By SEO Mofo | July 21, 2011
What’s the best way to boost sales of your bullshit WordPress theme?
Well…Step 1 might be to create an affiliate program that essentially bribes a bunch of talentless bloggers and SEO wannabes to over-hype your theme’s poorly-implemented features.
For Step 2…perhaps you could start blogging about SEO and WordPress–despite the fact that you know virtually nothing about those topics?
Apparently, this is the business and marketing strategy of DIYThemes, LLC–aka, the company that sells the Thesis WordPress theme.
I Can’t Not Call Out DIYThemes’ Bullshit
For me personally, I was suckered into buying Thesis by Step 1, and I have no desire to read the bullshit SEO tips being published on the Thesis blog. No problem…I can just ignore that blog entirely.
Except that I can’t ignore it. For 2 reasons:
- Thesis doesn’t meet the criteria for inclusion in the WordPress.org theme repository, and it doesn’t implement any PHP code that allows independent themes to be notified of updates, so the only way I can find out about new version releases is to check their blog for announcements.
- Thesis 1.8.2 is/was supposed to be a bug fix that makes one of its admin panel menus compatible with WordPress 3.2, but curiously…it also added a widget (i.e., a WP meta box) to the top of my WordPress Dashboard that displays the 5 most recent posts from the Thesis blog!?
From the announcement on the Thesis blog:
If you’ve already upgraded to WordPress 3.2, you may have noticed that Thesis’ awesome category page SEO controls were not showing up.
To fix this, we’ve released Thesis 1.8.2, and we also added one new feature: a dashboard news widget with links to the latest posts from the Thesis blog.
With a title like Thesis 1.8.2 Brings You Full Compatibility with WordPress 3.2, you might expect to find…gee, I don’t know…custom post types or customizable background images or something. But no, “full compatibility” in this case means one of the Thesis admin menus was unfucked…and DIYThemes.com is now feeding bullshit SEO information directly into your admin interface.
But whatever…surely this unsolicited junk will hardly be noticeable–it’ll probably be buried under a million more-important Dashboard widgets…right?
Let’s try enabling Thesis 1.8.2 on a test site and see what happens…
Oh wait…I left WP_DEBUG set to true in my wp-config.php file. I forgot that Thesis generates massive amounts of PHP warnings and WordPress errors. Heh…my bad. Let me just set this to false and let’s try this again…
There we go. In case you can’t tell, this image is a full-length screenshot of the WordPress Dashboard–i.e., the administration panel you see when you first log into WordPress. I’ve highlighted the Thesis “news widget” in red, to give you an idea of just how inconspicuous it is.
I mean honestly…I spent one hundred and sixty-fucking-four dollars on the Thesis “Developer’s Option” and in return, every time I log into WordPress, the ass clowns at DIYThemes hit me in the face with a bullshit pie.
Just How Shitty is the Thesis News Widget in Version 1.8.2?
Here’s some additional fun facts about this widget o’ bullshit:
- This widget is hard-coded to display 5 posts. (That’s a lot of bullshit.)
- No configuration options
- No convenient action hook to remove
- Hard-coded as a high-priority meta box–meaning it’s no accident that this unsightly bullshit factory is at the top of the Dashboard; DIYThemes made a conscious decision to promote its blog above everything else. If for some reason you actually want an RSS half-stack of bullshit displayed in your WP admin area, but not at the top of the screen, then edit line 122 of /lib/admin/admin.php and change the last argument from ‘high’ to ‘low’ (i.e., change the priority).
- The widget uses a new PHP class, named thesis_dashboard_rss, which is instantiated (called) by the function thesis_admin_setup() in the file /lib/admin/admin.php. The class itself is defined at the bottom of admin.php. To disable this server-resource-wasting piece of shit, delete the class definition code (lines 110-142) and the line that instantiates it (line 12: new thesis_dashboard_rss). Worried about hacking core files? Don’t worry, Thesis is on its deathbed anyway.
Not All Dashboard Widgets Are Jerks
For an example of a Dashboard RSS feed that doesn’t suck, see the WordPress SEO plugin from Joost de Valk. After this plugin is enabled, a Dashboard widget appears, containing links to the 3 most recent posts from Yoast.com’s RSS feed. What sets it apart from the Thesis implementation (other than the $164 price difference) is the big X button that permanently disables it with a single click. Plus, I like the fact that it doesn’t shove its way to the front of the line, claiming to be some kind of A-list widget celebrity or something.
If anyone is interested, here’s the official documentation on WordPress Dashboard Widgets.
Examples of SEO Bullshit in the Thesis WordPress Theme
In terms of search engine optimization–or even web design in general–Thesis is undeniably flawed in several ways. Here are a few examples of why Thesis’s “airtight SEO” claims are actually bullshit.
- Internal links point to non-canonical URLs.
- Go to any post on Matt Cutts’s blog and view the Home link in the top menu. It points to http://www.mattcutts.com/blog which then redirects to http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/. Even the Thesis blog itself has this problem.
- Go to http://www.krispykreme.co.uk/ and view the top-level links in the top menu. The parent links point to the canonical URLs, but the first child link in the drop-down menus point to the non-canonical URLs. In other words, the nav menu contains links to both /doughnuts/our-varieties/ and /doughnuts/our-varieties.
- Comment Permalinks (e.g., /category/post.html#comment-1234) are nofollowed.
- For example, this post by Danny Sullivan contains at least 100 self-referencing links that have the nofollow attribute added for no apparent reason. If the rel=”nofollow” attribute means “I don’t vouch for this URL,” then what does it mean when you point to your own blog post with 100 individual nofollowed links? Also, note how the Next Comments link is a normal (i.e., followed) link, despite the fact that it links to a duplicate of the entire post (only the comments are different).
- Post Authors’ links in comments are nofollowed.
- Next/Previous links point to unrelated content (i.e., posts that are related chronologically but do not share the same category).
- Sidebars arbitrarily use h3 tags to mark up headings.
- Comments arbitrarily use definition list markup (e.g., dl, dt, dd tags).
- Cross-linked posts generate nofollowed internal links as trackbacks.
Examples of SEO Bullshit Published On the Thesis Blog
- Literally every SEO-related post I’ve read from the Thesis blog contains significant quantities of bullshit. The following examples are intentionally not linked. I’m not trying to inconvenience you, dear reader, I’m simply abiding by my own policy: don’t link to shit. If you want to see the bullshit for yourself, try a Google search for something like [DIYThemes "WordPress SEO for Everybody"].
- From the “Advanced SEO” post, titled How to Interlink Your Articles the Right Way:
- Links higher in the HTML pass more search juice
- First of all…WTF is search juice?
- Second of all…the supporting content under that heading ended with this brain-fart conclusion: So, when interlinking pages that are important, make sure you keep it as close to the fold as possible.
- Links higher in the HTML pass more search juice
- Speaking of brain farts, read this article. (I’ve saved the entire thing as an image, to show the comment I left at the bottom. My comment was deleted from the moderation queue, so the live version of this article doesn’t show it.) Does anything in that post come even remotely close to completing a valid thought?
DIYThemes doesn’t know jack shit about SEO…but that won’t stop them from force-feeding its customers a bunch of bullshit. Save yourself the trouble, save yourself the money, don’t buy Thesis.