Showing posts with label Blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogger. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

Search Tool Removed

UPDATE (7/27/2015): I created a Google CSE instead of using the miserable and useless utility described below. Unlike the Blogger tool, the CSE works. Hazaa!

I actually got around to using Google's little search tool for Blogger. And you know what? It sucks. I searched for articles using the name of the article, nothing found. I searched for articles using keywords that I had used repeatedly as Blogger "Labels" - nothing found.

With actual production projects I have been vehement about removing search tools from Google. Sometimes I've lost, and I've worked with companies that have bought those outrageously priced yellow servers running Googles cute, branded version of BSD. A $30,000 back door to your intranet for regulators and competitors. Brilliant. Better to do the responsible thing and buy yourself a Lexus with petty cash.

Anyway, this was different, I thought. The site is hosted on Blogspot, so my users have already been sucked into the freakishly-plastered-on-smile world of Don't Be Evil. Their datas already belong to Google by the time they get here. So I'll add it on as a way to get to the early years content. Back before the blog hit the big time and sold out type of content.

So now we must use the Archive drop down and browse. Browse like Yahoo circa 1999, damn you!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Some Blogger Templates Have Broken Rich Snippets

After 2 years I have a new template. The old template was but ugly, contained pointless functions like dynamically changing look & feel to ensure that no matter what option was chosen, everything was always broken. Other, necessary functions like contact information it hid deep within the code, never to be seen by mere humans. I've watched my readership dwindle from thousands a day to a few dozen, as presumably they escaped to more sanely-coded pastures.

I had come to accept all of this until today, when I found myself extending some custom rich snippets. Over the years, you see, I've been fighting something of a crazed Google war with a dermatologist from California. A dermatologist who by happenstance is named Joshua Wieder. For some time a detente had been reached, the good doctor opting for the more formal Joshua while I controlled the top results for the more casual Josh. Then, a year passed in which I was focused on actual work. My domain name lapsed and was claimed by profiteers. The dermatologist invaded my top 10 results.

Rich snippets are part of my counter attack; an ingenious plan to reclaim internet territory lost without having to resort to remuneration. That's when I noticed that Blogger's template had broken rich snippet functionality.

I had only been angling to add the "Person" Microdata ItemType to my Contact Information page. I added the necessary language to my existing markup (those interested in some basic instruction should check out this simple how-to). However, when I went to Google's Webmaster Tools to check if it could reach my changes, I was surprised to see a number of glaring, week-old errors:


Clicking on an error and selecting the "Test Live Data" option, I quickly came across the issue. Rich Snippets require calling an outside formatting file; similar to how one might reference an Atom file in a sitemap. In the case of Blogger's dynamic templates, the "h-entry" format is used to provide Rich Snippets of new Blog Posts. The breakdown has occurred because they are using a dead link to the format page.

Rather than find the reference using Blogger's obtuse file management system, I have changed from a dynamic to static template, which has resolved the issue for now. Google can read the structured data I've formatted for them, and users now get to read a slightly-less hideous fixit guide.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to the Blog

Hi everyone. My sincerest apologies for what has amounted to a year-long delay in publication. The break was due to a combination of factors - my job making it tough for me to write about tech matters away from the office and a failure to update payment information with my DNS provider. Im sad to say that as of this moment "joshwieder.com" is being held ransom by bulk domain purchasers. Best of luck to them; I can't speak for any of the other Josh Wieders out there but this one has about ten bucks he is willing to spend for the privilege of not using a subdomain. What this means is that we will be stuck using joshwieder.blogspot.com for the time being, unfortunately. Ill try to update the search engines and broken links to the best of my ability to do so. FYI every other part of the URL structure remains the same, so joshwieder.com/pagename would become joshwieder.blogspot.com/pagename and not joshwieder.blogspot.com/crazy/new-path.php or something.

