Is the WordPress Theme Directory a Barrier to Acceptance as a CMS?

I’ve grown a little frustrated with the WordPress Theme Directory. On the one hand I very much appreciate what they are trying to do, setting standards of excellence for theme development. Add to this the ez search-and-click install available since 2.8 and you have the most user friendly blogging system available.

Here’s the problem, I have a theme that is built to make WordPress a CMS, so it requires a few steps to set up. But I just got an email back from the WordPress clue in which it was clear that the theme tester, effectively the gate keeper, didn’t even bother going through the steps.

My Onstage Theme for Actors uses ‘/home.php’ to display a headshot, and only a couple of excerpts from the blog. Users have to create a page for the blog template that is included. But the theme tester didn’t even bother to set it up. Instead he complained that the posts weren’t paged and there was no sidebar, both of which are part of the blog template.

So how is WordPress to become recognized as a full content  management solution when the WordPress theme directory seems to expect a cookie cutter installation process?

SEO Basics

Good Content

In many ways, the technical aspects of SEO are becoming automated. If you use an open-source content management system, or a custom system built within the last two years, chances are you are already well optimize … at least technically.

The real competitive advantage lies in developing good content that people want to read, that has “viral” potential, and yet still advances your overall mission.

Clean URLS

In general the url of your page should reinforce the keywords you are trying to target. The link to this post is “https://www.mikevanwinkle.com/marketing/seo/seo-basics/”. Notice the term “SEO Basics” is included and that my url reflects a ration (human centered) organization.  An example of a bad or “dirty” url would be “https://www.mikevanwinkle.com/?p=23&permission=1&rel=12312092“. If your links aren’t clean, talk to your website provider. It should be relatively easy for them to give you the necessary capabilities.

Title Tags

Title tags tell google what to put in the browser window title when the page is open. For instance, the title of this page is “SEO Basics | Mike Van Winkle”. That title is controlled by the following tags, which you can view in the source code.

<title>SEO Basics | Mike Van Winkle</title>

Note that the keywords are first in the title, the name of the site is second.

Meta Tags

The most important meta tags are the “Keyword” and “Description” tags. Here are the tags for this page.

<meta name=”description” content=”This post reviews some of the basics of SEO for small organizations and non-profits. I review meta tags, title tags, and no follow links.” />

<meta name=”keywords” content=”meta tags,search engine optimization,search engines,seo,seo basics,title tags,web marketing” />

How do you change the meta tags for your page? Unfortunately this is something that must be provided by your Content Management System. Many open-source systems like WordPress and Drupal have capabilities for this built in. Custom content management systems, which I strongly discourage, often require custom programming to enable this capability.

Heading Tags

Heading Tags set of headings and subheadings in your content. In general you should try to use these tags to reinforce your keywords, but without annoying the heck out of your readers.

<h1>SEO Basics</h1>

<h2>SEO Basics</h2>

<h3>SEO Basics</h3>

Keep in mind that your heading tags will also change the formatting.

Anchor Text/Link Attributes

We also discussed anchor text and link attributes, like titles and nofollows.

<a href=”https://www.yourdomain.com” title=”LINK TITLE” rel=”nofollow”>ANCHOR TEXT</a>

The link title is a great opportunity to reinforce your keywords. The title for this link might be “More SEO Basics” or something similar. The same goes for the Anchor Text. Most content management systems have this capability built in. You can tell whether a link is title by simply putting your mouse over the link. Titled links will show the title in a hover box. Mouseover this link to see what I mean: SEO Basics.

You want to pay attention to the anchor text you are using to link to other pages within your site, as well as the anchor text other sites are using to link to you.

Image Alt Attribute

Similar to link titling, the Image “alt” attribute gives you an opportunity to reinforce a specific keyword or set of keywords. For instance, if you put your mouse over the image below you’ll see that a hoverbox with the terms “Seo Basics” pops up. This is because I have set the alt attribute in the image code. I can also set the image title to reflect the same keywords. Again, most content management systems these days give you the option to set these attributes as part of the normal course of posting an image. If yours doesn’t, call your provider and demand that it does.

seo basics

<img title=”seo basics” src=”https://www.mikevanwinkle.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/google.page.rank.explained-300×281.jpg” alt=”seo basics” width=”300″ height=”281″ />

SEO Basics Resources

Google Trends: https://trends.google.com (hot keywords)

SEOMoz.org: https://www.seomoz.org (overall SEO resource)

Yahoo Site Explorer: https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ (Who’s linking to your site)

SpyFu: https://www.spyfu.com/ (research your competition)



Flutter vs. Pods: A Conversation

A friend of mind attended Wordcamp B-Ham and taped (that’s old school lingo for podcasted) a panel discussion about Pods and Flutter as two competing options for making WordPress a CMS.

Admittedly, I’m biased. You can read my review of WordPress Pods CMS here. But here’s my two cents anyway:

  1. If all you’re looking for is a way to add a new content type, and it’s ok that that content type is mostly based on the “post” format, then flutter will probably get you there. Flutter basically customizes the user interface for entering custom fields. Theoretically you could even get rid of all the default fields and use all custom fields instead.
  2. But if you need to create all new content types and need to have complete control over the end-user experience then pods is a much better choice. Pods is especially powerful when creating directories where you need to cross reference fields. For instance, you want to create a list of events where the end user can click on the speaker’s name and see all other events with that speaker. Trying to do this with flutter would be a nightmare. But with pods, you create a pod table for events and one for speakers, set up a template, and your done. Well, it’s not quite that easy … but it’s close.

The advantage of pods is that it’s robust and dynamic. Flutter is essentially just an advanced hacked. Pods is a true extension. But the disadvantage of pods is that, at least for now, it is still a tool for developers who know their html and at least a little bit of PHP. A novice user is going to find Pods maddening!

More info on Pods and Flutter.

SEO Link Building: Quality First

There’s always been a bit of tension between quantity and quality in link building campaigns. Do I build a widget that can get me thousand of links with minimal effort? Or do I focus on getting big links for a few dozen sources? Here’s a video from SEOMOZ.org on the growing importance of link quality.

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Link Quality vs. Quantity from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

Smart Podcasts

I’m a podcast junkie. Every morning my super smart Beagle pup, Cooper, and I walk for about 45 minutes. It is a perfect time for listening to a podcast. I have a few staples like Boagworld, Marketing Over Coffee, and Six Pixels of Separation, but I’m always hungry for more. I just stumbled on a post from collegecrunch.com titled “15 podcast that will make you smarter“. I would personally recommend only a few of these (especially Intelligence Squared) but if you’re a podcast geek, you’ll enjoy giving them all a try.