Blogging Platform Overview

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BLOGS! Search engines love them, customers love them...

YOU need one.

And now you can have one!

Improve your search engine rankings, get more customers while improving the relationship with your 
current customers through the built-in Spark Pay online stores blogging platform!

NOTE: This is a long and extensive article, so don't feel the need to take it all in one sitting. Use this
as a reference to return to as needed. That being said, we tried to organize it with the most commonly
needed info first. Also, feel free to comment at the bottom if you run into anything you need clarification or
more details on so we can improve this article to best serve everyone... thanks and Enjoy!

 

Blogs can now be created and edited natively in the Spark Pay online store admin console:

Here's how to setup your blog and create your first post.

1) Go to Content > Blogs 

You can create any number of separate blogs and each blog is associated with a specific store. You can also add Blog Comment Moderation, Blogs, or Blog Posts to your new power features!

2) Click on the "new" button in the upper right.

 

Creating new blogs or editing blogs, blog categories and tags, and creating and editing posts can be done from the Blogs list, highlighted in the screenshot above

 

3) Here are the setting when creating/Editing a blog.

Note: When using Custom URL's you need to make sure you have custom URL's enabled in your SEO Settings. This setting is under Settings > Search Engine

Blogs also support syndication, and these options can also be configured from the blog edit page:

 

Blogs support multiple syndication types:

  • Full - The full content of the post will be syndicated
  • Teaser - The entire teaser description will be syndicated
  • None - The posts will not be syndicated
  • Short - Only a limited number of characters from the post content will be syndicated. This is determined by the Max Number Of Characters For Short Feed setting
  • ShortTeaser - Only a limited number of characters from the post teaser content will be syndicated. This is determined by the Max Number Of Characters For Short Feed setting

 

We support both Atom and RSS formats for the syndication feed, and each blog can be configured either one of these (or both, or neither).

 

 

BLOG LAYOUT AND TEMPLATE SETTINGS

 

Additionally, from the blog edit page, you can specify blog specific layout information:

 

 

You can also specify a default layout and/or template for all posts within this blog.  This can be overridden on each individual post.

 

These allow you to choose specific layouts and or templates for each theme so that one blog can appear distinct from other blogs in your store.

(Make sure you click "Save" after any changes have been made.) 


Congrats! You've now setup your first Spark Pay online store blog!

You can now create  your first post, or configure your blog categories,
for this example, let's setup a few categories first. 

Blog categories and tags are specific to each individual blog, meaning you must configure which categories and tags are available on each blog.

To do this, you'll go to Content > Blogs and click on the "view categories & tags"

 

From here you can configure your blog category structure for organizing your posts.

Categories have a tree structure such that, in the example above, any post placed in the Baseball category is also treated as if it is in the Sports category.

Tags have no structure and simply allow you to mark specific posts with certain tags for better navigation and organization.

 

 Creating Your First Blog Post:

1) To Get to the blog posts page you can either click on the blog name from Content > Blog or by clicking on the magnifying glass icon from that same page. 

Viewing the blog posts for a given blog will appear as such (assuming you've already got posts):

 

2) To create your first post, click the "new" button to the right.

Here's the setting when editing or creating a post: 

Note that if a tag does not already exist, it will be created when entered on the blog post.
 

You can also override theme and blog roll defaults for layouts and templates for each individual blog post

3) Preview your post before publishing

Additionally, you have the ability to preview a blog post before actually saving it, so that you can see what the post will look like without having to publish:


4) Publish your post and view on Front-end

To publish your post, click on save in the upper right hand corner.
You can view your pubished post now by clicking on the view icon  to the right of the preview button.

 Understanding Blog Commenting:

When moderation is on, posts by front-end customers are entered with a pending status. The status can then be changed to approved or rejected. 

Comments by admin users will not require moderation, even if moderation is enabled.

There are also 2 store level settings that affect blog commenting.

Comment interval is the number of minutes a commenter must wait between posting new comments.  In this example, it is .5, so 30 seconds.

