Homeschool Webmasters

Just another A2Z Homeschool Blogs weblog

Emulate Your Site on a Mobile Device

Posted by Ann Zeise on June 13, 2015

There is a tool on the Chrome browser that perfectly emulates mobile phones and allows you to see your site as a smartphone would.

Go to your site in Chrome, then right click your mouse. On the menu that pops up choose “inspect element”. Then look for a small rectangular icon that looks like a smartphone in portrait mode and click it. Then you can choose which smartphone you want to emulate, and if you want, can simulate it being on a 3G or 4G network to see how fast your page loads. This is a really useful tool.

(From a friend on Amazon publishers forum.)

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How to Generate and Add Favicons

Posted by Ann Zeise on June 13, 2015

Question:

I need help creating and figuring out how to place code on my WordPress blog in order for the icons to show up…

…on iPhones, iPads, Android devices, Microsoft devices, and other smart mobile devices.

Answer:

Create a square logo or other image, that will look when small or large. Start with an image that is 260 x 260 at least. It could be bigger. But it should be a simple design, because some of the favicons will be quite small. You could also do this twice with different images. Save the large, elaborate ones from one go-around, and the simple, tiny ones the next time.

Go to the site “Real Favicon Generator” and just upload your image and your domain link.

Decide where you are going to put the images. They can go at the root level, or in a root level folder directory with a name of your choice, such as “favicons.”

Follow their directions.

Exceptions: for the code in WordPress, you need to use full links: http://www.mysite.com/favicons/…. file names. So select the button that says: “My favicon files are not in the root directory of my web site.” Then put the full url where the files are going to go.

Put the links in your theme’s “child” header, or they will get lost every time you update your template.

Put the links between <head> and other code that is generated near the bottom of the header, above “wp();”

The links will look like these on my site: (I did not put the icons in a folder. I wish now I had.)

<link rel=”apple-touch-icon” sizes=”60×60″ href=”http://a2zhomeschooling.com/apple-touch-icon-60.png” />

Defining the size of the icons and which device it is for is important. As new devices come along, you can just add more links to the graphic list. I saw in one place that favicons could be generated for iWatches, but I didn’t know anyone who would try to view my site on an iWatch.

To test, go to your smart device, go to your site in your browser there, and use the little “share” icon, and select “Add to Home Screen.”

You should see the icon to the left of the link in the verification screen that pops up. Clink on “ADD” so it will be there for you to show to friends!

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How to find Amazon exits reports

Posted by Ann Zeise on August 12, 2014

How to find Amazon exits reports using Analytics and WordPress SEO Plugin

First, install this plugin into your blog.
WordPress SEO Plugin
It will also help you optimize each post as you create it, so it serves more than just this purpose.
(I am not financially involved with Yoast in anyway, other than being a pleased customer.)

Am assuming you also have Google Analytics installed.
(I do have some Google Stock in my mutual funds, but not very much. I also rely heavily on Google Adsense for income, but your use of the free Analytics most likely won’t affect me one way or the other.)

“Yoast” results show up in Analytics results to help you see what Amazon links are getting the most clicks.

In Analytics
Go into Behavior
-Site Content
–Exit Pages

Sort on “yoast-ga/outbound-article/http://www.amazon.com”

Choose the secondary dimension in the drop down menu:
-Users
–Country/Territory (or something else that interests you)

You’ll need to run this for the same date as an Amazon orders report to see what you got in orders from the visits.

Note that I use the “short link” on my site, so it is pretty easy for me to find the exits with that sort. If your links start differently, then your search would, of course, be different.

Not perfect, but a pretty good workaround.

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Writing Your Own Amazon Associate Links

Posted by Ann Zeise on December 24, 2013

This started in the General Amazon Associates forum where Don Wise and I and several others replied multiple times to a thread on building your own links. Don has taken the posts from there, expanded on them, and organized them for here.

You can and should check your links with the link checker. Any link that passes the link checker is fine to use. Do be aware that you can create a link that goes to an Amazon page, has your tag, but doesn’t pass the link checker.

There is no reason to use long links. I like my links as short as possible. I edited down links and tested if they still worked and passed the link checker.

These are examples that you can edit and use. They cover all ways to extract items from Amazon that I am aware of. Hence complete. I wish there was Boolean logic in the search, but there isn’t that I know of.

