Tap Tremolo both use tap buttons for other commonly used tasks. Sure, it allows for a smaller pedal footprint, but usability suffers.

Tap tremolo pedals relying solely on an external tap button or expression pedal were similarly nixed. (Entries from: Moog, Strymon, Supro, Earthquaker Devices, and Source Audio)

And the Ernie Ball Expression Tremolo pedal also fails to make the cut, but it’s an expression pedal form factor, so if that’s your thing, check it out. Oh, and Matthews Effects The Conductor v2 loses here because they inexplicably put the tap right next to other controls. …I don’t want to stomp on a knob. With the Conductor, you probably will.

  • Dotted subdivision/interval (or a way to fake it)
    Sometimes it’s fun to do rhythmic things that don’t fall on a downbeat, an upbeat, or the “and” between them. Enter the dotted eighth note tremolo subdivision.

Scant few tremolo pedals have native dotted divisions. (See the spreadsheet. First link in this post, above).

We can bend most other tap trem pedals to our dotted whimsies by setting the div to “triplet” and then tapping half-time. (On the one and three, instead of on all four beats).  …Which is good enough for me, in a pinch.

But a scant few candidates failed completely here, e.g. the Fulltone Supa-Trem2 and the otherwise lauded Zvex Sonar.

  • Volume knob
    People often mention a perceived drop in volume when using amplitude tremolo. Most candidates use some sort of clean boost/gain knob to counter that.

But the Dedalo Tres Tap Tremolo Pedal does not have a volume knob.

  • Dedicated rate and div knobs
    The fewer different parameters a knob is responsible for, the smoother the user experience. Effect pedal UX is especially important for me because I often have friends using pedals, and I loathe doing technical support when I could be making noise with people.

Several high-profile tap trem pedals fail here by combining rate and div into one knob. …And I can’t even fathom that “saving space” was a real concern, because they then need to add another controller to switch the function of the rate/div knob. If you’re always going to use it one way or the other, then you might not care about this. But I sometimes use my pedal boards for noise projects, and lazy me can’t be bothered to deal with the design shortcomings of: Empress Tremolo 2, Seymour Duncan Shapeshifter, Copilot Polypus, et al.

  • Easy access to shape shifting
    Want to go from a mellow sine wave to a mad-blinky square chop, on the fly? Me too!

This is another place the Zvex Sonar doesn’t shine; it can only change wave shapes via hidden controls. I.e. you have to hold down a “shift” button and use a knob for this unlabeled purpose.

  • Reasonable power requirements
    Almost every trem pedal passed the bar here, but the Stone Deaf Tremotron fails twofold.

It requires a whopping 300ma of power and their website claims it’s picky about voltage. They say it doesn’t work with a Truetone 1 Spot power supply. …One of the most popular, high-amperage 9v power supplies. No thanks.

  • Other UX concerns
    Many features on the Chase Bliss Gravitas Tremolo pedal require flipping the pedal around to toggle one of its umpteen dip switches.

E.g. you have to pick between having access to subdivisions 1,2,4 OR 3,6,8 via a dip switch. Want to go from harmonic to amplitude mode? Yep. Dipswitch. Etc. Yes, you can sort of work around this using presets and/or midi, but that’s not what I’m looking for in tremolo UX.

  • Availability
    As of initial publication, two pedals on the list are lingering in development hell. The Luma Trueno and Coda Effects Montagne bot look great, but they’re both still preorder only. Some pedals (Waves, Semaphore) are discontinued and hard to come by. Not going to seriously contemplate something I probably can’t get.

Please note: As I eliminated pedals from contention via the criteria above, I usually stopped gathering data for the chaff. So there are several holes in the tap tempo pedal chart. (Send me a note if you want to add any data).

Other Tremolo Pedal Features to Consider

The features above were all chopping blocks for my decision process. The trem options below are added bonuses, frosting on the cake.

