Posts Tagged ‘Google’

5 Factors Of Effective WordPress Themes

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

If you’re blogging on the WordPress platform, I’ll bet my entire life savings that the first thing you ever did was try to install a new WordPress theme. I’ll bet my future earnings that even today you’re still occasionally changing themes and wasting a lot of time doing minor modifications that when summed up merely distracts you from blogging itself.

Yet, it’s easy to understand why themes beg for so much attention. With the correct theme, you can accommodate all the nifty little widgets and codes, and may also mean better search engine rankings and tons of fresh traffic every day.

So what factors do you need to consider to make this whole theme-hunting business easier? Here are five important ones:

1) Theme Width and Columns

Typically, WordPress themes come in 2-column or 3-column formats, with widths ranging from 500 pixels to 960 pixels wide. If you’re blogging for non-profit purposes, a 2-column theme can look more compact and reader-friendly. Since you have less images of products or links to other sites to display, you can focus exclusively on the content without leading readers away from your site.

On the other hand, if you’re blogging for profit, you may want to consider a 3-column WordPress theme that will be able to accommodate your Google Adsense, Chitika and Text Link Ads codes comfortably without squeezing everything in the content area. 3-column themes allow room for expansion, but in the event that you’ve filled up all available space with ads, then it’s time you removed the non-performers and use only the advertising services that work for that particular blog.

2) Use of Images and Icons

A theme with images and icons can look good, but it rarely increases your web traffic or subscriber base. In fact, most “A-list” bloggers have plain vanilla themes with a simple logo on top. Reducing the amount of images also means faster loading time and less stress on your servers. This vital aspect of server load become apparent only if you have tens of thousands of visitors a day, but it’s worth designing for the future.

A image-laden theme also distracts readers from the content itself. This is the reason why blogs like Engadget and Tech Crunch use images intensively in the content areas to add value to a post, but the theme itself is simple and rather minimalist.

Ideally, a theme should allow you to use your own header image for stronger branding purposes, yet replace images and icons with links and text, or just not use them at all unless absolutely necessary.

3) Compatibility with Plugins

Another time-sucking activity is installing plugins that improve the functionality of your site. There’s a plugin out there for almost everything you want to do with your blog, but while most of them are free and easily obtainable, it’s not always easy to install the plugins and insert the codes into your WordPress theme.

If your theme is too complicated, it may be a headache to even insert that one line of code you need to make a plugin work. This is often the case with advanced AJAX-based WordPress themes that have too many files and heavy coding. I’ve always preferred a simpler themes that stick to the default WordPress theme as much as possible, so I can cut back on the learning curve and just get on with my life.

Remember that the purpose of your blog is to deliver timely, relevant content to your readers, Any theme that preserves or improves the reader experience is good, any theme that subtracts from the experience is bad.

4) Search Engine Optimization

A lot can be said about search engine optimization, but at the end of the day if you have content worth reading eventually you’ll get the rankings you deserve. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need SEO; it merely means that as far as optimization is concerned all you really need to do is to make sure:

(a) Your tags are formatted properly, with the name of the post first followed by the name of the blog – some themes can do this automatically without modification to the code or use of a plugin

(b) All your blog content titles use the H1 tag, with the main keywords used instead of non-descriptive text for better SEO relevance

(b) Your theme has clean source codes, and if possible all formatting is linked to an external CSS file which you can edit independently

5) Plug-And-Play Ease of Use

Can the theme be installed easily on an existing blog without having to move things around? Can the same theme be used and customized easily on your other blogs? These are some additional things you may want to consider when theme-shopping, especially if every minute of downtime on your blog may mean lost revenue.

While it’s hard to make comparisons due to the sheer amount of free and paid themes out there, it’s still a good idea to have a test blog site. Test any theme you plan on using, and make sure your test blog is also fitted with all the plugins and miscellaneous widgets used on your real blog. The last thing you want is for your readers start seeing weird error messages on your blog.

At the end of the day, a theme is just a theme. Instead of spending your time installing them, it may be wiser to outsource the task and focus more on your readers. Alternatively, you may also want to consider buying “plug-and-play” themes for a reasonable price. Dennis De’ Bernardy of ProWordpress.com has probably one of the best themes around, but if you’re short on cash there are certainly cheaper alternatives.

Caffeinated Content – Members-Only Content for WordPress

Niche WordPress Themes: How to Find the Right One For You

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

If you’re using WordPress out of the box, you might want to use a more unique theme that will create interest and connection with your visitors. After all, even the most valuable content gets boring if it’s set against a forgettable backdrop.

Anyone who’s interested in finding a niche WordPress theme is looking to appeal to a select group of people. As such, which WordPress theme you choose to use will affect how successful your business is.

So what are some general things to look for in a theme?

First and foremost, it’s the Google AdSense color and its placement.

Your niche blog is a business venture, therefore, you want it come off looking as professional as possible. Look for themes that match your AdSense so that AdSense looks like an organic part of your website. Seamless integration is what you should be going for.

But that’s not all you have to watch out for.

What about the specifics?

Niche WordPress themes, though already somewhat customized, can be customized further for easier integration with your business.

So prepare to customize!

…and get a little technical (or hire someone talented to do that for you).

Find niche themes that allow you to modify:

The main keyword phrase

This option is great because it allows you to put the keyword phrase in the meta title tags and headers of each page. It’ll also help you tell search engines that you want to be on top of results. Some business owners prefer to leave this blank, but they lose out on a way to promote their business.

Header images and text

Images and text are something that you obviously want control over. Make sure that you can easily modify both so that they can work for your business and not against it.

Fonts

How your text is presented is just as important as the content that it contains. Some fonts leave un-businesslike impressions in prospects’ minds, but it’s all relative. You wouldn’t set up a hospital blog and then use the comic sans font all over it, would you? Similarly, using a cursive script font for a blog dedicated to a kindergarten class seems out-of-place, right? Decide what font best represents your business and then implement it.

CSS

Let’s face it- not every pre-designed niche theme is 100% perfect. But if you’re allowed to modify CSS, you can help make it as close to perfect as it can possibly get. You’ll need a little bit of training beforehand, but CSS is far from impossible to learn. When you’re dealing with CSS, there really aren’t any limits. You have control of even the most minor details. Modifying CSS is great for perfectionists and those who have an exact vision of how they want their blogs to look like.

Finding a WordPress theme that offers all of these options can set you on the right path towards a blog that looks, talks and walks like you. Getting your brand out there will be a snap once you find a niche WordPress theme you like and can turn it into something unique that sets it apart from your competition.

Website content

Search
Archive