Favicons and your online brand

Those used to tabbed browsing know why favicons are important. Your site will stand out from the rest if your favicon is recognizable. After all, a picture says more than a thousand words. Personally, I often find myself pinning websites in Google Chrome, still my browser of choice. As a to-do list, or simply because I want Gmail at hand anytime. Or that specific spreadsheet in Sheets. Or Facebook. That little favicon is the only reference to what site is hidden in that tab. You simply need a good favicon for your website.

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Make your favicon stand out

You should make sure your favicon stands out from that long list of tabs. Check if it matches your logo and website well. Especially when you are not one of the big brands, you want people to recognize your favicon. Two tips directly related to that are:

  • avoid too many details in your favicon,
  • and please use the right colors, so the favicon doesn’t blend in with the gray of your browser tab.

Both are closely related to branding. Your brand should be recognizable in your favicon. Although we’re able to use more colors and more depth in our favicons nowadays, the fact is that the space available on that browser still hasn’t improved from the small 16×16 pixels it used to be in the early days. It doesn’t look like 16×16 pixels anymore, but that’s because we have better screens, not because that space increased. The main improvement is that lines are sharper and you can use all the colors you want.

Proper branding is making sure people will relate your favicon to your website immediately. I listed a number of favicons for you to test. Drop me a line in the comments about what favicon belongs to what brand:

favicons quiz

Too easy? In that case, these brands did a good job on translating their brand to their favicon.

SEO benefits of favicons

Are there real SEO benefits to favicons? Tough one. Besides branding, probably not, though opinions may differ on this a bit. One might argue that you can now add an image of 1MB as a favicon and that this will slow down loading times. You could say that a proper favicon highlights a bookmark and might increase return visitors. I have even found a story where someone stated that some browsers automatically look for a favicon and return a 404 if it’s not there.

My 2 cents? If there is an SEO benefit, it’s so small that all other optimization, like proper site structure or great copy, should always have priority. Does that mean you don’t need that favicon? Hey, didn’t you read that part about browser tabs? You do need it, even if it’s just to stand out.

WordPress just made your day: favicons in the Customizer

If you use WordPress, you might already know that there’s been a favicon functionality in WordPress core since version 4.3. So you can use this default functionality, without hassle. It’s located in the Customizer and is called Site Icon. In fact, WordPress recommends using this option to add a favicon. You don’t even need to create a favicon.ico file, like you used to, years ago. Just use a square image, preferably at least 512 pixels wide and tall. That seems to contradict with the recommendation to keep it as small as possible. But if you optimize your image, it won’t slow down your site :)

More information on how to go about this in WordPress is in the WordPress Codex. Go read and add a nice favicon to your own site!

Read more: ‘5 tips on branding’ »

Ultimate guide to small business SEO

SEO isn’t just for large companies. As a small business or local business, there is actually a lot you can do to achieve local goals yourself. Many of these things relate to focus. In this ultimate guide for local and small business SEO, we’ll tell you about finding your niche, optimizing pages and social media efforts.

Way back in 2014 we promised you in our post on local SEO that we’d be writing a bit more about local and small businesses. Considering that local SEO is basically the optimization process for the local results in search engines, we can say that local SEO is often closely related to small business SEO. This is why we decided to discuss both in this article.

In this article, you’ll find a variety of related topics:

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As long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, we’re not done with this subject. But in the meantime, we’d like to present you our ultimate guide to local and small business SEO. Let’s start at the beginning of your SEO process.

Finding your shop’s niche

Especially for local or small businesses, determining your niche is very important. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your products or brand unique, therefore improving your odds to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can locally compete with large national brands in spite of their multi-million advertisement budgets.

Find out who your customers are and what words they use to describe your product, because people will use the same terms to find your website. Using these terms, often made into long-tail keywords, can really help you optimize your local business SEO. Make your keywords as specific as possible.  Once you’ve done all this, don’t forget to monitor your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.

Find your shop’s niche

Low budget branding

We have mentioned this over and over: branding is very important for SEO. Branding deals with things like your logo and your tagline. How do they represent your company without further context? What do your logo and tagline reveal about your values and your field of expertise? It’s all about recognition.

Read more: ‘Low budget branding tips for small businesses’ »

A tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk about this some more, further down this guide.

Start writing great content

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Many small business owners put products and contact details on their website and that’s basically it. But there is so much more to tell and share!

Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are and things like that. You can also discuss market developments or local events that relate to your business. These are just a few tips for your local SEO content strategy.

When writing your content, be realistic about the chances of that content to rank. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and/or as input for social media. But it will probably not get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s fine. Manage your expectations.

Picking the right keywords to optimize for is very important. Usually, it’s a good idea to pick mid-tail keywords, including the local area you are focusing on. It really doesn’t matter if you add this content to your site as a page or blog post. Just make sure that you write about things that people want to talk about or that make people talk about your business in a positive way.

Keep reading: ‘Improve your small business SEO today’ »

Share your content on social media

Did you know you can actually sell your products on social media itself? While that’s very cool, in most cases social media are used for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish a certain image and to get the right traffic to your company website. Social media, used in the right way, can contribute to small business SEO.

I tend to compare social media to a marketplace where all the stand owners know each other and customers browse among the products. At some point, someone will tell other visitors where to go to for a product: “The cheese over there is delicious”, “you should really check the fruit over there”. This is what real life social media are like. So make sure people start talking about you. And start talking about yourself online, to make others start talking to you on social platforms. Lastly, actively engage in social media conversations, to let people know you are listening.

