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Thesis Tutorial | SEO for Everyone

Thesis - SEO for Everyone - Wordpress Theme

“I once was lost but now am found…”

John Newton, “Faith’s Review and Expectation” – 1779.

Does SEO Really Demand Amazing Grace?

“Thesis for Everyone” – PDF edition

You may know nothing about SEO or how search engines function. That does not mean SEO does not know about you. And you know more about the principles of “SEO” than you think.

SEO definitions are protean, changing shades of meaning as its advocates and practitioners evolve tactics and roles. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll define SEO using a variation on common “white-hat gray-hat” traditions.

1) SEO – n. Abbrev – Search Engine Optimization. The ethical provision of information, by the publisher thereof, the goal of which is to improve traffic and end-user experience via facilitation of the robotic sorting and phrase association that seek to generate relevant and accurate clustering of search results (SERPs) into semantic buckets; such clustering intends to clearly answer queries by the target audience of said published material.

2) SEO – n. A damned fool who is incapable of defining SEO.

For the layman, SEO is simply a blend of established techniques. It’s a recipe. The chefs may argue over how much paprika to use, or whether you should add celery. In the end, it’s still a pot roast.

These techniques and recipes are not tricks or secrets.

On-page SEO strategies are generally stable and directly address a fundamental opportunity that comes with publishing web-accessible content: you may either be lost or found.

The choice is yours.

The Thesis theme for WordPress is the best enabler to become “found” like never before.

Thesis does not pretend to “do it all” for you – instead, Thesis empowers everyone — however new to online publishing — to directly compete in on-page SEO.

If you have ever “gone live” with a single solitary salvo of unique content, you have engaged in the first step of SEO… publishing original material online.

See, you know basic SEO already!

What Does the Thesis Theme Do for Me?

The arrival and growth of Thesis has presented novice bloggers, designers, and enthusiasts with the single most powerful and intuitive SEO tool to date. It’s an extension of building content that helps your content get “found” by searchers.

Thesis, properly used, allows everyone a chance to maximize their visibility, traffic, and online brand presence. This has been proven, time and again, by myriad users of the theme, experts and “newbies” alike.

At the time of this writing, self-hosted WordPress 2.8.x and Thesis 1.6.x are the current best-practice method to leverage Thesis fully. Self-hosted means having your own domain [www.yourdomain.com] along with PHP 5+ and mySQL.

Hosting on WordPress or other “free” sites can work at a rudimentary level, but not to full advantage. As that gets into off-page SEO, we’ll ask you to take our word on that.

There are, have been, and will continue to be decent “plug-in” modules that can assist basic WordPress themes in allowing for varying amounts of SEO control by the end user (that would be you).

So. Why should you buy Thesis, which presently costs either $87 for a single domain or $164 for the “every domain I personally own” developer membership option?

A number of reasons.

While we focus here on how to use Thesis and SEO to grow traffic, subscribers, and organic search rankings, Thesis is also — unlike plugins — a highly flexible design theme that offers users limitless capability to create “unrecognizable” versions of the default Thesis construct.

These customizations are unaffected by updating versions, as they are maintained in a folder specifically intended for this purpose.

The SEO reason to buy Thesis is also clear — it rocks.

Chris Pearson, the carpal tunnel at the end of Thesis, is an established and lauded WordPress theme expert. He tirelessly updates and improves the theme, with free versions available to one-pay members. Chris knows SEO, knows blogs, has a large and active Thesis user forum… and he continually works in the Thesis community to implement suggestions and consider wish-list feedback.

In short, Thesis gives you every core SEO function with a “no coding needed” initial setup/install. Thereafter, you’ll get right-there access to SEO fundamentals, each and every time you make a new post on your WordPress blog or domain.

Thesis gives you the most powerful “white hat” SEO functions and avoids confusion, overkill, and a number of novice pitfalls.

That’s game changing.

There is no other product available that provides concepts such as validating code and quality SEO right out of the box.

Convinced?

Good, you either have Thesis already or can smarten-up and buy it now.

All Right, I Bought Thesis… Now What?

Initial installation is well documented elsewhere on a technical level.

There are also many great “advanced user” and “moderate user” tutorials out there, a list of which we’ll toss at the end.

What you are getting here is the “Thesis — SEO for Everyone” tutorial.

Here goes.

You will want to initially visit the Thesis Options Section. In WordPress 2.8.6, left side, Appearance, Thesis Options as shown.

Thesis | SEO for Everyone

SEO Considerations of the “Thesis Options” Section

Left Side

Keep in mind, Thesis is made for you. So is this tutorial. You can take or leave recommendations as you wish. Most of our recommendations are meant to focus on “strong” emphasis, the sort of SEO basics that hurt or help measurably.

Other choices are yours to make, and bleed into the realm of “if you really want to maximize your online presence” – and these latter can have drawbacks to consider. SEO traffic is nice, but raw traffic is nothing without user focus to encourage conversions and repeat visitors.

So what are the big, heavy-hitting SEO basics?

The Title Tag is perhaps your most powerful friend. It’s what you see in the top-left corner of nearly all browsers, and for most of the target audience of this tutorial, Title content is what will appear as the top line of your page result in a Google search.

SEO for Everyone - Google Results

It is commonly offered that a Title tag ought to be roughly 5-15 words. Every word, its position among the rest, and whether or not it is considered to be “filler” is worth consideration. Fillers are words such as “a, the, an, and” and so forth.

This does not mean you must only Speak Keyword Tarzan.

That said, reduce filler count in your Title tag when possible. Think newspaper headlines.

As you can see in the image, you may choose to have your site name and tagline in the title. This will only occur on your home page based on this Thesis option. If you have carefully considered your site name and title, it’s a fine idea.

Titles and Meta Options in the Thesis Interface

You probably do not want to check “Append site name to page titles” however. That is the first strong recommendation, unless your site name is itself a key word or phrase, very short, and correctly applies as a related term to all posts and pages on your blog or web site.

Next is the meta Description for your Head tag on the home page. Power tag number two.

Your Description should run “a short paragraph” that touches with high keyword density on the basic theme and purpose of your entire blog or site. Again, this is applicable here only to the home page.

Meta Description

We shall see both the meta Title and Description again in the future area of individual posting situations, so remembering these guidelines is quite helpful.

File it away: your Title and Description tags are in the highest tier of on-page SEO “pound per pound” ranking power.

Skipping across options here, it is advised that you “check” every option to nofollow and noindex. The brief reason is this deals with concepts of duplicate pages and site power-shaping, which is out of scope for this tutorial. Suffice to say that if you post “the same page” twice, search engines will reduce the power of one or both – that’s bad for SEO.

So we don’t do that.

Showing previous/next post links on Single Entry Pages is a good way to help spiders and crawlers find all of your content, especially if you are upgrading an existing content blog to Thesis. First-time publishers with proper pinging, site maps, deep-linking, and other fundamentals may not need to do this, but it’s a good way to improve average pages/visitor and reduce bounce rates, in addition to indexing and crawling benefits.

That’s it for the left side of “Thesis Options” for basic SEO purposes.

SEO Considerations of the “Thesis Options” Section

Right Side

Syndication/Feed – an item of of significant SEO interest here, though it is neither a WordPress nor Thesis provision. Make certain you have an RSS feed. If you do not have one right now, get one later and return to this area before bothering to post.

Thesis RSS Feed Feedburner Syndication

The Google-owned Feedburner service is one option, as this “watches” for your new posts and content. Such services help ensure you correctly ping large aggregators and feed readers to more rapidly index and distribute your information.

Showing your feed link is a personal choice. This is a great way to begin building readership and influence. Without this option selected, few readers will become “subscribers” to your feed, which is to say, your output of content.

Showing your Feed Link in the navigation menu? Good idea.

Again, given this is Thesis – SEO for Everyone, and because more advanced use of navigation menus, the multimedia box, Thesis hooks, and so on are excellently reviewed elsewhere, we shall ignore these as “higher-grade” options that are good to explore, but are not of immediate necessity to a starter blog.

We here end the “right side” recommendations on the Thesis Options page by noting that if you do not have a free Google Analytics account (or a similar form of metrics tracking) to paste into the “Footer Scripts” section, you will be hard pressed to view and evaluate your blog or site from a data perspective.

