Updated September 9, 2016: Even though some time has passed since I first wrote this post, the Genesis Framework is still very popular. StudioPress is used by 189,000 users. Yoast not only continues to recommend it but also has built several themes on top of it. And the new Smart Passive Income Pro theme is very attractive (more on that below). But is a Genesis theme right for you? Read on and decide.
If you have been in the WordPress world for a length of time, you undoubtedly have heard of Genesis. Genesis is a WordPress framework on which many themes have been built. Fans praise the ease of use and even claim that it is the “best for SEO”. I was curious about it for a while, and my interest level went up when Sugar Rae transitioned her blog to it a. Joost de Valk (author of the Yoast SEO plugin) is another one that recommends it highly.
Smart Passive Income Pro
There’s definitely no debate that beautiful, functional themes can be created from the framework. The library of premium themes has really grown over the years and newcomer Smart Passive Income is a compelling addition. Designed for affiliate marketers, it was inspired by Pat Flynn’s widely popular Smart Passive Income website. Use my affiliate link below to find out the details and take it for a test drive.
I love the bold colors and typography of Smart Passive Income Pro. On the home page it marries a strong Call to Action while keeping the balance in featuring your content with a unique navigational bar as well as having a space for your most recent blog posts.
Review of the Genesis Framework
You may not care about the inner plumbing of your theme, but you should. The code of your theme is important for your site speed and for the ease of customization. To really get a handle on Genesis I attended a workshop created by Anca Mosoiu, founder of a technology salon: Techliminal located here in Oakland and it became clear to me why it is so popular, especially among developers.
Here’s my take on the strengths (and a few weaknesses) of Genesis. At the bottom of the post, I’ve included a bulleted list if you want to skip the details and read a summary.
Do you remember when you learned how to do on page SEO optimization by updating meta tags? For me, it felt like I got the keys to the kingdom. By placing keywords into the meta tags on your page you had a tool that would magically rank your page at the top of the Google search results where it belonged. Right?
Well not so fast, in today’s SEO, optimizing your meta tags may not have the impact you think.
I had the privilege of attending a Meetup featuring the one and only Joost de Valk who along with his wife and partner Marieke van de Rakt gave a presentation on “Beyond SEO: Copywriting for Professionals with Yoast”.The talk covered Joost’s view of Holistic SEO and the increasing importance of Quality Content in SEO.
If you are not familiar with who Joost de Valk is, he is the creator of the very popular Yoast SEO WordPress plugin which just about handles all your WordPress SEO needs. Even though I haven’t gotten around to migrating this site to Yoast SEO, I have extensively used it on many client sites as well as some of my other sites and have watched it’s evolution over several years.
The latest version (3.3) of Yoast SEO has some new features which evaluates the readability of your page or post; Joost and Marieke covered the new readability analysis feature and gave us an inside look on it came about.
I’ve been thinking about migrating to a new WordPress theme. Definitely webenso.com needs an updated look.
But I get paralyzed by all the choices out there, so I haven’t taken any action yet. In the meantime, I was really getting bothered by the small font size on webenso.com. So here’s how I made some simple tweaks to modernize slightly (at least) this site by making the text more readable with a larger font.
Why a larger font size?
You could do worse than model your blog or site after the leaders in your niche. I started to notice that sites that covered the topic of online marketing were not only using a larger font size than I was, but were also using a bigger line height. If you are not familiar with it, line height is a CSS property that defines the space above and below your lines of text.
When I transitioned from reading other online marketing and SEO blogs to mine, I found the experience jarring. Not only were the letters smaller but the smaller line height made the whole thing feel cramped.
I took a look and sure enough the site’s robots.txt file was set up to block Google and the other search engines from crawling the entire site. Fortunately the fix was easy. I changed the file from this:
(You can also just remove the file.)
I might be going out on a limb here, but I’ve seen more problems caused by misuse of the robots.txt file than solved.
One of the big misconceptions about robots.txt disallow directives is that they are a fool proof way to keep pages out of the Google index. Not only is this not true, but when the pages are indexed – they are indexed with almost no information adding a lot of low quality almost duplicate content into the index which might drag down the SEO performance of your site.
The robots.txt file has been around for years. In those early days, bandwidth was more precious and Googlebot often taxed servers, even crashing them, when it crawled a site. So using the disallow directive to keep Google from crawling pages often helped keep a site up. Those concerns are a distant memory today.
Then I wrote a script to vet many of the services that many bloggers were using and found several returned errors or didn’t respond at all. That was the first red flag. The second red flag showed up when I found out about a Matt Cutts warning that Google looked unfavorably on some of the services that many were using. Essentially some of them are spam magnets and you really don’t want your site associated with them.
So I cut down my ping list down from 31 services to just 3. And published my post, which got a lot of attention due to my contrarian stance.
Recently I ran into a problem with adding a Facebook pixel to a LeadPage (which we had mapped to WordPress using the LeadPages plugin). I could see both the Google Analytics code and the Facebook pixel code in LeadPages’s tracking code dialog, but only the Google Analytics code was showing up in the source code. I solved the problem by reversing the order of the scripts, but at that point I decided there had to be a better way to manage all the tracking scripts you might need for a paid traffic campaign or optimizing a funnel.
There is, it’s called Google Tag Manager.
Once you have it installed, Google Tag Manager makes it easy to manage your scripts. Instead of having to update your website with each new script, you just log into Google Tag Manager and add it as a new tag. The other benefit is that it will help your site’s performance as Google utilizes their own CDNs to execute the tag, and the GTM script itself fires asynchronously; taking the burden off of your server and not impacting your render time.
I was inspired to put together this infographic when I read Trond Lyngbø’s Search Engine Land’s article:
As the introduction says: “Many business owner see SEO and content marketing as separate, but columnist Trond Lyngbø argues that solid keyword research can and should be used to inform content marketing strategy.” – SearchEngineLand
I couldn’t agree more. Augmented by customer and market research, keyword research becomes a potent tool in your hands, giving you valuable insight into just not content marketing and SEO as Lyngbø asserts but also into multiple aspects of online marketing, including social and paid traffic.
To really do a thorough job with your keyword research, you should be including less traditional keyword research tools such #tagboard. My list of 22 Keyword Research Tools has plenty of interesting tools for you to choose from.
Now that everyone has more or less jumped on the Responsive Web Design bandwagon (especially in the WordPress world), Google has come along with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). What is AMP and do you need to care?
Responsive Web Design
Remember, oh say five years ago, browsing the internet on a smartphone? It was rather painful, you had to pinch and zoom practically every site just so you could actually read the text. Then Webmasters realized this mobile thing wasn’t going away and starting making their sites mobile friendly. There are a number of ways to make your site mobile friendly, however Responsive Web Design (often just referred to just as “Responsive” or “RWD”) became really popular as a solution.
Even in an era of the semantic web, keyword research is still important. But it’s not just about the specific keywords. We need research to understand our market and competitive landscape, we need research to help brainstorm the topic of our new blog post. The 22 keyword research tools I cover below will not only help determine keywords for your on page SEO, but help you assess your competition and may even help you validate a new idea. Most of the tools listed below are free, but I’ve included a few that are not.