Remember to change mytagid to your tag id. (Copy this someplace and do a find-and-replace.)

Amazon’s Home Page: http://www.amazon.com/?tag=mytagid-20

Individual Item: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0778801578/?tag=mytagid-20

Link To A Comment: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2RAI8U3PWLJU3/?tag=mytagid-20

Search Within A Department. General searching has the default sort of Relevance.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search?tag=mytagid-20&index=grocery&keywords=XXX

There is an alternative more generalized format. Components of the URL can be in any order. I prefer to put the part that varies at its end.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&keywords=XXX

You have to get the correct tag in the link for the department to search in. Some departments have more than one tag that will work for that department.
Use aps (for All Product Search) for the search-alias if you don’t know the department or you want to span multiple departments. No sorting available.

You can add bestselling sort to a search, though your results will usually be flooded with extraneous hits:
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&keywords=XXX&sort=pmrank

You should use a + sign where blanks between words would be in the entered string:
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&keywords=XXX+YYY

Alternatively you can use hex %20 to replace a space. But it is longer and harder to read.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&keywords=XXX%20YYY

Sometimes you need to tighten up the search by putting double quotes around the search string. The problem is you can’t use double quotes directly in a string. Instead use hex %22. The string becomes:
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&keywords=%22XXX+YYY%22

Search By Brand. Get brand string from Amazon URL after clicking on brand link. This will default to Bestselling sort.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&field-brandtextbin=XXX

A search by Brand and String can be combined. It defaults back to Relevance sort.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&field-brandtextbin=XXX&keywords=YYY
A working example (forced to a Bestselling sort):
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&search-alias=grocery&field-brandtextbin=Colorado+Spice&keywords=spice+rubs&sort=pmrank

A Department is actually a Node. The Grocery & Gourmet Food Department has a Node Number, and the following gets the same result as the above examples, which used a department alias. (The Node for Home, Garden & Pets is 1055398.)
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&node=16310101&keywords=XXX

Link To A Bestseller List (Basic single column version with 100 item limit). A bestseller list is simply a Node.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/home-garden/289831/?tag=mytagid-20

Bestseller lists can also be displayed in search format (using b instead of s), with three products across and no limit to the number of items. (One product across when books.) I like it MUCH better.
This is also the same format that you use to Link To A Department/Category Home Page. You just need the node number.
http://www.amazon.com/b/?tag=mytagid-20&node=289831

But a book bestseller list can have over 600 items:
http://www.amazon.com/b/?tag=mytagid-20&node=4636

However, when using this style you can change the sort. There are several available. For example, to see the newest books use this:
http://www.amazon.com/b/?tag=mytagid-20&node=4636&sort=daterank

Or sorted by Avg. Customer Review:
http://www.amazon.com/b/?tag=mytagid-20&node=4636&sort=reviewrank_authority

If you want to do a search within that bestseller list, you switch to a search format (note s instead of b) giving it the node number to search within. It becomes:
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&node=289831&keywords=stainless

And you can search for a brand within a bestseller list. In this example only a single brand is shown for a specific type of knife.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&node=289857&field-brandtextbin=Wusthof

And the sort can be changed to Price: High to Low.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?tag=mytagid-20&node=289857&field-brandtextbin=Wusthof&sort=-price

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In my newest page (kitchen equipment) I have added title tags to all my links. Tool tips then display when the cursor is hovered over the link. For these Amazon links I used title tags like these:

title=”Click to go to Amazon.com Home Page”
title=”item”
title=”search”
title=”brand search”
title=”brand + search”
title=”string search”
title=”ranked search”
title=”bestsellers”

title=”outside source”
title=”outside vendor”
title=”reference page”

If you would like to see examples of these in use, go here:
http://paleofoodmall.com/
http://paleofood.com/kitchen-equipment.htm

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Changing Cover Graphic in Neo Yahoo Groups

Posted by Ann Zeise on October 4, 2013

So you are upset that your Yahoo Group for your homeschool group in Florida has a header with those cute Victorian houses that are in San Francisco…How do you replace that Yahoo Group header cover graphic with one of your own?

Here’s one of my groups, Homeschool Webmasters, where I quickly created a new header today.

I am assuming, first, that you have enough “power” in the group to make such an edit. Here is how to test: When you are logged into your Yahoo group as owner or moderator, run your cursor over the right side of the current header. About 1″ down and over from the top right corner a small window will appear that offers “Change Cover.”