Use Social Media to increase your sales

Local ranking factors that help your small business SEO

There are many things that influence your local rankings, but there is one very obvious one: your address details (NAP). Make sure to add these in the right formatting (in code), using schema.org details. You can use our Local SEO plugin for that. Furthermore, ask your web developer to dig into AMP, like Joost mentions in this Ask Yoast about AMP for small businesses. Besides that, it may help to add your city, and perhaps your state, in the title of your pages for easier recognition as well.

Google My Business

Make sure you use the exact same NAP details on both your website and your Google My Business listing. This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them. Add these details for instance in your footer and of course, on your contact page. Google My Business really is your friend if you want to rank in your specific geographical area, so get your details right!

Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Adding ratings and reviews

Google My Business, like Facebook, allows others to leave a review of your company. If your company has a good rating, people will be more inclined to click to your website from any of these two websites. Be sure to monitor and maintain these reviews.

If you get a negative review for some reason, react by solving your customer’s problem. Ask them to change their review afterwards. In other words, turn that dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador!

It’s not that hard to get involved in these reviews and ratings. Find more information on that in the article below.

Read on: ‘Get local reviews and ratings’ »

Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned above, should be backed by a sufficient amount of links from local directories like:

  1. Yelp
  2. SuperPages
  3. YP.com
  4. ReferLocal.com
  5. Yahoo
  6. Bestoftheweb
  7. etc.

You should be mentioned on these pages, for the obvious reason that this means your website is linked. If you manage to get some links from the related local websites in that directory, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that the last category of links has to be from websites that are in a related profession. It’s of no use to have your bakery website linked from an accountant’s website. 

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If your small business is closely related to other businesses that are not located in the same area, you should definitively also ask these businesses for a link. Google spiders the web link by link. If your business is linked from a website that is in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.

Near me searches

When speaking about local rankings, we also have to mention near me searches. These are searches and search suggestions that include words like “near me”, “closest”, “open” and “nearby”. Optimizing for these searches is similar to optimizing for local, but applies for global brands as well (“buy legos near me”). So you’ll have to think a bit outside of your usual box – there’s probably more to optimize for. Google really focuses on search terms like these, as you can read here:

Is that a Possum near me?

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, there are many things you can do as a small business to improve your site and rank better. You should start by focusing on your niche and emphasizing your uniqueness. Think about how you present your brand: logos and tag lines are important to give your customers an idea of who you are as a business.

You can increase your visibility by creating great content on your site, optimized for the right keywords. Also, it always helps if you present yourself actively on social media. There are several factors related to local SEO that help small businesses. Make sure Google My Business has the right details, keep track of your ratings and reviews, and try to get linked by related small businesses. Finally, try to optimize for ‘ near me’ searches.

Read more: ‘5 questions: Talking local SEO with David Mihm’ »

Domain names and their influence on SEO

We often get questions from people asking about the influence of domain names on SEO. Is there any relation at all? Does it help to include keywords like product names in your domain name? Is the influence of domain names different per location? And what’s the use of using more than one domain name for a site? In this article, I’ll answer all these questions and more.

What’s a domain name?

Let’s start at the very beginning. A domain name is an alias. It’s a convenient way to point people to that specific spot on the internet where you’ve built your website. Domain names are, generally, used to identify one or more IP addresses. So for us, that domain name is yoast.com. When we are talking about www.yoast.com, which we rarely do, the domain name is yoast.com and the subdomain is www.

Note that I deliberately included “.com” here, were others might disagree with that. In my opinion, most common uses of the word “domain name” include that top-level domain. 

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Top-level domain (TLD)

Where “yoast” is obviously our brand, the .com bit of our domain name is called TLD (or top-level domain). In the early days of the internet:

  • .com was intended for US companies,
  • .org for non-profit organizations,
  • .edu for schools and universities and
  • .gov for government websites.

We’re talking 1985. Things have changed quite a bit. For the Netherlands, we use .nl, but lots of companies are using .com instead, for instance, when the .nl domain name they wanted was already taken. Things have gotten quite blurry. These days, TLDs like .guru and .pro are available. Automattic bought .blog a while back. And what about .pizza? We call these kind of TLDs generic TLDs.

Country code TLD (ccTLD)

I’ve already mentioned the .nl TLD. We call these kinds of TLDs country code or country specific TLDs. Years ago, Tokelau – an island in the Southern Pacific Ocean – started giving away their .tk TLD for free, and thousands of enthusiasts claimed their .tk. If I would have claimed michiel.tk, there would have probably been nobody in Tokelau who could have pronounced my domain name well. It’s like .cc, which you might have heard of, because it was once promoted as the alternative to .com. It’s actually a country specific TLD belonging to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, although the people of Cypres might disagree.

This brings me to the first statement about domain names and SEO:

ccTLD or subdirectory?

If your website is available in multiple languages, you might be wondering what the best solution is: domain.com/uk/ and domain.com/de/ (subdirectories or subfolders) or domain.co.uk and domain.de (ccTLDs).

For SEO, the subdirectory makes more sense. If you use a subdirectory, all links will go to the same domain. Marketing is easy because you have one main domain. If there are language differences per subdirectory, use hreflang to tell Google about that. If you include all in one (WordPress) install, maintenance is easier. Just to name a few advantages.

Note that a subdomain, like the “www” I mentioned, is something totally different than a subdirectory. Google actually considers kb.yoast.com to be a different website than yoast.com, even though I’m sure they can connect the dots.

Age of a domain

These days, the age of a domain – referring to how long your domain already exists – doesn’t matter as much as it did before. It’s much more about the content, the site structure and basically how well your website answers the query people used in Google. To become the best result and rank top 3 for a query, you’ll have to be the best result.

