BlogRoll Anyone?

Good Day to You,

Doesn’t that sound delicious!

Of course, we aren’t talking about feeding our hunger pains here.

We can satisfy our visitor’s hunger for resources in a lot of ways.

If you own a WordPress blog, you have a distinct advantage, when it comes to feeding your reader’s hunger for resources. At the same time, you have the opportunity to share a little bit (or a whole lot) about yourself, by what you share using a Blogroll. Any combination of three (3) widgets can be used on your WordPress.com site.

Don’t have a WordPress site? You can learn more about that at WordPress.com.

You can scroll down the page and learn a lot. You can learn even more by going to their support page at Instant answers, just for you. – WordPress.com.

I’m sure you can manage this using other web hosts and plans, on a lot of different hosting platforms…if you know how to code a style sheet and are proficient using HTML.

Business card template - By Alicee – Click/tap the image to view the source
Business card template – By Alicee – Click/tap the image to view the source

My first impressions of Blogrolls

I’ve seen a lot of blogs, where the owner seemed to think it was a good idea to list a bunch of “affiliate” links, going to locations where the visitor gets the “hard sell”. If the blog owner was lucky enough, this sales strategy would earn them a commission on sales.

I don’t want you to get the impression that I have something against Internet Marketing, specifically, “Affiliate” Marketing.

It is very possible that someday, I may find a product or service that seems worth my efforts to sell on commission. Heck, who couldn’t use a little extra income?

I’m against the “Hard Sell”. We need to consider how best to serve our visitors with the content on our blog/website. We want our visitor to have a positive experience, finding value, and feeling like they can trust us. Indeed, building that trust should be at the top of our content building list.

Take a moment, think about what blogs/websites you follow and who you consider to be truthful, a good source to tell people about, and who can benefit.

How much consideration do you give the last part of the last sentence?

Who can benefit?

The people who benefit from the content you provide should be your first consideration.

If your content is not useful to your visitors, they will give you a quick “hello and goodbye”.

By the end of this post, we will have discussed the changes I’ve made on this site to help benefit you, my visitor. Hopefully, some of the people who provide information and resources I find valuable will benefit you as well.

By continuing to improve on the quality of this site, and expanding on the resources available to you, while benefiting the people who provide quality resources to me, I hope to benefit from the loyalty earned through the quality provided.

We’ll talk more about this a little later.

Are you a “one person show”?

No one is an “island”. None of us are capable of providing our visitors with “everything they need under the sun”. If we could all be self-sufficient, interdependency just wouldn’t exist and humans would have no need to be “social”.

We all have our sources of information, and resources we use to reach our goals.

By sharing our sources with our “target” audience, we are enriching their experience and being of more worth.

Now, we are no longer perceived as someone with limited resources, or someone who is not ready to provide what our visitors are hoping to find on our blog/website.

You don’t have to be ready to offer those resources yourself, on a “first hand” basis. You may not even be ready to provide a product or service yourself.

Take a good look at this blog. It is definitely a “work in progress”. I may have been a customer service representative, working for my state government for a long time, but I’m no expert in providing online services from my own “resource center”.

How can I expect to ever earn the respect of you, my visitor?

I expect to EARN your respect, by showing you RESPECT, and by providing you with quality content to help you. Professional Licensing is more involved than just applying for a license. You need to know what the education requirements are, before you are even able to qualify for the exam. Many professionals need to know about becoming incorporated.

Does anyone reading this really believe that I can provide all those resources without help?

Of course I can…NOT!

I may create close to one hundred (100) pages of resource links, as tools to help you find the licensing resources you need.

I can’t create a blog that you will want to continue to read and visit, without using the resources provided by others.

How much more valuable will this project be to you if I help you become aware of the wonderful learning experience, provided by the originators of WordPress? The people at Automatic provide such a wealth of guidance through the courses at Blogging University, why shouldn’t you be able to take advantage of that resource too? This post is part of sharing their lessons with you.

In the case of this project, the resource link pages are being worked on. They will be a great help to people needing to find the resources they will link to. It will be a “work in progress” for a long time.

Those resource link pages will not be enough, by themselves.

Want an easy way to share recommended resources and information, found on other websites you follow?

If you have a WordPress site, widgets can help!

Below, we will talk about three (3) widgets available to owners of sites hosted with WordPress.com.

I’m sure those of you who own a WordPress site through WordPress.org, and are using a third party host, can find and use widgets as well. You can look for them at:

Plugin Directory – Plugins – WordPress.org

Business card template - By Alicee – Click/tap the image to view the source
Business card template – By Alicee – Click/tap the image to view the source

“Blogs I Follow” Widget

Of the three (3) widgets being discussed here, this is the only one I’m not using.

This widget “will automatically display a list of the WordPress.com blogs you follow via the WordPress.com Reader”.

If you only follow blogs in your niche, this widget may be a good choice for you. How many of us really follow only WordPress.com blogs in our niche?

How many blogs do you follow, that are not a good match for your niche?

To give you an example, go to my post “Searching the Reader – Long Tail Tags,” and look under the heading “#1 Tag: “Social Media” from the Reader “Cloud”.

