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.
In return for newsletter sign-ups, provide a free report. You can write it yourself or hire someone else to do it. The report should be on a topic relevant to the industry your website promotes.
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.
Identify your audience and tailor your content and ads to this market niche. Change them every now and then. It will take time to see what works best, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
TIP! One reason a person buys a product or service is because they have seen someone else satisfied with it.
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.
Conclude your emails to readers by asking them to provide feedback. Folks want to feel helpful and influential. Allowing comments makes them feel like a part of the community. Not only are you able to please them, but their ideas can improve your marketing and suit your readers better.
TIP! Make it a habit to constantly publish new content to your site. Scheduling bots are used by search engines in order to figure out how often to come back to your site and re-index its content.
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
Don’t forget to submit your work to blog networks when you hit the article directories. Blogging is extremely popular and utilizing blogs can help improve your business. Be sure to include a link to your own site with every article so that people can find it easily.
TIP! You should always place bullet points or numbers in your articles. If you implement this strategy it will make the content you provide easier for the reader to understand and unforgettable.
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.
Stay within 3-5 sentences in every paragraph, and make sure the words in your articles are numbered between 500 and 700. These rules are pretty similar across different directories, so tailoring your articles to those rules will make your life easier. Blog entries can be shorter than articles; reach for the goal of no more than four hundred words per post.
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
You should relax and write you article as if you were sharing the information with a friend. This will improve your writing style and your articles will more interesting and pleasurable for your readers. This allows a lighter, friendlier tone instead of unnecessary formality. Try using a conversational tone for more relaxed articles.
(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
Don’t use too many keywords in your title. Article marketing is a fine balance between keywords and headline content. Headlines need to draw the reader in. Think about your headline and be sure it appeals to the audience you want to target.
TIP! When you produce new content, enlist the help of a friend or loved one. Proofreading your piece can save you the hassle of submitting a copy full of errors.
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.
Use anchor text in phrases that are hyperlinked so that you can better promote your articles. To build a link system, try using your blog for linking back to a few different pages.