Sminso http://sminso.com WordPress Solutions Mon, 05 May 2014 11:36:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Easy Way to Track Affiliate Links in WordPress http://sminso.com/easy-way-track-affiliate-links-wordpress/ http://sminso.com/easy-way-track-affiliate-links-wordpress/#respond Mon, 05 May 2014 11:36:45 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1331 For some bloggers when they learn about affiliate marketing it is eye opening.  They realize that by signing up for an affiliate program and putting a link on their website they have the potential to make a lot of money.  The problem is they often go overboard and end up with a site full of ugly […]

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For some bloggers when they learn about affiliate marketing it is eye opening.  They realize that by signing up for an affiliate program and putting a link on their website they have the potential to make a lot of money.  The problem is they often go overboard and end up with a site full of ugly links that no one wants to see.

After signing up for several different affiliate accounts and copying over all those links it hits them, “how am I supposed to handle all of these links?”  Every time they want to add a link to a post or somewhere else on their site they have to log in to the account, copy the link and insert it.  You could probably get clever and have a spreadsheet that had a list of all your links, but this could become tedious.  The best solution I have found is to use a WordPress plugin called Pretty Link.

Why use Pretty Link?

Affiliate links are usually long and hard to manage.  They have lots of different numbers and words and symbols in them.  They just don’t look right!  With pretty link you can make your links whatever you want. For example I have this link for my WPengine affiliate account: http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=394686&u=607501&m=41388&urllink=&afftrack=.  As you can see it is quite ugly.  To make it easier I have made a pretty link of: http://sminso.com/go/wpengine, both these links take you to the same place, just one looks a little nicer.

Pretty link will also track the number of clicks your links get over a set time period.  This will give you a great snap shot of how well your links are working and how effective they have been.  For more in depth analytics I always suggest using Google Analytics.

Another cool trick

Another reason to use the pretty link WordPress plugin is that you have control over the links.  What this means is if something changes, say you want to recommend a different hosting provider, or that one goes out of business you can simply change where the pretty link is pointed and it will update for the entire site.  This could save you countless hours of wasted time and frustration.  In the example above if I wanted to start recommending A2 Hosting I could change the target link of http://sminso.com/go/wpengine to point at A2 Hosting.  While this is not the most descriptive link, at least it would be going to the right place on all of my old links.  I can create a new link for all future recommendations of A2 Hosting.

What now?

If you are not using pretty link go get it installed on your WordPress site.  It will save you a ton of aggravation and keep your affiliate marketing attempts organized.  The lite version is free while the pro version starts at $37.  I have not found a good reason to get that yet, but maybe you will!  If you know any affiliate marketers that would benefit from this information feel free to send it to them!

 

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Why I changed my website, again http://sminso.com/why-i-changed-my-website-again/ http://sminso.com/why-i-changed-my-website-again/#respond Sat, 26 Apr 2014 14:41:14 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=106 I have had the sminso.com domain name for 3 years now. I have changed the look and design of the site 8 times in just these 3 years. This latest design change has been my best and I think it is one I will keep for a long time. I have the advantage of being […]

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I have had the sminso.com domain name for 3 years now. I have changed the look and design of the site 8 times in just these 3 years. This latest design change has been my best and I think it is one I will keep for a long time. I have the advantage of being able to create a new website design at any time as it is what I do!

Why I changed the design of my website?

This design change had a few more reasons than just being bored.

  1. Flexing my coding muscles:  I am a WordPress developer so it is not like I have a lot of other muscles to flex! I find it important to show my potential clients what my capabilities are. By creating a new website that shows more of what I can do I will have a better chance of impressing potential clients.
  2. Added a portfolio:  I know, it’s crazy!  I didn’t have a portfolio before this update. This was not a strategy of mine to hide the fact that I have done very few websites or anything, it was just an oversight. While I still was able to keep customers coming in, I think the flow may have been more steady and of a higher quality if I displayed my work.
  3. New Features:  I have wanted to add a store to my site for a while now. I have been developing WordPress themes for 8 years now and I have yet to venture into the theme business. With the addition of my store I can add more income to my business.
  4. Get me excited again:  I rarely post on my blog, I barely ever update my site, and it has become kind of stale. With a new site design and some cool new features it will motivate me again to post more, keep my site updated, and create many more awesome things.
  5. Sminso rebrand:  I used to concentrate more on online business than WordPress development. The WordPress stuff makes me smile and therefore is where I am putting all of my effort. I have the added bonus compared to other developers of knowing how to create websites that not only look amazing but also convert visitors into paying customers.

