Page Updated: Monday, January 2, 2017
Genesis Theme Review: Year 3
This year is my third year designing websites with the Genesis theme for WordPress – and I
really like love it. Genesis is light, fast, flexible and the source code is great for search results. The support community for the Genesis theme is outstanding and plugin selection is unmatched.
In this tutorial I will show you how I use the Genesis theme, which child themes I use and why.
Before Genesis: Thesis, Headway, Enfold…
Let me give you a bit of background as I have been using WordPress since 2006. About 10 years ago, I ran a number of fun cooking and food blogs and patiently worked through the early days of WordPress. Back in those days, a simple plugin update would cause the white screen of death and hours of frustration. There were tons of themes back then, although most of them were bloated or looked amateurish. You had little options to modify themes without a bunch of time and solid developer skills.
WordPress 2007-2008: Genesis, Thesis and Headway
WordPress popularity exploded between 2007 and 2008 and three got proven search results and they became very popular: Thesis, Genesis and Headway. These themes made the owners/authors rich, almost overnight.
Why The Thesis Theme Faded Away
The Thesis theme for WordPress was my favorite as it was the best hands-down for search results. The original Thesis page markup, also known as page source code, was light and fast. With short class names and few divs, Google loved the resulting code. Then Thesis 2.0 was released with no support, not even basic instructions and complex concepts the developer came up with trying to retain the source code and ultimately control.
With Thesis 1.8x you could outrank a Genesis site using the same search marketing techniques as the markup was lighter. When Thesis came out with 2.0, the resulting page markup changed dramatically. Webpages created by Thesis 2.0 were not embraced by Google. Genesis took a giant leap forward as Thesis faded into the shadows.
The Transition to Child Themes: Genesis Takes the Lead
Around 2010 the concept of child themes took hold. Before child themes you were limited to basic options to edit the look and feel of the theme. You could change colors, column widths, number of columns and move the sidebar… that’s about it. With a child theme you have almost full control of the page look and feel. You can design a website without limits and to the customer specifications.
A child theme is just a set of folders inside of a theme. It’s simple. You keep your design changes in the child theme. You can update WordPress and your theme and not loose changes when you use a child theme.
Genesis Theme Takes the Lead: Search Results
Genesis is very good for search results. The theme gives you the option to use a text based logo and include your site description at the every top of the webpage. Or you can upload a logo image and Genesis automatically includes the text equivalent of your site name in the page source. You also have the option to wrap your site name as a paragraph or Header 1 to emphasis your website topic.
I needed proven search results. This is when I made the change to Genesis.
The Genesis Theme is Better than Enfold
The folks over Evato came up with a fifty theme with drag and drop controls. Wow, in 2012-2013 you could bust you a beautiful site in no time flat. As a designer, that means profit and happy clients. For a while…
The Enfold theme makes arguably the worlds longest markup for a WordPress site. It’s huge! There are endless classes and sub-classes. No matter how nice your site looks, with a ton of markup, your critical page content is lost in formatting.
After a while, clients want to know how their site is doing bringing in new customers and traffic results. With Genesis, I’ve always had good things to say and my clients are always at the top of the list. With any Enfold site, regardless how well the search marketing has been done, the site is never first in organic search results. You can use Enfold, you just have to buy your traffic.
The Genesis Theme for WordPress: Proven Search Results
I mentioned earlier the Genesis theme is great for search results. It’s also predictable. I can design a website around a specific search term. Then I build in keyword phrases directly in the navigation, posts and pages. “Poof!” – you get results.