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-Updating Your Site: No ‘Broken Links’ but Plenty of ‘Bad’ Ones

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404 No Longer Here!

You may not have any broken links on your site but that doesn’t mean you don’t have some ‘bad’ ones. I have posted before on the importance of cleaning up and eliminating any broken links since search engines like Google downgrade or penalize sites which have them. But links from past articles can give you problems in other ways by taking your readers to places you never originally intended or worse, where you would never want to go as a Christian site.

The other day the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin working on my site told me that I had over a thousand links and none of them were broken. Nevertheless, when I checked in on a supposedly successful ‘world evangelism’ site that I had posted on 5 years ago I ended up being re-directed to a porno page. Right then I decided that it was time to check all of my past articles and links. A daunting task since I have been posting on this blog for over 8 years and have written over 300 articles in that time.

In the process I flushed 17 whole articles on stuff that no longer existed and eliminated more than 20 links along with re-directing quite a few others. That amazing plugin I posted on 5 years ago is not so much anymore, and that ‘free’ blogging host is no longer even in existence. This is what I found out and should have known all along.

The Internet is in flux and constantly changing with new sites and apps going up every day along with old blogs and programs constantly going out of existence and disappearing. Meanwhile the domains may still be active but the destinations may be nothing like the originals you linked to and many times nothing but link farms or domain seller sites like GoDaddy. In some cases, the original site or author might still be there but the articles or stuff you linked to is now at a different address and it takes a little research to find them.

Here’s an easy place to start. Check out your old ‘blog roll’ if you still even have one. You may be surprised to find that some of those blogs and sites that were so  ‘great’ a few years ago are now inactive or no longer there.             *Top

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-Is Your Site ‘Mobile Friendly’?

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Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.

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Google’s Mobile Friendly Test site

Here’s a link to Google’s test site to see if your website or blog is ‘mobile friendly.’ Enter your ‘URL’ and find out where you stand in a minute or less.

Why It is Important

According to Google, there are now more mobile devices using the Internet than computers worldwide. On April 21, 2015, Google’s new algorithm began taking ‘mobile-friendliness’ into consideration in ranking sites and producing search results. So traffic to your site could definitely be affected.

WordPress Plugins

For those of you who are using WordPress there are several plugins that can help you become mobile friendly including one in ‘Jetpack’. The one I am using on all of my sites is the free version of the WPtouch Mobile Plugin. All of my sites passed the test so it actually works. Here’s a link to their page. If you get this plugin or if you are already using it, it is very important to update and properly configure. After the last update I discovered that the plugin was set to call up my ‘About’ page by default rather than the ‘Home’ page with all of my posts.

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-Blocking Offensive ADs and Setting Up an ‘AD Disclaimer’

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Google_Adsense_logo

This is for all of you bloggers who have woken up one morning and discovered an offensive ad generated by Google AdSense on your site. If this hasn’t happened to you then you are either new or you haven’t monetized your website with AdSense or something like it that generates ads on your site that are ‘supposed’ to target and compliment the content.

What to Do With Offensive Ads

Some site publishers are content merely put an ‘ad disclaimer’ right above each spot where the AdSense ads appear or a general ‘Ad Disclaimer’ somewhere on the website (which I favor and we will explore later in this post). Some will say that the best way to get rid of them entirely is take AdSense off of your blog and set up affiliate ads that really do compliment your content. This I have done to a greater degree lately. However, I have found that AdSense is still a valuable tool in monetizing sites with only moderate to low daily traffic. So most of all, I just want to get rid of offending ads once and for all by blocking them from my sites.

AdSense has made it easy to block any advertising that you find offensive once you discover the address. That is the rub sometimes, since it violates your agreement with Google to merely click through the ad on your own site. However, on a number of occasions I was able to find the offending ad on another blog and click through for the address.

While some ads list the address on the illustration itself most do not. Sometimes you can find a clue to the address by hovering over the ad. But the most offensive of all seem intent on hiding their destination with impossibly long assorted numbers, letters, and dashes that are no help at all in determining its final resting place. Sometimes it takes a little Internet research to find and block a truly offending ad.