My Goals for this new design

With this new design I am hoping to accomplish a few things.

  1. Create an incredible user experience
  2. Re-brand Sminso as a WordPress company
  3. Add a WordPress store
  4. Get more followers and readers of the blog
  5. Improve my SEO
  6. Impress potential clients with the new design and the portfolio

Only time and data will tell! Be on the look-out for a follow-up post discussing the results.

What next?

If you are reading this blog you probably have a WordPress site of your own. How often do you change your theme or design? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep the blog going? If you are a developer, do you find yourself changing your design and adding new features a lot? Leave your responses in the comments, I cannot wait to hear them!

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Why do you blog? http://sminso.com/why-do-you-blog/ http://sminso.com/why-do-you-blog/#respond Fri, 10 Jan 2014 17:09:56 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1271 If you have been to the Sminso blog lately is has been a little forgotten for a while. This is not because I have nothing to share, or because I have lost interest. My life got in the way. While my wife and I travelled we spent a lot of our free time exploring new […]

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If you have been to the Sminso blog lately is has been a little forgotten for a while. This is not because I have nothing to share, or because I have lost interest. My life got in the way.

While my wife and I travelled we spent a lot of our free time exploring new areas. During our travels we spent time in Philadelphia, Boston, Cape Cod, Maine, Vermont, Ohio, Chicago, and Buffalo. We are now finally back in sunny Florida and I again have time to blog.

During my travels I had a lot of time to think about my business and what I wanted it to become. I have a lot of great things coming in the future, so stay tuned!

While I was brainstorming I knew I wanted to get my blog back up and running. It had been a long time since I had posted and I knew it was not great for my business. I build websites for people and when they ask how they can increase their rankings in the search engines my answer is often, “blog”.

I blog to share my knowledge

If you are going to blog I think it is extremely important to understand why you do it. If you are just blogging to bring in new business or to grow your rankings in the search engines, your posts will come off as “salesy” and sound like they are written for robots (stop keyword stuffing!).

I knew when I was blogging that I had a lot more customers coming in, too many in fact! I know that blogging helps grow your business but if that is the only reason that you are doing it, well its just not right.

You should blog to do something for others that are in your target market. If you are a graphic artist write posts about how to chose a graphic artist, not how to use photoshop. If you are a real estate agent write posts about things to do in the area, how to handle the stress of buying a house, or how to spot a bad neighborhood.

I blog to share my knowledge about using WordPress as an online business tool, and in turn it brings in more customers.

Blogging helps build a relationship

When you blog about a topic often enough you become an expert in that field. When you help people accomplish there goals or think in a different way just from a blog post you gain there trust and they are more likely to become a customer of yours in the near future.

Why do you blog?

In the comments let me know why it is that you blog. If you don’t have the answer start to think about it and really put some thought, this is something you need to know in order to really bring value to your readers.

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Stop pleasing everyone and create loyal customers http://sminso.com/stop-pleasing-everyone-and-create-loyal-customers/ http://sminso.com/stop-pleasing-everyone-and-create-loyal-customers/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 14:57:11 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1133 Recently my wife and I started traveling around the United States. We sold our house, packed our tiny honda civic and started our journey. Being from Florida and wanting to escape the heat we decided to check out Bangor Maine first. While in Bangor we kept our Sunday morning bagel place tradition alive by going […]

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Recently my wife and I started traveling around the United States. We sold our house, packed our tiny honda civic and started our journey. Being from Florida and wanting to escape the heat we decided to check out Bangor Maine first.

While in Bangor we kept our Sunday morning bagel place tradition alive by going to a local bagel shop called Bagel Central. While we loved the bagels, they were definitely different than your typical bagel. Most bagels are a little chewy, and fluffy. The bagels from Bagel central were more dense, a little “crumby”, but full of awesome flavors.

