Sometimes, you do things fast. Sometimes doing something takes so long that you forget some of the parameters you had when starting. The previous layout of this freelance writing blog was one of the latter.
I set up this blog long ago when I first started out as a full-time freelance writer. As you may know, this blog runs on WordPress, the popular, open-source blogging platform. The design and layout of WordPress blogs is controlled by a “theme”. There are numerous good, free WordPress themes out there. I have spent some time (too much time) looking through lots of different WordPress themes while looking both for my own use, and as a way to find good WordPress themes for writers. The trick to finding a good WordPress theme for your blog is both getting one that looks like you want AND that performs well both for speed and SEO.
Unfortunately, many WordPress themes are automatically disqualified from ever being used on any of my blogs by a very popular, but very dumb, feature WordPress theme designers love. Giant header images, often coupled with some sort of scrolling “top stories” feature waste both bandwidth and precious screen real estate.
Have you ever seen a popular, high-traffic website using a design like this?
Lately, Google has added more reason to not use a big header image layout by saying that it may downrank or otherwise demote websites that have too many ads relative to content above the fold. Depending upon how Google defines “content,” big header image layouts could be a ticket to lower search rankings because a big header image and a single 336 x 300 ad will eat up almost all of the above the fold room on many monitors.
New WordPress Theme for Freelance Writing Blog ArcticLlama
The difficulty in finding a good, fast-loading, SEO optimized WordPress theme for writers that I also like the look and feel of, kept this site with the same look for a while now. However, I was spurred to action when I finally noticed that despite my best efforts last time to find a theme that was good as well as good looking, I ended up with a theme that misused the header tags.
You see, Google overemphasizes header tags to a fault. Second only to counting links and matching the query with your title tag, having the right H1 and H2 tags makes all the difference in where your page ranks in Google’s search engine results pages (SERP). The key is to NOT have your blog title as your H1 tag. Rather, your POST title should have the H1 tag. Otherwise, you are optimizing every single page for your blog title rather than the individual content, and that won’t end well.
Sure enough, my old theme had the Freelance Writing ArcticLlama line as the H1 tag, on both the index page and on all the individual post pages. The post title was relegated to H2 status with subheadings having H3 or lower tags. This is SEO suicide.
The new theme does it right. Each post title owns the sole H1 tag on the page meaning that post can rank wherever it deserves for that topic without being anchored down by an H2 tag. I like the look too. I do wish it had a footer, and I’ll probably hack one into it in the future, but for a redesign on Superbowl Sunday, I think it’s pretty nice.
If you are curious, this is the Trending theme from the Hybrid Theme people. Like all the Hybrid themes, it is free, although you can sign up to get technical support if you so choose.
Let me know if you find any bugs and how you like the new look.