The 4 Essentials Your Blog Theme Should Have

Blog ThemesThere has to be about a bazillion blog themes out there, ranging from free to several hundred dollars. So how do you choose the one that will work best for your blog? You could hire a designer to create a custom theme just for you, which can be pretty pricy, but a better solution for most entrepreneurs is to use an existing theme and make it your own.

You’ve probably heard that content is king, and I truly believe that’s true. But even great content will be overlooked if it’s posted on a blog that doesn’t grab a visitor’s attention and effectively communicate your brand message. When you’re looking for the perfect blog theme for your site, there are some important elements to keep in mind.

1. A Functional Layout

The point of your blog theme should be to highlight your content, not overshadow it. There are some really cool-looking themes with lots of bells and whistles. At first glance, these might seem appealing, but many of them distract from what should be the focus of your blog – your blog posts. It’s important to have an attention-grabbing header, and I recommend finding a theme that allows custom headers, but think twice about slide shows and video, unless they’re essential to what you write about. Also look for a theme with plenty of white space. Readable and useable trump flashy and colorful every time.

2. A Unique Look

Even though there are so many themes to choose from, if you look at them for a while, you’ll notice that a lot of them are very similar. And although going over the top with images and colors isn’t advisable, you don’t want your site to look like every other one out there. This is one reason a custom header is important. In addition, many themes allow you to set custom colors, backgrounds, and more. A theme with lots of customization options is the next best thing to having one designed for you.

3. A Good Base for Your SEO Efforts

Most people don’t realize that the blog theme they choose can affect their SEO. Google and other search engines look at a bunch of different factors to determine page rank, and the structure and coding of your pages is most definitely on the list.

Be sure the preformatted CSS for your theme includes H1, H2, and other tags that you’ll want to use for each post. Also, custom formatting for your menus can make a difference. You should be able to name each menu item so it’s optimized for search. There are many plugins available to override these options, but it’s best to have a theme that does what you need it to do with as few plugins as possible.

4. A Structure that Allows for Quick Loading

This goes back to a couple of previous points about plugins and features. If you have a ton of pulugins, or if your theme has a lot of server-intensive extras built in, it will slow down your site’s performance. Not only is a slow site frustrating for your visitors, it also affects your SEO. Less is more when it comes to design, and the same goes for page load times. You will also want to remember all of those people that will be visiting your site on their mobile devices. The WP Mobile Detector is a premium WordPress plugin that will mobilize your blog in minutes. Make your blog compatible with iPhones, iPads, Android, BlackBerry, and thousands of other mobile devices with a single easy-to-install WordPress plugin.

What other features do you look for in a blog theme? Share your experience in the comments section!

Matthew Toren

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs.org, BizWarriors.com and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley).

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