Or in other words, if you want to know how many visitors you get, from where, and for which key words and phrases, Footer Scripts is the place to get that started.

Thesis Theme Big Ass Save Button - BASB

The Big-Ass Save Button. It’s green.

Be sure you click it when you are finished here!

We now move our mouse back to the WordPress dashboard navigation…

WordPress 2.7, left side – Appearance, [Thesis] Design Options.

There’s not much here of fundamental SEO concern.

Thesis handles fonts and column layouts for you – select the layout that fits your practical needs. Most users will do best to have at least one “sidebar” column, as a single column layout is more often used in specialized designs.

Remember though, Thesis allows you to move back and forth among layouts with minimal fuss — you only need to save, preview, and see what you like, remembering the “blank” columns will be quickly populated once you’re rolling in posts, comments, widgets, etc.

Teasers deserve special focus in this section. Functionality new to Thesis 1.4.x, the Teasers are both visually appealing and can be optimized to enhance your SEO efforts nicely.

On the right side / middle of the “Design Options” section you will see “Home Page Layout” which is where you can select “Features & Teasers” versus a standard blog format. With Thesis, this means you will get attractive, condensed set of “previous posts” on your home page, presuming a typical installation/design.

Thesis Theme Features and Teasers

As to current posts, directly below is another dropdown for “Features and Teasers” which allows you to select how many featured posts to show. Depending on your writing style and the amount of dreck flooding down your sidebars, you may wish to pick among 1, 2, 3… and even zero can be a fine choice.

Given a 300-500 average word count, it would be our recommendation to choose 1 featured post. Keep in mind that your post will eventually reside forever on what is called a permalink. It’s not “lost” or unimportant just because it’s not on the home page.

While the right-now power of home page presence is limited by time, if you’ve installed a feed and are pinging correctly, the major search engines will usually find and index your permalink within a few hours or days as well. This permalink can be very powerful over time, especially for long-tail search phrases.

Note: “long tail” is defined briefly here to be a near-infinite permutation of words and phrases that you may rank for and receive traffic from – on purpose or by accident. The long tail can drive as much as 75% of all traffic compared to your “core” one- to three-word phrases.

We’ll use an example later to make these concepts more tangible.

Backing up a moment… who would want to have zero featured posts?

If you exclusively blog, this may not be applicable, though there are exceptions. But if you have a more traditional web site built upon the powerful WordPress/Thesis framework, zero featured posts may be a fine choice.

Thesis is blurring the lines between blog and site.

That’s a good thing!

Whether blog or domain, having 0 featured posts can be useful if you have “sticky” introductory site content you wish to be a permanent “home” face presented to visitors. You might blog away on a variety of topics, but perhaps you want to keep the home page focused on your core service, idea, or cause.

Whatever you decide, 0-3, keeping featured posts from extending the number of “scrolls” on your home page is a good idea. Few readers will scroll more than once or twice per page. You may rest assured the authors of this tutorial are keenly aware of their hypocrisy as you reach for your scroll wheel.

Enough on that — back to the Teaser Display Options!

Some of these options are cosmetic, but some have mild SEO impact as well.

Including the post title is advised. Unless you invite a number of well-known guest authors or have a collaborative blog, author name is not necessary.

The date is a nice user feature, but it’s your discretion — we’d recommend it if you are undecided. Using the WordPress login/dashboard to edit links is not difficult, so why clutter and dilute your content with a half-dozen “edit post” links?

Uncheck the edit links unless you are a sloth, on a dial-up modem, or wouldn’t stretch across a long table for a big slice of deep dish.

Thesis Teasers - Options for Teaser Excerpts and Images

If you have added keyword-rich descriptions to your primary categories, you may wish to enable categories. Otherwise, it may not be worth the loss of real estate to bother. Highly recommended is to include a post excerpt (you will want to remember “post excerpt” for later discussion in the single-post sections).

Remember, everything shown here is specific to the home page only. Thus with tags, like descriptions, use your best judgment. Did you set up tags carefully and with SEO in mind? If not, why waste space with tags showing in the teaser area? Your title and excerpt should easily convey the thematic content – and tags in such a case are redundant.

If you expect regular comments, it can be a usability “teaser” of another kind to include the “number of comments” link. If you average 0-1 comments, it may not be worth the space, and there are more creative ways to poke fun at yourself than being unworthy of comment.

Will you link to the full article content? If your answer is no, you probably still hold Yahoo stock certificates. Check the dang box and move along.

Down a bit further, this is “your call” territory. There are sensible arguments for and against a site-wide feature box. We’ll recommend not using the feature box “site wide” unless you feel it increases click-around or time-on-site rates and generally adds to the visitor experience. You’ll also want to read-up on hooks to use it in Thesis 1.4.x as of this writing.

We’ll here ignore thumbnails, which are smaller-sized copies of the 458-pixel images* you may have included originally in larger format. Thumbnails are not a major SEO interest. However, the bigger the thumbnail, the less of an excerpt text teaser you can cramp into a given area, and the excerpt can be of SEO interest.

*458 pixels is applicable only to 2- or 3-column layouts using default fonts and sizes, and with a presumed automatic frame applied. 458 pixels is, in such a case, the largest image width that works perfectly and without resizing.

A big thumbnail is not, in all cases, a bad thing. Image-rich sites have shown they can make exceptional use of “title + thumbnail” with no or minimal excerpting. If you’re not going for a luxurious, graphics-heavy experience though, the defaults work well.

There’s that Big Ass Save Button Again!

Click that Big Ass when you’re done, we’re halfway through!

This ends “initial setup” for Thesis 1.4.x in a nutshell. You may, of course, return to these sections at any time, as a key feature and benefit of Thesis is the ability to quickly modify your layout or design without massive amounts of coding or formatting by hand.

Creating New Posts: Thesis “SEO for Everyone” Power Tips.

We turn now in WordPress to “Posts, Add New” and begin taking over the universe!

You should feel a gnawing excitement at this point. If not, you probably ate something in the past 12 hours.

Your loss.

Those who have used a non-Thesis WordPress 2.7 admin screen will find little new in the top fold of the page.

WordPress post title example

Your Title – the first blank text input – is important. Very important. It is not, however, the same data field as your meta Title. Here, it’s the visitor-visible title of your post.

As we talk through such terms as meta or visible Titles, bear in mind that “SEO” is a broad term, one that has often become a misnomer or simplification. Acronyms such as SEM, SM, and OM (search engine marketing, social marketing, online marketing) are part and parcel of success. Traffic without action is meaningless. SEO often implies these acronyms as well, mostly to confuse and distract novices.

This in mind, your Title need not be “My String of Keywords” simply because it sounds like good SEO. In fact, this clobbering method is often a sign of spammy robo-blogs that suck.

Similarly, you may wish to try “link baiting” instead of SEO “stuffing” – as a short definition, link baiting can be thought of as “inciting discussion” without necessarily worrying about the keywords — a title such as “Did You Punch a Kitten Today?” would be linkbait without much care towards SEO in the visible title.

But for basic “Thesis – SEO for Everyone” purposes, let us confine ourselves to a visible post Title that is descriptive, avoids as many filler words as possible, and is brief in both word and character count.

Sound hard? Let’s fix that.

It is time for an example to aid understanding and provide some visuals.

Let’s say your blog is going to be all about mules. Your key terms may include mules, horses, and other domesticated animals that can be shod with metal shoes. You may go “long tail” into blacksmithing, saddles, plows, mule history, temperament, breed reviews – in other words, you have defined your niche.

Mule aficionados that we all now are, for our first post we will choose to create a keyword -rich, informative post about aluminum mule shoes and how to select and install them.

Our visible new post Title – the text box right beneath “Add New Post” – might go like this:

Aluminum Mule Shoes: How to Shod Stubborn Mules

Notice the limited use of “filler” words – we have only one, and it’s a possible. In this context, “to” may be useful in conjunction with “how” in that “how-to” is a common and popular article type.

We also sneaked in a count variation, mule/mules, which weights the page slightly to that word. Don’t “stuff” without reasons (repeating the same words many times in many ways), but do watch for opportunities to naturally hit on your big points from different angles.

