Giving Your WordPress Blog An Elegant Face

by Barry Welford May 20th, 2009 

If you are blogging with WordPress, then this article is for you.  If you are not, then this article may well encourage you to do so.

WordPress users know that this blogging software is extremely effective for its purpose .  With the latest version (2.7), it is astonishingly easy to have your blog up and running within a matter of minutes.

Out of Order, Kingston, London. by Jim Linwood

Indeed it is so easy that many may be tempted to use it 'out of the box' (OOTB).  The majority of WordPress blogs you will see use exactly that approach.  However there are some simple variants of the OOTB approach that may be worth considering.  In this article, we will explore one variant that may provide a more pleasing experience for your readers.

What is on display is somewhat controversial.  Clearly it must be, since in all likelihood your own blog does not use this approach.  If you disagree, why not add your comments so that others can get a balanced view.

If you're comfortable with making changes to some of the theme template files and uploading them via FTP to your website then you will have no difficulty in following what is described.  Otherwise your friendly web designer should be able to make these changes for a very modest cost.

An Out-Of-The-Box (OOTB) Theme Approach

Many simple minimal WordPress themes include the following files:

  • archive.php
  • footer.php
  • functions.php
  • header.php
  • index.php
  • page.php
  • sidebar.php
  • single.php
  • style.css

The three files that are used to produce web pages are:

  • index.php
  • single.php
  • archive.php

The 'front page' of the blog is produced with the index.php file and can look like the following image.

blog with multiple posts in wordpress

This is the out-of-the-box appearance if the blog owner opted for three posts to a web page under the Reading page of the blog Admin panel.  In each case the title of the three blog post entries on that front page will be a hyperlink to a web page that displays only that post.  That single post web page is produced by the single.php file.

In the case of the SEO-scoop blog, the front page of the blog shows thirteen posts.  The format displays only a short section of each of the blog posts and the full post can only be seen on the single blog post page.  This is a very common way of structuring a blog. 

Why Google Likes WordPress Blogs

Any blog owner knows that a blog is very visible in search engines, and particularly so in Google.  That is partly because that long front page gives the maximum opportunity for keyword phrase matches.  Since most blogs have a large number of back links (links from other websites that point at the blog), that also means that the blog will often appear in the keyword query Search Engine Report Page (SERP).

Why Google Searchers May Not Like Your Blog

Although your blog may be very visible in a Google keyword search, the way it is presented may not be the most useful to that human searcher.  Think of some recent blog post that ranks well for a certain keyword phrase.  Do a Google search for that keyword phrase.  You may well find that the blog as a whole is the first entry in the list, while the individual blog post may or may not appear as a secondary item.

The blog as a whole will often appear above an individual blog post since it has many more links pointing to it.  This blog will list more recent blog posts above the blog post of interest.  This can mean that a keyword searcher may have to scroll down the blog to find the post that is really of interest.  Google will eventually stop showing the blog as a whole in the keyword search and show only the individual blog post but it can take some time.

A More Elegant Face To The Blog

Classic Dad Face by lemonjenny

Clearly if someone does a Google keyword search, then clicking on the result should take them immediately to the most appropriate individual blog post.  That should be true whether it is the most recent blog post or a blog post that appeared very recently.  There is a very simple way of ensuring that only one blog post is on the front of the blog and that is to select one blog post as the default value under the Reading section in the Admin panel.

The sharp reader will realize that this setting of one blog post would also apply automatically to archived pages as well.  One way around that is to use the Custom Query String WordPress plug-in.  This allows you to select the number of pages for each of the archive pages.  The solution below has an easier way of handling this problem.

The SEO Dilemma

Another problem the sharp reader may spot is that this approach brings with it another dilemma.  One normally wishes to avoid two web pages that look very similar since this duplicate content may confuse the search engine and neither version may rank as highly as it should.  The single.php webpage will only be displaying a very similar web page to that shown by the index.php page while it is the most recent post.  As soon as another post is written, then thereafter there is only one web page for that particular blog post.

Any problems this duplicate content issue might create are much less severe than those created by the traditional multi-post front page visibility discussed above.

How To Make That Elegant Face – Multiple Loops

If you do wish to go with a front page for your blog that features only one blog post, then you should consider what other information might be useful to your reader.  One possibility is to show a list of the most popular posts from the past so that the reader can explore other posts that may appeal to them.  Here is an image typifying what might then appear.

blog with post and list in wordpress

This is easily arranged using a multiple loop approach.  A blog post giving details on this multiple loops approach can be found on one of my other blogs that uses this approach.  This also includes a way of having the front page show only one post without using the general setting of the number of posts displayed in the Reading Admin Panel.  Other archive pages can then display the number of posts preferred by the blog owner.

Conclusion

If you are already using a single post front page for your blog, then why not add a comment so t
hat readers can explore other examples.  If you disagree with this approach, then why not set out your reasons.  Either way we can all learn from each other.

Barry Welford

Offering practical, effective ways of strengthening Internet marketing strategy and getting bottom-line success, particularly through local SEO.

BPWrap

You May Also Like

3 Responses to “Giving Your WordPress Blog An Elegant Face”

  1. [...] Adding elegance to WordPress WordPress is a popular favorite among bloggers because it is very user-friendly which makes life easier for bloggers and SEO practitioners alike. One problem when a Google inquiry is done is that it reflects the same wordpress page twice, making the searcher doubtful in clicking both because it might mean duplicate content. So as a WordPress user, what should you do? You can do the multiple loops approach as stated in this blog entry. [...]

  2. Jason says:

    I just found word press themes the other day because I needed a blog for a website I was doing. It was so simple to set up and works great.

  3. [...] Giving Your WordPress Blog An Elegant Face – 05/20/2009 SSc [...]