How to Fix the YouTube Subscribe Widget

I am currently updating my WordPress sites to add security certificates to each one. Secure sites offer enhanced protection to users submitting personal information and browsers like Google’s Chrome are now showing a red warning icon in the address bar if your site is unsecured.

A secured site’s address begins with https as opposed to http. Given Google’s concern with cybersecurity, I think it is fair to assume that over the months and years to come, unsecured sites will lose traffic and search engine position as well.

Any experienced WordPress developer should know how to update your site to make it secured. In addition to buying and installing a security certificate on your hosting server, you will also need to update internal links to point to the https version of pages on your site.

You will also find that many WordPress plugins will no longer work once you convert from unsecured to secured. Over time, this situation will resolve itself as plugin developers offer updates but there are some very useful plugins out there that can still be used if you are willing to make a couple of minor changes.

One plugin that I use on many of my sites is called the YouTube Subscribe widget plugin. I use this plugin as a sidebar widget to encourage visitors to subscribe to my YouTube channel. You can see this widget in action on the right side of my site https://www.meetalisting.com, just below the contact form.

This plugin was authored by Milena Dimitrova back in 2013 and hasn’t been updated, but it does what I need it to do for the time being.

However, when you update to secured site status, the plugin will disappear – this is because the php code in the plugin references the http version of your YouTube page as opposed to the https version.

The fix is simple but, as always, back up your site and any file you intend to modify so you can restore any original files if you make a mistake:

  1. Access the back end of your site using an FTP program.
  2. Navigate to the wp-content/plugins directory and find the subdirectory called “youtube-subscribe-widget” and double click on it.
  3. Look for the file named youtube-subscribe.php and transfer it by FTP to your computer.
  4. Using a text editor like Notepad or Notepad ++, open the youtube-subscribe.php file and search for all instances of http:. You will find at least 3 – one is a link to flatrocktech.com (the developer’s website) and 2 others reference YouTube. Change all http links to https and save the php file.
  5. Upload the modified youtube-subscribe.php file back into the youtube-subscribe-widget subdirectory.

Once the plugin has been “fixed,” your YouTube channel button and link will work as it did originally.

One other tip about using this plugin – as configured, you can only use in one widget location. In other words, you can use it on the page sidebar but not on the posts sidebar or home page sidebar.

The workaround to this problem is simple:

  1. install the widget to a sidebar and confirm that it is appearing as it should.
  2. Next, use the “reveal code” or “view page source” function of your browser to show the back end code for your site.
  3. Move a blank text widget to your sidebar (or where you want the YouTube graphic and link to show).
  4. Search the code for “Youtube” and you will find the code generated by the plugin. Copy the lines of code beginning with <div id=youtube” and ending with </div> and paste this code into a text widget. Make sure that the code references your YouTube channel name.

When I have time I will look for a more robust and updated YouTube channel widget but in the meantime, this old plugin is now functional.

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Never Lose Access to Your Domain or Hosting Accounts

Although just about every small business has a website, most small business owners choose to outsource the development and management of their Internet presence.

Even if you choose to outsource everything, there are two items that you must keep current:

  1. your domain registration information
  2. your hosting company information

Let’s discuss each. [click to continue…]

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Return Receipt Email Utility for Gmail

Recently I have been testing a return receipt email utility called YesWare, which integrates with Gmail.   When installed, YesWare adds a small toolbar to the top of your Gmail inbox and a small toolbar to the bottom of any outgoing mail you may compose.  The outgoing email compose bar gives you the option of checking a box to track your email open status.

When you send an email with tracking enabled, you  get a popup notification that your email was opened.  This information can also be found in a dropdown (“events”) in the inbox toolbar.

I find this utility useful when I email clients or prospects – at a minimum you can tell how quickly a recipient will respond to you and you can identify prospects who may not use email much or cases where your email got sent to a spam folder.

Currently YesWare offers a free plan where you get 100 tracking events per month. $10 per month gets you unlimited tracking and some additional features, and $20 per month adds mail merge features and delayed sending.

YesWare email tracking utility

 

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Create Attractive Buttons for Your Site

Recently I was working on a site for which I needed buttons.  These buttons were to be used in a sidebar widget – in this case red buttons that looked like this:

meetfaq

You would think this would be an easy task to accomplish, and my first thought was to go to Fiverr.com and get these buttons created for $5 each.   It occurred to me, however, that this task ought to be simple enough that I could do it myself.   I work with a wonderful Fiverr designer in Indonesia but because of the time difference, the turnaround time is 8 to 10 hours.

I started looking around and I discovered that it was difficult to find online button makers.   I did find sites like BestCSSButtonGenerator.com and ButtonMaker which create attractive buttons but they create CSS files that you have to upload.  The CSS component allows you to choose different looks when a user hovers over the button and after a visitor has already visited.   These are neat features but not essential to my needs.   In any case, I prefer not to mess with the CSS files in my WordPress installs so I kept looking.