I'll have some new content up soon. Thanks to all of the readers who have posted feedback - Ive published all the comments that were left in hiatus. It really makes my day to know I've been able to help!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Secret Tool Exposed! Also, Blogger's Spam Reporting Page

Some site that calls itself "The Secret Tool" (without a hint of irony) has started linking to my site and sending junk traffic my way. Its maintained on Blogger and apparently I'm not the only one to be dismayed by the sudden rush of hits being had by these Spam-holes. While I was reading through the reports of others who have found their web traffic sullied by The Secret Tool, I found a recurring theme - folks are having difficulty finding where they can report naughty behavior like this to Google.

Here is the link. Just type in the name of the blaaaag in question to produce an alert that will be delivered directly to the Trash Bin of a Google administrator:

http://support.google.com/blogger/bin/request.py?contact_type=spam&blog_ID=&blog_URL=

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bing Webmaster Tools and Blogger Sitemaps - "The Feed is Empty" Error Fixed

Blogging tips aren't really the focus of my website. However, I recently signed up for Bing's Webmaster Tools and encountered some difficulty in submitting the sitemap for my Blogger website, joshwieder.blogspot.com. It took me a bit of head banging before I figured out how to resolve it, thanks in no small part to the amount of guides on this issue that are just wrong on their face. So, for regular blog readers, this isn't as advanced as a lot of the articles here are, but it turned out to be such a nuisance and so ill-documented that I felt something had to be done.

This guide will assume that you have already added your site to Bing Webmaster Tools and verified domain ownership, both of which work as advertised.

At the time of this writing, Blogger primarily uses Atom 1.0 to publish site feeds - Blogger also relies on Atom for a dynamically generated sitemap. For Google's webmaster tools, I registered the following link, which populates an XML file that contains the first 500 pages of data on my site:

/atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500

This worked just fine with Google, so I assumed there would be little issue with Bing. Wrong! No matter what I did, every Blogger sitemap URL that I could find in the documentation and guides ended up throwing an error after Bing crawled it - usually the error I received was, "The Sitemap is Empty". Before the big reveal, I am going to do a quick rundown of disinformation I have received on the internet  on how to add Blogger sitemaps:

-Submit a sitemap through a URL like this: http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?siteMap=http%3A%2F%2Fjoshwieder.blogspot.com%2Fatom.xml%3Fredirect%3Dfalse%26start-index%3D1%26max-results%3D500
-Create a custom robots.txt file with a site map flag for /atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500
-Use feeds/posts/default instead of /atom.xml. This gets bonus points for at least conceivably being able to work and not just a different way of configuring exactly the same setting. It still didn't work for me, if I remember correctly this produced an "Unsupported File Format" error as opposed to "The Sitemap is Empty"

While different themes might lead to different conflicts, I am still amazed by how many different guides I found and how wrong all of them were. I am confident this fix will work across multiple themes (at least unless Blogger makes a change).

Time for the big reveal. Login to Bing Webmaster Tools. Assuming again that your site has been added and domain ownership verified, it should look a bit like this:


Click the Add a Sitemap link in the bottom right hand corner. Or, from the left hand side menu under Dashboard, expand Configure my Site and click Sitemaps.

The syntax that worked for me is http://yourblogurlhere.ext/sitemap.xml. So for joshwieder.blogspot.com, I put http://joshwieder.blogspot.com/sitemap.xml

You will notice that adding the sitemap does nothing immediately. If you are in a hurry, like I tend to be, use the Bing URL Submission Tool to have the sitemap verified right away. Although Bing will still take its time to compile statistics and spider your site, this will at least show you whether the sitemap is valid or not right away.

Here is what the URL Submission Tool looks like:

Using the link above should allow you to add a Blogger sitemap to Bing without errors as of this writing. Should anything change, or if you use Blogger and this still does not work for you, please leave a comment or send me an email as I would be interested in finding out why. I still don't understand why this was such a hassle - for the conspiratorial readers: Is Google using some sort of secret Atom formatting to make other search engine submission tools look broken and awful? Is Bing secretly on the lookout for Google-sponsored hosting sites and giving them a hard time to make Google hosting look broken and awful? Or is this functionality just broken and awful, with no conspiracy behind it? You decide!

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