Every time we went to this place it was packed. Their product was slightly different than most bagel places, but customers loved it. I am sure some first time visitors come in expecting your typical bagel and get something totally different. While most of the time I am sure the new variation rocks their world, some people will not like it.

While most places that have a product try to be like everyone else Bagel Central has made something different and created a huge loyal following.

Bagel Central Bangor

So what does this have to do with online business?

Other than making you salivate over the thought of bagels, I bet you are thinking “why are you telling me this?”

If you want to create a following and customer base that is loyal, loves your product, and promotes it to all of their friends then stop trying to be like everyone else.  TWEET THIS

Stop pleasing everyone: Instead of creating a product or service that everyone will like, create a product that a select few will LOVE.

Find your perfect customer: Take a second to think of your ideal customer. Now think of all the features they not only need and want, but the ones they didn’t know were possible. Find a way to completely rock your ideal customers world, trust me their are more than just this one customer out there.

Dare to be different: Instead of creating another product that has all the same features as everyone else’s. You will probably get customers, but not a loyal following. Do something your visitors need, but do it different.

Basecamp from 37signals is a prime example of this. They created a product (project management software) but made it simple. Their product is not as feature rich as others, but it looks amazing, is easy to use, and always works. They don’t care that they have less features, they just care that the features they do have work and help there customers move their business forward.

Emphasize your differences: If you do something different, let it be known. Don’t hide the fact that you are a small business, or that you use the highest quality ingredients in your pies. Find what sets you apart and let it be known!

Be amazing at what makes you different: If you are going to do something different, don’t just do it different, do it right. If you make pies using a different ingredient then be the best at it. If you make websites using only grayscale, make the best black and white websites in the world.

Making it all work for you

So now that you have read this you probably want to go out and do something crazy with your business, don’t. It might take time, but you will eventually find your difference and how to use it to your advantage. It will come to you, just give it time.  Stay focused on growing your business and one day your “aha moment” will come.

If you already have customers send them a survey a find out what they love about what you do. You may be surprised about what really matters to your customers. Find it, make it even better, and let it be known to everyone.

Already know your difference? Like us on Facebook and tell us what makes you different.

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Where is my WordPress login URL? http://sminso.com/where-is-my-wordpress-login-url/ http://sminso.com/where-is-my-wordpress-login-url/#respond Tue, 03 Sep 2013 14:29:17 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1144 You have created a new WordPress website, how exciting!  You have all these great ideas for new content, images you want to add, and even some cool ideas for your first blog post. But where the heck do you login? It is a common question that new WordPress users have, how do I login so […]

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You have created a new WordPress website, how exciting!  You have all these great ideas for new content, images you want to add, and even some cool ideas for your first blog post. But where the heck do you login?

It is a common question that new WordPress users have, how do I login so I can start adding content?  When you first install WordPress it should send you an email with the URL for logging in.  If you do not have that email anymore or it did not get to your inbox, fear not we are here to help!

The URL for you to login should be at http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin go ahead and try it now!  (obviously replace yourdomain.com with your own domain name).

Once there you can use your login details setup for you when you first installed WordPress.  If you do not remember those (perhaps write them down next time?) you can do a password reset by clicking on the password reset link at the bottom of the login page.  You will need the email address used to create your account in order to retrieve your password.

My WordPress login URL is not at mydomain.com/wp-admin

IWordPress Login URLf this is the case no worries, all is not lost!  You can login through your hosting cpanel and take a look in the phpmyadmin database and find the url.  It will be in the options table and look for the option that is labeled site_url.  Just add wp-admin to the end of that.  This is necessary sometimes when WordPress is installed in a different directory than the default.  This is usually done by a developer for security reasons so people can not easily find how to login to your WordPress site.

The above tip is not for beginners!  If you are not familiar with databases or MySQL do not attempt it, as one wrong click could have you starting from scratch.  My suggestion is to hire a developer to help you find your login URL. (we do this)

Once you have the Login URL be sure to bookmark it this time, along with this page so you can easily get back to it next time it gets lost.

