Catalyst Paid Tools WordPress

Catalyst Theme and SEO Options

From time to time I mention the theme I like de jour – but my most abiding love affair with a theme is Frugal Theme – now replaced with Catalyst Theme – and I like them both! (Well sort of replaced I haven’t got around to doing this site yet – its still in the “not broken – haven’t fixed it yet”) pile. But with the release of Catalyst v1.1 I am pretty darn impressed and even WordPress 3.1 is appearing to be stable enough to upgrade to – so here’s my first Catalyst Theme Tutorial.

So how is Catalyst for SEO – well its pretty good – its flexible, it won’t do it for you – but you can set and forget it. First if you are already using a plugin such as All-In-One-SEO or Platinum SEO – then you can keep on using them, they play happily with Catalyst 1.1. However if you are starting a new site – you can probably skip the plugins and just use Catalyst’s built in SEO.

Once you’ve installed Catalyst and the Dynamik child theme – you will have a Catalyst Sub Menu on your main WordPress menu and under that three options: Core Options, Dynamik Options and Advanced Options.

Go to Core Options and Chose SEO (if you are using a SEO plugin at the top of the page will be a warning telling you that anything you do will be ignore).

Setup Site Wide SEO Options in Catalyst

That’s how I do – it but you have got some options:

Title Tag SEO

Title Tag: – you probably want to append the  site description to your title tag – but on the right – (words nearer the left are considered to have more weight in SEO)

If you have a keyword rich site name then you should probably append it  on inner pages – if however you have a general brand name then don’t bother.

You only want ONE H1 tag on the front page – your choice whether its title or tagline.

Robots Meta SEO Options

I  vary on this but I never check NOINDEX on tags or archives – I find them in the SERPS too often. The author page is irrelevant on a single author blog –  so I do check NOINDEX on it and sometimes on Category.

If you want to have comments do-followed you can uncheck this option rather than installing the do-follow option.

I don’t Noarchive anything.

HomePage SEO Options

Generally I use this blank and use the site title (under Settings/General menu)

Homepage metadescription – is helpful friendly, something that may make someone click thru – but has lots of keywords in it too!

Obviously put your keywords in the homepage meta – it probably doesn’t do anything but…

Homepage Robots Meta – all unticked.

Canonical paginated archives sounds like a good idea – to be honest I’m not exactly sure what they are though!

Up to now these options will apply site wide.

In addiition on every page and post in Catalyst you have another bunch of SEO options (under the main editing screen) these include

Catalyst page title

Catalyst description

Catalyst keywords

You can also noindex, nofollow and/or noarchive the post or page.


Interested in learning more about Catalyst – HONKING BIG AFFILIATE LINK HERE

Catalyst Lis Recommmends Paid Tools Product Reviews Tools

Impact Page Builder Review

It's still - just not as you know it

Hi – its OK its really me Lis! I just moved the furniture around a bit!  BTW if you are reading this via the RSS feed you may want to click thru as I am talking about the look and feel of this page in this post – you kinda have to be here! Anyway as you might have gathered this post is promoting Impact Page Builder – why? Well because I have building up your trust so that you would buy lots from me and pay for the overseas holiday to somewhere warm!

Well to be honest from what I’ve seen no one makes any serious money promoting stuff that is one off purchases like Impact Page Builder – the market is just too small and  there is no agressive upsell or membership sites – which is where the money really is at!

Anyway getting back to Impact Page Builder. This is a brand new plugin from Eric Hamm – of Frugal Theme fame.  Well its been out a couple of weeks – it took Leo’s newsletter to wake me up to its potential. (If you are not subscribed – you’re an idiot – subscribe).

Impact Page Builder – Key Features

In their own words – IPB allows you to:

Our Template Builder gives you everything you need to create attractive designs quickly and easily. Our real-time interface lets you see your template take shape before your eyes as you make adjustments. Even the code changes you make to a Template’s Custom CSS are reflected instantly.

Each Impact Template has 15 empty Hooks, such as ‘Before Header’, ‘After Sidebar’, ‘In Footer’, etc. You can use these to hold anything from WordPress Widgets to custom Text, HTML & JavaScript.

With WordPress 3.0′s new Custom Menus feature, you can create and use Template-Specific NavBars. Run an unlimited number of interlinked mini-sites with unique navigation from a single domain!

  • Its a plugin – not a theme – Impact works independently of your theme – and therefore works on ANY theme.
  • Impact Page Builder gives you total control and the ability to create page/post templates.  You can create a new template for just one post on your site (as I have done here) – or you can several templates – one for your landing pages, one for your squeeze pages, one for your blogging ramblings.
  • Impact is (mainly – see below) a WYSIWIG page builder – change the layout – the widget areas – the change will reflect on the screen in the same way I understand Headway does.
  • Impact  has a slick download which directs you immediately to the support forums if you have questions or issues – I did have a problem (of my own making) and the support was fast and effective.
  • Unlike many themes and plugins  IPB offers free upgrades for life.