As a matter of fact, John Mueller of Google confirmed just a few weeks ago that domain age doesn’t matter:

Is it that black and white? No, it’s not. Domain age as such might not influence ranking, but older domains probably have a nice amount of backlinks, pages in the search result pages etc. And obviously, that might influence ranking.

Exact Match Domain (EMD)

BuyCheapHomes.com is probably an existing domain name. This is an example of an Exact Match Domain name. In 2012, Google introduced what we now call the EMD Update. Google changed it’s algorithm, so websites that used domain names like that wouldn’t rank just for the simple fact that the keyword was in the domain name. And yes, that used to be the case, before the update.

So, after this update, does it still pay off to use a domain name that includes a keyword? Only if the rest of your website adds up. Homes.com works pretty well :) And in the Netherlands, the Dutch equivalent of cheaploans.com, goedkopeleningen.nl, probably gets a decent amount of traffic. But that’s because Google is better in English than Dutch (but catching up on that).

My advice: if you managed to build a brand around that EMD, and you still get lots of traffic, keep up the good work. If your money is still on BuyCheapHomes, please make sure your branding is absolutely top notch. You’re in the hen house and a fox might be near.

More on EMD in Moz’s The Exact Match Domain Playbook: A Guide and Best Practices for EMDs.

Branding

Following the EMD update, branding became even more important. It makes so much more sense to focus on your brand in SEO and your domain name – as opposed to just putting a keyword in the domain name – that a brand name would really be my first choice for a domain name. LEGO.com, Amazon.com, Google.com. It’s all about the brand. It’s something people will remember easily and something that will make you stand out from the crowd and competition. Your brand is here to stay (always look on the positive side of things).

Make sure your brand is unique and the right domain name is available when starting a new business. By the way, this might be the reason to claim yoast.de even if you’re mainly using yoast.com – just to make sure no one else claims it ;)

By the way, I mentioned that a (known) brand is usually easier to remember. For the same reason, I’d prefer a short domain name over a domain name like this. Pi.com was probably already taken.

Read more: ‘5 tips on branding’ »

More than one domain name for the same website

Does it pay off to claim multiple domain names and 301 redirect all the domains to the main domain name? In terms of branding: no. In terms of online ranking: probably not. The only valid reason I can think of to actively use multiple domain names for the same website, is offline and sometimes online marketing. If you have a specific project or campaign on your website that you’d like to promote separately, a second domain name might come in handy to get traffic straight to the right page on your website.

“Actively” is the main word in that last paragraph. As mentioned, feel free to register multiple domain names, just make sure not to confuse Google. Besides that, actively using multiple domain names for the same website will diffuse the links to your website. And that isn’t what you want, as mentioned at the subdirectory section as well. 

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Domain Authority (DA)

I feel I have to mention domain authority here as well, as you hear a lot about it nowadays. Domain Authority is a score that predicts how well your website will rank on the search results pages. It’s based on data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank and MozTrust scores, and dozens of other factors (more than 40 in total). Source: Moz.com. It’s Moz-specific, so if you are using Moz, go check it out. And if you are a heavy user of domain authority, please elaborate why in the comments, as it’s not a metric I use, to be honest :)

Keep reading: ‘SEO friendly URLs’ »

Ask Yoast: Give a division a separate domain?

A website of a larger company often represents multiple divisions. If one division outgrows the others, or if expectations for one division are very high, the need for a separate website or domain may arise. What’s best to do for SEO in such a case? Set up a new domain for that division? Or build it on a sub-domain? In this Ask Yoast, we help you determine the best solution in case a division wants its own website.

Brooke Brown of smartbridge.com emailed us with this question:

“One division of our company is getting more presence, so they want to build that division its own website. What’s the best option?

1. Build it on a new domain like smartbridgemobility.com;
2. Build it on a totally separate domain;
3. Build it on a sub-domain like mobility.smartbridge.com.”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Division on separate domain

In the video, we help you decide what’s best for SEO if you want to give a division a separate website:

“Well Brooke, first of all I consider myself pretty good at branding and if your brand “Smartbridge” is strong, I would consider doing something much simpler. I would make it smartbridge.com/mobility. Give it its own look and feel, but keep it on one domain.

If you don’t want to do that, but you want to separate the two, then I would give it an entire brand for itself. Because that probably is best in the long run to sell or whatever you want to do with it. I’m not a big fan of sub-domains because they lead, or can lead, to all sorts of technical issues. And they’re a bit of nothing really. It’s not its own brand, it’s far too attached to your main domain.

So I would probably choose a sub-folder and if you can’t do that I would choose a completely different brand. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO basics: What is content marketing?

Content marketing consists of all marketing activities that focus on creating and sharing information. It should be part of every SEO strategy, but it’s also crucial for branding. The idea of content marketing is that sharing valuable information is a great way to attract an audience and to build a brand. Blogging is one of the most well-known ways of content marketing. In this post, I’ll explain what content marketing is, why content marketing is important for SEO and how you should set up a content marketing strategy.

What is content marketing?

Sharing valuable information for free is the very essence of content marketing. Your audience will benefit from the information and will perceive you and your company as experts in a particular field. In the end, your expertise will be the reason why people will buy your products or services.

At Yoast, content marketing is one of the main things we do. We share our knowledge. We write about SEO on our blog and share this on Social Media and in our newsletter. And although it might feel contradictory, giving away our knowledge has a very positive effect on the sales of our eBooks and courses. Our audience perceive us as experts (probably through all the blog post we write) and are willing to pay money to get more of that knowledge.

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Why is content marketing important for SEO?

Writing content is a key aspect of Search Engine Optimization. Google reads your text, indexes the text and ranks it. If you do your content marketing correctly, you will write a lot of copy related to the terms your audience is searching for. Your website will pop up more and more often, as you write more blog posts. Overall, your rankings will go up, when you start doing content marketing. And, all of these new visitors are potential buyers. So, in addition to increasing the traffic, content marketing could increase your sales as well.