The most effective method that I have found to determine a ‘hard to find’ ad address is to ‘google’ it’s message. If you find it offensive others will also and there will be comments about those very same ads all over the web. Recently I had an ad showing a scantily dressed woman implying that she helps men over 40 break their wedding vows (on my Bible Study site). I ‘googled’ the message and found out that I wasn’t the only Christian site that was plagued by that offensive ad. One Christian discussion site had the actual address listed in order to protest. One more ad on my ‘do not go’ blocked out forever list.

Setting Up an ‘AD Disclaimer’

Regardless of the type of advertising showing up on a site, I believe that it is important to have some kind of ‘Ad Disclaimer’ appearing on every page with ads or at least a link to an ‘Ad Disclaimer’ page. I also believe that it is important to give the readers a contact link in order to alert or complain about any offensive ads showing on your site. 

I have seen tasteful disclaimers at the bottom of a page or even in a sidebar. I really do not like those which protest their own monetizing by placing the disclaimers (e.g.: “Ads are not necessarily endorsed by this site”) right above or below the ads themselves. It seems rather disingenuous to me even if they are effective.

Recently I set up an ‘AD Disclaimer’ page on everyone of my websites. A link to the ‘Ad Disclaimer’ is displayed at the top of every page included in the template of all individual posts and articles. See the ‘Ad Disclaimer’ link at the very top of this page. If you click on the link the following message appears:

AD Disclaimer

Re: Offensive ADs Appearing On This Site

Please be Aware: The publisher of Blogging Ministry does not necessarily support the advertising showing up on this blog generated by Google’s AdSense program. It does help to pay for some of our website expenses but sometimes the ads are offensive and diametrically opposed to the Christian message promoted on this site.

As much as possible we take the time to block ads that are particularly troublesome but we can’t seem to get rid of all of them since new ones show up all of the time. Please bare with us on this issue.

If you see an ad on our site that is particularly offensive please alert us as soon as possible:

Click Here: To Contact Us by email

This is similar to the ‘Ad Disclaimer’ page that I have placed a link to at the top of all of my sites. Meanwhile, I will continue to be vigilant in keeping offensive ads off my site and at least now my readers have an opportunity to sound the alarm and comment on any offensive ads still falling through the cracks.           *Top

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-National Day of Prayer 2015

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Today (May 7, 2015) is the official U.S. National Day of prayer. Please remember to pray for our nation. Here’s a link to the official website with prayer suggestions.

National Prayer 2015 :

Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You. Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word. We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You. Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope. Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts. In Jesus’ name, our Savior. Amen.

– 2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham  (Audio –  download)

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-Stop Wasting Your Reader’s Time

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BLOG IDEAS

       (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

Copyblogger is one of the best and most informative blogs on the Internet. It’s a good place to turn for suggestions on improving one’s writing and blogging experience.

Here’s an good article that explores some common blogging mistakes that end up wasting the valuable time of readers looking for good and useful content:

11 Common Blogging Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Audience’s Time

From the article:

Quick question: Do you know anyone who doesn’t suffer from information overload? …

you could be wasting the time of your readers.

And time is an irreplaceable resource. Time is precious. We all know it.

So avoid the 11 common blogging mistakes below at all costs. They waste the time of your readers by contributing to information overload without offering value in return…

-Blogging Mistake #1: You love complexity

-Blogging Mistake #2: You’re self-indulgent

-Blogging Mistake #3: You think you need to publish daily

-Blogging Mistake #4: You write purely for SEO

-Blogging Mistake #5: You focus on word count  …

Read #6-11 and all of the comments below each ‘mistake’ for some good insights in improving your own writing and the real value of your blog in the process.            *Top

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-Top Hosting Sites

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Ever wonder what the best host might be for your faith blog or ministry site. Here’s a list of the top 25 produced by Blogging.org based upon a poll of 5600 bloggers. For your info the #2 is BlueHost the one I use for all of my sites. Their service is terrific.

