WordPress Makeover Tutorial

By Hacking WordPress or your theme, you can easily customize your WordPress blog. I’ll show you my hacks so you can get some ideas how to make your blog more “your own”.

You may have noticed recently that this blog underwent a bit of a makeover. Things not only look better on top, but under the hood things are running better than ever – with some of the best SEO I could muster! I’m going to show you some quick things you can do to hack your own WordPress theme into more of what you want.

Add a featured block to your homepage: I think every homepage should have a block with the featured areas of the site – the same way any store would have a flyer for the week or sales of the day. To do this you need to know some html and have a slight bit of graphics skill. I only do this on my homepage and I added this block by going to “Presentation -> Theme Editor -> Main Index Template”.

After these lines of code:

I added a div with by block of featured links like this:

featured keyword research mistakes featured SEO mistakes
featured wordpress mistakes featured traffic building mistakes
featured monetization mistakes featured linkbuilding mistakes featured article series article series tracking your blog progress article series how to monetize your blog watch me build a niche site

If you’re wondering why that code only shows the links and text graphics and not the box and frame, it’s because I made it the background in my style.css like this:

#featureblock {
width: 495px;
height: 210px;
padding-left: 20px;
padding-top: 45px;
background: #FFF url('/wp-content/images/featured-crumple.jpg') no-repeat;

Hopefully that gives you some idea of how you can a featured block to your blog homepage.

Change your WordPress Theme’s Color: This was a really quick fix. I like the layout of my blog, and this theme (Prosense) is great too. I was just tired of brown, so I went into my themes images folder and found the 2 graphics that make up the background. I just took them into a graphics editor (Fireworks) and used the paintbucket to replace the colors. Then I re-uploaded them to the server and “voila” we have new blog colors!

Change your Theme’s Headings: By updating your style.css file in “Presentation -> Theme Editor -> style.css” you can quickly give your post and / or your sidebar headings a new look and feel. A heading or “H1” (H2, H3, etc.) tag is an HTML tag that can be “styled”. It can have a border, a background color, a background image, and you can control the font face, bold, italic, link, link colors, and more. All WordPress blogs have the same bland plain heading tags – spice yours up! Your theme’s stylesheet may be a bit different, but I’m going to give you the code I wrote to change my style to get you started:

.post h2 {
	background: #FFC125 url('/wp-content/images/sharpie-star.gif') left no-repeat;
	border: 1px solid;
	border-color: #000000;
	padding-left: 25px;

If you don’t know HTML – or CSS stylesheets, I would recommend reading up over at W3Schools.com – they have some of the best (free) HTML and CSS tutorials on the web.

Give Your WordPress Categories Descriptions: I gave each and every one of my WordPress Categories a meaningful description to be used for the category page(s) meta description for search indexing purposes:

Wordpress categories

Why? I use the wpSEO plugin and it allows you to assign various options for the meta description field of any page in a WordPress site. By default WordPress category pages don’t have a meta description so the search crawler will pickup the words of the first post excerpt on the page. This causes “duplicate content” and can get you a google penalty. At best, every single category page you have is “wasted” in the sense that it will NOT get any good indexing in the search engines.

wpSEO plugin coverts meta description

As you can see I’ve set mine to make the meta description tag for my WordPress category pages to be the “Category Description” I wrote by going to “Manage -> Categories” in my Dashboard and editing them one by one. These will get me a couple dozen more indexed pages in SERP’s!

Create Separate WordPress Category Template Theme Pages: This is a goal I set for myself when I wrote Better SEO and $$$ with WordPress Category Templates last month. At the time I only created a few of these category template pages and didn’t follow through with creating them for every category in my blog. I should have, but did it today when I updated all the category descriptions. Basically what you’re doing here is making a separate category template page for every WordPress category you have so you can write original content at the top of each page. By doing this you are making sure the page will be indexed well and you won’t get dinged by google for “duplicate content”.

This also gives you the opportunity to monetize certain categories in special ways (with special offers) before or after the excerpted posts, you could even make unique graphics for the top of each category page. The possibilities are endless!

WordPress Hacks of the past: These aren’t hacks as much as good WP plugins, but I’ve also modified my theme by adding things I felt were necessary. Like breadcrumbs on every page, post (count) views, post voting, “print this post”, and Feedburner “flare”. Oh – I almost forgot the most important thing – the “related posts”. To find out how to get any of these plugins just visit my WordPress Plugins Used page!

I hope this gives you some ideas for giving your own wordpress blog a makeover! If you happen to make changes, come back here and let us know what you did and what worked (and what didn’t!). Comments always help everyone by sharing even more information.