Customize Your Thesis Niche Affiliate Blog

When it comes to building niche sites there is nothing better than WordPress with a good looking theme. You want the theme to look clean and be SEO optimized too.

There are many free themes out there that can do quite a bit, but none of them come close to the functionality that Thesis provides.

Most free themes need a lot of plugins before they are optimized for search engines. They also make you link to the copyright owner’s site from the footer, which doesn’t look very professional in my opinion.

I have tested a lot of themes in the past and after a while finally found the one that I use for almost all my sites. It’s Thesis theme, and to be honest if you are serious about building websites that perform well in search engines then you should get it too.

When I first bought it I was kind of disappointed to tell you the truth. It doesn’t look like much straight out of the box, but once you start playing around with the hooks and other options you will quickly realize how powerful it truly is.

In this post I am going to go over the exact steps I take to customize my Thesis sites.  The installation process is simple. Just follow the instructions already given inside your Thesis members area where you download the theme files.

Once you have your WordPress installed and Thesis theme activated it’s time to do some customization so it looks good.

Here are the main steps I take for each new site.

– Change permalink structure

– Edit basic settings of my WordPress installation

– Edit Thesis Site Options

– Change the layout of the site

– Upload my header and footer graphic

– Add some custom functions

– Add content

So let’s start with step 1 which is changing the permalink structure.

This is pretty easy. Just navigate to your WP Settings tab and choose “Permalinks” from the menu. Next, you want to select the “Post name” permalink structure.

Why “Post name”? Well, I think it’s best for SEO. The shorter your url the better it will peform in search engine rankings plus it will add keywords within your urls as well.

I don’t use permalinks that include dates, because if you are trying to build an evergreen site having those dates within your urls can actually hurt your credibility in the eyes of the user. Landing on a page that was created 2 years ago sometimes can make the visitor leave because he/she might think it’s old stuff.

The next thing we want to do is edit the “Wordpress Adress URL” under General Settings.  You want to add the “www” in your url so it looks better and you don’t have to worry about getting duplicate urls indexed in Google.

When you install WordPress for the first time it usually displays the url without the “www.”  In your domain name.

It’s probably a good idea to change it right away so you don’t forget to do it later.

You might also remove the “links” widget from your blog sidebar too. You should only have “Recent Posts” and “Categories” widget there at the beginning.

Messing With Thesis Site Options

Hover your mouse over the Thesis Tab in your WP dashboard and click on “Site Options”. The first thing we want to do here is edit Homepage SEO.

Here is where you add your title meta tag, description, and keywords. You don’t have to add keywords because Google doesn’t really uses them, but you can add a few if you want. Just don’t stuff like 100 keywords there! Lol

Next, under Title Tag Settings uncheck the “Append site name to page titles”

You don’t want your homepage title to be added to every post you make because that just looks spammy.

Under Robots Meta Tags we need to make some changes. To start you only want Google to follow your category pages and possibly tag pages.

If you let Google follow everything right from the get-go you are going to end up with a lot of duplicate pages indexed. What you should do is gradually open up your site while adding content.

So to start I have my settings like this:

 

Ok moving on…Under Stats and Tracking Scripts you might want to add your Statcounter code or Google Analytics (I would use Statcounter ;))

You might also want to remove the feed link. If you are building a niche site you probably won’t be getting many subcribers so it’s pointless to even display your feed link on the site. Under “Navigation Menu” section there is an option to remove it.

Messing With Thesis Design Options

There are a few things we need to do here. First select the number of columns you want. I usually have only 2 columns – the main content area and the sidebar on the right.

Next, disable the “Media Box”. I find it to be useless for niche sites, so there is no point in using it at all.

Basically, you can add an image there or video, but I don’t use it on any of my sites.

All the other stuff is basically self-explanatory. You should make the fonts and colors match your site.

Make sure to add a background color etc.

What you might also consider doing is disabling “Bylines”. For an affiliate niche site it’s better not to have them unless you are running the site under a pen-name.

Adding Custom Header Graphic In Thesis

You can actually upload the graphic straight into Thesis with their auto header drop option, but I usually add it by editing my custom.css file.

Simply click on “Custom File Editor” and in the custom.css file add this code:

.custom #header { border-bottom:none;
height:150px;
padding-top:1;
padding-bottom:0;
background:url(FULL IMAGE URL)
center left no-repeat; }

You should edit the height of the header of course and insert the full path url where you uploaded the image on your server.

Adding Custom Footer Graphic In Thesis

It’s pretty much the same concept. Just enter the following code in your custom.css file:

.custom #footer {
text-align:center;
height: 80px;
padding-bottom:0;
padding-top:0;
background: url('Full Image URL') no-repeat;
}

Editing the Navigation Menu

I like my menu items spaced out a little bit, so I add this css code to make it happen:

.custom .menu, .menu a, .menu li ul {
border-style: none;
margin-left: 0.5em;
text-transform:capitalize;
letter-spacing:0px;
}

This code will also make it so that only first letter of each word in the navigation menu is capitalized instead of all of them.

Adding Custom Functions

If you can learn how to use this to its full potential you can build some reall mean looking sites. I am going to go over the basics that I do for each new niche website I start.

When you activate Thesis the navigation menu will appear at the top. I like to have it under my header.

I also remove the Thesis attribution link, but keep in mind that if you don’t have the developer’s license you cannot remove it.