Also notice “shod” in our visible Title. This word is very specific. It is primarily applicable to animals. While “semantic search” is a toss-up, with luck the search engine algorithms will recognize that our first post is not meant to compete with Nike, but rather is associated semantically with horse shoes and related phrases.

As an aside, when considering post topics – if you are unsure whether you are aiming “too narrow” or “too broad” perform a Google search for your key terms, or portions of them. For example, searching for “Aluminum Mule Shoes” on Google (today) returns 13,700 competing pages of results. That’s narrow. “Mules” by itself returns 8M results. That’s competitive. “Aluminum” returns 93M result. That’s insane.

Presuming you intend to “blog” frequently, one strategy is to initially chase narrow to moderate terms. If you compete for attainable phrases for 20-50 posts over a period of several months, your content will grow – and your off-page SEO should naturally begin to increase.

Over time, the same on-page SEO will begin to allow you to break into top or worthwhile rankings for ever more competitive terms. Because a lack of immediate success is deadly to many a blogger, let’s state that again.

Once your blog is ranking well in your niche, and has become an established presence within that niche, you can then begin nipping at the heels of more competitive phrases with greater success. And because you were realistic going in, you’ll have seen – and appreciated – the traffic from the “long tail” up to that point.

visible post or page title and permalink slug

Back on theme, we have hit the visible Title, and we now want to adjust our permalink. If you recall – pop quiz! – this is the permanent home of your post.

Our beloved first-ever post will someday be bumped from the home page… but it will reside forever on our permalink, which we set here.

For a link naming convention, you could go with a repeat of your title. Often it is better to review and expand or lightly modify your key terms. Use dashes between words – no spaces – and, as with most SEO strategies, recognize that a very long string of words here can look like spam. Spam is bad.

We’ll keep our permalink fairly short – it’s our first post and all – and note that here we can go Tarzan; visitors will seldom notice the URI of the permalink. For our example, let’s go with:

aluminum-mule-shoes-shod

Save and done.

Our permanent link is thus:

http://www.yoursite.com/aluminum-mule-shoes-shod/

That’s fairly long, but not ridiculously messy.

Now for content!

Or rather, we shall merely say here that there are many excellent, Thesis-independent posts on writing clear, tight, and engaging marketing copy. See the end of the tutorial for other recommended links.

As a quick run-down, it is best to keep your post content short.

The world’s attention span and the devices that help drive “new tech” advances (e.g. social media sites and micro-blogging) give you far less time and space than might feel natural to those of us who were raised on 2,500 word-count essays in university, or of the kind of “posts” one still finds in some traditional periodicals.

Aim low!

Roughly 200-500 words should be fine. If you find yourself in need of ten times that number, consider breaking this into a short series of posts. A logical sequence spread over a period of several days can have SEO benefits as well, honing your aim within each section.

For SEO purposes, don’t be afraid to link-out to other informative posts and sites in your blog content. You could manually “nofollow” out-going links, but this is a more advanced “code view” function, and is of increasingly limited value in the grand scheme of things. As you scratch backs, so shall you be scratched.

Or such is the hope.

An SEO tip that doubles as a cosmetic suggestion: use an original and creative “on-topic” image in your posts whenever possible, see our note on 458-pixel images previously. Not only do pictures keep visitors on each page longer and encourage return visits, adding an image in Thesis is easy, and you know what they say about pictures and words!

There exists a second benefit of using images in your posts… Google Image Search, and other such applications, can drive as much or more traffic than your written content! But the search engines can only do so if you tell the “robots” what your image represents.

In keeping with the basic tenet of “fairly short, descriptive, low-filler” you should name your image descriptively, then apply similar descriptions to the alt text. Thesis provides – below the blog main content box – a helpful “post image alt text” input for this purpose.

Let’s revisit our example of mule shoes. We will ignore rights management and copyright here, aka “how to not get burned for swiping protected images” – for more information on that, Blogger Law 101 is a start. In brief, be safe! And be courteous.

We presume for our example that we like mules. We thus have an original photograph of something mule-related that we resize to 458 pixels wide. The image height does not “matter” to Thesis or to SEO, but go beyond 300 pixels in height and you risk shoving your content “down the fold” of the page. Have you enjoyed scrolling here? Your visitors won’t, either.

We might name our image as so…

aluminum-mule-shoe.jpg

Note: underscores may be slightly less valuable to search than dashes. Spaces are evil, avoid them. Okay, our image is named – now for the alt (alternate) text to further describe it.

We could use this alt text for the purposes of generating additional traffic from image searching:

Aluminum mule shoes are a common substitute for steel shoes, and are fitted to each mules hoof.

Go with your instincts on image names and alt text.

image alt text for SEO and the visually impaired

Be honest in your alt text. There is little to gain but a bounce from misleading as to the visuals of an image. It’s also unpleasant for vision-impaired visitors.

Note that, here and elsewhere, Thesis 1.4.x provides a helpful [+] more info that will slide down to give hints and instructions on nearly all Thesis options. Obviously you will be printing this tutorial to hang above your desk, but the [+] can be useful when on the road.

Adding a frame makes your image look nice. If you wish to go that route, as noted we have resized to 458 pixels wide, which is the maximum framed-image in a 3-column layout that will “fill the screen” yet not cause distortion or cropping.

Be sure your posts do not work directly from 20MB monster original images. Resizing is easily done on your desktop, and is well worth the light effort. Nothing kills a good blogging rhythm like a 30-minute upload.

Thesis does a fine job at resizing and cropping thumbnails, but get the “big one” post images handled manually if possible.

Speaking to thumbnails, rinse and repeat the “post image” instructions here in terms of resizing. If you wish to chase image search heavily, you can use slightly different keywords in your thumbnails’ alt text. You are such a Jedi.

And now we reach the final third of the “new post” page…

The Meat and Potatoes of Thesis SEO for Individual Posts

If you have ignored everything else and skimmed along and digested nothing above, slow the hell down and read this. The Thesis 1.4.x theme pays for itself right here, time and again. Behold the mighty “SEO Details and Additional Style” section of WordPress posting.

The Custom Title Tag. This will not affect your home page. We set that earlier, remember? What the custom (meta) Title tag seen here will do is polish the permalink “home” for your post.

We have now seen a dazzling array of Titles. Overall site meta Title, individual visible blog post title, and now, the per-page meta Title for the permalink page. Slow down, have a tea, and try to hit your key terms a final time.

Back from tea? Oh good.

We are talking here about our new post’s permanent meta Title tag, the one that appears in the upper-left corner of browsers and (usually) is the top line of Google SERP results. We want it to be keyword rich, but also compelling visually. A “vomit list” of words looks like spam, and often is. Smart people do not visit pages of spam vomit.

We’ll go with this for our meta Title permalink new post example:

Farriery | Aluminum Mule Shoes | How to Shod Mules

This meta Custom Title Tag hits very specific phrases, ones you would obviously adjust to target your own niche.

the TITLE pseudo meta tag

As mentioned earlier, being very focused in your early stages can be rewarding versus swinging for “impossible” terms such as “shoes” or the equivalent. Disambiguation and competing sites will make “shoes” all but impossible for a young blog to reach into top 10 SERP results in Google and all other mainstream engines.

[Editor's Note]

The authors of this tutorial display an utter lack of fashion sense, else they’d have known that “mule shoes” are not confined to half-circles of metal nailed into hooves. Mule shoes also are a popular human item. There goes the semantic relevance. Surprises lie in wait for even the most thorough of online publishers. Identify unanticipated results using your analytics/metrics software, then adjust future content and direction accordingly — you’ll do great!

Our selection of meta Custom Title tag content was similar to, but not a direct repetition of, our visible “blog post title” and also our permalink.

For the sake of quick-posting simplicity, you can test duplicating your visible blog Title, permalink, and meta Title – and this may, in fact, be a functional model for your moderate-competition terms. However, the “long tail” may be diminished when fewer terms get tossed about.

The meta Description tag is second only to the meta Title for on-page SEO muscle. Recognizing this, Thesis puts “Description” next. Duh. Remember, we are now discussing individual posts, not the home page or entire blog domain.

In the meta Description lies your chance to use longer — and slightly different — words and phrases.