Another interesting concept is DaButtonFactory.  Here, you create a button that is hosted on DaButtonFactory’s servers and you simply link to the URL.    The problem with this approach, of course, is that if DaButtonFactory.com goes dark or if they suddenly decide to start charging for hosting all those buttons, I would have a problem.

Enter the online button generator at http://jirox.net/AsButtonGen.  This appears to be a site hosted in Japan, although you can choose an English display.  The interface is a little clunky but it is fairly easy to pick up and it generates nice and small .png buttons.

Until something better comes along, this is my “go to” button maker.

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Hardening Your WordPress Install

Recently I installed a very useful plugin on most of my WordPress sites called Wordfence.  Wordfence offers both a free and a paid version.  The free version is quite robust, although the paid version does unlock a number of useful features.  Both the free and the paid version do a nice job at blocking the most common types of hacking attempts and, if you wish, the plugin will email you when someone tries to penetrate your site.

The Wordfence emails are interesting in that they reveal what hackers are trying to do.  In my case, I previously maintained dozens of WordPress installs on the same IP address (not a good idea, and I have fixed this).  There are numerous tools out there that anyone can use to identify all web sites – WordPress or otherwise – on any IP address, so if you own or manage multiple sites and use the same login name and password, once one site is penetrated, they could all be at risk. [click to continue…]

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How to Solve a “Fatal Error: Allowed Memory Size Exhausted” Problem

You can add some incredible functionality to WordPress by installing plug-ins.  If you run a quick Google search you will find where WordPress power users have posted lists of “essential” plug-ins.

The law of conservation of energy being what it is, however, you give up speed as you add more plug-ins.  As a rule, a site running 10 plug-ins will be faster and more stable than a site running 25 plug-ins.

In addition, some plug-ins do not play well together, and, worse, some plug-ins are poorly coded and will hog resources.  For example, there is a really useful plugin called Broken Link checker, but activated using certain configurations can really slow your site down. [click to continue…]

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Adding Driving Directions to Your Website or Blog

Are you trying to figure out how to add driving directions to your website or blog?  If you Google “embed code for driving directions” you will see several results for a Google Gadget that is supposed to do this, but currently, the gadget does not work and no code is generated.

I needed to add driving directions to one of my sites so I dug around and found code that works.  [click to continue…]

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How to Preserve Your Site Rankings if You Convert to WordPress

Several years ago, before WordPress was a mainstream content management option, I used an HTML authoring program called NetObjects Fusion to create my websites.  NetObjects was and is a great tool for creating websites – I find it much easier to use than Dreamweaver and it is much more robust and full featured than many of the free web page editors on the market.

NetObjects also has the advantage of not being widely used in the United States, although it has a large user base in Germany.  This means that there are a large number of themes out there for designers.

As good as NetObjects has been, however, it is not a web based solution.  Over the past few years, most web designers have moved to web based content management software like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.  WordPress, in particular, has evolved into a very robust solution that is accessible to non-techies and techies alike. [click to continue…]

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Solution to Disappearing Visual Editor

WordPress has become ubiquitous in the online world because it is readily available and because both paid staff and unpaid volunteers constantly work  to update the software.  Many of the updates are released to address security concerns and it is wise to keep your WordPress install current.

Similarly, WordPress theme designers regularly update their software as well.  There are literally hundreds of free and paid themes out there – because I publish multiple sites, I made the decision several years ago to standardize on two robust theme frameworks – Thesis and Genesis.   A framework adds functionality to the basic WordPress install, while child themes or skins designed for the framework give a site its unique look and feel.   This site is built on Thesis 2.x and the Pearsonified skin.   You can view a Genesis framework site with a child theme at ssdAnswers.com.

As these updates have been released, however, I began to see a recurring problem – my visual site editor stopped working. [click to continue…]

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Marketing Tip: Don’t Insult Your Prospect

the birdThis morning I received a direct mail promotion addressed to me at my law firm from an ad rep at one of Atlanta’s largest media companies (they own Atlanta’s main daily newspaper, a several radio stations and a network TV station).  Proving once again that size and financial strength do not convey intelligence, the direct mail piece began as follows:

Mr. Jonathan Ginsberg:

A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.  Let me suggest that this well-known adage pertains to legal marketing as well….

I don’t know what the rest of the letter said because I stopped reading.   If I was in the market for TV, radio or newspaper space, I don’t know that I would want to do business with an ad rep who managed to both insult me and to condescend to me in one sentence.

What does this bozo know about me or my business and who is he to tell me that I am a fool, or that I am such a simpleton that I cannot possibly succeed without his help?  I wonder (but I think I know) how much of his own money this fool has risked in an advertising campaign. [click to continue…]

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