Sanitary Theme 0.3

I’ve made a number of improvements since version 0.2. Although I’m sure there are plenty more improvements that could be made, I figure it’s about time I released update. Below is the changelog.

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  • PublishedJuly 28, 2010
  • Posted InThemes
  • Tested With3.0

Sanitary Theme 0.2

Update: Version 0.3 is now available.

It has been 10 months to the day since I released Sanitary 0.1, a clean starting point for developing WordPress themes. An update is obviously overdue, so even though it will need to be updated again as soon as WordPress 3.0 comes out, I’m releasing Sanitary 0.2. It is still a work in progress, but as you can see from the changelog, there have been quite a few changes under the hood. The change that I’m most excited about is the move to HTML5, with support for even Internet Explorer (Thanks to Remy Sharp’s HTML5 enabling script).

Here’s the changelog:

deleted
– searchform.php
– categories.php
– archive.php
– archives.php

functions.php
– added thumbnail support

single.php
– changed h2 to h1 (single.php)

search.php
– replaced the seachform call with a form

404.php
– replaced the seachform with a widget area

archives.php
– replaced the seachform call with a form

archive.php
– replaced the seachform call with a form

comments.php
– added anchor tag to comments heading to allow links to the comments section (url.com/example.html#comments)
– added <small> tags around allowed tags
– removed double reference to number of comments
– changed ids to match names for comment form
– added label for comment textbox
– removed the “(required)” message from the “Name” and “Mail” labels (Not sure about this decision. Input welcome.)
– Changed “Mail” label to “Email”

all over the place
– added underscores to many ids (.post_meta, .post_navigation #comments_form)
– converted to html5 and included javascript to allow older browsers to render new tags properly
(http://remysharp.com/2009/01/07/html5-enabling-script/)

Version 0.2 is no longer available. Version 0.3 is now available.

The Sanitary WordPress Theme

Update: Version 0.3 is now available.

I’ve been thinking for quite a while now about creating a blank WordPress theme as a starting point for myself as I develop new sites. I’ve gotten tired of stripping down full themes or reworking some of the other blank themes available. What I wanted was a theme with no formatting, no bells, no wistles, and no work to be done before building a new theme. There is one exception though. I don’t want to have to write all my typographical styles out each time so I added a stylesheet for type (it’s in a seperate stylesheet, so if you’d rather write your own, just get rid of the “import” line in the style.css file).

I based this theme off the Whiteboard theme by Brian Purkiss. He did a great job breaking the theme down to its most basic components. I stripped it down just a little bit more and cleaned up some code so it would validate. I borrowed my typography (with a few changes) from the SenCSs framework by Kilian Valkhof.

This theme is meant to be used. Use it for personal projects. Use it for commercial projects. Use it in whatever way you’d like.

If you find an error or have a suggestion, please mention it in the comments. I’d love to get some feedback as to what you like or dislike about this theme as a starting point for your own designs. I’m definitely open to making changes. This is just the 0.1 release. If you use it in a project, I’d love to see what you created. Feel free to leave a link in the comments. Enjoy!

Version 0.1 is no longer available. Version 0.3 is now available.

  • PublishedJune 16, 2009
  • Posted InThemes

WordPress and SEO

And now for the topic of search engine optimization (SEO). As I mentioned last week, as I build this blog you’re reading I’ll write about everything I’m doing to it. Well today I’m working on improving its SEO. There internet is full of information on SEO and you could spend months or even years trying to figure it all out. I’ll start out with the basics of how SEO works and then give some practical examples of how I’m improving my SEO and how you can to.

1. What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the process of building your website in such a way as to give it the best possible chance of being listed highly in the major search engines. According to Jason Geiger, the top search engine position gets over 40% of the clicks for any given search phrase. So if you want traffic flowing to your blog (and who doesn’t?) it pays to be the top ranked listing for something that people are actually searching for (I’ll discuss how to find out what people are searching for in a later post). But how do you do that?

