Deciding on a theme for your new blog can be an adventure — it’s certainly one of my favorite parts of building a new blog. But, before you rush out to look at cool designs, map out what your blog should look like and what you’re going to put in it. Finding a WordPress theme is easy, if you plan things out before you start and keep your requirements in mind as you look.
Now, I’m not an SEO expert (and we’ll be bringing some on to show you best practices), but I do have some advice about SEO as it relates to picking a theme. Spiders, those bots that crawl the internet and determine what your website is about, determine your page rank, your relevance to a search query, and thus, your position in the search results. Spiders will generally read your website starting at the header, then the left-hand content (top to bottom), then right content, and finally material in the footer.
This means you want stuff likely to appear as keywords in search queries where the spider can find it and the more prominently the keywords are placed on the page, the more relevance the search engine will give that page when it returns search results.
So, here are some suggestions as you look for a theme:
- Banner ads might impact your SEO, since they’re at the top
- Left sidebars are less preferred than right sidebars
- Navigation bars can impact your SEO depending on how they’re coded is the CSS (cascading style sheet, which controls the look of the blog)
- Look for themes that come SEO optimized
Finding a WordPress theme that works for both you and your visitors is an important step in being successful in your blogging business. While you can add some flexibility through plugins, its nice to find a theme that has most of the elements you’re looking for right out of the box. This makes your job easier and ensures the elements will function properly. Adding plugins risks breaking some part of the CSS so that elements might not look right.
- You want the new blog to work for you and meet your goals
- How will you make money on the blog — selling product, promoting professional services, through affiliate sales?
- What will you be putting up on the blog – photos, video?
- What elements do you need — social engagement, newsletter subscription?
- Will you use static pages or all dynamic pages
- You want easy navigation so your visitors can find content easily
- What frame layout will work best — 2 column, 3 column, header and footer?
- How many menus do you need?
- Fit – does the theme build the kind of brand you’re going for with visitors. Professional blogs need to look very business-like and professional, Photographers need blogs that look artsy, Internet Marketers need websites that look very Web 2.0.
If finding a WordPress theme, figure out how much you’re willing to pay for a theme. Many WordPress themes are free, others have small costs associated with them, and still others can cost several hundred dollars. In general, you get what you pay for, but you may not need all the bells and whistles of a more expensive theme.
Free WordPress Themes:
Many sites are built on Free WordPress themes. But, they do have some limitations. Here are some disadvantages of a free WordPress theme:
- They may not be as flexible
- They may not have as many features
- They may not be up-to-date with the latest version of WordPress and may not be updated as WordPress improves their software
- They might not work with many common plugins
- They may even contain some malware (this is an unconfirmed report from a blogger)
- Because they’re free, you may see them all over the web, which makes it more difficult to brand your website
- No support
Premium WordPress Themes
There are lots of premium WordPress Themes to choose from and they are more flexible and full-featured than the free ones. You’re likely to get some support from the developer, but they’re not going to customize it for you.
Thesis and Genesis
These are premium WordPress themes, but they feature skins over the basic premium architecture they’re built on. They’re really a template system rather than just a theme. You’ll have to pay for the system (anywhere from about $79 for a single theme to several hundred dollars to a multiple theme option). You can customize the theme yourself or buy a skin to put over the Thesis or Genesis theme. The major advantage of these products is they are very stable.
I also like many of the themes from Elegant Themes. You can check them out at: Elegant Themes