  • Tap once to re-sync
    I don’t know if I’d use it, but being able to synchronize the pedal to the downbeat of the “1” might come in handy.
  • External tap jack
    Maybe you want your trem high on the back of your pedal board, but want the tap tempo button easily mashable down in front.
  • Expression pedal jack
    Some control one parameter, some pedals can map an expression pedal to control one of many functions. Some can control many at once.
  • Rhythms or patterns
    A few trem mix it up with stock patterns. Some let you create and store your own. Some even have step sequencer-like controls of each beat with dedicated knobs.
  • Harmonic trem
    Want to switch from amplitude to harmonic mode, and back? No problem, for a few tremolo pedals out there.
  • Hold a button for added functionality
    Some tremolo pedals emulate a Leslie speaker brake when you hold down the tap button. Others use the tap tempo momentary switch as a kill switch or div-doubler when you hold it down. Some trem pedals turn the on/off switch into a momentary on-switch when held. Others still, use these pedals for saved preset controls.
  • Other features?
    Yep. Some trems have tone control knobs. Want to skew waveform symmetry? There’s a pedal or two for you. Dedicated space/duty controls? Yep. You can find that. Want to sync via VC or midi? Use your pedal as a global clock for other gear? Do you need stereo ping-ponging tremolo? Do you want built-in distortion or reverb? Yeah, well, there’s a pedal that can do that. …But it might not be able to do all the other stuff you want. #priorities

Results: The Best Tap Tremolo Pedal

Want a smaller, dual-mode, stereo tap tremolo with a great feature set?

s447163914514069377_p18_i10_w640Get the Swindler Red Mountain V2.

Pros: The best feature set in a small (less than 3″x5″) pedal enclosure. Red Mountain is the only dual-mode (harmonic and amplitude tremolo) in the roundup. It stores one preset/favorite for later recall. Stutter mode. Stereo ping-pong. Etc.

Cons: Doesn’t have any rhythm settings, so you get clasic on-off-on-off pattern. Plain-Jane white paint with black text will be pure minimalist (and UX) bliss for some, but flashy-pedalboard folk might yawn at that. You might be able to find the discontinued “Signature” model, if you’re looking for something with more color.

Silver and Bronze Medalists:

Don’t mind a huge enclosure, 15 buttons/knobs, and amplitude-trem only?

ehx super-pulsarGet the Electro-Harmonix Super Pulsar.

Pros: Features galore. Available below suggested retail on eBay. …which might hint at something?

Cons: All those features come at a cost. At almost 5″x6″, it’s considerably larger than the other tremolo pedals in this roundup, so make sure you have space on your board. Mediocre UX takes a while to learn, and longer to master.

Want simplicity, with a couple funky bonuses?

diamond-tremolo-pedal-300x300Get the Diamond TRM1 Tremolo.

Pros: It checks most requisite boxes with a couple bonus amenities (two rhythm patterns, kill switch, etc.) using only seven controls. …Which means it’s simpler than most. #UX
I liked the sound of its “chaotic” interval with a hard square waveform.

Cons: That simplicity comes at a cost. The Diamond Tremolo lacks extra features some may want: external control jacks, true dotted intervals, etc.

Tremolo Pedal Honorable Mentions

Want harmonic tremolo more than you care about other criteria?

Get the Walrus Monument or the Drolo Twin Peaks.

twinpeaks-monument-duo

I’ll preface by saying both the Monument and Twin Peaks are up here in the rarefied air because of their harmonic tremolo options. They’re both great pedals, but they don’t tick as many of my criteria boxes as the pedals above, (or as many as some that didn’t even make the cut). They do however tick enough of the right boxes so they’d both be in the runner-up section (below) even if they lacked the harmonic switch.

Pros: The Monument is the simpler layout of the two harmonic tremolo finalists. But the Twin Peaks v4 offers tone and wave symmetry controls, if you prefer those features to a less dense control panel. Both come in geologic-themed tri-color designs, perhaps a breath of artsy fresh air on your board, compared to the options above.