Google search results for “young” blogs commonly use the meta Description as part of the displayed SERP content. The Description, or most of it, often shows below the meta Title and just above your URL (landing) on results pages.

Example Google meta description snippet

The meta Description, as you can see above, plays out quickly in terms of space.

Use short, compelling text that entices a visitor to click – and with an eye to your key words as well. For Twitter fiends, think of your meta Description like a “tweet” or SMS message: you get a limited character count to say what matters most.

There are many tools to predict traffic for a given term. While useful to a degree, common sense is a wonderful thing indeed. Use yours generously.

For our example, we will opt for this meta Description:

How to find and fit the best aluminum mule shoes. Steel shod is better for stubborn plowing. Aluminum shoes protect hooves on hard surfaces.

The example runs about right, though it may be truncated mid-way with the usual (…) by some search engines.

Play around as you go; shorter is often better in SEO!

Example SEO meta description tag

Here in our meta Description, we have woven into the Description a “competitor” product (steel), we’ve repeated (once!) a core term in hopes of a boost that won’t set off any robotic alarms, and we’ve “cleverly” used a term — stubborn — that is associated with our subject matter, mules.

Meta keywords? Nothing worth value there, and Thesis knows it! Meta keywords are the abused forebears of blog tags. Lay down 2-10 words or phrases, separated by commas, and call it a day.

Our example will use these, thirty seconds to done:

Mule shoes, aluminum, stubborn, mules

Close enough.

meta keywords

We’ll end with skipping down to your Excerpt. If you have chosen the Thesis layout that employs excerpts, write one. It should resemble your meta description, but lean towards end-user experience here, as excerpts are visitor-visible and meant to be read. The meta Description tags are often skimmed in a cursory manner, and you can afford to be somewhat less compelling or more Tarzan in removing Description filler.

Your excerpt can aid SEO for as long as the given post graces your home page — which can be a month or more for casual, single-author blogs.

Categories and tags?

These we will ignore for purposes of basic SEO with Thesis, as categories and tagging are general WordPress features, and not exceptionally useful ones to SEO if you’re doing everything else above. However, it should be noted that Thesis can make excellent use of select categories and pages in the fabrication of your top navigation bar — and this has an SEO impact of its own.

Well then! You’re done!

But we’re not…

Real World Results of On-Page, Basic “SEO for Everyone”

In editing and reviewing this tutorial, your friendly mules figured – hey, why not put this guide to the test?

Better still, let’s use our nonsensical example with no further editing.

The whole “mule” thing was not entirely random: DoubleMule.com is a relatively new, unestablished domain and is was driven by 2.7 WordPress and 1.4 Thesis. The authors of this tutorial proceeded to cut-and-paste everything that you’ve seen used as samples and settings in the tutorial above.

We added “content” to the post, but nothing very special. How much can one say about mules and their shiny shoes? The content used no “tricks” or techniques outside the scope of discussion in this tutorial – or that of common-sense writing. We slapped in a 458-pixel image for cosmetic reasons. Feedburner handled syndication and pinging.

And this is what happened:

Real SEO Results

Within an hour of publication, our example blog post was #1 and #2 in Google’s organic rankings for “aluminum mule shoes.” With a sparse 13,000 competing pages, that’s not the type of high-dollar phrase that keeps leading PPC and affiliate marketers flush with cash.

But it worked. From textbook to the real world, it worked.

For those who find our example post of use, long tail terms consisted of what were found to be other top-10 rankings, such as “shod mules” and even “find steel shoes for a mule.” Of some interest was a Yahoo Glue (beta) referring URL, which was found to have aggregated a Google Blog Search for “stubborn plowing.” The Internet is a magical place.

Remember permalinks? When the new post settled from a “home page post” into its permalink, “how to shod mules” bounced up one slot (to #2 and #3) in Google, replacing a page on (human variety) mule shoes from About.com – one of the top 100 sites by traffic in the world.

While these terms are not typical “high value” sets, it’s important for beginners to remember that a valuable niche or term may have no greater competition than that for the “mule” niche.

Without Thesis, achieving this much – this fast – with on-page SEO essentials would be impossible for a novice blogger using limiting visual editors.

With Thesis, the beginning blog candidate has a real ability to achieve professional on-page SEO immediately. This level of quality, affordability, and ease that has not been previously available in one package.

Now it is.

Work hard, use Thesis, and you can kick some ass, every single day.

“Thesis for Everyone” – PDF edition.

===============

Links to Additional Thesis, WordPress, and SEO Resources

General WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO by Joost de Valk

Advanced Thesis Techniques

Thesis Tutorial – Hooks for Dummies by Rae Hoffman

Thesis Guides and Gurus

CSS Firebug Tips & Tutorial by Kristarella

Socialist Media for Humans to Click...

Add Unsubstantiated & Wild Claims from Your Fantasy World...

The herd may very well kick or bite your vile spam...

1 The Mules whinnied... 02/18/2009 at 3:32 am

Greetings. It’s rarely said in polite company, but mules are imperfect creatures. This document is recognized as a work in progress.

To the many SEO wizards out there, the mules welcome your thoughts and feedback – whistle to us here: thesis@doublemule.com

Do not hesitate in linking to your own Thesis contributions by email or comment. Also do not link to unrelated horse apples… please?

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2 philabustr whinnied... 02/23/2009 at 10:32 pm

Without question, THE BEST tutorial on SEO combined with Thesis to date.

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3 The Mules whinnied... 02/23/2009 at 10:39 pm

Thanks Philabustr, we hope it’s of use to you and yours!

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4 Perry whinnied... 02/24/2009 at 8:34 pm

Excellent, one of the few that did not use jargon making it hard to understand. You made every step very clear. Thanks

Perry
Life Design recipes

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5 The Mules whinnied... 02/24/2009 at 10:25 pm

Hi Perry. Our lack of vocabulary comes in right handy. Also, about that whole 2 Samuel 18:9 scene. Not the mules’ fault! If you humans get your head stuck in an oak tree while riding along at all of three miles per hour… baby, that was all you.

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6 shuki whinnied... 02/25/2009 at 5:11 am

I just saw this posted on the DIY forums…I am glad philabustr pointed this out. Great resource!

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7 The Mules whinnied... 02/25/2009 at 5:22 am

Thanks Shuki – the many kind words from you and others have been wonderful. Each comment is welcomed like a half-nibbled cob tossed through a stall door – and boy do mules love corn cobs!

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8 Ted V whinnied... 02/25/2009 at 9:34 am

This is great. As a newbie I can’t imagine how I’d have figured all of this out.

Two Questions: I’ve read somewhere that with a properly configured Thesis Theme, you don’t need the All-in-One SEO Plugin. True? I’m still using 1.3.3 because I’m in a training group that’s built around WordPress 2.6.3, and Thesis 1.4.X doesn’t work with 2.6.3. Would a possible ‘yes’ to my first question hold true for 1.3.3?

Thanks loads!

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9 The Mules whinnied... 02/25/2009 at 2:46 pm

Hello Ted. It would be the Mules’ opinion that the all-in-one-SEO plugin is not of significant benefit with the latest version of Thesis, meaning, yes, True. The party line, from WordPress as well, is that upgrading is a good thing, so for those who can upgrade both WordPress and Thesis, we’d recommend it – security and SEO both get an update.

There were a few “holes” prior to 1.4.2 in Thesis, and a couple still remain, but Chris is aware and rumor has it a new release may hit this week or next. You would do well to hop into the DIYThemes Thesis forums, by the way; others may have superior advice to ours – we’re definitely not the last word on all things Thesis.

For “complete” optimization, our opinion was that older versions of Thesis would benefit from an SEO plug-in of one kind or another. But there comes a point where “you just want to blog” and SEO is handled well enough by Thesis to let you do just that.

For example, you could manually use other plugins, robots.txt, htaccess, and other techniques to diminish “leaking” if you felt the desire, e.g. “categories” and the entire header area is a section the Mules feel Thesis will (or should) cover optionally with no-index settings as it does for authors and archives.

From the “Everyone” perspective of this tutorial, Thesis does well – perhaps best – without additional plugins. Keeps your life simple, and you can still rank well. Less time fixing and upgrading and fidgeting with widgeting means more time creating content.