How do you set up a content marketing strategy?

Make sure to think about cornerstone content when you are setting up a new content marketing strategy. You should have about 4 or 5 articles that are invaluable to you, your company and your audience. These articles should be informative posts or pages. When you have written these articles (and of course, you can add stuff and change them over time!), you should write tons of other blog post about topics similar to these cornerstone articles. Make sure though, you write each of these new blogpost from another angle or about another subtopic. And don’t forget to link to your cornerstone articles from these blogposts.

Read more: ‘What type of content should a cornerstone article be?’ »

Low-budget branding for small businesses

Over the last year, we’ve written quite a bit about branding. Branding is often associated with investing lots of money in marketing and promotion. Branding is about getting people to relate to your company and products. Branding is about trying to make your brand synonym for a certain product or service. This can be a lengthy and hard project. It can potentially cost you all of your revenue. However, for a lot of small business owners, the investment in branding will have to be made with a relatively small budget. In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on how to go about your own low-budget branding.

Psst… want to learn how to make your online shop a ranking machine? Stay tuned, because next week we’ll launch our Shop SEO eBook!

Brand values

Branding with a limited budget starts with defining your company’s and your brand’s values. You need to think about what you, as a brand, want to communicate to the world. This is obviously totally free, provided you are capable of doing this yourself. It’s a pretty hard task when you think of it. It’s about your mission, the things that make your brand your brand. Brand values relate to Cialdini’s seventh principle, Unity.

My favorite example illustrating that unity is outdoor brands like Patagonia and The North Face, which make you feel included in their business ‘family’. We are all alike, share the same values. By being able to relate to these brands and their values, we are more enticed to buy their products. It’s a brand for us, outdoor people.

Take some time to define your brand values. That way you’re able to communicate your main message in a clear and consistent way. It makes your marketing all the easier. You’ll be able to create brand ambassadors, even on a budget.

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Come up with a proper tagline

Now that you have defined your brand values, it’s time to summarize all of this into one single tagline. WordPress’ mission is to “democratize publishing“. In your tagline, you reflect your values and combine these with your added value for the customer, user or visitor. Again, be consistent. If you set a tagline, your actions and products should relate to that tagline, actually even be based upon it. It summarizes your business.

Rethink your logo

Having a great logo is essential. When designing that logo, you’ll have to keep in mind that it’s probably something you’ll have for years. It’s the main thing – besides yourself – that will trigger (brand) recognition. Not that you will never be allowed to change your logo, but don’t ‘just’ add a logo. Think about how it stands out from other logos, for instance on a local sponsor board. We actually did this with our current one.

Design that logo, print it, stick it on your fridge for a week or so, and see if there’s anything about it that starts to annoy you. If so, back to the drawing board. Feel like you don’t relate to it in terms of business values or even personality? Back to the drawing board. When talking about low-budget branding, designing a great logo is probably your most expensive task.

We still haven’t spent that much money, right? But then, we just designed the basis.

Online low-budget branding

You might be a local bakery with 10 employees, or a local industrial company employing up to 500 people. These all can be qualified as ‘small business’. All have the same main goal when they start: the need to establish a name in their field of expertise. There are multiple ways to do this, without a huge budget. Low-budget branding is facilitated by the surplus of social media. Low-budget branding is possible because of all the blogs that relate to your niche.

Costs?

I do a lot of local networking, because I really like the city we live in, and the huge variety of entrepreneurs that work in Wijchen (our hometown). During network meetings, one of the phrases I often hear is: “Social media is just costing me too much time”. To be honest, it might be wise to stop whining about the costs and start seeing the revenue social media can bring you. It really is the easiest and probably one of the cheapest ways to promote your brand. Basically, it costs you time and time alone (depending on how aggressive you want to use the medium).

Share your expertise

Twitter is used to keep in touch with like-minded business owners. Discover the huge number of Facebook groups in your area, and/or in your field of expertise. Bond with people that share the same values. Feel free to answer questions in your field of business, be sure to do this with confidence. Position yourself as the to-go-to company for these questions. Help people that way and create brand ambassadors.

Scary? No. But you really have to put some effort in establishing your position. It won’t happen overnight. Before we became a business, Joost was already sharing content/expertise and our open source software. He engaged actively in forum and social media discussions about WordPress and SEO. Commenting on other people’s blogs. Time before revenue: 8 years. I’m not saying you need to wait eight years before making money with your passion. But I do think that you should be able to write, comment and take a stand in topics that matter to you from the start.

Make yourself visible

Eventually, it all comes back to business values. Everything you communicate should reflect these values. It’ll give you guidelines and will make sure your message is delivered in the same way, always. Low-budget branding might be just about that: making yourself visible, in a consistent way.

Any additions and your own experiences in this are welcome.

Read more: ‘5 tips on branding’ »

Planning your website like your holiday

Planning your website is much like planning your holiday. If you rush into things, your hotel might be crappy, the surroundings without anything to do, and you might even pay way too much for it. Here, I’ll explain the process of planning a (new) website from scratch. And make that process clear by highlighting similarities with planning a holiday.

Your website is like your holiday

We are all working towards our summer holiday, right? Our kids have their last month at school and the office is buzzing with holiday destinations. In the back of our mind, we’re already thinking about that sunny day at the beach this summer. It struck me how many similarities there are between planning your holiday and planning your website. Think about it:

  • Why are you going on a holiday / why are you setting up a website?
  • What is your destination / what is the main goal of your website?
  • Where do you want to go sightseeing / what do you want your visitor to see?
  • Will you be using a travel agency / are you going to build the site yourself?
  • What is your budget?