Comment Max Length is the maximum number of characters that can be entered in a comment.  Comments longer than this will be trimmed.

 

 How To Add A Navigation Link To Your Blog

Navigation links can now be created to point to a blog or specific blog category.  If using a blog category, you can optionally have it generate flyout menus for the category structure:

 Review this article for details on How to Change the Top Navigation Links

 Understanding Profiles 

All blog posts are posted with a given profile, either a store profile or an admin user profile.  Additionally, all comments are posted using either a customer profile or one of the other two aforementioned profile types.

 Admin and user profiles can be created and edited from the admin console:

 You can navigate here by going to Settings > Store Information > Profile

You can edit your personal information that you wish to display as well as a profile image you can upload.
1-8-2014_11-06-12_AM.png

 

Customer profiles can only be edited by the customer themselves on the front end:

When viewing a profile on the front end, you will see the profile’s public information, including contact information they have defined as well as any blog post comments, etc. they have made.  If viewing an admin user or store profile, you will also see a list of actual blog posts they have made:

BLOG THEME PAGES AND WIDGETS

There are 3 new theme page types that are available:
Blog List, Blog Post (see below for descriptions) 

Blog list: contains a list of all blogs for the given store
Blog post: contains the content for an individual blog post.

 

 

Additionally, there are several new widgets that are specific to blog features. You can add these to your theme or products, categories and content pages.

The Blog Roll widget has the same features as the blog roll page, except that it does not allow paging of posts and allows you to filter it to display specific posts from a given blog.  This gives a great deal of power in how blog rolls are displayed and designed, because it means that you can embed an almost completely full featured blog roll page anywhere in your theme (including on the blog roll page itself, if you want certain posts to be displayed in a different manner on the blog roll).

Here are the options available for the blog roll widget:

The Blog Tag Cloud widget is a widget that displays available tags for the blog based on context.  Tags that are used more frequently are more prominently displayed.  Tags can be clicked to view the blog roll filtered to only posts with the specific tag applied.

Here are the options available for the tag cloud widget:

The Blog Drill Down widget is a context sensitive widget that allows you to navigate down the category structure for a given blog

 

Add Your Blog To Your Navigation & Menu

 You can add your blog to your navigation menu list by going to Content > Menus & Navigation. 

Edit an existing active list. 

1-8-2014_12-15-58_PM.png

 Click "Add New Link"


For our test blog we are going to call it "News". This is how we add it to our top navigation.

"News" now appears at the top of the list. You can move this to wherever you would like it to be placed on the navigation.


We chose to add it to the bottom. Let's take a look at how it looks on the main front end of the store.
1-8-2014_12-23-30_PM.png

There it is!

BLOG STORE TEXT

Numerous store text options have been added related to blogs. You can edit this in the WYSIWYG editor, or by switching to HTML.

SEARCHING FOR BLOGS AND POSTS

We expose blog posts and blogs in the front end search results page:

The following layout can be added to get these new sections:

<ac:layoutarea id="BlogPostList">
    <div class="BlogPost">
      <div class="BlogPostTitleLine"><a href="$$BLOGPOSTURL$$"><span class="BlogPostTitle">$$BLOGPOSTTITLE$$</span></a> <span class="BlogPostRelevance">$$BLOGPOSTRELEVANCE$$% Match</span></div>
      <div class="BlogPostDescription">$$BLOGPOSTSUMMARY$$</div>
    </div>
  </ac:layoutarea>
  
  <ac:layoutarea id="BlogList">
    <div class="Blog">
      <div class="BlogTitleLine"><a href="$$BLOGURL$$"><span class="BlogTitle">$$BLOGTITLE$$</span></a></div>
      <div class="BlogPostDescription">$$BLOGDESCRIPTION$$</div>
    </div>
  </ac:layoutarea>

 

FRONT END VIEWS OF BLOG WIDGETS

Blog Explorer:


1-8-2014_12-25-36_PM.png

 

Blog Archive:

1-8-2014_12-26-08_PM.png

 

 

