Once again this weekend, I was visiting a lot of blogs and commenting on them. On three particular blogs they had the CommentLuv plugin, and on all 3 I got that stupid “Parsing JSON Error” message that I’m sure many of you who have visited blogs have received. This time I was irked, because my sometimes workaround, which is to hit the F5 key (after copying your comment in case you have to paste it back) to reset the other person’s blog, in case it’s their error, didn’t work.
Back on December 21st I warned folks about updating to the latest version of Easy Admin Color Schemes because it had been changed to work with a higher version of PHP than most of us had access to. In essence, if you updated you probably lost your blog until you went through your PHP program and deleted the program entirely.
I thought it was time for an update and a tale; yeah, there’s always a story isn’t there?
After the post went live, I was contacted by the guy who created it, James Dimick, and we talked about the issue for a bit. He eventually went back and updated the version again, changing it back so that all of us could get back to using it.
That seems like it would be a great thing, but at the time it didn’t quite work out as well as hoped. Instead of coming back to work as one might hope, it took away all color and never showed up underneath the Settings tab, since he changed it to be more of a standalone plugin than having to go under settings. I was dismayed, as I did the update on a different blog than the one I’d originally had problems with. He said he’d see what he could find, and that’s where we left off.
But y’all know me; I just can’t let things go. The first thing I did was delete the entire plugin and loaded it again, as I’d just updated it on the second blog. Lo and behold, it worked doing it that way, with the listing showing up independently under the settings area. Unfortunately, it didn’t bring back my color scheme.
That actually leads me to point number two. What I don’t think James realized, as I re-read our comments, is that I had gone in and customized all my colors to be what I wanted them to be, instead of using what came with the program. It comes with 4 color choices but I’m one of those “under the hood” guys when I can be, and I wanted different colors for each blog. Anyway, when I updated things, because he had changed things so drastically. He’d even said that if you updated and had made changes to the original program that it wouldn’t recognize any previous changes and thus would remove them.
What to do? Well, with the one where I reloaded the plugin, I went into the CSS of one of the other blogs where I’d made changes and copied that specific data into a notepad document. Then I took a shot at adding my own custom color scheme, which it allows you to do, and I pasted that code into the box, changing the coded colors to something really drastic so I could easily identify what was being changed. Once I saw that then I went and found the color codes that I really wanted to use and things look pretty good. It’s not exactly what I had before, but it’s pretty close, and the image below is what the admin area of that particular blog looks like now (click on the image, then click again when it opens elsewhere to see a larger version of the image):
So, here are the recommendations:
1. If you’ve made any color modifications at all, copy the entire code and paste it into another space; Notepad works well.
2. Totally remove the plugin you have now, then go and reload the entire thing.
3. Either paste your entire code into the “add new” area or only add in the code you actually changed before; all else will work if you don’t post everything in.
That’s about it. Thanks for changing things back James, and I hope people will continue using this plugin because overall it’s pretty neat.
More than a year ago I wrote a post titled Is Your Comment Process In Error? In that post, I talked about two things that are irksome in regards to commenting on other people’s blogs. One of those things was when people write posts and immediately close comments. The other point is still a gripe I have, that being people who have comments open, you leave a comment, and then you never hear back from those folks.
Today I’m only talking about the second one because it’s hit me that even after more than a year that there are still a lot of people who aren’t recognizing that people aren’t seeing that their comments are being responded to. This isn’t a problem like what we deal with on systems like Blogspot, WordPress.com, Typepad or many other blog services which some of you know I absolutely hate. In this case, folks don’t have anything extra on their blog such as a checkbox where we can decide if we want return messages, and the blog owners, who are being good by responding to comments, don’t know that no one is seeing those comments, hence they’ll never get any return comments from those folks.
