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SEO Elements of the Thesis Theme

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This member asks for an overview of all of the SEO elements within Thesis. We all know that Thesis is the smartest SEO theme in existence. In this video I discuss all of the tools that Thesis affords. We start off by looking at the Document Head section of Thesis Site Options. Next we look at all of the “on page” SEO tools for posts and pages. Then we review the SEO tools for category and tag archives and custom taxonomies.

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Video Transcript

Sandy: My question is about the SEO options in Thesis that…

Rick: Oh yeah.

Sandy: What have you been using in turning on and not turning on and using robots and that kind of thing.

Rick: Okay so you know, the whole Thesis SEO thing starts off with site options. And the first element of Thesis SEO shows up in the document head here. I never use this but if you wanted to add something, essentially your site name, to all of your page titles you could do that right here. So if you selected this and left that little separator, then what would happen is your page title would come first and then there would be this separator and then would be your site title. I don’t think it’s good practice so I don’t do that but you could do that.

Then you have your robots meta tags and though the whole purpose for the robots meta tags is mainly to reduce or eliminate the possibility of duplicate content. So for example your No Index tag, this is how I have it set up. I don’t bother indexing subpages, I only edit them and I only index posts, pages, and category archive pages. Otherwise, I don’t index anything else. You can… and that’s just because of the way the organizational structure of my site. I have a site that’s very heavily weighted on categories and if I had categories and tags selected a given post would be indexed under Category page and then under several tag pages because each post can have more than 1 tag. And there’s a possibility or probability of a certain amount of duplicate content. So I just use category pages.

And then the No Follow, I do the same thing essentially. I leave a no follow on for sub pages and I leave the no follow on for category pages but I put the no follow on all the rest. Obviously the rationale is that all of my content is getting indexed anyway. I don’t need to index it by tag and index it by author and index it by page. It’s good enough for me to have it indexed by category.

Again, no archive – I don’t bother with no archive at all. I let them archive whatever page they want to archive which is actually something good for me. You know, if they archive my page then it’s easier if there’s some problem with my site for somebody to see the content.

And then the directory tags, I say yes to both of those and that just gives me more control over what my title tag says.

And then again on this same thing, you have the Canonical URLs. We’ve got this canonical URL situation where you can have a page that is and then it can also just be and actually, with longer URLs… there can be many different potential URLs to get you to the same page. The canonical URL tells everybody what the right URL to use is and tries to keep all that straight so I always select on this. And that wraps up the document head.

Then you have this homepage SEO and it’s important to understand what homepage SEO is referring to here. This home page is actually the blog page and so if you don’t have a static front page, you don’t actually have a way, besides this, of putting a title tag and a meta description and index information for that page. So if you have a standard blog configuration, this is where you put the title and the meta title in for your main page. So this is a very important spot for somebody who uses WordPress in a normal blog configuration. If you use WordPress in a page with a static front page, then it’s a different story.

And this site does use it as a static front page which then essentially brings us over to the next level in which SEO functions here for WordPress or for Thesis and that is at the page and post edit screen. And so in this page for example, this is my home page and it’s a static front page and if you select edit here, you can see that I can put a custom title tag and a meta description. And because this site is just a demonstration site, it’ll actually fill this stuff out.

What we should be really looking at is my real site… actually here we are at my real site. So we’ll just go to the back side here, go back to pages, and then you know, this is my home page. “Anyone can learn how to get their business online effectively.” If I select edit that, what you have on your edit page screen, you have a variety of opportunities to deal with SEO. And the first one is your title and because of the way Thesis works, Thesis allows you to put up a readable page title here that is separate from your Google search title. So this is the page title that people see and down here under SEO details and additional style, this is the title that Google sees. So “Make your own business website – Anyone can learn how to create a website” and then this is your meta description.

These are absolutely important things for you to fill out… well, let’s take a look at the search engine results page looks like for this page. If we select the SERP piece when Google serves up this page, this is what this search engine result looks like. Here is the label and the meta title “Make your own business website – anyone can learn how” and then here is the meta description – “Learn how to make your own business website” so on and so forth.