This site uses exactly one plug-in, Sociable, which is not directly related to on-page SEO. Yet a post we wrote when Thesis 1.4 came out ranks #6 for “Thesis SEO” – which is fairly competitive – and we’re not fiddling with htaccess or anything else.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to visit the user forums – there’s a whole string of awesome people there who will gladly share their expertise on Thesis and SEO (and plug-ins and…)

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10 shuki whinnied... 02/25/2009 at 8:42 pm

That was a great follow up post to Ted’s question….I read that you use only 1 plug-in for on page seo use. Would you care to share some of the other plug-ins you are using and for what functions.

Thanks!

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11 The Mules whinnied... 02/25/2009 at 9:33 pm

Hi Shuki… actually, we only use 1 plug-in… total. WP Super Cache is installed (but not activated) in the event of a massive crush of traffic our server cannot handle – don’t we wish!

We do also have Askimet for the same reason, but as applies to spam. However, since inception of this domain, Sociable is the only plug-in actively in use, and it’s only been up for a week or two.

Sociable is nicely done and we’d recommend it; your visitors can quickly Tweet and Digg and Stumble the site (dozens of “which to pick” options can be chosen among from the admin interface).

This not only aids in spreading the word about a single post, but can bring in external links from authority sites, which are good for both a given post and the domain overall (presumes you are self-hosting). One-way, contextual and targeted anchor text links from other sites might be better, but traffic and transient links from the big “trusted” social domains remains an important off-page SEO component.

Yoast is a great SEO site for more reasons than this, poke around!

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12 shuki whinnied... 02/26/2009 at 8:28 am

Very interesting. I have sociable installed and agree with yo and think it is the best one in its class.

I think maybe I am going plug-in crazy :) I have 25 activated and another 8 installed and deactivated. I def need to thin that list out. Does having plug-ins installed but deactivated put a strain on the site load time etc?

Thanks!

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13 The Mules whinnied... 02/26/2009 at 3:58 pm

Installed but deactivated is probably not much of a drain – obviously the more active or installed you get, the more it pulls on a database or server; probably won’t be noticeable with most plug-in types unless you get a big dab of traffic all at once, in which case (plug-in #26?) caching is probably recommended and deactivation of non-essential plug-ins might “help” – though by the time you see it, the wave is usually crashing down on you. ;)

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14 shuki whinnied... 02/27/2009 at 7:48 pm

I sliced and diced my actives to 19 :)

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15 The Mules whinnied... 02/27/2009 at 7:51 pm

=)

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16 EB whinnied... 03/10/2009 at 5:18 pm

Mules, given that thesis is sold via an affiliate program, it is easy to find arguments to ditch All-In-One SEO when you start using Thesis, but what about answering the question the other way around?. Provided that i am using a professional, high quality WP theme along with All-In-One SEO plugin, what would be the marginal advantages of purchasing the Thesis theme? i don´t mind having to update the plugin when needed.

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17 The Mules whinnied... 03/10/2009 at 6:07 pm

EB, you’ve phrased your question in a way that makes the answer simple, even for Mules – any Thesis SEO advantage in your scenario would be minimal, if any.

Now, this presumes you have the graphical and coding skills necessary to modify a WP theme other than Thesis to your satisfaction, and that you don’t mind the potential requirement of modifying custom code depending on where WP goes with future upgrades. Provided this, you then merely apply the All-in-One SEO plug-in, use it in much the way the above tutorial discusses in terms of certain best practices, and there you go. But we have a feeling you knew all that well before you arrived here. ;)

If a blog owner is not employing a “theme” such as Thesis, which automatically or manually facilitates duplicate-reduction via nofollow and allows for user-modified meta data, a plug-in like All-in-One is definitely a recommended option. In WP 2.7.1 plug-in updating is stupid simple, which is also nice for plug-in users.

The Mules do not necessarily think that Thesis is for everyone. Even if Thesis were perfect, the nudge of competition, differing methods, and fresh opinions are what keep the online world in a productive evolutionary loop. However, we do think those who choose Thesis provide themselves with a simple, effective manner to improve their SEO without the need for additional SEO plug-ins. Thesis is on par with All-in-One in functionality, and both have good support and supply consistent feedback-driven upgrades.

From an SEO perspective, Thesis tramples a basic WP install that has no SEO plug-ins. In like fashion, a basic WP install running All-in-One will trample “just a WP” install. What is lost in the difference is everything else Thesis offers, which extends beyond SEO… and thus beyond the scope of your question.

Thanks for your comment!

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18 How to Blog whinnied... 06/13/2009 at 10:50 am

Hey Mules,

Fantastic and incredibly useful post – thanks!!

My question is this.. For those who already have a large WP site, if they were to switch their current theme to Thesis would they be able to go back and do all of these great SEO suggestions on old posts? And, more specifically, if you use the Thesis option to change the permalink, will it automatically redirect from your old permalink to your new SEO optimized one (for sites that have linked to your posts, for example)?

Much thanks!

Emily from How to Blog

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19 The Mules nickered back... 06/13/2009 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Emily!

Yes, if you have a current blog and switch to Thesis, you may go back and edit away on old posts. It’s a very manual process, but would be in any case we’ve seen — an automated title and meta modification is better than having no meta entries, but is far from optimal. As we have gone to lengths to say in other places, testing is good, and patience is better. Mules are good about testing, bad about patience. While we would recommend you fiddle with a couple of older posts and see what occurs with those before cranking through a thousand more, editing old posts can provide a nice boost in rank for older material.

To your second question, great care should be exercised in changing Wordpress permalink structures, where this is not Thesis-specific, but is available to WordPress users in general. Changing permalink structures for a new blog is a “duh” recommendation. There are a few database and server load considerations, but in general, SEO improves and it is worthwhile for newer sites. Changing permalinks only within WordPress for existing blogs, however, is far less simple to recommend.

We are not quite done with a test specifically in this line of thought, but our results after a week are basically these, where we changed a single page’s URI — we did not change our permalink structure, but instead changed the slug for a single post, which emulates a site-wide change without blowing our entire site to smithereens:

Immediately after the slug change, an HTTP head check showed the “old” permalink slug as 302 (temporary) redirecting to the “new” slug. We noted a dozen or so phrases for which this low-competition page, now a 302, ranked in the top ten on Google, and went looking for fresh growths of rye grass. By the time we looked again a day later, neither old nor new posts were ranked in the top 100 SERPs for these phrases. Not unexpected, as we’d predicted the 302 would suspend and orphan the power of any backlinks. Within one week, however, the original 302′d link was back to ranking well — and the “new” page was still not showing in the index. Interesting. We doubt it is the last phase.

Time will tell in terms of how we determine to best handle SEO-intent permalink changes, but certain eminent humans in the field, such as Joost de Valk, and this post in SEJ by fellow Thesis user Bruce Keener, both get echoes of agreement from respected SEO and WordPress experts. These recommend what our initial hypothesis sought to verify or expand, which is that a 301 redirect is a best practice SEO decision when changing permalinks of any kind.

However, our test was specific to the concept of “what if I am changing permalinks in a non-standardized fashion” which creates a less elegant 301 scenario for SEO retention of incoming links from other domains — you cannot so easily create a one-line 301 that covers this type of WordPress permalink adjustment. Is the solution to prepend page-to-page manual 301s to the htaccess file? Quite possibly.

For those who wish to try them, there are several htaccess and IIS helper plug-ins for WordPress migrations. Presuming they work well, these should assist with 301/SEO changes from ?p=92 permalinks, whereas both of these linked articles discuss short methods to modify existing permalinks with a standardized structure. The concern we saw in using a plugin of this sort occurs when the user wished to go from default to custom “pretty” permalinks, and then enhance SEO further by changing automatic slugs with modified slugs. The 301 was from ?p=23 to auto-slug, and the auto-slug, if changed, would then create a 302. Not only does this make the original 301 worthless, it creates another layer of redirection, which drags on systems and generally causes problems elsewhere. Crawler bots only ask so many times.

If the above is confusing, the Mules fall back on their incomplete testing — but this is not the easiest subject in any scenario. The greatest problems the Mules find with SEO for WordPress, and most other CMS-style blogging and community platforms, are related to duplication and redirection… especially in larger, older sites over time.