If you not see that popup, you need to have the owner give you the power to moderate and make such a change. Don’t bother with the rest of the work until you have that permission, unless you are preparing the cover for a graphics-challenged owner.

To quickly get a colorful background for your header, this kind person has uploaded a series of correctly proportioned rectangles to use.

She put put them on the public “Yahoo Groups Neo” wiki that Shal set up.

The set of images includes white, black, yellow, orange, red, pink, green, and blue-green. All tested on a Yahoo group. Because Yahoo automatically shades the lower portion of lighter images (to provide contrast for the group name that is overlaid in white on the image) — the darker, plain images work better. Here’s one you can grab (right click) if you just want the size quickly.
Pink Neo Cover

1. Go to the wiki (you do not need to be a member of the PBWiki system) http://yahoogroupedia.pbworks.com/
2. Click the “Pages & Files” tab at the top left.
3. Enter “cover” in the search window at the upper right to list them all.
4. Hover over any file name to see a thumbnail image showing the color. A “More” button appears toward the right.
5. Click “More” then click “Download.” A copy will land in whatever folder you have your browser set for saving downloads.

Another way to do this would be to crop a photo or graphic in the proportions 408 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall. Yahoo will expand this graphic to 1020×250, so you may want to just start out with that dimension to avoid that bit-map look.

Make sure the lower left of the photo is dark and uncluttered, as that is where your group name, in white, will appear. Yahoo will shade the graphic from top to bottom, so this is not an effect you need to do yourself.

If you don’t have a digital photo of your own to use, which is advised, then search on “public domain photos” and in a topic of your choice. See if anything comes up that you like.

If you want to use a photo of your group, and the faces are identifiable, make sure you have everyone’s WRITTEN permission to use their photo. You never know who may have a stalker or is in witness protection or has some other reason to avoid having their photo online.

Okay. So now you have the graphic and it is cropped in the right proportions, and saved where you know where to find it on your computer.

Return to your group in your administrator ID, and roll your cursor over the right side again, and this time when you get the offer to change cover, take them up on it. Navigate to your saved graphic and choose it.

And if you really just plain HATE the way Yahoo Groups Neo looks and works, consider moving your group over here on A2ZHomeschool.com. Once you are a registered site member, you just click on the “Groups” tab, and in the new window, select the pink button that says “Create a Group.” Groups can be public or private. With public groups you can use the RSS feed to display group activity elsewhere. (Yahoo Groups has disabled that feature.) Public groups can be read by anyone, but to participate, someone would have to join the site and your group.

by Ann Zeise

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How to Get Fewer Spam Comments

Posted by Ann Zeise on July 11, 2012

Hi there Ann, hope you are keeping well! Just wanted to let you know I am being utterly inundated with Spam comments on many of my posts – is there anyway I can stop this??
Kind regards,
Jenny

Hi Jenny,

You have set up comments to be moderated, right?

It is fairly easy to eliminate a whole bunch at one time. In the ”Pending” check the ”Author” box and then under ”Bulk Actions” mark them all as spam.

Now, to prevent as many FUTURE spammers in the comments, in your Dashboard, Settings, Discussion Settings, you can set what happens in your comments.

Under ”Other comment settings” may I suggest you at least check the first three. This means people will have to be a ”member” of your blog to participate in commenting. All this does is make it too time consuming for spammers. You see this sort of ”membership required” on lots of blog and news sites. You can’t just ”walk in” and comment, but have to ”join” the site.

Friends can be allowed ”free rein” to comment if you approve their first comment. See the section ”Before a comment appears” – You don’t have to approve EVERY comment, but may require that the comment author have a previously approved comment.

If you feel 14 days is too long or short a period of time for commenting, that number can be changed.

If you are getting a lot of spam comments with a certain topic, you can add those words to the comment blacklist.

See if that helps.

Ann Zeise

That’s excellent Ann! Thanks for the help as always.

Best wishes,
Jenny

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How to Build a Successful Blog in 12 Months

Posted by Ann Zeise on April 26, 2012

It is possible to build a blog site here and have some financial independence in about a year. But it does take work. This is a get rich slowly sort of business.

A) Content. Get some content ready to go before you even start building the blog. Go back through emails you have sent and posts you have made, and gather together any you feel were particularly clever. When you have 50 or more you are ready to start.