Share this with your Twitter followers so they can find their lost WordPress login URL when it goes missing.

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10 Steps to Supercharge Your New WordPress Website http://sminso.com/10-steps-supercharge-new-wordpress-website/ http://sminso.com/10-steps-supercharge-new-wordpress-website/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:55:33 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1123 When WordPress is first installed it gets setup with some default settings.  These settings are intended to get you started, however if you want to give your new WordPress blog/website the best starting point it is best to make a few changes. Here are 10 things I do with every new install of WordPress: Block […]

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When WordPress is first installed it gets setup with some default settings.  These settings are intended to get you started, however if you want to give your new WordPress blog/website the best starting point it is best to make a few changes.

Here are 10 things I do with every new install of WordPress:

  1. Block search engines from indexing: This is to keep them from indexing my site before it looks good.  I want to get a theme installed and at least some content up there before the search engines come snooping around.To change this go to Settings > Reading.  Towards the bottom is a checkbox, make sure it is checked!
  2. Change Permalink Settings: By default WordPress displays your links in a way that is easy for WordPress to understand, but does not look so great for your users or the Search Engines.  Change it to the %postname% setting to get something that everyone will love!  Again do this before you get indexed so the right links get indexed!To change this go to Settings > Permalinks.  Select the Postname radio button and then hit the save button at the bottom.
  3. Change admin username: This is a big one.  WordPress is hands down the most popular CMS for building a website.  Because of this many people try to hack into others sites and inject malware code.  One step in avoiding this is to change the default admin username to something not so easy for them to guess.  Using your full name ie: JohnSmith as the username is a good option, or anything else you would remember but someone else would not figure out so easily.To change this you will need to create a new user with admin privileges and then log out and back in with the new account and deleting the old one with the username Admin.
  4. Change date and time settings:  Be sure that the date settings are correct for your time zone.  This will help when posting so people know how old or new your content is.To do this visit Settings > General.  About halfway down is where you can select your time zone.  After you update it be sure to save the changes by scrolling to the bottom and saving.
  5. Update WordPress:  Sometimes when you do a fresh install of WordPress you may have not downloaded the latest version.  It is extremely important to always be up to date as a lot of the new releases come with not only new features but also security patches.  This will happen a lot when you do a one click install from hosts like hostgator or blue host.  They sometimes do not update there install to the latest version, be sure you do it though!If there is an update for WordPress it will show in Dashboard > Updates.  Be sure to backup your site before following the on screen instructions!
  6. Delete “Hello World!” Post:  When first installed WordPress creates a sample post for your blog. It is called “hello world”. Delete this post and create a new one for your first post on your new blog. The reason for this is spammers know about these default posts so they can do a search for any blog that still has it and leave a comment.To delete this go to Posts > All Posts.  Hover over the “Hello World!” post and click on trash.  The post is no more!
  7. Delete “Sample Page” Page: WordPress also comes with a sample page. Delete it and create your pages that you will need. I usually make at least a blog, about, and contact page.Pretty much same steps as above.  Visit Pages > All Pages and hover over the “Sample Page” and click on trash.
  8. Check Admin Email Address: Inside the general settings is a place for the Administrators email address. Double check it and make sure it is correct. If you forget your password this being correct will make the password recovery process a lot quicker. This email address is also where WordPress will send all comment notifications.To check go to Settings > General and make sure your email address is the one for the field “email address”.  If not update it and remember to save using the button at the bottom of the page!
  9. Check Display Name: When you write a post and someone views it they will be able to see the name of who wrote the post. Make sure it displays your first name, or first and last and not your user name. You do not want to give that out to the entire world!Click on Users > All Users.  Select your username (should not be admin!).  Scroll down to the name section and the last option is how you want your name to be displayed publicly.  Select the option you want (tip if you want something different set a nickname and then select that from the dropdown).  Be sure to save using the save changes button at the very bottom.
  10. Install Google Analytics: It is important to have as much data about your visitors right from the start. Installing Google analytics on day one will only help with this information gathering. I would suggest using this plugin to install the tracking code. This will ensure that if you change themes the tracking code remains in place.