Thesis resolves duplication quite well, and can be optimized for SEO beyond any other premium theme we’ve encountered (without relying on various plug-ins). Properly-done Thesis SEO combined with (consider AskApache for examples) a solid robots.txt file to reduce the possibilities of low value indexing, e.g. your plugins folder contents, and you’ll have created a very powerful, future-ready architecture. Presuming permalinks remain in the format they are.

But so far, nothing short of manual, line-by-line 301 redirect writing appears to resolve to satisfaction the notion of slug and permalink changes for a “big site needs to migrate, then edit.” This is not the most common scenario in blogging or CMS use… but given the time and value of blogs in this category, it is an important rarity to consider.

20 How to Blog whinnied... 06/15/2009 at 12:11 pm

Hi Mules,

Thanks for the fast and detailed response!

I suppose I wasn’t entirely clear in my request regarding changing the permalink — I already have pretty permalinks set up (and, in fact, am listed as a reference in the WordPress Codex page on how to do this). What I meant was changing the page slugs to optimize them. Right now my post on Configuring WP with Search Engine Friendly URLs has the following MASSIVE URL: http://www.emilyrobbins.com/how-to-blog/how-to-configure-wordpress-to-create-search-engine-friendly-urls-for-permalinks-242.htm — a dreadfully long URL that I would obviously LOVE to change if I switched to Thesis.

I was hoping to utilize all of the techniques you’d described for every element of optimization, and had been hoping that Thesis was set up to automatically create a 301 redirect when one changed the post slug. Sound like this is not the case (which is rather silly considering that not everyone who buys Thesis is going to be doing so for a brand spanking new site), which is disappointing because the idea of manually setting up 301 redirects for each page is tedious as ever and I’m all about automating whatever is possible.

Would you suppose if I am not changing the actual permalink structure within the database but rather am only changing the post slugs that the WP plugins for redirection would suffice? Do they in fact create 301 redirects (because, as you mentioned above, 302 redirects don’t do anyone any good)?

All of this talk about the permalink structure reminds me of two questions I’d forgotten to ask in my original comment. It would appear that Mules prefer a permalink structure of /%postname%/. Have you tested and determined that this is more effective for SEO than /%postname%.htm?

Furthermore, I had read in a few places that by not including the %post_id% anywhere in the permalink it slows your site down as WP has to search harder in the database to find your post… Is there any truth to that? As you can see, as a result I’d chosen to make my permalink structure when I created my WP sites /%postname%-%post_id%.htm and am now regretting that but think the negatives of changing the actual permalink structure at this point far outweigh the benefits…would you agree?

Have you done sufficient testing regarding SEO with the pretty permalinks to recommend that I update my post on configuring WP for pretty permalink use to tell readers to set it to /%postname%/?

I really appreciate the time and thought that you put into your response to my comment, and am very glad to have stumbled upon your site, which I’ve subscribed to :)

Best,
Emily

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21 The Mules nickered back... 06/16/2009 at 3:04 am

Hello Emily,

We sent a private email more specifically about SEO, pretty permalinks, and your site after posting a more general SEO-related note here on higher-level permalinks and rank ramifications of same — we even read the post you referenced today… yesterday! Mules aren’t perfect, but they try their best.

General apologies for the slower response this time around… the herd tested the wind for pollen counts and predicted news from California. No use making complete fools of ourselves a few hours before the other hoof dropped from Google. While “big” that SEO news seems over-hyped to our elder members.

As the Mules would define technical SEO, it is a mix of backlinks and on-page techniques, where a number of on-page are discussed in the “Thesis SEO for Everyone” post, and we removed backlink acquisition in that tutorial to help those new to SEO survive and understand the more easily controlled portion of that mix.

A temporary 302 does not destroy — once it is given weeks or months to settle down — on-page SEO, but the creation of a “backlink orphan” is not prime for ranking well, a primary factor in off-site SEO. The basic concept of a 301 is as a permanent redirect, thus transferring full backlink power, unlike the 302. Or, at least some of the SEO power. Google has been frisky on the topic of late. But back to Emily’s specific thoughts.

Thesis does not write a 301 to htaccess when a pre-existing “pretty permalink” slug is modified by the user. Nor does Thesis write 302s – however, these 302 events are generated (though not written to htaccess) by WordPress core files when permalink slugs are changed manually. We’d like to note, for others who may stumble across this comment, that 302 (temporary) redirection is not inherently bad, it’s simply not ideal due to the orphaning potential of incoming link power.

There is a reason for this lack of 301 and 302 writing. Crawlers dislike being told to check here, no here, no here, no there, no wait, here! Due to the increasing speed of crawls and pinging, a “permanent link” (permalink) can change several times in a few hours as blog and site owners change slugs and styles. Other reasons may include permissions assumption; while htaccess is available to WordPress and Thesis, not every configuration can be guaranteed to permit writing. And because there can be manual writes as well, leaving it to WordPress, or Thesis, as to which and where to leave or replace can become problematic — loop after loop, not good!

Mules do like %postname% as their structure. There are arguments, referenced in the WordPress Codex and elsewhere, that pages and posts cannot be determined in this format, and some would thus recommend a date first — however, this is a very low impact concern, and we have seen no evidence of server performance dulling under heavy loads by a sufficient percentage to consider this adequate reason to extend the URI to the point of foolishness. The WP-Cache plug-in is useful in the event you hit the Digg jackpot or other “whoa Nelly!” popularity spikes, and caching is far more of an impact than a permalink folder prefix in our experience. The .htm or .html does not appear to help or hinder SEO per our (limited in this area) testing, can be manually one-line 301′d, but aside from length reasons, we see little reason to do so with an established site.

As for the Google news on nofollowing, we feel micro-format parsing and other variables not openly covered in the spring-foal diagram of the Matt Cutts post are an offset to the extent we see no practical (possibly technical) SEO reasons to go stampeding into iFrames and off-domain viral conversation comment-linking, deleting database entries, or other nonsense. Comment spam has been around long enough we feel that, from an SEO vantage, Google and other search algorithms have reduced both rank passed and rank depleted via comment-links for at least as long as nofollow and page sculpting are claimed to have been neutered. Whether there does exist comment-based “nofollow evaporation” or not, it’s nice to have an interactive blog, or so we think.

We hope that this is helpful, where our summary is: Thesis is great for SEO, and the theme (framework) offers benefits over the other premium offerings “out of the box” we have lightly inspected. Those themes purchased for pretties that have no built-in SEO, and are not heavily modified with SEO plug-ins, robots, and htaccess edits, or use default — weak — permalink constructs simply cannot complete. But aside from rather long permalinks, your site does not to our eyes suffer greatly from these more common ailments… you’ve obviously taken great care in building a great site. And that’s How to Blog, is it not? SEO is in many ways secondary to content and community, or perhaps it’s better said that these are integral and important parts of SEO itself.

Cheers, we’ve enjoyed talking with you.

22 Amber nickered back... 12/8/2011 at 12:58 am

A very enjoyable read. Very informative. Usually a long post is hard to make it through, but your humor was entertaining and refreshing. Thank you!

23 Masdi Team whinnied... 07/23/2011 at 9:41 am

After reading this post, I decided to use the Thesis Theme. Its great …. Thanks

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24 Ravi whinnied... 07/30/2011 at 5:27 am

I have been using thesis for more than year but only after reading this post understood the some of the seo features that I have missed out.

Thanks for explaining this in detail.

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25 Adrian (Bold Internet) whinnied... 08/8/2011 at 1:52 am

Wow, what a really good tutorial.

Thesis is an excellent theme and your SEO guide should help anyone interested in improving their search results.

Thanks for sharing.

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26 Joanne Becotte whinnied... 08/8/2011 at 12:32 pm

We work with lots of folks who tried on their own to learn SEO tips and tricks through Thesis and Wordpress and this tutorial is the best I’ve seen yet, clear and concise and extremely useful for the average user and beyond.

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27 Rex Ryan whinnied... 08/14/2011 at 12:39 pm

Hey there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this web site.

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28 gourav whinnied... 08/16/2011 at 12:22 am

this is what i was looking for, thanks for the great article to improve on page seo……..

