A few days ago, you learned how to how to setup an employer branding blog.
Today, I’m going to teach you how to format the layout of your site and optimize the SEO.
How to Format the Layout of Your Blog
The look and layout of your blog is called your theme. The default WordPress theme is really ugly, so one of the first things we’re going to do is change it.
There are literally thousands of themes you can choose from, and searching for one you like can be a bit maddening. To make the process easier for you, I’m going to give you my short-list of themes.
Free vs. Professional
There are two types of themes: Free and Professional. The only true difference between the two is that free themes are free and professional themes cost you money.
Of course, the old saying about getting what you pay for applies here.
Free themes can sometimes be poorly coded, which hurts your SEO (Google doesn’t like bad code). They’re also a bit tricky to customize, which means you might find it frustrating to get the layout to look the way you want.
Professional themes usually have better code, are more user friendly, and are easier to customize.
What theme should you use?
If you decide to go with a professional theme, I hands-down recommend Thesis.
Thesis is the WordPress theme for people with little or no coding experience who want to have a professional looking site without spending a lot of money.
So what makes Thesis so great?
Most themes require you to go in and change lines of code to alter the look and feel or your site. This isn’t a big deal if you’re comfortable playing around with HTML and CSS. But if you not good with code (or don’t even know what those words mean), changing the layout of your site can be a daunting task.
Instead, Thesis uses a series of drop-down menus to change everything from the number of columns your site has to the color schemes, fonts and stuff in your sidebar.
Thesis also features incredible built-in SEO and a fantastic support site if you run into any issues or want to learn how to do some stuff beyond the basics.
Simply put, Thesis lets you design a professional looking site with no website coding experience.
(NOTE: If you’re using WordPress.com – the one that hosts the site for you – you have to use and enable themes through their site. In other words, don’t buy Thesis, or any other theme.)
What I DON’T Like About Thesis
I don’t use Thesis on Renegade HR. I downloaded a free theme from CSS-Tricks and modified the hell out of it. I have played around with Thesis, though, and it’s crazy easy to use!
I’m also a Thesis affiliate, so if you purchase the theme through this site, I get a percentage of the sale. So to be fair, let me tell you what I don’t like about Thesis.
Lots of people use it, which at first blanch doesn’t sound like a bad thing, right? Unfortunately, many of those people don’t actually modify their theme all that much, so you see a lot of basic looking Thesis themes, and they all look the same.
If you do buy Thesis, make sure you do more than just change the font. Build your brand into the color scheme. Put your logo in the sidebar or header. Don’t forget, this is about employer branding!
(For an example of a company using Thesis right, check out Daxko Nation.)
If You Want a Free Theme
As I was writing this article, I did a search for free WordPress themes and downloaded a bunch of them. I was hoping to find a few that were well-coded and relatively easy to modify.
Unfortunately, I came up pretty empty-handed.
When I first started blogging, I used a few of the free themes from Daily Blog Tips. They were pretty decent.
You have to sign-up for the newsletter to get them – you can unsubscribe immediately if you want. But the site offers some good blogging tips, so it may be worth signing up for.
After seeing what’s out there, my recommendation is to go with a professional theme.
How to Install a WordPress Theme
The newest version of WordPress makes it insanely easy to install a new theme.
From the WordPress Dashboard (that screen you see when you login to the site), select Appearances from the sidebar, and then click Add New Themes.
At the top of the screen, select Upload. Click Browse, find the theme file, and click Open. Then click Install Now. Once it says, “Theme Installed Successfully,” click Active.
That’s it. You’re ready to rock and roll.
Getting Started Blogging
You’re ready to blog!
Over the next few weeks, start writing and publishing articles.
Next week, I’ll show you how to enhance your SEO and keep annoying spammers at bay. And in the new year, I’m going to discuss how to start building traffic and measure the success of your blog.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.
PS: This article is part of an ongoing series about Employer Branding through Social Media. If you liked it, you may want to check out the rest of the series.