BONUS TIP!!!!

Write Your First Post: Now that everything is configured it is time to start writing! Once you get a post or two written be sure to unblock the search engines.

To write your first post go to Posts > Add New.  Create a title, write some content and hit that big publish button in the right sidebar.  Congratulations on your first of many!

To unblock the search engines just follow the steps from tip #1, but uncheck the box this time and hit save!

The above tips are a great way to give your new WordPress site the best chance. There are many more ways you can customize and modify WordPress, these are just the ones I find myself doing most often on new WordPress installs. Be sure to bookmark this page for reference the next time you are installing WordPress.  Once you have started your site be sure to check out our tips for improving your WordPress website.

If you are looking for more tips about getting started with WordPress join the Sminso newsletter to get tips and tricks delivered right to your inbox.

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Mobile Responsive Design and WordPress, What You Need to Know http://sminso.com/mobile-responsive-wordpress-need-know/ http://sminso.com/mobile-responsive-wordpress-need-know/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 12:27:26 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1112 Mobile responsive websites are all you hear about these days. In the old days (like 3 years ago) you needed to have a desktop and mobile version of your site, or a mobile app if you wanted to account for mobile users. Only extremely large companies with large budgets could afford to have 2 websites […]

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Mobile responsive websites are all you hear about these days. In the old days (like 3 years ago) you needed to have a desktop and mobile version of your site, or a mobile app if you wanted to account for mobile users. Only extremely large companies with large budgets could afford to have 2 websites built for them so smaller businesses lost out. Another prohibitive factor for small businesses and blog owners looking to take advantage of mobile traffic is that maintaining two separate online entities (desktop and mobile) is extremely time consuming and costly.

This has all changed with the introduction of mobile responsive websites. You can now just have one version of your site and it will work on many different device sizes. A lot of today’s WordPress themes are coming mobile responsive out of the box. This means all you have to do is choose a theme that has this capability and your site will look great on every mobile device right from the start.

Why this matters to WordPress users

Every year more and more people adopt the use of smart phones and tablets. With such an increase in traffic to websites from smartphones and tablets it is important that your site look good for these users as well. Using mobile responsive technology you can ensure that they will have a great experience on your WordPress website no matter what device they are using.

The idea behind mobile responsive design is to provide a great user experience on your site no matter what screen size or operating system being used. The page elements should resize and shift accordingly to give the user the best and easiest browsing experience possible. Traditionally cellphone users would need to zoom and scroll to navigate a website. When your website is mobile responsive this is not necessary because page elements will move, resize, and accommodate the smaller screen sizes making it easier on the viewer.

Another great benefit of using a WordPress theme that is mobile responsive is they are easier to maintain than having both a mobile version/mobile app along side a desktop website. Before mobile responsive WordPress themes you would need to make your changes to all the different versions. This can be time consuming and costs more money. Having a website that is designed to be mobile responsive alleviates all of these issues by giving you one place to make your changes. One website to maintain is a beautiful thing!

How to check if your WordPress site is mobile responsive.

The quickest way to see what your website looks like on a smaller screen size is to grab a mobile device and look at it on there. Is the content easy to see or do you need to zoom and scroll a lot? If you have to zoom and scroll a lot then your WordPress site is not mobile responsive.

Another way to test is to resize your browser window while looking at your site. Do the elements move to better fit the smaller screen size or does everything stay where it is? A good example of this in action is the site you are currently on, pretty cool right?

What to do if yours is not!

Don’t worry, all is not lost. It is not time for you to throw your entire site out the window. WordPress uses a template based system so you can simply change your template (let’s call it an upgrade) to a theme that is mobile responsive ready.

The genesis framework child themes for the most part are mobile responsive right out of the box. All you do is install genesis, then install the child theme and you have a mobile responsive WordPress website. If you are a bit more adventurous and want to create your own child themes using the Genesis framework it will start out mobile responsive.