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29 Howard whinnied... 08/17/2011 at 1:38 pm

Hi,

I bought Thesis Developer version back in 2008 and used it on a few sites but back then I was new to online marketing so I didn’t really play around with it much. However now I have about 100 sites and I haven’t used Thesis in a long time because for one I cannot figure out how to upload a header properly and I like to create my own headers for most my sites. I did put a header on two of my Thesis sites but I know it is not done the right way. This is not a scam to get a backlink I just want to show you what it looks like.

[ The Cat here redacts links ]

I don’t bother with those two sites much anymore because I focus more on my niche sites but anyhow those are two of the ugliest sites I have ever built and you will notice that one header is clickable while the other is not and I did the same for both but it’s just obvious that I don’t know what I am doing. The other theme I really like working with is pretty much like design for dummies because it does not take much skill to design a nice looking site but I know Thesis is a way better theme.

The other big issue I have involves the SEO structure.

Over the past 3 years I have been following the advice of a highly successful marketer and I have been a member of his forum all this time and he updates his SEO settings and recommendations regularly and his system apparently works because I have a lot of sites ranking on page 1 for a lot of terms.

BUT he will test one plugin against another before adding it to the mix for the members and he always uses an SEO Plugin and a custom robots.txt file that I upload to the root domain. He is currently using Wordpress SEO by Yoost and he has taught me to use tags to direct the robots through my sites as well as the robots.txt file.

I really want to start using Thesis on my new sites but I don’t know if I still need the robots.txt file and to me it seems like the SEO strategy I have been using goes against the way that Thesis is setup. I know this is really confusing, I can’t seem to get my point across. I have never questioned the way I was taught because of the rankings I get but after reading through all the Thesis tutorials I agree with you guys 100%

For example one of the major aspects of the SEO strategy I have been using is in the use of tags. Now I only add between 5 – 10 tags at the bottom of each post but I use a plugin called TagPIG which creates hundreds of tags or thousands and every time the page loads a new set of related tags appear and the tag pages are being indexed which draws in more traffic. Nuts! I have to run i will have to come back and finish this later. Sorry.

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30 The Mules nickered back... 08/17/2011 at 2:14 pm

Greetings Howard,

Thesis 1.8.2 contains a simplified header image uploader functionality, offering both background image and “clickable” background image versions of the #header (for clickable it employs #logo a). To determine your choice of clickable or not, one would visit the Thesis panel in 1.8.2 and choose “Design Options” and then “Display Options” and beneath “Header” is a checkbox to either “Show Site Name in Header” or not. This toggle being what establishes whether the… see also Header Image int he same sidebar panel… uploaded header image is used in a manner that is clickable or not… quite simple.

One may do well to use a customized robots.txt file, as this reduces redundant or unproductive crawl budget expenditures, and keeps the search engines out of areas you may not wish to have indexed at any rate. Mister de Valk’s SEO plugin is the best of its lot, this being that of plugins… and using tags alongside robots.txt restrictions is one of the many effective SEO techniques that can be used to drive traffic.

The herd feels our basic premise and overview of SEO fundamentals remains sound for the wider swatch of beginning sites, and while we may bob our heads at tags in passing, our consensus is that tags are only one of many SEO strategies that can be made to bend traffic to a site.

The use of a plugin such as this described PIG strikes us as adequately named, for it affronts the ear as being as muddy as swine with whom we do not mingle in the nearer pastures. It is, to be generous, a gray area, and if manually reviewed by a quality or spam team member at a search engine like Google, one suspects the PIG would squeal. Our advice, in a general fashion, is intended as that which can be safely applied over a long trot, with few penalty-inducing suggestions… which is not to say that sufficient rank flow and banks of keywords cannot or will not work, for a time. But the eventual scythe may not spare such activity.

31 Nur Hasan whinnied... 08/22/2011 at 3:37 am

why not have a rate box on your blog…. i would like to give this post 100/100 ….such helpful post i rarely seen.

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32 Jean-Luc whinnied... 08/22/2011 at 7:59 am

Great Post thank you
I’ve just bought Thesis and it’s fine, even for French Bloggers like me ^^

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33 Michale Copus whinnied... 09/12/2011 at 8:12 am

omg went through many sites but still couldn’t find an article that will answer my questions. glad i found your site. thank you very much. if you need me to update this info, i would like to share with you, just email me.

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34 S Sherman whinnied... 09/14/2011 at 8:56 pm

Some truly howling work on behalf of the owner of this site, dead great subject matter.

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35 Jesus Ramirez whinnied... 09/19/2011 at 4:06 pm

Great post Mules!

Definitely the most comprehensive Thesis SEO post out there!

One question,
I read in a comments that you only use sociable as the only plugin on this site. Why is that?

can’t you code the social buttons as well?

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36 The Mules nickered back... 09/20/2011 at 1:51 am

The Dog was in charge of plugins… the herd let him pick one to give him a sense of importance.

It is quite unlikely the Dog will be tasked with anything in the first design review the herd has considered in over two years… a curry comb is being run over the site even now… coming soon, as the human saying goes.

37 Brendan whinnied... 10/3/2011 at 11:24 am

I’ve been using thesis for about 9 months and I hadn’t done a single this mentioned in this article. Can’t wait to see how my rankings change!

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38 Al Spaulding whinnied... 10/15/2011 at 12:27 am

No Fluff, No Flutter, breakdown of what to do with the Thesis theme. Great Post. Thanks alot for sharing these tips.
Nice to meet you.
~ AL

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39 Rimon whinnied... 10/19/2011 at 4:27 am

Very Useful post. thanks brother

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40 rashal whinnied... 10/29/2011 at 3:03 am

Thank you for nice tutorial. i will apply these to my thesis enabled website.

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41 Tulsa Dentists whinnied... 10/31/2011 at 12:25 pm

Good tutorial. Planning on to buy Thesis theme for our blog.

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42 DRG whinnied... 11/5/2011 at 11:29 pm

Nice post..! great Info..!

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43 rich whinnied... 11/7/2011 at 6:09 pm

Nice TUT. Much appreciated.

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44 Will whinnied... 11/10/2011 at 12:06 am

I have read several places, and seen Matt Cutts say in an interview, that one of the most important SEO items is making sure you have dates on all your posts and pages. Google will actually slap down sites that leave off dates. This is annoying to those of us that have many “evergreen” posts, but as we know, Google is the boss.

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45 The Mules nickered back... 11/16/2011 at 2:10 am

No doubt Google wishes to make themselves feel less stale than they are… some time ago, the herd was quite certain Google would fling a billion flutters of green-colored confetti at Twitter or some such fumbling “real time” firehose of human sewage… but Google has instead created their own…

Those with long ears wish the words-and-sandals epic fools all luck in their misguided, evil, and continual desire to foist a creatively weak monopoly of quilted purchases onto the world… but try as they will, dates will be gamed — as everything else has been gamed, is gamed, and will be gamed… in our name, hear the Cat. Meow!

46 Erik nickered back... 12/8/2011 at 1:21 pm

Great article! One thing which might be interesting to know for a pre-buyer is if Thesis allow their SEO functions to completely be replaced by a plugin such as Yoast´s Wordpress SEO.

Do you happen to know?

47 abhiz whinnied... 12/12/2011 at 6:51 am

Amazing tutorial doublemule. com i have to add thesis to my site now

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48 Kyle whinnied... 12/22/2011 at 9:44 pm

After hours of working on my new website triathletetalk.com, this is by far the most useful SEO optimization/thesis tutorial I’ve read!

I’m a first time website developer, and these types of tutorials make everything so easy.

Keep up the awesome work, and thanks so much for the help.

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49 Dirt Cheap India whinnied... 01/11/2012 at 3:48 am

Great article it is very informative and its look like you have an encyclopedia of SEO :)

The Cat says: The SEO encyclopedia has fewer volumes than the Spam collection.

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50 Anshul Malik whinnied... 01/16/2012 at 11:40 pm

Hey thanks a ton. That was a really nice insight into thesis theme, however, I have a personal blog and do not want to spend bucks on a paid theme right now. Nevertheless, the things which you have told, I guess I will incorporate them into the free theme that I have. Cheers and once again thanks for this post

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51 Rzym whinnied... 01/19/2012 at 1:12 pm

Excellent tutorial. Thank you!

