WordPress is a phenomenal piece of software, currently powering over 50 million websites and facilitating the solid foundation that services 90% of our projects and clients at outstanding LLC.
Yet, WordPress is merely backend software. To effectively maximize its benefit, you must upload and activate a theme to display your content to visitors. WordPress comes with a default theme, but it’s extremely minimal in both features and function, and isn’t optimized for SEO at the level you will find in premium themes such as the Thesis Theme.
Thesis isn’t just a theme, it’s a theme framework. This means a ton of cool features right out of the box. Despite the massive aesthetic benefits of the Thesis Theme, this article we explore Thesis from an SEO standpoint only. If you want to learn more about the Thesis Framework, click here.
Chris Pearson, the creator of Thesis is a programming prodigy, with an in-depth knowledge of WordPress with an attention to detail worthy of a Renaissance painter. This is seen throughout the entire codebase, which is beautifully written and results in two features that help Thesis stand head and shoulders above the competition.
1) Speed - Google has already announced that loading times are a ranking factor (source). In our experience, Thesis is already blazing fast, with page load times of less than a second on average. It continues to get faster with every update.
There are a few small areas that could be optimized, such as the number of header requests, until this happens you can use the minify plugin.
2) Content first – Thanks to some coding wizardry, no matter how you configure your sidebars, the content area in Thesis will always come first in the source code.
Your content is the most important area on the page, so it’s important to let the search engines know by placing it as high in the source code as possible.
Thesis literally has an option for every SEO configuration imaginable.
Want to stop search engines indexing all category pages? No problem.
Want to stop search engines indexing a single category page? Not a problem.
Thesis lets you control the title tag, meta description and indexing on every page of your site. This level of control allows you to easily fine tune your content for maximum visibility in the search engines.
Category pages aren’t great in terms of SEO, since after all they are simply an aggregation of your content. But with Thesis, you can easily add unique content to these pages as well, making them powerful assets that are easy to grow.
And if you don’t want to mess with hundreds of options, and only want to publish content, that works with Thesis, too. By default the theme is already highly optimized for SEO. Additional options such as post-level SEO configuration are only there if you want to squeeze out that last 10% that will get you optimum results.
The 301 redirect option is one of Thesis’ overlooked features, but in can be extremely helpful in two situations:
Change of URL
There will be times when you publish a post or page of content that gets attention and links, only to later you realize you must to move it to a different URL. This presents a problem, there are people relying on the old URL. If you move it, their links will break.
You could leave the content as it is and recreate it at another URL, but that would be duplicate content.
Fortunately, with Thesis’ built-in 301 redirect, you can simply recreate the page at the new URL and point the old page to it. This will redirect anyone who visits the old URL to the new one. This helps you retain both visitors and link juice.
URLs such as affiliate links can often be long and messy, take a look at our Thesis affiliate link for example:
If we were to give someone this link, it could often be confusing, hard to note, and if given offline, impossible to remember.
But using Thesis I could create a post with the URL:
Then redirect this URL to my affiliate link. This vanity URL is much easier to share and remember. Feel free to test the one above, it works – 100% of the time.
Canonical URLs were introduced in 2009 and apply to all three major search engines. Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz called this “The Most Important Advancement in SEO Practices Since Sitemaps“.
Often, there is content on your blog which appears on more than one URL. This is out of your control and simply a result of how the software works. Comments are a perfect example.
Example URL: <a href="http://outstandingseo.com/search-engine-optimization/#comment-43">http://outstandingseo.com/search-engine-optimization/#comment-43</a>
We want people to link to the comment anchor, but we also want Google to see that the actual URL of the page is this:
Real URL: <a href="http://outstandingseo.com/search-engine-optimization/#comment-43">http://outstandingseo.com/search-engine-optimization</a>
This is exactly what canonical URLs do in Thesis, and it’s set up perfectly from the beginning so you will never have to touch this setting.
Who’s using Thesis?
The biggest testament to Thesis’ quality as a theme is the people using it. The list includes Matt Cutts (head of Google’s web spam team) and Seth Godin (best selling author). That’s just to name a few, over 35,000 (including us!) rely on the Thesis theme to build our online business every day.
If you too are interested in using the Thesis Theme click here to visit their homepage.