 MERGECODES

Blog Roll Page/Widget Control Merges:

                $$BLOGIMAGE$$

                $$ATOMFEEDLINK$$

                $$RSSFEEDLINK$$

                $$GROUP$$

$$POST$$

$$POSTS$

$$TEASERTITLE$$

$$TEASERDESCRIPTION$$

$$TEASERIMAGE$$

$$TITLE$$

$$AUTHOR$$

$$AUTHORURL$$

$$AUTHORLINK$$

$$AUTHORIMAGE$$

$$IMAGE$$

$$CONTENT$$

$$COMMENTS$$

$$COMMENTCOUNTANCHORLINK$$     

$$COMMENTCOUNTLINK$$

$$COMMENTCOUNT$$

$$COMMENTLINK$$

$$POSTCATEGORIESLABEL$$

$$POSTCATEGORIES$$

$$POSTTAGS$$

$$BLOGDESCRIPTION$$

$$BLOGTAGLINE$$

$$BLOGNAME$$

$$BLOGLINK$$

$$BLOGIMAGE$$

$$BLOGIMAGELINK$$

$$VIEWPOST$$

$$POSTDATE$$

$$POSTTIME$$

$$POSTDATETIME$$

$$POSTDATEWITHCLASSES$$

$$HIDECOMMENTS$$

 

$$COMMENTSHEADER$$

$$ADDACOMMENTHEADER$$

$$ADDACOMMENTLINK$$

$$ADDACOMMENTANCHORLINK$$

$$HIDEADDCOMMENTBOX$$

$$NEWCOMMENTTEXT$$

$$POSTCOMMENTBUTTON$$

$$COMMENTSSORTBY$$

$$COMMENTSSORTBYTEXT$$

$$COMMENTPOSTCOUNT$$

$$POSTNEWCOMMENTPROFILEIMAGE$$

$$POSTNEWCOMMENTPROFILENAME$$

$$POSTNEWCOMMENTPROFILEPOSTCOUNT$$

$$POSTASDROPDOWN$$

$$POSTAS$$

$$COMMENTSERRORTEXT$$

$$COMMENTMODERATIONMESSAGE$$

$$DISPLAYNAMETEXT$$

$$DISPLAYNAMETEXTBOX$$

$$PROFILEIMAGE$$

$$COMMENTTEXT$$

$$COMMENTDATE$$

$$PROFILENAME$$

$$COMMENTANCHOR$$

$$PROFILECOMMENTCOUNT$$

$$COMMENTPAGING$$

$$VIEWCOMMENTLINK$$

$$ADMINCOMMENTLABEL$$

$$AUTHORCOMMENTLABEL$$

$$ADMINCOMMENTCSSCLASS$$

$$AUTHORCOMMENTCSSCLASS$$ 

Blog Roll Page Control Merges (all of the above, plus):

                $$BLOGROLLPAGING$$

Blog Post Page Control Merges:

$$TEASERTITLE$$

$$TEASERDESCRIPTION$$

$$TEASERIMAGE$$

$$TITLE$$

$$AUTHOR$$

$$AUTHORURL$$

$$AUTHORLINK$$

$$AUTHORIMAGE$$

$$IMAGE$$

$$CONTENT$$

$$COMMENTS$$

$$COMMENTCOUNTANCHORLINK$$     

$$COMMENTCOUNTLINK$$

$$COMMENTCOUNT$$

$$COMMENTLINK$$

$$POSTCATEGORIESLABEL$$

$$POSTCATEGORIES$$

$$POSTTAGS$$

$$BLOGDESCRIPTION$$

$$BLOGTAGLINE$$

$$BLOGNAME$$

$$BLOGLINK$$

$$BLOGIMAGE$$

$$BLOGIMAGELINK$$

$$VIEWPOST$$

$$POSTDATE$$

$$POSTTIME$$

$$POSTDATETIME$$

$$POSTDATEWITHCLASSES$$

$$HIDECOMMENTS$$    

 