Cons: Both the Monument and Twin Peaks lack rhythmic patterns. Neither has native dotted subdivisions, but because both have a triplet setting, you can fake it by tapping half-time. For me, the extra knobs on the Twin Peaks are (probably) more noise than signal; I wouldn’t use them much.

The other honorable mentions in this tap tempo tremolo comparison go to…

In no particular order:

  • Wampler Latitude Deluxe
  • Cusack Tap-A-Whirl
  • Dawner Prince Starla

Even if your criteria is close to mine, you might find something about one of these to tickle your tremolo fancy. Look into them.

Many tap tremolo pedals not favorably noted in this review are great pedals beloved by countless people. I know that, and I don’t discount their quality and utility at all. They’re just not what I want in a trem. (Which is far from saying I wouldn’t use one if somebody gave me one!)

Is your tremolo pedal criteria vastly different from mine? You should check out the reddit comment thread about this tremolo roundup wherein people discuss other options. E.g. if you’re into menu-driven multi-effect options like the Modfactor, MD500, Mobius, etc.

Here’s a link to that spreadsheet again. Check it out.

spreadsheet

Thanks for reading.

.


Dan Dreifort consults on UX and SEO when he’s not making noise with pedals and friends. (Check out synthband.com?) His favorite color is pizza.

Automated Scheduling Google My Business Posts

googlemybusinesspostexample
This is Google’s default “Google My Business Post” image. Will they make me take it down? We’ll see.

I won’t tell you much about Google My Business posts and how they’re potentially great for your business, your business’s SEO and your company’s findability. Because other people have already written about that.

Instead, I’ll help you figure out how to pre-schedule several posts at once.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Google My Business allowed us to schedule future posts? Yeah. That would be nice, Dan. Until that happens, you have a few options.

In no particular order:

Yext allows users to schedule GMB posts. I have never used Yext. I don’t know exactly how much it costs, but I’ve heard rumors of $500/yr and up. I don’t know which of their plans include GMB automation, and they don’t list pricing for any of them, so, you’ll have to contact them for more info.

Sendible lets you schedule GMB posts. I haven’t used Sendible either. Sendible starts at ~$300/yr, and that includes automating your future GMB posts.

Do you use WordPress?

At least a couple WordPress plugins empower you to easily create and auto-publish Google My Business posts. I’ll highlight two of them, with the same caveat emptor: I haven’t used either of them.

WP Google My Business Auto Publish is 100% free. $0. I recommend you change the default plugin settings so that it does not publish all posts to GMB automatically. …Unless that’s something you want. (Lazy?)

Post to Google My Business is by an outfit called Tycoon Media, but that old-school-ritz name isn’t the only reason I think this one is not free. Something on their website mentioned needing their $80/yr plan to support “Post scheduling”.

I might use the gregariously named ‘WP Google My Business Auto Publish’ in the near future but I’d take a couple hours to customize and finagle things so that any GMB-WordPress post would NOT be visible on the WordPress website/blog. I just can’t wrap my head around a good, dual-purpose blog post/Google My Biz post. …They seem like two entirely different things to me, and I would squeeze that delineation out of the plugin.

Schedule Google My Business Posts Now

Anyhow, there you have it. Several decent-ish options to automate and schedule Google My Business posts. And if you’re not going to take the time to login to GMB once a week to publish a post, you should pick one.

In case you’re wondering, Hootsuite doesn’t help here. They’ve known for more than a year that Hootsuite users want GMB post automation. Hootsuite doesn’t seem to care.

 

 


Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and UX. He just joined veteran San Diego experimental-punky-prog-horror-garage-noise band Gurtrudestein, and he’s jazzed about that. …Except for the fact that if you accidentally spell it with an “e” instead of a “u” the band is invisible on Google. (Regardless of how many helper words you use). Thanks, Gertrude Stein.