As you may have noticed, I updated the theme on this blog. I was previously using the stock “Twenty Eleven” theme that comes standard with WordPress, but decided to go with what the big boys are using.
There are a few small problems with WordPress’ standard themes – they are generally SEO horrific. While there is a bunch of buzz out there about how well WordPress blogs rank, I saw a huge drop in traffic after I installed the “Twenty Ten” and “Twenty Eleven” themes. I can get into specifics, and if you want me to, please leave a comment below. I’ll do my best to reply quickly. But just a quick note here – WordPress generally handles SEO issues very well, it’s the themes that screw things up.
So what I did to deal with this long overdue issue of ranking, was to search around for what people out there were saying about WordPress themes. Thinking back, I believe that I was looking for something to handle to excessive H1 tags used on standard themes. I found a post by Yoast that talked about the SEO benefits of the StudioPress themes and the Genesis framework. After visiting the StudioPress site and analyzing the theme code, more convincing wasn’t necessary. I purchased the standard, no frill “Genesis Framework” and installed it.
I’ll tell you, it takes a bit to get used to. When I first installed the theme and activated it, I was greeted by my existing widgets pushing the whole site to the left. I reactivated the Twenty Eleven theme and installed the “Theme Test Drive” plugin to work on the StudioPress theme in the background. Once I got things straightened out with the widgets, I re-activated the new theme.
The Genesis Framework was an admin panel unto itself. There are quite a few settings, but nothing that was overwhelming. One thing that I had to do though was to download and install the sample child theme that allowed me to easily alter the website background color as well as upload an image in the header, which I use for the site logo.
Once I had things pretty much set up, I noticed that I needed to modify some templates to add some custom code. I looked around and found that I didn’t need to alter any templates – all I needed to do was to install the “Genesis Simple Hooks” and “Genesis Simple Edits” plugins from the StudioPress site. With these two plugins, I was able to modify as much as I needed to very easily.
I’m telling you, this is a pretty sweet theme and I am happy I purchased and installed it. I won’t know about its SEO benefit for some time, but I sure know that I like working with something so intelligent.