The Story Behind Headway’s SEO Features

There are more WordPress theme frameworks available now than ever before, and all of them are great. They each have something to offer that the others don’t. Diff’rent strokes, and all that.

Where they tend to differ most is in how the user interface is set up and laid out and what options it gives you. This is clearly where Headway outshines the rest with its Visual Editor (not only from the beginning, but with the upcoming 3.0 release it will explode far to the forefront again). At a certain basic functional level—under the hood, if you like, you’d think most theme frameworks are all very similar.

But you’d be wrong.

While Thesis has a more robust offering of SEO features now, early on its search optimization features were simple and basic. The idea of eliminating the need for extra plugins by having the theme framework provide that functionality was still new and credit goes to Thesis for pioneering that.

Grant approached me about assisting him and Clay with the SEO features of Headway. This was perfect because I really felt that a theme framework should be capable of so much more than what was available. Even though I never wanted to be, I became┬ásomewhat known as a “blog SEO guy.” More than that, though, I’ve always been the guy focusing on blogs as marketing tools for business. SEO is an important part of that.

For a person who may be including affiliate links or advertising links in blog content, or who may be creating sales pages and squeeze pages, a more granular level of control is needed:

  • The ability to make all the links in a post or page “nofollow”
  • The ability to have a post permalink or a page not be indexed by search spiders
  • The ability to “nofollow” specific navigation links
  • The ability to disallow certain families of permalinks from being indexed, like category archives and tag archives
  • Elimination of the worry about all the work put into the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin—Headway plays nice with any SEO plugins you may be using so there is no conflict

Some of the above are now features in other theme frameworks, but Headway had the “nofollow” features in particular first. And Headway was the first to use the same database table field names so you could start using Headway even if you had already been using the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin with no problems.

Other themes now have SEO features where you can enter a separate title tag from your post or page headline, a description meta tag and the now defunct keywords meta tag. With Headway, we took it a step further and provided a word count feature for the meta tag description as well as a live preview of what your post’s SERP entry would look like (search engine results pages—in other words, how it would look turning up in a Google search).

As search evolves and becomes more integrated with social networks, you can bet that we’ll be adding new SEO features into Headway as we can while maintaining backwards compatibility. For example, in 3.0 we will actively discourage people from using the meta keywords field but it will still be there because locking people out from the information they entered for old content would be unacceptable.

As blog SEO and Headway both evolve, you can look forward to us staying on top of the changes and working them into Headway.


About The Author
Michael Martine boosts your bottom line with a blog with his blog consulting services, training, and products at Remarkablogger. He lives in beautiful Vermont, where he tries to keep the blood levels in his caffeine system from getting too high and spends way too much time on Twitter. Michael is also the brains behind WordPress SEO Secrets.
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