2. Types of SEO

There are two types of Search Engine Optimization. The first is on-page SEO. This involves only what you have on your site or page. This is the easier of the two types of SEO to improve, since you are in control of what you put on your pages. The second type is off-page SEO and it deals with links to your site and what people are saying about you. You don’t have as much control over off-page SEO. Today we’re going to deal primarily with on-page SEO and how we can improve SEO within WordPress.

3. What do search engines look for?

Search engines judge importance much like humans. If you were attempting to find out in a short amount of time exactly what an article was about, you would read the title and headings, right? So do search engines. They also look at the page URL. For example, something like:

http://alexmansfield.com/wordpress/changing-wordpress-widgets

gives a much better indication of what the post is about than the WordPress default URL:

http://alexmansfield.com/?=13

We’ll look at how to change that in a few minutes. There are also a couple hidden fields specifically for search engines (description and keywords). Although they don’t matter like they once did (because they made it too easy to lie to the search engines) it’s still a good idea to use them properly. Now let’s get to work.

4. The All in One SEO Pack

The All in One SEO Pack is a WordPress plugin designed to make basic search engine optimization tasks easy. You don’t have to know any HTML or other technical gibberish. It gives you the option of customizing your title, description, and keywords. The title is what goes in the title bar of your web browser. Whenever you write or edit a post, scroll down to the very bottom of the page and you’ll find SEO options.

wordpress-and-seo-1

Here you can make sure that your title, description, and keywords are all present and accounted for.

5. Permalinks

I already posted a tutorial on improving the permalink structure in WordPress when I updated mine a few days ago, but I’ll give a brief overview here as well. Here’s the WordPress default I mentioned earlier:

http://alexmansfield.com/?p=123

That’s just not very informative. I prefer to have the URL display the category and then the post name. For example:

http://alexmansfield.com/seo/wordpress-and-seo

To accomplish this, go to  Settings>Permalinks and paste /%category%/%postname% in the Custom Structure field and click Save Changes.

6. Slugs

The slug is just the Title of the post as it shows up in the URL. For example, by default, the slug for this post would be wordpress-and-seo which would make the full URL to this post (due to our /%category%/%postname% permalink structure):

http://alexmansfield.com/seo/wordpress-and-seo

Not bad. However, if I were to name this post Ways to Increase Search Engine Optimization in WordPress things would get ugly:

http://alexmansfield.com/seo/ways-to-increase-search-engine-optimization-in-wordpress

Thankfully WordPress has a simple way of editing your slug, and it’s found just below the title box.

wordpress-and-seo-2

Click Edit and give your post an elegant and relevant slug.

wordpress-and-seo-3

Click Save and you should be set!

7. Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a simple way of letting search engines know about all the pages on your site so they can make sure to index all of them. Keeping a sitemap up to date by hand would be quite a chore, so I’m installing a WordPress plugin to take care of it for me. I’ve chosen the Google XML Sitemaps plugin by  Arne Brachhold. Install it just like any other plugin and then go to Settings>XML-Sitemap. If no sitemap has been created yet, there will be a link at the top to build one the first time. You can also adjust how often a new sitemap is generated, whether the search engines should be notified of a change, and more. Once a sitemap has been generated, the settings page will give you an overview of the last sitemap it generated.

wordpress-and-seo-4

8. Duplicate content

I didn’t mention at the beginning that search engines don’t like duplicate content. Unfortunately due to the way WordPress works, each post can be found at a number of different URLs, causing the appearance of duplicate content. Once again, I’m going to use a plugin to help fix this issue. This time it’s the Robots Meta plugin. You’ll find the settings for this plugin under Plugins>Robots Meta. It has quite a list of options, but each one has a nice explanation and often a suggestion or two about when or when not to use it.

Well that’s all for now. Do you have any other tips or tricks that you like to use to improve SEO on your blog? Please consider sharing it in the comments below.

  • PublishedJune 11, 2009
  • Posted InSEO, Themes