B) Domain name. The advice used to be to make it unique and brandable. Think “Google” and “YouTube.” Made up words. Though your url here will be a2zhomeschool.com/MyWonderfulBlog, someday you may want us to help you move the blog to its own domain. We are quite willing to help you move the site within our own server, and all the widgets and template you used can go with it. So plan for that day.

C) Site Design. We give you a leg up by offering a good number of templates. Don’t worry if you don’t like the main graphic. It is fairly easy to replace it with one of your own images. As you test out various templates, your content stays in the database. The search engines already love this site. Simple is Cool!

D) Pages. Keep pages and posts fairly small. Divide long content into page 2, 3, etc.

E) Keep Building Content. First two-three months put up 5 pages of content a week. Keep some way of jotting down content ideas with you at all times. Leave voice messages or text messages to yourself when the muse hits.

F) Use Keyword in the Title. I’ve seen blog titles that try to be “cute.” But no one ever searches on cute. Make sure your post and page titles truly reflect what the content of the page is about, and in terms ordinary people would use in search. Spell check your new article.

G) Linking Out. On each page or post, link to a couple of high ranking sites for the keyword you are focusing on. Use the keyword in the linked text.

H) Internal Links. Link between posts and pages on your site. Refer a reader to other resources you have on your site on a similar topic. WordPress can automate some of this if you carefully create parent-child relationships between pages, or carefully tag posts and place them in categories. But at least give a reader two other blog posts directly linked from any one post.

I) Hide Until Ready, then Publish. You can hide you whole blog until it is ready for public viewing. Think of this like getting ready for a big event. You hide out in your bathroom and bedroom until you are sure you look great, and then you come down to meet your date. You can still invite a few beta testers in to see your blog and try it out, then give you feedback.

J) Analytics. You need to know what your community really likes, where they enter and where they go and read before they leave. Here on A2Z we offer Google Analytics. It is free, and well worth it.

K) Put Your Blog Online. Now you are ready to uncheck the “Hide” button and go public. You are not just letting people in, but also spiders. Google is already well aware of this blog site, so your posts and pages will be showing up in Google almost instantly. If you have done the work above, you’ll start getting traffic. Check the Analytics to check that the spiders are visiting every page.

L) Market to Topic Directories. Your blog will show up in A2ZHomeschool search, but you may also want a “hard” link. Contact me, and help me make my job easy by telling me which of my pages best suits your topic. Personally email other large homeschool directory sites.

M) Social Networks. Create personal accounts and blog topic pages in at least Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter. This line will age, and new social outlets will arise. You will be using the social networks to gain traffic. You may connect your posts here to go directly to your Facebook page, and Facebook page posts can be set to feed into Twitter. You can thus spread the word fast.

N) Routinely Add Content. Get into a routine of adding content several times a week. Not that you can’t break the routine should the muse strike, but keep digging through that topic list I talked about in “E.”

O) Create Eye Catchers. Use lots of subheaders and bullet lists, as readers often scan a page to see if it has what they need, and though you page may be perfect, if the information is buried in long text blocks, they won’t find it. Note how easy it is to scan this page.

P) Avoid Gimmicks. Stay clear of fads. Stay clear of anything that appears spammy or unethical. Avoid hyperbole – gross over-exageration.

Q) Requests for Link Backs. If the request seems reasonable, take a look at the site. Try the navigation and see if the internal pages are of high quality. Any site you link to your site should meet your standards. Some times I have to tell a webmaster to make a request when they have added more content or fix bad errors.

R) Building Community. Build conversations around your site. Here you can create a BuddyPress Group, if you’d like. What gets written here, stays here. We don’t recommend friends. You need to invite your own. Allow comments, but be sure to moderate them. Allow some through you don’t agree with, and then respond to those comments, good or bad.

S) Avoid Being a Flyer. A blog is not the same as a printed flyer or brochure. Static information is boring. If you need a static page, say, for your contact information, just put all that stuff off on the “About Us” page. Visitors are coming to your blog to see how you can help them with their concerns.

T) Gather Ideas for More Content. Buy books and subscribe to magazines in your topic. Grow an outline of critical topics you simply must have on your site for credibility. You don’t have to have it all in your first month, but by the end of your first year, you should have just about ever major concern addressed somewhere.

