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, 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 (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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