I made an assumption that some people would add the threaded comments plugin if they had a WordPress blog, but I realized that there’s no way for me to know. I also thought about it and wondered what people that didn’t use WordPress (who could that be?) wouldn’t have access to the plugin. Finally I said “Heck, if people don’t know people aren’t getting responses, then why would they even think about it at all?”
Therefore, this is a brief educational pause to all of you that have noticed that you never, and I mean ever, get anyone to return to your post if they’ve left a comment you haven’t responded to. There’s actually one things you should be paying attention to, one thing you need to do, and I’m going to help you out right now.
The first is to ask yourself if you get email notification that someone has written a comment on your blog. If the only time you know there’s a comment is when someone writes you to tell you they left one, or you have to go to your blog and that’s when you see comments, then your comments probably aren’t working.
The second is if you’re unsure if it’s working or not, then you need to do a test. Even though I knew it was working on all my blogs, I still did a test with the last 3 blogs just to make sure. This is really simple. What you do is go onto your blog site and write a short comment on one of your posts. Sign in using a different email address than what’s associated with the site; you don’t have to put in a url because you’ll be trashing the comment pretty quickly.
You leave a comment, then check your email to see if you got notification of the comment. Whether you do or not, go into your admin panel, look at your own comment, and reply to it. You don’t have to write a lot; just write something like “test” on your original comment and your reply. Then check your email once more to see if you’ve received a response. If not, then you know that no one else has been receiving your replies either.
At that point you can either check all of your settings to see if you’ve missed something, add the plugin I’ve recommended above, or find something else that can help you monitor comments while giving people the option of receiving comments or not. This is a very proactive way of making sure people are getting your replies, and that helps build community. After all, people love knowing you cared about their comments, and if you’ve been doing that but they don’t know, it’s the same as not doing it at all.
And there you go; another blogging tip from Mitch! 😉
Man, sometimes I feel really stupid. I’ve been missing something for a long time that I’m betting some of you know, but most of you are also missing. As a matter of fact I just took a quick sample and it seems that some of you knew about this, but aren’t doing it right, and the majority don’t have it right at all. Well, that’s what I’m here for. What am I talking about?
SEO for your blog, of course; didn’t you read the title? Here’s the thing. Many people talk about proper SEO tactics for your blog and they get into talking about your content, keywords, etc. I’ve been on record in saying that it’s rare that I get into doing all that much SEO when it comes to my posts. When I write, I write, and I rarely go backwards I’ve always figured that my content will eventually speak for itself.
But I’ve missed some important concepts of SEO for my blog, something I’ve actually never paid any attention to, that suddenly hit me last night and, dagnabbit, I wanted to slap myself silly. I’ve lost 3 years on this, and now I’m ready to capture my traffic, the search engines, and watch this baby flourish! I’m going to tell you what I’ve done, then I’m going to tell you how I did it.
Yeah, yeah, I hear you, get to the point. Okay, a quick SEO lesson on how search engines begin looking through webpages. They start with the Title, which is the area at the top of your browser that says what your site is all about. If you’re going to do it properly, what you want to have at the top is what your website is about, then the name of your blog. You don’t want any “stop words” or “stop symbols”; these are things like “and”, “the”, and, well, symbols. You never start with the name of your website or blog unless it’s what your site is all about because if people already know your name then you don’t ever have to worry about titles, or even being found on search engines, to begin with.
What did mine say? It used to say “I’m Just Sharing”, which is the name of this blog. Do you think anyone was out there on the search engines searching for that? Nope. What does it say now? It says “Blogging Writing Social Media – I’m Just Sharing“. That’s what it should have said all along. Now it begins with what I mainly write about on this blog. Now the search engines will scan my title, then be able to match up my content with it; nice start.
But that’s my title page. What about all the other pages? Initially, after the first change, all my other pages said that same exact thing. Not the worst thing in the world, but it’s not proper SEO & it doesn’t always work. For instance, when I write my diabetes posts none of what’s in the title is going to help there. What shows up for each article as my Title now? Whatever the name of my post is, that’s what. That’s what I decided to go with, but one doesn’t have to stick with that. However, since for the most part my titles do indicate what I’m going to talk about (like this post, for instance), I think I’m good.