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52 Fred whinnied... 02/28/2012 at 3:35 pm

Thanks a lot, I’ve been looking for days on a tutorial that will help me understand thesis SEO better and this one hit the spot.
My blog is a junk removal blog for my junk removal business that’s still fairly new and ranking nicely.

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53 faisal whinnied... 02/29/2012 at 11:27 am

oh wow good theme, will do next site in this. great resource for people who are looking for seo

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54 Sohaib whinnied... 03/4/2012 at 9:00 am

Sir I have started this blog just one month ago, But sir I am unable to understand , why my post came on Google after 12 hours, but not Immediately..
Whats the problem… and please once visit my blog and tell me what can I do to make it more better?

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55 The Mules nickered back... 03/29/2012 at 2:31 pm

The only “sir” candidate we could locate was the Dog. And, at risk of undermining his penchant for privacy in the matter, we must note that his… equipment… was modified by human hands.

But as you wish, here is the Dog’s response…

Upgrade from 1.8b1, a beta release, to 1.8.4… then remove that awful tag cloud. Pinging at the time of posting is your reason for being quickly indexed… or a primary one. Get a handful of quality inbound links, not forum or blog comment spam, and you shall do quite nicely.

56 Noshi Gul whinnied... 03/22/2012 at 1:20 am

Well I am using All in OneSeo and wants to switch to another plugin. The way you describe ‘Thesis Tutorial | SEO for Everyone’ is great. I am using wordpress 3.3.1 and could find Thesis in appearance. Do I need to switch to the older version or ?
Waiting for your reply.

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57 The Mules nickered back... 04/21/2012 at 12:46 am

Provided you have uploaded /thesis_185 or whichever current version of Thesis exists… to your /themes directory… then Thesis should appear as an available theme. You then activate the theme, and the SEO portions are thereupon located in the Thesis panels, such as under “Thesis > Site Options” in the WordPress Administration sidebar.

58 muazfaris whinnied... 03/26/2012 at 3:54 am

tq for the info.. i want to use it now for my 1.8.4

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59 Roberto Tevar whinnied... 04/3/2012 at 6:00 am

Excellent! Thanks to make SEO easilier to understand.

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60 bang kaus whinnied... 04/7/2012 at 11:00 am

Finally i found thesis guide.
Thank you for this great tutorial.

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61 Jony whinnied... 04/10/2012 at 5:35 am

Hi dude, Thanks for sharing it. I really try it in my wordpress blog in future.

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62 Glaf Cole whinnied... 04/27/2012 at 9:21 am

This tutorial on Thesis is doing the rounds at the moment – well worth taking your time with it.

I use another them personally, but it entirely transferable to other themes as well. A good methodical breakdown.

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63 JMedders whinnied... 05/15/2012 at 1:31 am

This is a very nice and informative article, I just don’t know if SEO results will still be obtained with it after all the google upgrades such as panda, penguin and many more to come. Overall I like the idea, thanks OP for such nice article.

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64 The Mules nickered back... 05/15/2012 at 1:50 am

Google and the other search engines treat original, quality content with as much respect… perhaps more… than they have in the past.

The only roll-out in recent history that worried, incorrectly, “SEO” gurus was aimed at over-optimization. The others target a preponderance of “unnatural” inbound links (paid, junk, spam — that lot), and the usual rehashed or scraped content.

None of these updates will, intentionally, harm a site with original content of any value… indeed, some of the pigs will be slaughtered, but what good else are pigs? Write well, write for the reader, create content you might read yourself, use horse-sense IA and “reasonable” meta descriptions, titles, and cautious no-indexing where applicable… and you’ll do just dandy.

It is true that “SEO” as a concept is evolving, and always has. The tilt for years has been one of immediacy (QDF) and the rise of Facebook and Twitter… oh, yes, and that travesty Google Plus Your Whinny… has lurched off-site signals to a higher significance.

Still, these are but natural whispers of what quality inbound links say clearly… quality content will be shared off-site, and the more prepared the site itself is with internal “SEO” — the better it will do come the end of the day.

65 Evita whinnied... 05/20/2012 at 12:17 am

Unbelievable…I am impressed how easy you explained everything on this page.

What can I say. Awesome! And I did check “aluminum mule shoes” in Google and it is still No1 with 979,000 results. Best Thesis tutorial ever!!!

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66 The Mules nickered back... 05/20/2012 at 1:41 am

Hello Evita.

It must be said that the number of competing results… for a rather odd term set… is an incomplete signal of SEO victory.

Yet it is rather better to be #1 than… well, than anything lower.

67 Girish whinnied... 06/28/2012 at 5:40 am

Its one of the best SEO tutorials so far. Still I am confused about increasing the page rank. How long it takes to come to 1 from 0.

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68 The Mules nickered back... 06/28/2012 at 3:04 pm

Visible “green bar” PageRank updates on Google’s schedule, which can be anywhere from weeks to months… it has been accelerated on average in recent years. To go from a PR0 to a PR1 takes very little, a link or two from nearly anywhere that is not utter garbage — from another site to yours — should manage that.

The bar value is logarithmic, and thus it requires more, and more powerful, incoming links to go from PR1 to PR2 to PR3 and so forth… this is why even very large sites with perhaps thousands of incoming links maybe be a PR5 or PR7, but only a select handful are PR8 or PR9… Google.com itself is a PR9.

69 Gautham Nekkanti whinnied... 07/26/2012 at 11:38 pm

Thesis is indeed the best theme framework for wordpress. I love the various SEO Options it offers

Although it is bit pricey, it is worth every single penny, Kolatube is one of the best provider of thesis skins

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70 Expert Scpi whinnied... 08/19/2012 at 10:02 am

Thanks for this post, I was hesitating between Thesis and Genesis…
not sure which one is the best

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71 Al Spaulding whinnied... 11/5/2012 at 9:40 pm

I know this post is 3 years behind but the wealth of information in this in regards to setting up SEO in the Thesis theme is timeless.

Thanks so much for sharing.

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72 The Mules nickered back... 11/5/2012 at 10:01 pm

And thank you Al, for noting how timeless such information tends to be… social mentions, the knowledge graph, Likes and Plus Ones… so much changes, it all but remains the same…

73 David whinnied... 02/2/2013 at 4:08 pm

I have been looking for a new theme, and this post has made my decision a lot easier, thanks for the great information.

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74 Anir whinnied... 07/16/2013 at 5:11 am

Very informative tutorials, so helpful for a newbie like me. Thanks for sharing guys, it helps a lot.:)

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75 The Mules nickered back... 12/8/2011 at 1:38 pm

Thesis will defer to certain minor SEO actions by the AIO SEO Pack… and the last version of Yoast SEO the herd reviewed does contain an emulation of that same “defer these items because this function is defined” — that being the AIO function — but from 1.6 onwards, Thesis and Yoast SEO are… incompatible is not quite the word… at odds with one another in certain areas. Importation of existing fields can be accomplished through PHPMyAdmin and mySQL fiddling, but while this works well enough for the lower-tier pack of AIO, Platinum, Headspace, and so it goes, it is not sufficient for Yoast-to-Thesis in this herd’s take.

So, we shall say “no” for the simple answer. With core hacking, the answer becomes “yes” or mostly yes. It remains to be seen as to whether the anticipated release of Thesis 2.0 will integrate with, or make unnecessary, the Yoast plugin. As an aside, any of the non-Yoast plugins are inferior to Thesis’ native control, making the answer to their use clear — dump them. The herd’s position at present is that Thesis 1.8.2, the current edition of Thesis at this time, is sufficient for the greater majority of humans who believe they can handle SEO.

Quite a lot of what the Yoast plugin offers is frankly beyond the comprehension of the masses… wish to edit .htaccess? Yes, easier with Yoast… but if you do not have a local restore point of an FTP or SSH-based htaccess file prior to your frolicking, in which case local editors are preferred to any interface — Yoast or Thesis or WordPress — keep those giddy digits of yours off htaccess, or woe unto you. Same for robots.txt, same for other of the better features in Yoast. This statement is, of course, not universal, but it is a consideration — if you cannot open the hood, think twice before remotely mucking about with airflow controls on your intake manifold.

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