$$COMMENTSHEADER$$

$$ADDACOMMENTHEADER$$

$$ADDACOMMENTLINK$$

$$ADDACOMMENTANCHORLINK$$

$$HIDEADDCOMMENTBOX$$

$$NEWCOMMENTTEXT$$

$$POSTCOMMENTBUTTON$$

$$COMMENTSSORTBY$$

$$COMMENTSSORTBYTEXT$$

$$COMMENTPOSTCOUNT$$

$$COMMENTPAGESIZE$$

$$COMMENTPAGESIZESHOWLABEL$$

$$COMMENTSPERPAGELABEL$$

$$POSTNEWCOMMENTPROFILEIMAGE$$

$$POSTNEWCOMMENTPROFILENAME$$

$$POSTNEWCOMMENTPROFILEPOSTCOUNT$$

$$POSTASDROPDOWN$$

$$POSTAS$$

$$COMMENTSERRORTEXT$$

$$COMMENTMODERATIONMESSAGE$$

$$DISPLAYNAMETEXT$$

$$DISPLAYNAMETEXTBOX$$

$$PROFILEIMAGE$$

$$COMMENTTEXT$$

$$COMMENTDATE$$

$$PROFILENAME$$

$$COMMENTANCHOR$$

$$PROFILECOMMENTCOUNT$$

$$COMMENTPAGING$$

$$VIEWCOMMENTLINK$$

$$ADMINCOMMENTLABEL$$

$$AUTHORCOMMENTLABEL$$

$$ADMINCOMMENTCSSCLASS$$

$$AUTHORCOMMENTCSSCLASS$$ 

 

 

Blog Entity Merges

 

##BLOGID##

##BLOGDESCRIPTION##

##BLOGNAME##

##BLOGTAGLINE##

##BLOGURLSLUG##

##BLOGMETADESCRIPTION##

##BLOGMETAKEYWORDS##

##BLOGURL##

 

Blog Post Entity Merges

 

##BLOGPOSTTITLE##

##BLOGPOSTDESC##

##BLOGPOSTKEYWORDS##

##BLOGPOSTURL##

##BLOGPOSTIMAGEURL##

##BLOGPOSTFULLURL##

##BLOGPOSTRAWURL##

 

  

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Dennis Rausch

    Is there any possibility or capability for anonymous comments on blog posts?

  • Avatar
    Justin McCullough

    @Dennis,

    Right now the posting is contingent on being logged in.  Future development includes other login methods and may account for anonymous posting.

    Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Mark White

    I have customized one of the themes and renamed it.  How do I update it so that I can incorporate the blogging feature?

  • Avatar
    Michal Robin

    Mark,

    This depends on which theme system you are on. The V1 theme system does not support modifying the blog templates. If you are using the V2 system, once you are updated to 2013.1 the blog theme files will be available immediately in your existing theme. You can find them on the left column under the 'Specialty Pages' section. If you are not on the 2013.1 version or if you have questions about switching to the V2 theme system, feel free to contact support at supportrequest@americommerce.com or 1-800-936-9006 for more information.

  • Avatar
    Mark White

    Thanks Shayne...

    I can see the blogs and pages now...

    Great, great feature for a variety of reasons...

    Regards

  • Avatar
    Chris Enge

    We have our blogs set up at Blogger, but maybe it would be better to set them up with our Americommerce site.  Is there a way to link them up in a way that we don't lose our old content?  I see from another page on your help that it's possible to set up a subdomain, but I'm not sure exactly what that would be.  Any guidance you can give would be appreciated.

  • Avatar
    Justin McCullough

    Hi Chris,

    With AmeriCommerce Blogs, you wont need to use a subdomain.  As for the old content on Blogger, you can redirect the traffic to the new blogs.  You may also look in the blogger dashboard under Settings >Search Preferences > Errors and Redirects for custom redirect settings.  If you can custom redirect the current blog post to its corresponding blog post on AmeriCommerce blogs you could have them completely moved.

    Otherwise, it will just come down to the choice of whether you want to keep using blogger or not for your blogs.  You can still use your AmeriCommerce embed codes to place product buy now buttons on your blogger posts too.