I’m sure you can come up with more similarities, but let’s focus on these five in this article!

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What are we going to do?

You can set deadlines all you want, if the purpose of your website isn’t clear, you might as well not set up a website. It’s like planning a trip without thinking about what kind of trip you want to make. Spending two weeks on a beach is totally different from hiking from mountain top to mountain top.

There are a couple of things to consider up front for your website:

  • Is your website strictly meant as an online brochure / reference material?
  • Do you want people to get in touch with you?
  • Is your website a place to sell stuff immediately (eCommerce site)?

Obviously, there can be combinations of the three as well.

Online brochure

If your website is solely a brochure, don’t mind optimizing the website, if I can be that blunt. If you only have a website so you can refer people to it for more information, get the cheapest website you can find, make sure to put a logo and some text on it.

Get in touch

If you want people to contact you or subscribe to your newsletter, SEO becomes important. You might want to focus on local SEO, or do some proper keyword research to make sure you have the right, optimized information for your visitor. Make it as easy as possible for a visitor to contact you. For instance show your phone number in all the right places or add forms or email links in spots where you feel you’ve convinced them to send you an email.

eCommerce sites

An eCommerce site obviously needs a different approach. Be sure to think of a proper category structure and start optimizing landing pages for predefined target audiences. Think of great introductory content for your category pages and set up your call-to-action on every page. Optimize your homepage to show all shopping ‘aisles’ of your website.

Of course, you can come up with more variations, like websites that mainly provide information or websites that have a business model based upon ad revenue. It’s very important to think about what kind of website yours is or will be. Keep that goal in mind during the entire process of creating or improving your website.

Where are we going?

This is tougher than you might think. A website owner might have a different idea about of the main purpose of a website. The goal of your website depends on what you want to get out of your website. It is much less about what your website can do for your visitor. Sounds manipulative? Perhaps it is.

Where are we going? Road signs

If you plan a trip, your destination is obviously very important. You can combine hiking and leisure. But if your goal is just sipping Martini at the beach, you don’t want to end up in Nordkapp. For your website, this is pretty similar. A website meant to establish contact with new customers, has a different look and feel than a website that is meant to support existing customers, for instance. The core of your site will be different. Finding that main, core element your website revolves around can be hard. As it can be to pick a destination for your holiday.

Take a look at the website of your local car dealer. He might occasionally sell a used car, but chances are most of his business is about repairs and service and not per se sales. Especially if he’s not selling a specific car brand. His website, however, probably has the newest used cars listed smack in the middle of the homepage.

Ask yourself “what’s my main business” and make sure that that business, or proper content about it, is the centerpiece of your website. The ‘destination’ of your website shouldn’t stop you to plan day trips to other locations, by the way.

Will you be planning day trips?

Where do you want to go sightseeing? In your website, there should be a proper internal link structure to all the other good stuff you want to present your visitor. At Yoast, we often refer to this as setting up cornerstone content. We actually wrote about that a couple of times. Optimizing your website isn’t just about writing that one main page about your main subject, but it is about optimizing all pages related to that as well. If you are selling trips to Paris, just one page about Paris as a whole doesn’t cut it. In addition, you also want a page about the Notre Dame, the Tour Eiffel, and the Sacré-Cœur, just to name a few. These could be your cornerstone pages.

Plan your trips to these pages by adding links on the appropriate pages of your website. By linking these pages from related pages, your cornerstone content becomes easy to find for both Google and your visitor. As you don’t want to take the same day trip every day, don’t keep linking to the same cornerstone content from every page. Instead, decide what cornerstone content is valuable for that specific page. An example: it would make no sense to add a link to Yoast SEO for WordPress here.

What travel agency should you use?

Why would you want to try to book that entire trip yourself? Your main business is probably not building websites or writing content. It is convenient to use a web partner that knows what plugins to use or how to optimize your images for speed or mobile. It simply means you don’t have to worry about any of this, as is the case when using a travel agency. All will be taken care of.

Choosing the right travel agency or web design company / web developer can be hard. There are web design agencies on every street corner. We are often asked which companies we recommend for the implementation of our advice. So we created a list of implementation partners. We know these companies, have seen their work and know and like their approach. If you are looking for a local developer instead, check our friends at Codeable.io, as they have set up a great marketplace for local WordPress developers. Simply post your job there, and get quotes delivered right to your inbox. Pick the travel agency that is best for your voyage.

And what budget should you reserve?

As with your holiday, a new website, or adding improvements to your website, will cost you money. There is no standard for this, but let me assure you that a good developer comes at a certain price. Do you think you can get a new website for $699? You can’t. If your web design agency or web developer charges $699 for a website, start running and never look back. It’s like booking a trip, arriving at your destination only to find out that the trip did not include an accommodation. Where it initially appeared to include that. Paying $699 for a website is a start, but your developer will charge you for every email you send and every feature request you mention. Buy cheap and waste your money.

As mentioned, there is no golden rule for your budget. Just keep in mind that people ‘window shop’ online as much as offline. Your store just has to be appealing, and your door should be open at all times. And yes, that will cost you money, depending on the project you have in mind. Having built and sold my share of websites, I can tell you with 100% certainty that you will talk to your web designer or developer a lot after your website goes live. It will help if you hire a trustworthy, client-friendly company. A company that doesn’t just do what you tell ’em to, but shares knowledge and helps you to lift your online presence to a higher level. Don’t be afraid to pay for that.

Have a nice holiday!

