The goal of this project was to design a site that appeals to both designers and developers and to build authority so that future blog posts and tutorials could rank well and generate significant search traffic. 100% natural SEO was the name of the game with this project and we were able to generate quite a bit of traffic in only a few short months.
WordPress Hacker is a blog and tutorial site designed around the WordPress blogging platform and geared toward teaching website owners and bloggers with limited experience how to customize the software.
Competition would be fierce; there already existed a wide variety of competing WordPress tutorial sites out there and we needed to make this one stand out from the pack somehow.
The plan was to tightly target the two demographics that would be most interested in the site and its content: designers and developers. Therefore we had to come up with an eye-catching design that would please the creative designers, while at the same time present the information in a structured, organized fashion that would appeal to the analytical developers.
We also had to figure out a way to provide something to the public that would help the site build the traffic, links, and search engine authority that would ultimately get the site found by readers.
We did quite a bit of due diligence for this project, researching the hundreds of other WordPress tutorial sites on the web and developing an idea of how we could set WordPress Hacker apart. We also needed to know how stiff the competition was and how difficult it was going to be to rank well and draw in traffic to the site.
We conducted a number of different keyword analyses and created several different potential design mockups during the planning phase to help flesh out a concrete plan of attack.
Our due diligence lead us to the newly opened WordPress theme repository and the idea that we could perhaps create a new, freely available WordPress theme and take advantage of the newly opened repository to help with the theme’s distribution. A credit link in the footer would drive traffic to the site and further theme downloads.
Since WordPress Hacker was going to be competing against a number of well-entrenched mainstays we made sure the code was as clean and well-structured as it could be. Clean code has the added benefit of reducing maintenance costs over time.
The design went through a number of iterations to get to a final product. Instead of just a blog, we decided to separate the site into two major sections, a blog and a tutorials section. The blog would serve as a general sounding-off board for various posts, while the tutorials section would serve as the hub for the longer, more detailed how-tos found on the site. This seemed to serve the site perfectly as blog posts could be published on a regular basis without too much effort, and remain separate from the longer, detailed tutorials that took a number of hours to write and edit.
Zero to Hero in Only 8 Months
Part of the mass appeal of WordPress is that a blogger can install it fairly quickly and install one of the thousands of freely available themes (designs distributed by other people), which are developed to be pretty much plug-and-play. The result is the single most successful blogging platform in existence, used by companies like The New York Times, CNN.com, and The Wall Street Journal, to name just a few.
During the due diligence stage, we discovered WordPress.org was relaunching its long since neglected theme repository as a central hub for theme distribution. We thought developing a freely available theme for this repository was a perfect way to spread the word about the new site.
The plan worked. In just 8 months, our various marketing methods were able to drive traffic and generate newsletter subscribers. The site has already been mentioned on thousands of different websites, including the wildely popular Smashing Magazine, and it’s momentum is building.
The most recent PageRank update saw the site reach PR6, higher than the majority of the competition we researched during the due diligence phase.
It’s important to note, however, that all of this was well within the bounds of what the search engines consider ethical SEO, and a large reason the WordPress theme saw so much distribution was because of the painstaking attention to detail in its development and the support forum where users could get help on any topic related to the theme, something most free themes don’t offer.
Also, early submission to the newly launched theme repository at WordPress.org got the distribution started strong with nearly 2,000 downloads in the first week alone and well over 20,000 downloads and climbing as of the time of this writing.
WordPress is a fun platform to work with and this was a great project that tested our design skills. We’ve been incredibly pleased with the project’s success to date and look forward to continuing work with it.