I dedicate a lot of that post to the author’s articles on Twitter. Because of those articles, I now have an active Twitter account that I understand.

Although the blog posts are relative to helping us learn about and improve our social media presence, Allison Maruska is really an author of books. Her blog is usually more about being an author and talking about “authorship”, writing tips, and much more.

Allison’s’ blog is not always focused on Twitter, or social media, I still follow her.

Do I want to recommend her blog?

Yes!

I want to continue to share her wonderful advice about Twitter.

The “Blogs I Follow” widget will not help me make that distinction, because it will not allow me to target those specific posts.

You can learn more about the “Blogs I Follow” widget at:

Widgets >> Blogs I Follow Widget – Widgets & Sidebars – Support – WordPress.com

“Links” Widget

The Support article describes the different field settings.

I will provide you with a link to the support article here and at the end of this section:

Widgets >> Links Widget – Widgets & Sidebars – Support – WordPress.com

To learn more about Adding Links to the widget you can click on “adding a link” at the end of the line starting with “Note:” under the title “Settings”.

Let me help you find the instructions for Adding Links to the “Links” widget:

Links Menu (Blogroll) >> Add a Blogroll Link – Links – Support – WordPress.com

MAKING A CATEGORY: WHICH FIRST? CATEGORY, LINK OR WIDGET?

After adding my first “Link” widget to my sidebar, something interesting happened. A list of links appeared in my sidebar that I hadn’t even created. I had no idea how they got there, unless they were part of my theme. I now know that they needed a “links” widget in order to be displayed.

Another point of frustration, was not knowing how to change my choice of categories in the widget. The only choices available were “All Links” and “Blogroll”.

I was able to get rid of the extra links by going to the same screen we use to add a link, and deleting them. If I had understood why they had showed up unexpectedly in the beginning, my approach would have been different.

It turns out that when we use the Links Menu in the WP Admin section of our Dashboard, we are not adding the links directly to our “Links” widget, but creating a list of links.

The Links Menu helps us to create a “list of links” and a “new Link Category”.

We need the “Links” widget to display them.

With a little more experience, I now realize that I could have created a new Category in the Categories Module of the Links Menu first.

The first widget being added was for the “Twitter” Blogroll. I discovered that by adding a New Category called “Twitter”, I could go back to the Customize screen, and “Twitter” was now available as a category choice in the “Links” widget.

Now, when a new “Links” widget is being considered for my blog, I will be sure to create a new link category, before creating the first link in the Links Menu, or adding a new “links” widget to my sidebar.

After adding the new Link Category, we can create our links, and assign the new Links Category to each link, then go to the Customize screen to add the new “Links” widget.

The new category will now be available, in the new “Links” widget drop-down menu.

My eye sight is not the best, so I sometimes will miss a “piece of the puzzle”. This is one of those times. In the last instruction linked to above on adding a Blogroll link, at the end of the paragraph under “Categories Module” is a link to the following instructions on Managing Link Categories:

Links Menu (Blogroll) >> Link Categories – Links – Support – WordPress.com

Now I have a “Twitter” Blogroll in the far right column of my site (on pc, sized screens), and all the helpful posts that have helped me to create and manage my own Twitter account are listed in it.

Now everyone has easy access to this valuable information and the value to my visitors is greatly improved.

More Blogrolls can now be added to “showcase” valuable resources and information, while continuing to add value to the project in other ways.

I decided to recreate the “case of too many links” so that you can see the “before and after” effect of the above experience.

Extra Links showing with no category assigned.
Extra Links showing with no category assigned.
The Extra Links disappear with a category added.
The Extra Links disappear with a category added.

You can read more about the “Links” widget at:

Widgets >> Links Widget – Widgets & Sidebars – Support – WordPress.com

“Text” Widget

According to the Support documentation the Text widget is the most popular, “because of its power and flexibility”. It can “display text, links, images, or any combination”.

This is by far the most versatile widget.

You will also need to use some HTML in order to take full advantage of everything it can do.

This widget accepts HTML, so you can use it to display and describe links.

Hmm, did that just say “HTML”?

Don’t worry, we won’t be doing anything with our “Style Sheet”, or anything else that will mess up the code. The HTML code is placed directly into the widget. If you can’t get it to work correctly, just remove the widget.

Before we get too far into talking about using HTML, let me share with you some information found in the support article referenced below, describing some “does” and “don’ts” on using Code.

A list of HTML Tags

Under the heading “HTML Tags” you will find a list of HTML code that WordPress.com allows us to use.

Why JavaScript, Flash and Other Embeds are not allowed.

Why JavaScript is not allowed, and how WordPress.com handles it from trusted partners like YouTube and Google Video.

The article links to various resources for safely posting Videos, Audio, how to “easily post source code on your blog” and more.