Of course, there is more to planning your holiday. And more to planning your website. As you will understand by now, there is a lot to consider. But as your holiday is meant to relax after working hard for all these weeks, so is a properly planned website. You don’t build a house without thinking about the foundation first, right. Make sure you have answered the questions above first, and then start designing that website. It’ll be a nicer trip that way!

Read more: ‘What’s the mission of your website?’ »

5 tips on branding

Branding is an essential aspect of your marketing strategy. If you develop an awesome branding strategy, people will get to know your brand, your company, and your website. In this post, I will first explain what branding is and why it can help you with your SEO. After that, I’ll give 5 practical tips you can use to improve your own branding strategy.

5 tips on branding

What is branding?

Branding is the process of creating a clear, unique image of your product or your company. Your audience should be able to recognize your brand. Whether it is a post on Facebook, your newsletter or the product section on your website, the image of your brand should be similar.

Branding is hard. In order to set up a successful branding strategy, you should first have a clear vision in mind what your brand is about: What is your mission? What values are important? Which style fits your brand (formal/informal)? What does your preferred audience look like?

Why is branding important for SEO?

If you are able to set up a high quality branding strategy, optimizing your site for the search engines will become much easier. Chances rise that your preferred audience will get to know your brand name. Your brand name could then become an incentive to click on your link in the search results (even if you’re not in the top three!). And, if you do your branding really well, people will start searching for your brand as well. It’ll be far less hard to rank for your brand, than for a lot of other search terms.

In order to help you to set up a successful branding strategy yourself, I will share 5 practical tips:

Tip 1: Stay consistent

The most important thing in branding is to stay consistent. Develop a certain style and stick with it! Design a logo, and stick with it! Phrase your mission and stick with it! If you are consistent in the way you present your brand to your audience,  people will eventually start to remember and to recognize your brand.

Tip 2: Phrase a tagline and make it visible

Your tagline phrases the most important message about your brand or your product in a single sentence. Make sure it stands out on your website. You can for instance place a tagline below your brand name. The tagline of Yoast is: the art & science of website optimization.

If possible, try to write your taglines in an action-oriented way. You can do this by using verbs and sentences that imply an action for the visitor. For instance, we could have a tagline saying: ‘Keep your site optimized with the Yoast SEO Premium plugin!’. This shows people one of the core values of the plugin, and making it active will motivate a lot more people to actually try it.

Tip 3: Use images

Images are a very important aspect of your branding strategy. You can use pictures and illustrations on your website, in your newsletter, on Facebook or in (printed) advertisements.  Of course, you should make sure your images fit your brand. If you sell ballet shoes, you should probably not use pictures of wild animals in the jungle.  You would want to use pictures that express elegance and grace.

If you consistently pick illustrations and photos that fit your brand, your audience will eventually recognize and remember your brand from simply looking at your pictures. At Yoast, we work with two illustrators in order to make unique illustrations that will give the Yoast feeling to our audience.

If you use your own photos, you could try to develop some sort of consistent style. You can for instance make sure all your pictures have the same dimensions, use a similar way of editing or use similar pictures. On Facebook, we always put a text bar on our images. We include the title of our post and the Yoast logo in that text bar. That text bar ensures consistency within all of our Facebook posts.

Tip 4: Use your brand name

Make sure your brand name will become familiar to your audience. That means you should use that brand name! Perhaps you can use your brand name in one of your products like we do in Yoast SEO. Make sure to use your brand name in your newsletter and in your (Facebook) posts. People should hear and read your brand name regularly!

Tip 5: Use your logo

Your logo is of great importance to your branding strategy. Branding is more than designing an awesome logo though (that’s why this is the final tip and not the first one I share). Ideally, your logo should stand out, it should be something people recognize without any context. Designing a logo doesn’t have to be too expensive. Go check out 99designs for instance!

The colors you choose for your logo are of great importance as well. Make sure to use these colors elsewhere: in your newsletter, on your website, in images. If you use the same colors everywhere, these colors will become part of your brand. People will recognize your brand only by looking at the colors in your newsletter or in your Facebook post.

Once you have a kickass logo, make sure to use it! Present it to your audience: on your website, in your newsletter, on Facebook: everywhere!

Conclusion

If you develop a successful branding strategy, people will remember and recognize your brand. In the long run, your logo or brand name will be something that immediately evokes emotions. As people get more familiar with your brand, your SEO will get easier as well. Therefore, combining your SEO strategy with an awesome branding strategy is the way to go!

Read more: ‘Positioning your shop in the online market’ »

Consistent branding increases click through rate in Google

Consistent branding increases click through rate in GoogleLast week, Thijs wrote a post on headings and taglines. Following that post, I’d like to elaborate a bit on focus, but now related to your branding. In this post, I’ll tell you my point of view on how to incorporate consistent branding in your website and how this can contribute to improving your click through rate from Google.

What is this branding you are talking about?

Branding is the way you promote your brand or sometimes simply your website name (the brand of your website) to your visitors. Branding is the new link building.

Branding is the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design (Google)

A while ago, Joost wrote a post on branding and homepages as an addition to my statement that a homepage shouldn’t be used to rank a keyword. I still kinda feel that way. I do think your homepage should, without the requirement of optimization, rank for your brand. This is quite often (among others) the result of links to your website using your brand as the anchor text for that link.

Incorporate branding in your website

Our new website, coming to you this fall, is an excellent example of how consistent branding will guide you through a website and will never make you feel lost. You will always, on any page and in every section of that page, know that you are visiting yoast.com. Without the use of a surplus of avatars, this time.

yoast redesign consistent branding

In the new design, consistent branding is achieved by a combination of the obvious logo on every page, but also by designing every element on the website to align with that logo. There is a style guide for headings, blockquotes, lines, widgets and boxes that goes above and beyond our already pretty consistent current site design.