U) Study the Analytic Reports. This is the main way you will be able to find out what topics your visitors are looking for. Build more pages and posts on those topics. Change the titles of some pages to better reflect the search terms used by real visitors. Changing the title will not change the URL.

V) Continue to Market. You’ve been building good content, but few seem to be coming to read it. Give others the ability to “Like” your blog via Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. We have a social networking tool available here to add to your blog. AddThis also has buttons to add to your site. I think visitors are expecting to find ways of passing along information to their friends.

W) Read the News. Are there any news stories that can be made into a post on your site? The day after the 2004 tsunami I created a tsunami unit study, complete with lots of free resources for parents and teachers, and several children’s books on the topic. It went viral, sometimes beating the big news sites on the keyword “tsunami.” No one else had prepared any such a way to explain this to children.

X) Split up Long Pages. If a page is more than two scrolls long, consider moving some of the subheaded sections to their own page, linked to from the original page.

Y) Hunt for Sticky Partners. These people have some sort of game or other feature that people want to check every day. Do they have a widget to make this function on your blog, too?

Z) Start to Make Money. Yes, this is last. You aren’t going to make more than pocket change until you reach around 100,000 pages views a month. You’ve been watching your Analytics, so you’ll know when traffic volume will start earning income. Now is the time to add Adsense ads and Amazon affiliate links and appropriate other advertisements to your blog. Google spiders have enough content to know what your site is about, and so can serve appropriate ads. You’ll begin to see which books and other items your community is willing to buy: they’ve been talking about them in your group and on Facebook, etc. You’ll be getting offers of new books from authors. Accept their offers, read and review the book, and then have a contest to give away the book.

by Ann Zeise

Posted in Daily General Posts | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

How to Add an YouTube Video to a Blog Post

Posted by Ann Zeise on March 26, 2012

This is so simple, and can be thought to be so complicated!

In “Visual” mode, just give an individual line to the full URL you’ve copied above the YouTube video you want to post.

The link will look something like this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oropJD0CUxI&feature=player_embedded …without the dots.

You will not be able to see the video until you publish. You will need to look in Preview mode or the actual Published post.

Here’s the video when given a link on its own line:

If you want to give special settings to the link, such as a special size (The plain one adjusts to the width of your column usually.) or whether or not suggested videos are given at the end of the video, you’ll need to customize the link and use shortcode.

You can also just use the little YouTube icon above in Visual Mode, adding the url there. The advantage in this method is you can set a default width and height for your template so that all videos you enter are the same dimensions.

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Making Amazon Links

Posted by Ann Zeise on March 15, 2012

I shall assume you first have an Amazon associate account, and have been given an ID to use.

On the Amazon site, in a separate tab or window, locate the item you wish to recommend.

You may be in visual mode to make this link in your blog post or page.

COPY PASTE the title of the book or the text you wish to be linked into your post.

Select that text.

Click on the little “chain” icon. A new window will pop up.

In the URL field put:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN/?tag=YourID-20
Change “ASIN” to the 10-digit ASIN number you find for the item up in the link for that page in Amazon. It will be right after “/dp/” like this one: B007JF8YPC
http://www.amazon.com/aluminum-snowboards-polymer-contact-lenses/dp/B007JF8YPC/
Change “Your-ID-20” to the ID Amazon gave to you.

If you don’t mind the link being rather long, you could also use:
http://www.amazon.com/aluminum-snowboards-polymer-contact-lenses/dp/B007JF8YPC/?tag=YourID-20
Make sure you do not forget the “?”!

The “Title” can be the title of the item, or any information you wish to pop up when a visitor scrolls over your link. You may not put in the price, per Amazon’s Terms of Service, but you may want to reiterate the title, the author, and maybe date published, and a brief review, such as for the sample item: “Perfect for children with lots of questions!” You can always go back in and change it.

I am not in anyway affiliated with Amazon any longer. You make all the money from Amazon that you are capable of making. Be sure to read all the documentation so you have an overview of the terms and what you may and may not do.

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Keep Titles Simple

Posted by Ann Zeise on March 15, 2012

When making titles for your blog and blog posts it is best to keep titles on the SHORT SIDE and WITHOUT any special characters until you save the first time.

The first time you save it will set the url for you. Then you can edit the title to your desired text.

If your blog title runs over and looks awful, you either need to shorten it or find a template that will accommodate a long title. For this blog, I looked for a template where I could create my own long title in a graphic of a specific width and height.

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