Here is the support article on the WordPress code security restrictions:

Code – Writing & Editing – Support – WordPress.com

Help using HTML

Whenever possible, I avoid using Code or HTML. I did use it in one text widget on this blog, and I’ll share that with you, after sharing some resource links to the following Support Documentation:

Beginning and Advanced HTML

Beginning HTML – Writing & Editing – Support – WordPress.com

Advanced HTML – Writing & Editing – Support – WordPress.com

Image Widget

Widgets >> Image Widget – Widgets & Sidebars – Support – WordPress.com

HTML Troubleshooting

HTML Troubleshooting – Appearance, Writing & Editing – Support – WordPress.com

I decided not to use the “Text” widget for my Blogrolls. Using the “Links” widget will work best for me.

How I used the “Text” widget

At the top of the middle sidebar, just under the header image (on pc sized screens), you will find “HEADER IMAGE SOURCE”, as the title of my “Text” widget. “openclipart” is the link that will take you to the source.

Below is a screenshot:

Text Widget used as the description and source link for my Header Image.
Text Widget used as the description and source link for my Header Image.

The resource that I have found the most helpful and easiest to use is where the code for the “openclipart” link in my “Text” widget came from.

You will find the code I used, and be able to create and test the code as well here:

HTML Links – w3schools.com

I still had to play around with the HTML code a little before some extra text stopped being displayed. Doing this was easy. Once the extra text I saw after previewing the site was removed, the link displayed and worked, just as I intended.

Here is the HTML reference from the Support article Code – Writing & Editing – Support – WordPress.com, referenced above, under “Why JavaScript, Flash and Other Embeds are not allowed“.

You will find a lot of useful HTML examples, including the one I referenced above:

HTML Element Reference – w3schools.com

Here is the Support article on using the “Text” widget:

Widgets >> Text Widget – Widgets & Sidebars – Support – WordPress.com

Share Our Blogroll(s) with the Site Owner(s)

Sharing the Blogrolls we create with the owner of the site we are linking to is very important.

If they are aware of our Blogroll, they will know to inform us, should their source page change.

They may like our blog and recommend it to others, possibly creating a Blogroll on their site, linking back to ours, which helps to mutually build trust, authority and traffic.

Who Benefits from Blogrolls?

When we create a “value driven” Blogroll, benefits are provided in three (3) ways:

  1. Our visitors are able to benefit from the added value, delivered in a convenient way, and are able to take positive action.
  2. The blog/website owner, where the links in our Blogroll will take our visitor will benefit. We are sending “targeted traffic” to their site. They will also benefit from the “good will” and trust being built through the recommendation.
  3. We as blog owners will also benefit from the “good will” and added trust that our visitors, will give us, because they have found something on our blog that helps. As our visitors learn to trust us, they may recommend our blog to someone they know, who can also benefit. We may also benefit from recommendations by the other blog/website owner(s), who may send “targeted traffic” to our blog.

Building Natural Backlinks

Benefit number three (3) is also a highly recommended Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practice, called creating “Natural Backlinks”

This type of backlink is the very best kind you can build, because it is shared between websites with a similar interest.

This is an excellent way of building Search Engine Respected Backlinks.

Our blog’s standings in the search results may improve due to all this positive and supportive activity.

This can sometimes be more effective than the standard “keyword” method of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Now we can really start to share resources, while building trust.

Now everyone WINS!

But wait! We have more to talk about.

Blogrolls added here (so far)

STARTING A BUSINESS
ONLINE TEACHERS
TWITTER

Blogging 101

The email instructions from Blogging University, as part of this Blogging 101 assignment say:

“Why do this?”

“You tell readers more about yourself through what you choose to share.”

“Giving readers recommendations turns you into a trustworthy source of great stuff.”

“When other bloggers see you referring them traffic, they’re likely to drop in on you – a traffic win-win.”

Once again, the Blogging 101 class at Blogging University has proven so helpful and informative. Without them, this blog would never have managed to provide so many resources on the home page, while presenting current information in the body of the page, as a blog post.

Do I think the $299 annual fee for my Business Hosting Account at WordPress.com is worth the money?

Absolutely, without question.

I hope you have found this post to be helpful and informative. May the personal experiences shared in this article help you to avoid some of the frustration I felt, while trying to solve the “extra links” mystery.

Do you use a Blogroll on your blog/website?

Have I helped make the process easier for you to understand and implement on your site?

Do you have a suggestion for another specialized Blogroll on this site?

Want to share how you use Blogrolls on your site?

Please leave a comment and share your experiences using a Blogroll on your site.

My Best to You
Arth

Author: Arth Strout

Good Day to You, My wife and I have had pets for the majority of our lives. I’m the “computer person”, although she gives inspiration in the background, she is also a very private person. So am I, when not online. At one point, when we lived in the country and times weren’t so tough, we had three (3) dogs and six (6) cats. So you see my love for pets (all animals) runs deep. I’m a firm believer that the very best relationship we can have with our pets is based upon mutual respect and proper care. Like ourselves, our pets are unique and valuable individuals with feelings. Deserving of the best quality of life. I believe that no one practice or belief is the only or best way to provide a quality of life for ourselves and our pets. Supporting Pet and Family Life Quality - I plan to do this by finding and sharing suggestions to help solve problems. My Best to You Arthur (Arth) Strout 12 Summer St., Apt. 2 Augusta, ME 04330

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