Consistent branding in design

We have the luxury of Erwin and Mijke being our ‘brand managers’ at Yoast for years, knowing the brand from head to tail. And being able to translate that brand to a design and illustrations. You might not have that luxury. In our reviews, we often find websites that are set up and maintained by the website owner himself. The ease of using content management systems like Drupal, WordPress and Joomla! are ‘to blame’ for this. That website owner might be a carpenter or dentist during daytime, and a self-proclaimed web designer by night. Apart from the question if that is the way to go (I don’t think so, every man to his own trade), consistent branding is quite often lost in the process. A general theme is used, a logo might be added – very frequently plain text is used – but that is about it.

Just adding a logo is like branding a horses behind and figuring out what stable he belongs to by looking at his head. It just isn’t enough. Think about the use of colors, for instance. Make sure headings and background colors are in line with the logo colors. Make it consistent. If your logo is about curves and circles, for instance use round borders for your widgets, or a curvy heading font. Make sure it all adds up.

Consistent branding in text

We have recently added ‘by Yoast’ to a number of our plugin names, like Google Analytics by Yoast. Fun fact is that our WordPress SEO plugin is named “Yoast SEO” on a regular basis. Branding helps us rank for that term without any effort from our side. The community made that happen, by using “Yoast SEO” on support forums, on social media like Twitter, and in blog posts about the plugin. Thank you for that, by the way. It shows that consistent use of a term in text, including links to your website, will help you promote your brand in words that your users use. In fact, we have found that Yoast SEO has become synonymous to WordPress SEO for Google:

Yoast SEO is synonymous to WordPress SEO

Google bolds “WordPress SEO” as the keyword used in search when you do a search for “Yoast SEO”. It’s one of the reasons we’ll actually be rebranding the plugin to “Yoast SEO” in the near future. More on that in posts to come!

Our real time content analysis will help you to add that branding to your homepage, if you’d like some assistance in that. Yes, I know. That is in a way optimizing your homepage for a keyword. Bottom line is that you need to be consistent in this. If your product is branded like Google Analytics by Yoast, use that name everywhere. It’s like writing WordPress with a lowercase P. People might take you less serious when you are not consistent in this. It will also help Google identify your branding, of course. One of the things we often tell people to do is add the brand name at the end of the page title as well. For WordPress users, adding that branding to your titles in the Titles & Metas section of our plugin is easy as pie.

How does consistent branding help click through rate!?

By now, you must have been going over your own website yourself and you have probably identified sections that need improvement. You need to make consistent branding a priority, which is usually the hardest part. The reason you need to make consistent branding a priority, is that when branding is consistent in page titles, in texts and in meta descriptions, all the elements of your website that are shown in Google, this will (in the not so long run), trigger recognition when a Google user searches for a specific keyword. If someone searches for WordPress SEO and ‘Yoast’ pops up every time, there must be a relation between the two, right? It will link your brand to the keyword. It will increase trust and make it easier or even more ‘natural’ for that user to click the link to your website. You will become a known source for that visitor.

And that is how consistent branding will help your click through rate in Google.

Optimizing keywords for branding

Recently, we have added an extra section to our intake form for our site reviews: keywords you want to rank for. We’ll allow you to add a limited set of keywords, so we can check your website for these. The one thing that stands out, is that these keywords almost never include a brand name. It’s always about the product, without the branding. That isn’t consistent at all. If you have a unique product, it should be branded. And you should optimize for a combination of [product name] and [branding], like “Yoast SEO”. Keep that in mind when choosing your keywords. And feel free to order that site review now.

This post first appeared as Consistent branding increases click through rate in Google on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Top 20 WordPress Business Themes of 2013 – The Comparison

I’ve always been fascinated with WordPress themes for some reason, and particularly WordPress business themes. Probably because they allow us to change virtually everything about our sites in just seconds, via a simple “activate” button under a new theme.

This actually gives extraordinary power to any online business owner. Back in the day, getting a new design for a business site had a price tag of $1,000 (if you were lucky), $3,000 (usually), or even $10,000 (the top notch designer’s charge).

Nowadays, this is no longer the case thanks to various WordPress business themes and a bunch of additional plugins. Granted, some of them do have a price tag, but rarely more than $99, and there’s even some quality free stuff (be careful here though).

WordPress-Business-Themes

By the way. Feel free to also check out my list of top plugins for online business and the WordPress glossary I published a while ago.

Now, about the list. Instead of pointing out a set of random features about each theme, I’ve actually created a standardized set of important traits for a proper WordPress business theme and then checked each theme against it.

Also, the themes on this list come from only a handful of quality sources. I’m careful with the themes I recommend, and if I’m not 100% sure that the source code is quality and safe, I don’t feel comfortable encouraging anyone to get a given theme. Without further delay, here are the top 20 WordPress business themes of 2013:

ThemeFuse themes

Conexus

Get it here.

Conexus

Feature chart (a detailed description why the following features are important for every WordPress business theme can be found at the bottom of this page):

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES, apart from the slider, the theme leaves much room for your own branding.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, FAQ, 404, Pricing, Services, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. The theme looks credible and trustworthy.

Qlassik

Get it here.

Qlassik

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: NO. The theme’s only apparent flaw.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES. Much room for including your own branding.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Pricing, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. The theme has trustworthy, yet casual feel to it, which will make your business seem more friendly right off the bat.

Metro Vibes

Get it here.

Metro-Vibes

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES. Actually there’s an integrated color adjustment tool.
  • Gentle design elements: YES, although the style of the theme itself doesn’t make it suitable for all online businesses.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Contact, Testimonials, Services, About Us, Pricing.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. Very modern design, you basically can’t get more 2013 than this.