Looking for something free? While the genesis framework is great it does come with a cost. Studio press offers amazing support, so you end up paying more for the the theme and framework. There are free mobile responsive themes out there, just the support, security, and quality is not the same. Here is a very solid free mobile responsive theme. http://wordpress.org/themes/responsive

But I don’t want to change my theme. If you love the way your site looks and don’t want to change your theme, well it could still be made mobile responsive. You will need to hire a developer; this can be quite expensive as it is quite time consuming to make the conversion. You also could try looking for a newer theme that has the same look and feel, but comes mobile responsive.

Another route you can take is to hire a developer to make you a theme that is mobile responsive and looks just like your current site. You will be getting a new website so this is a great time to add on any new features you have always wanted to have. The cost will be more expensive then the above options, but that cost will be offset by the better user experience you give to your visitors which will result in more traffic and ultimately more conversions.

Is your WordPress website mobile ready?

If it is and looks great on all screen sizes leave a link in the comments for all to see.

Have a favorite site that has a great mobile device ready layout? Leave a link in the comments for these as well.

If you know of anyone that is not using a mobile ready WordPress theme share this article so they can learn how to take their site out of the stone age!

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Your next WordPress project should be built with the Genesis Framework http://sminso.com/your-next-wordpress-project-should-be-built-with-the-genesis-framework/ http://sminso.com/your-next-wordpress-project-should-be-built-with-the-genesis-framework/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2013 15:45:15 +0000 http://sminso.com/?p=1071 With so many different WordPress themes out there it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect one.  You want to find something that is secure, light weight (speed matters), expandable, and is still being supported.  While there are many great themes out there, one has set itself apart from all the others; the Genesis Framework […]

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With so many different WordPress themes out there it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect one.  You want to find something that is secure, light weight (speed matters), expandable, and is still being supported.  While there are many great themes out there, one has set itself apart from all the others; the Genesis Framework from Studiopress.

I personally have been using the Genesis Framework for 1.5 years now, and I refuse to develop on anything else.  Sminso.com is built using a custom child theme on the Genesis framework.  Genesis when you first look at it may seem like it is just for developers, this is not true at all.  There are many great child themes that can be used right out of the box to build yourself a great looking WordPress website.

So without stalling any longer, here are my top reasons you should use the Genesis Framework for your next WordPress project

1. Excellent Support

Studiopress (the makers of Genesis) have a great support community.  If you run into an issue they have a support ticket system that rocks and an amazing support forum full of active users that are willing to help.  Sometimes things go wrong, it is great to know that you have a support system there for when they do.

2. State of the art security

WordPress does have its vulnerabilities when not used correctly.  Dealing with a hacked site is a nightmare!  Genesis uses all of the WordPress security best practices so you can worry less.

3. SEO Optimized

Right out the box your site will have a jump start on sites built using different themes.  Code that is optimized and updated for the latest search engine technologies is just the tip of the iceberg of how the Genesis Framework will get you recognized by search engines.

4. HTML 5

With the release of Genesis 2.0 we got HTML5 support.  Your theme will be fast, reliable, and future compatible right from the start.  Your WordPress site will be truly responsive and multi browser compatible.

5. Mobile Responsive

Almost all of the Genesis child themes are mobile responsive.  Your website will look great on every device from smart phones to tablets.  The framework itself if you are creating your own child theme is mobile responsive as well, so code away!

6. Great looking child themes!

Remember those child themes I keep telling you about?  I was not kidding they look great!  Using one of these will give you a great start to your new WordPress website.  Here are a few that I really like:

 7. Microdata

Help search engines learn more about your content with schema.org microdata.  The microdata markup is handled for you by Genesis so you don’t have to worry about it.  Just know that it is extremely important and your new blog is going to have it, be excited!

8. Multiple widget and layout options

Right upon install you will have multiple layouts to choose from and implement.  These layouts help you customize your theme to fit your need.  You can choose a different layout for each page, so the options are almost endless.

Time to make a choice

Studiopress is the best of the premium theme makers and you should use them for your next WordPress website.  You get the power of an awesome framework and the support of an amazing community.

I have been using the Genesis Framework from Studiopress for 1.5 years now, if you have any questions about it and what it can do leave them in the comments or find me on Facebook.

Get the Genesis Framework

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