Okay, how did I make the change? By using the All In One SEO plugin, a plugin I beat up on for a couple of years until I learned how to upgrade my server to PHP 5.0 and had it suddenly start doing some of what it was supposed to do. I haven’t fully used it correctly until last night, and now it’s going to help this blog grow; I just know it will.
The first thing I did was change the Home Title to what you see above in quotation marks; that’s what now shows in the Title area. If you decide to hit Save at that point your home title will change and you’ll at least have that taken care of. But that’s not all you want to do.
The next stage, of course, is to fill in the next two boxes for your home description and keywords. Your home description should be what your blog is about, as that’s what will show up on Google if someone is searching for your topic, so either say something, like a line or two, or just type in more words, which will look kind of odd on Google as a description but hey, it’s up to you. In the keywords of course type in some of what you do. This is kind of “meta” like, which search engines don’t exactly look at anymore (actually they don’t look at it at all according to them, but go with me), but it helps the plugin do things for you that you might not want to do for yourself later on. Anyway, once you’ve done that then you need to check the box next to “Rewrite Titles”.
That’s it. Now, every one of your posts will have the title you’ve given for your post as the Title that will show at the top of the browser, the one that Google’s going to be checking out. Leave everything else there the same unless you really understand it all; everything’s pretty set, except for some of the boxes you might want to check or uncheck underneath.
For instance, I really don’t understand the concept of Canonical URLs all that much, even though I read about it, so I left that checked. Further down, I have checked to use Tags for Meta Keywords, which I’ve seen come across here and there through Google Alerts, told it to generate keywords for post pages, and told it to use noindex for my Archives, though I’ll have to think about that one a little bit more. My thought on it is that if everything else is SEO’ing itself properly it might be overkill having it coming through the Archives as well; search engines might not appreciate that too much, as it might seem spammy.
The only thing to finish talking about is when you’re actually writing your post you need to know that you have the option of overriding what you’ve told the plugin to do automatically for your title and description. I rarely change the title, though I’ve seen some people do it, but sometimes I add a specific description, otherwise Google will use the first few words of your post as the description. For someone like me that likes to introduce things in kind of a story form, that’s not the best lead-in for me all the time.
So, I’ve just helped you learn how to SEO your blog better, and trust me, it’ll go much quicker than all this stuff I just wrote. Good luck!
One day last week my blog finally crossed the top 100,000 mark per Alexa. Since I write these posts in advance, I’m not sure what it’s sitting at today, but the day after reaching that one goal it was back over 100,000 the next day; c’est la vie.
A long time ago I’d tried WP Super Cache and had nothing but problems from it, so I didn’t want to go that route again. This time I decided to try W3 Total Cache, the recommended plugin. As with all WordPress plugins, it was easy to load and activate; after that, well, easy isn’t part of the deal.
I’ll get this out of the way first; the plugin has yet to speed my blog up. I’m not going to say it’s loading slower, but I’m not seeing close the the type of results I thought I would. But I’m not sure why, and that’s my issue.
Like many other plugins, it comes with all these options of things you can do, but without any explanations of what all this stuff actually means. If you follow the link to the plugin site, you’ll see it lists all this stuff that the plugin can do; it doesn’t tell you what any of it means, or whether you should activate this or that and what the stuff that’s already checked means. I don’t consider myself a dumb guy, but sometimes this stuff is really confusing, and if it’s busting my brain then what’s it supposed to do to someone who knows nothing about technology?
I’m probably going to run it another week, and if it improves then I’ll be happy. If not, then I don’t see the point in keeping it around. Has anyone else worked with this and had really great results?
Follow up: a representative of the plugin saw this post on Twitter and sen me this link to another blog for instructions.