I won’t tell you about bad experience I had with my previous host since it is not on the list. I can tell you from experience that it is very important to get a good reliable host that will give you expert and prompt service with ‘a smile’ when you need it. Also it’s good to choose one that’s been around a while and is in no danger of going belly up. Here’s the list:

Here are your Top 25 Hosting Companies in the World for Bloggers:

#1:  HostGator   (1907 of 5600 Bloggers)

Hostgator entered the web hosting scene in 2002, and currently support over eight million domains. They currently offer virtual private server hosting and dedicated server hosting, as well as reseller hosting.

#2  BlueHost    (1023 of 5600 Bloggers)

BlueHost, sister site of HostMonster, also offers shared server web hosting. They have a free site builder service, and use cPanel for client access. They also have a hosting reseller program. They have been in business since 1996.

#3  Rackspace    (690 of 5600 Bloggers)

Rackspace US, Inc. has been in business since 1998. Emphasizing support and customer service, their services range from cloud servers and sites to custom applications and managed colocation servers. They utilize OpenStack as their cloud computing infrastructure.

#4  Softlayer    (667 of 5600 Bloggers)

SoftLayer provides dedicated server hosting, managed hosting, and cloud computing to its customers. Their virtual cloud servers, or CloudLayer servers, can be created and implemented on demand. They have been in operation since 2005.

#5  Amazon    (483 of 5600 Bloggers)

Since 2006, Amazon Web Services has offered cloud computing and hosting services that currently support thousands of businesses around the world. Some of their products include Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, and AWS Storage Gateway.

<Read the rest of the list>                    *Top

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-Top 200 Ministry Blogs

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Here’s a link to ChurchRelevance’s List of “TOP 200 MINISTRY BLOGS”

Note: The link above will always give you the latest rankings even if what we show below is obsolete.

Here’s the Top Ten:

1. Between Two Worlds

2. Desiring God

3. DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed

4. Dr. Albert Mohler

5. Tim Challies

6. The Gospel Coalition Blog

7. The Resurgence

8. Fr. Z’s Blog

9. Jesus Creed

10. Kingdom People

<See the rest: #11.-200>

Take a look at each of the Top 10 and see what the best and most successful ‘ministry blogs’ look like. Then take a look at the bottom of the list which are also worthy. I guarantee you’ll learn something in the process.

One can always disagree with the criteria used to come up with this list but not with the fact that are all of the blogs on the list are great and good examples to take a look at and learn from. That’s why I have it linked here as a learning tool for those of us who would like to improve our own ministry sites and take them to another level.            *Top

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-Has Your Site Been Hacked and Infested?

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We're Unstoppable

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Has your website been hacked and infested with links and malware that doesn’t belong there or has it been ‘blacklisted’ for some reason? If so it can really be a nightmare cleaning it up and getting back your traffic and good reputation.

I know from experience because three years ago it happened to one of my ministry sites. I ended up having to spend several hundred dollars and a hundred or so hours to move the site to a new host to start over clean and flush all of the old infected files and databases. In the process I lost a number of posts and considerable traffic.

It all started one morning when I noticed that the Footer on one of my blogs seemed to go on forever with hundred of links to pornography and different business sites in Russia. Every time I erased the garbage it all showed up again the next day. Then I looked at my files and databases and found that they were infested with all sorts of stuff that had nothing to do with my website. My files and database had become a host for hundreds of sub-domains and I was paying for it all!

Worse yet when I tried to erase it all I found out that I no longer had control of my own files and couldn’t get rid of it. If that wasn’t bad enough the very well regarded host I had at the time refused to help me gain control and suggested I flush the whole site and start over.

I ended up taking their advise but first hired a tech group that knew what they were doing and duplicated my unaffected files for me and moved them to a new host. Then I rebuilt my blog post by post, transferred the domain, and then terminated and turned off everything at the old host. Lesson learned the hard way!

Now there are far easier ways to backup and restore a blog. But the focus of this post is how to monitor a site and keep it clean the easy way. First of all you can check your site anytime and see if there are any problems at:

Sucuri

Just go to their ‘test’ page and type in your domain and in a few minutes you will get a complete report for your site. The manual check is free but you can also hire them to automatically monitor your site and clean it up if any malware or hacks are found.

Here’s another service that will monitor your website and help you make it secure. They also offer several plugins for monitoring and securing a WordPress site:

WebsiteDefender                    *Top

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