And that’s with that SERP looks like and that SERP is made up of this and this. Now, a little nice thing about Thesis is it’s got this little character calendar. And if the search engine only wants to see a maximum of 70 characters, you can see right now I’ve got 72 characters but backspace there, and back down there…72 characters, okay. Anyway, it gives the count of characters and again, 150 characters is what you should have in the description and I’ve got 152. And so, as you’re typing away, these things tell you how you’re doing on the links and you should try that. Take advantage of that.

And then the 3rd place to look at SEO is actually in the semantic URL. And I’m going to have to switch to a different page for that purpose because right now, the URL for this page is only but I come over here to pages and I scroll down here and say, edit Lesson 6… now you can see the semantic URL here. So it’s video tutorials/start building your website here/Lesson 6 – Build your Home Page. Now because of the page that I brought up, I’m showing Lesson 6 in this page slug – it’s what it’s called. But I could also… because Lesson 6 maybe doesn’t help somebody recognize where they are or where they want to go and they see that… the URL, I can easily change this to make it more effective, have a better keyword relationship and that kind of stuff.

And so, actually that is probably better seen under some of my posts where if we go to Lesson 16, you can see that this is my title and that normally, it’ll take this title and create this slug under the title but I didn’t really want Lesson 16 Part 1 in there and so, I just cut that out and made it Understanding Thesis Filters. So now the whole semantic URL of course is So it’s almost like a real sentence. And that’s the other, sort of, on page SEO tool that Thesis gives you – the ability to edit this Permalink.

Okay, and so then you have the term TAGS. And by that we’re talking about category tags and post tags. So if you come over to categories, here for a second, and categories… you have the opportunity to add SEO details for each of your category archives as well. So for example, if you come over here… and I don’t do this so you’re not going to see a good example of it… but if I come over to Thesis Forum Answers which is one of my categories, there’s the name… there’s the slug, it doesn’t have a parent that gave a little brief description… I could actually give it a title tag and a meta description. I could decide how I wanted to index this stuff. I could add an introductory headline for the page and I could add introductory content to the page if I chose.

And this is something I should be doing and I’m going to start working on here in the not too distant future because since I asked Google to index my category archive pages, I should actually put some information here for titles and meta descriptions of those category archive pages. But this is something that most themes do not give you the opportunity to do but it’s an element of Thesis 1.8.

Same thing is true here for post tags. Post tags are these you know, tags that you can assign to a post and again, if we select premium video here for a moment… you can add a title tag and a meta description for the archive page that shows all of the posts that are tagged premium video.
You know, I think actually, and as luck would have it, the same thing is true with custom taxonomies. If you have a custom taxonomy which I have here called Video Availability, you can also apply those same SEO details – title tag and meta description – to your custom taxonomy archives. So it’s quite a powerful feature.

And I think that’s pretty much it. Those are the big things that Thesis gives you the ability to do for SEO and I’m just admitting to you right now that obviously I’ve not started using this part of Thesis 1.8.

Sandy: Yeah, I think you’ve answered what I needed to know. I’ve been a little confused with the follow and the no follow and it’s a pretty big part of SEO so I just kinda wanna get that cleared.

Rick: Well, the thing to keep in mind with follow and no follow is whether or not the search engine itself is going to follow links on those pages when it’s searching. You know, you’ve got the no follow attribute in a link which means that the search engine won’t follow that…won’t pass from that link on to another one but the now follow… the follow and the no follow tag for the page itself, just applies to all of the links. It doesn’t follow any links from that page from anywhere else, it just stops.

Sandy: Okay, thank you.

Rick: You’re welcome.

4 Comments… add one

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4 comments… add one
  • Yalcin March 9, 2012, 11:49 am

    I use platinium SEO plugin.
    Do I still have to optimize “SEO Details and Additional Style” part?

    • Rick Anderson March 12, 2012, 7:32 am

      Actually you will probably find that they conflict with each other. They are both trying to do the same thing which often means they both fail. I don’t know anything specific about platinum SEO but I do know that other plugins like that don’t work with Thesis.

  • Sandeep Nuthalapati January 28, 2014, 4:23 pm

    Can I remove thesis seo from the theme. Is there a hook which adds seo to thesis theme, if so, can I unhook or de-register it.

    • Rick Anderson February 16, 2014, 9:08 am

      Sandeep, I know it is possible (because Serge Liatko has done it). However I don’t know how it is done.

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