  • Avatar
    Chris Enge

    Thanks Justin.  From an SEO standpoint, do you think it matters?  I would think a Blogger entry would count as an external link, which is good.  A blog on the site would count toward the content of the site, which is also good.  Is one better?  Good suggestion on the buy now buttons.

  • Avatar
    Justin McCullough

    Chris.

    It does matter from an SEO perspective. 

    Strategically, if you keep the old content there and start generating only new content on your AmeriCommerce blog then having inbound links from blogger will be good for your new SEO on your AmeriCommerce site and blogs because it sees the inbound links. 

    However, you dont want to have the exact same blog posts in both places.  That would not be good. You have some duplicate content issues in that case - which is bad form for SEO.

    Ultimately, you want to capture as much content on your own domain as possible to improve your seo, inbound links to the domain, and authority on topic.

  • Avatar
    Chris Enge

    Hi Justin:  This is a good conversation and I think it's good to do it in public because I think others might benefit.  I've been reading a book on SEO and it says what you just said: search engines don't like duplicate content.  I suppose that prevents just starting to generate multiple blogs filled with links and copy them over and over.  As you suggested, I checked out Blogger's setting controls and they do have an export/import feature.  To avoid ticking off the bots, you could migrate all the content from one blog to another and then delete the old one.  Does the Americommerce blog have that option?  I'm leaning toward just doing both blogs without duplicating content.  We'd have to come up with some way of judging which content goes where.  Thanks, Chris

  • Avatar
    Justin McCullough

    Chris,

    Yes, you can migrate all the old content off your old blog onto a new blog.  It's duplicate content until you put a canonical reference and a 301 redirect on it.  An then at that point it's going to be updated by search engines. SEO best practices is to use redirects to point the old blog content to the new blog content. That's what I was suggesting earlier. 

    *Now, your mileage will vary on the rest of my comment...  *

    But the pieces of this puzzle are in the following links. I recognize this may not be easy to understand if this is not in your comfort zone, but it should get you jump started in the right direction for all this stuff on blogger and using redirects for your blogger content to point to a new AmeriCommerce blog.

    It's best done like phase 3 on this post http://www.seomoz.org/blog/web-site-migration-guide-tips-for-seos and from what I can tell blogger platform may not make it very easy to do.

    Looks like this is your solution for editing the blogger template to force the redirect https://gist.github.com/paimoe/9ee54b15a3a7627e9f6b   Which I gleaned from this post http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6798259/options-for-301-redirect-from-blogger

    To fully understand redirects take a look at this http://www.seomoz.org/blog/301-redirect-or-relcanonical-which-one-should-you-use

    Now then, thats the nerd details on redirects and your blogger situation.

    in the last bit of your post you said:

     Does the Americommerce blog have that option?  I'm leaning toward just doing both blogs without duplicating content.  We'd have to come up with some way of judging which content goes where.

    Yes, you can put all your content in AmeriCommerce. At this point it is not an automated import though. And, yes, keeping your blogger set up and running two blogs simultaneously works.  Just need to know which blog is for what purpose.  I offer just one word of caution: Any content you produce on blogger is content that is not strengthening your own domain (store website) and adds one more step to convert that traffic into customers.  So keep that in mind.

    Sorry for all the info.  Hope something here helps!

  • Avatar
    Chris Enge

    We went ahead and set up our blog on our own domain and it seems to be going well.  For now, we'll just leave the Blogger page alone.  

    One little thing.  When we set a category for a post it's not remembering what's been picked.  We have the list of categories, and you can point and highlight the one you want, but when it saves it does not remember.  Maybe I'm missing something.  Safari 5.0.6 on Mac if that matters.

  • Avatar
    Justin McCullough

    Chris - Try taking a screen shot of what you are seeing / experiencing and open a support ticket so we can investigate your situation.

  • Avatar
    Agnes Doue

    Is it possible to automatically generate an email for new blog posts? Thanks. -Aggie

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    Vicky Lee

    Any new developments as far as being able to import existing blog content from another blog platform into Americommerce? Having the ability to import via spreadsheet would be so welcome!