Envision

Get it here.

Envision

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: NO.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES. Very easy to brand.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Contact, Homepage, Pricing.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. Very serious-looking design.

StudioPress themes

Executive Theme

Get it here.

Executive

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES. The theme’s design is based on good layout rather than flashy design elements.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Archives, Landing Page, Portfolio, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. Modern and professional design.

Minimum Theme

Get it here.

Minimum-Theme

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: NO. The main design is gray, but there’s an option to include any custom background you wish.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Archives, Landing Page, Portfolio, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: Moderate. The theme has a very minimal design yet every element is of high quality, which conveys the right message about your website and business.

ThemeForest Themes

Kickstart

Get it here.

Kickstart

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES. The design is based on using quality pictures.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Team, Services, FAQ, Testimonials, Skills, Gallery, Sitemap, 404, Contact, Products/Shop.
  • Authoritative feel: YES, highly, due to the clean design with good typography.

CoWorker

Get it here.

CoWorker

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Coming Soon, Landing Page, Portfolio, Services, Team, FAQ, Contact, Pricing, 404.
  • Authoritative feel: YES.

Business Essentials

Get it here.

Business-Essentials

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: No data.
  • Gentle design elements: Moderate. Functional for more casual business types that want to convey a customer-friendly feel.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Sitemap, Join Us, Services, Team, Case Study, Contact, 404.
  • Authoritative feel: YES, but highly dependent on the branding elements you’ll use.

Blue Diamond

Get it here.

Blue-Diamond

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Team, Gallery, FAQ, Sitemap, 404, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES.

Stoken

Get it here.

Stoken

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES. It’s a full-width clear design, leaving much place for your branding.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES.

Robust

Get it here.

Robust

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, About, Pricing, 404, Portfolio, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES, although much depends on the content/images you use in the main homepage slider.

Million

Get it here.

Million

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Testimonials, Team, About, Contact, Archives, FAQ, 404, Gallery, Portfolio.
  • Authoritative feel: YES.

GoodWork

Get it here.

GoodWork

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: Built-in optimized structure.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Services, Skills, Team, We’re Hiring, Pricing, Testimonials, Gallery, FAQ, Archives, Sitemap, 404, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. Perfect for creative-works businesses.

WooThemes

Swatch

Get it here.

Swatch

(The first free theme on this list.)

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: NO.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Archives, Contact, Gallery, Sitemap.
  • Authoritative feel: Moderate.

Appply

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Appply

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Product Finder, Archives, Sitemap, Timeline, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: Moderate. It all depends on the branding elements you’ll use after getting the theme.

Definition

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Definition

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES. Much room for your branding.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Timeline, Contact, Archives, Products/Shop.
  • Authoritative feel: YES. A very clean design creates a trustworthy feel.

Empire

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Empire

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: NO.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: YES.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Sitemap, Archives, Contact, Products/Shop.
  • Authoritative feel: YES, highly!

Other theme sources

Responsive

Get it here.

Responsive

(This WordPress business theme comes from the official directory at WordPress.org.)

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: No data.
  • Gentle design elements: YES, very minimal design, leaves much place for branding.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage.
  • Authoritative feel: Moderate, depends on the way you fine-tune your site.

Flexible

Get it here.

Flexible

Feature chart:

  • Responsive: YES.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars: YES.
  • Widget areas: YES.
  • Pre-made color schemes: YES.
  • Gentle design elements: NO. There’s a lot going on, so use the theme only if it’s in tune with your business idea and feel.
  • Logo customization: YES.
  • Blog functionality: YES.
  • SEO-compatible: No data.
  • Custom page templates: Homepage, Portfolio, Sitemap, Advanced Search, Member Login, Gallery, Contact.
  • Authoritative feel: Moderate.

The traits of quality WordPress business themes

It’s probably about time that I should explain what’s with the whole set of features I’ve been referencing throughout this post, and what their importance for an online business site is. Here’s the story:

  • Responsive. A responsive design is one that looks equally as good on any device and screen size. In short, responsive sites look great on both desktop computers or laptops, as well as on various mobile devices.
  • Customizable layout/sidebars. As a site owner, you need to be able to pick the exact layout you want to use on a given page. The bare minimum here is to choose between a one-sidebar layout (left and right) and no-sidebar layout. Here’s an example of a one-sidebar layout on this site (link), and here’s one of a no-sidebar layout (link).
  • Widget areas. Widgets are a must-have feature in every modern theme.
  • Pre-made color schemes. Their presence makes your work much easier when fine-tuning your site to be congruent with your brand identification.
  • Gentle design elements. The less flashy graphical elements there are, the easier it is to make the site brandable by using various images, logos and other elements.
  • Logo customization. Another must-have for modern themes. You simply always need to be able to include your business’ logo on the site.
  • SEO-compatible. It’s always good when a theme is SEO-ready from the get-go. Don’t sweat though if yours isn’t. Plugins like WordPress SEO make it possible to include good SEO structure on most themes.
  • Custom page templates. The best themes on the market offer a wide range of various custom templates, which you can use to create specialized pages that your site could utilize for various purposes. Such templates usually include: Homepage, Portfolio, Sitemap, Gallery, Contact, 404, Team, Prices, Services, About, Archives.
  • Authoritative feel. This is probably the most mysterious trait on this list. Basically, and this is only my personal point of view, this is about how authoritative the theme feels when you look at it the first time. In other words, would you take a business using a given theme seriously right from the get-go?

Okay, this has become an awfully long post so allow me to call it a day. Did any of the themes here catch your attention?


Top 20 WordPress Business Themes of 2013 – The Comparison | newInternetOrder.com