Here are the first 4 lines of code I add to my custom_functions.php file:

remove_action('thesis_hook_footer', 'thesis_attribution');
remove_action('thesis_hook_before_header','thesis_nav_menu');
add_action('thesis_hook_after_header','thesis_nav_menu');

Add that code and save it. It will move the navigation menu under the header and remove the attribution link.

The next thing we want to do is add our own copyright notice in the footer.

You can do that by adding this line of code in your custom_functions.php file:

function copyright() {
echo '
Copyright © 2012 YourSite.com – Whatever else you want to add
';
}
add_action('thesis_hook_footer', 'copyright', '99');

You should customize that code and add links to your “contact us” page, privacy policy, terms etc.

Adding Social Media Buttons In Thesis Without A Plugin

Why not just use a plugin? Well, the more plugins you have installed the more resources your blog is going to use, plus it will load slower.

On this blog I actually use the sharebar plugin but for my other niche sites I usually just add a few pieces of code to make it happen.

So let’s add a Facebook Like Button.

First of all, you need to create an app. You can do it right here. After you create one you will have your app ID that is needed to make it work.

Then go here to generate the FB like button code that we will add to our custom functions file.

Facebook will give you 2 pieces of code.

The code in the first box will go right after the <body> tag in our HTML code.

To do that you can use this function code:


function add_facebook_sdk() {
if (is_single()) { ?>

<div id="fb-root"></div>
<script>(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1&appId=YourAppID";
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>

<?php }
}
add_action('thesis_hook_before_html', 'add_facebook_sdk');

Replace “YourAppID” with your actual application ID that was generated after you created your app.

Now you can add the code from the second box wherever you want within the post.

To add Google Plus share button you will need to add 2 pieces of code as well, but it’s easier than trying to add FB code.

Go back to “Site Options” in Thesis and add this script under “Stats Software/Scripts”:


<script type="text/javascript" src="http://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script>

Don’t forget to hit the Big Ass Save Button!

Next, you can simply add this code wherever you want inside each post:


<g:plusone size="medium"></g:plusone>

Adding Twitter button is much easier. Just go here to generate the code and paste it in your custom functions file using appropriate hooks.

What I usually do is add all the share buttons under or above each post at once.

To add it under each post you could add this code in your custom functions file:


function single_post_share() {
if (is_single()) {
?>
HTML Code With Your Social Share Buttons Goes Here
<?php }
}
add_action('thesis_hook_after_post', 'single_post_share');

This will display your social buttons under each post you make in your niche blog. Just add your html code to control the layout and it’s all good.

Adding Static Content To Your Thesis Blog

Your blog’s homepage just displays recent posts, which is usually not optimized for your main keyword phrase. When someone lands on the homepage they might get confused and leave, because your recent post was not relevant to what they searched for.

You can add some static content to prevent that. Static content allows you to catch their attention right away. It can be used to point them to your popular posts or to presell your affiliate product.

Here is the code I use for that:


function custom_homepage_info() {
if(is_home() && !is_paged()) {
?>
YOUR HTML CODE GOES HERE
<?php }
}
add_action('thesis_hook_before_content', 'custom_homepage_info');

Just add your own html code and you are set 🙂

Filter Out Categories From Homepage

If you have a category where you keep adding new content multiple times a day and you don’t want it to show on the homepage like other posts then you can add a filter. There are many other reasons why you might want to do that. Maybe you constantly add product reviews and don’t want them to mix with your informational posts?

Well, here is the code for that:


function home_filter_begin() {
if(is_home()):
global $wp_query;
$exclude = '-###';
query_posts(array_merge(array('cat' => $exclude ),$wp_query->query));endif;
}
add_action('thesis_hook_before_content','home_filter_begin');


function home_filter_end() {
if(is_home()):
wp_reset_query();
endif;
}
add_action('thesis_hook_after_content','home_filter_end');

Replace ### with the category ID number. To get that number just navigate to “Categories” and hover your mouse over the category name you want to filter out and look at the status bar. The ID is within the url.

Remove Category From RSS Feed

This can be useful if your site starts growing and you actually have people subscribing to your RSS feed. If you add product specific posts to your niche blog daily your subscribers might see it as spam, so it would be a good idea to filter it out.

Here is the code for that:


/* Remove Categories From RSS */
function RSSFilter($query) {
if ($query->is_feed) {
$query->set ('category__not_in', array(###));
}
return $query;
}
add_filter('pre_get_posts','RSSFilter');

Again, replace ### with the Category ID number.

So that’s basically it. All this stuff takes about 15 minutes to do once you get the hang of it. You can create some nice and clean looking affiliate sites with Thesis. Once you start building with Thesis you probably won’t use anything else out there.

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6 thoughts on “Customize Your Thesis Niche Affiliate Blog

  1. Hello Pawel excellent post regarding thesis theme I am just about to buy it license for thesis theme to use them on my site I see that Developer’s Option for thesis theme is $164 which is little expensive Pawel do you know where I can get cheaper thesis theme instead paying $164 if you know please sent me a link Thanks…

  2. Excellent informative post! I made sure to bookmark it so I can have it handy when I am making future changes to my blog.

  3. I’m a Thesis fan too – wish I weren’t so hooking stupid, haha. I’ve bookmarked this in my Thesis swipes folder; thanks Pawel.

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