Impact Weaknesses

  • The product is new – I think the Impact Page Builder team will bringing out skins to allow those of us who are design disabled to make a site look good without knowing how to create a design from scratch.  So at  the moment if you are design challenged – you will get something that looks like this page! (And yes I tried using Firebug – but it doesn’t help me very much!).
  • Eric is using eJunkie for IPB’s affiliate program – I personally prefer the idevaffiliate manager which they used for Frugal.
  • The use of custom widgets for each template is going to end up with a LOT of widget areas in your “widgets” menu!

Who is Impact Page Builder For

  • If you are building “supersites” as The Keyword Academy calls them – you need this plugin – it allows you to completely “silo” (as Leo calls it – your site so that every menu and link on a page is relevant to your keyword for that part of the site.
  • If you are developing sites for local businesses – then using this plugin (and the developer’s version allows you to deploy to client’s sites) on top of a basic theme may well give you all the flexibility you need if you know a bit of CSS
  • If you are developing mini-sites which require different pages – such as opt in pages, downloads for products etc etc i.e. if you have started googling “landing pages in WordPress” – then IPB is going to cost you less than those templates – and gives you much much more.

Who Should Give Impact Page Builder A Miss

  • If you are just developing Adsense minisites then you are probably good to go. Its only when you want to start customising parts of your site and/or doing very “special” pages that the value of this product will be obvious.
  • If you a buying it – just to see – don’t –  IPB, like most themes and plugins – does NOT offer a money back guarantee – if you think about it for 5 secs the reason why is obvious. So take the time figure out if you have the need before you buy!
  • If you haven’t got any traffic yet – well the design is pretty irrelevant isn’t it? Build more links first!

Impact Page Builder Template on This Page

Yeah well I never said I was a designer! But what I did was something like this:

  • added a text title;
  • added an image to be used as the overall background;
  • added a widget area below he title area and added a custom menu to it;
  • changed the colours and look of the menu by using custom CSS – hacked from code provided for the purpose in the support area;
  • added another widget area above content and added a big affiliate banner to it;
  • as I am using this template on a post rather than a page my  other plugins included “related posts” and “sexy bookmarks” are still showing  – but nothing from the site’s standard theme (Frugal) is.

So what do you think?  To me IPB is a game changer for the whole paid theme space.  For the same price of a single license of a premium theme (including Thesis and Frugal) you can buy a developers (unlimited) version  the Impact Page Builder plugin ($88) and have way more control than any theme can offer you. To just try it out you are looking at $44 for a single site license (and you can upgrade to the unlimited version by paying the difference later if you wish to). I just hope that Eric manages to get word out and get critical mass in the market  before the inevitable knock-off’s start coming out.

Blogging Catalyst Lis Recommmends Paid Tools Tools WordPress

Frugal Theme Review – Frugal and Thesis Themes Compared

I’ve been running Chris Pearson’s Thesis Theme on this site for a while – last  July I installed Thesis. As I talked about in my last post : I am now running Frugal Theme not Thesis.

Why I Chose Thesis in the First Place

I am not a designer I know little CSS far less php, enough html to get by. But I wanted to be able to develop custom websites – not just for my own use but also for SEO clients. Thesis seemed to offer the promise of doing this without coding – their advertising is based around that, At the time I bought Thesis there was no money back guarantee – so I wanted to make sure I got it right. So researched, and then bought Thesis 1.4

I was never impressed with Thesis and although I bought the $87 single use licence intending to upgrade to the multi-site use Developer’s version I never did.  Instead I bought Elegantthemes for my other sites and retained Thesis here. I think my relationship with Thesis soured when I had to go their support forums to learn how to install my own header image and change the site’s background colours to match.

The Boxes Thesis Failed on – Is Frugal Any Better?

Originally I decided not to upgrade to the developer’s version of Thesis for the reasons I listed in this September 2009 post about Thesis. I recently updated to Thesis 1.7 and my issues still stand – so I have reproduced my original problems with Thesis and compared Frugal with the same issues. Yup this is genuine review of Thesis 1.7 and Frugal 3.3 from someone who has used and abused both.  The Thesis comments below are my original September comments – and then I’ve followed them with my take on how Frugal Theme stacks up.

THESIS: It has not one but two Thesis Options panels – this is confusing – I am always going to the wrong one – even after months. Actually its up to five now plus the Thesis Openhook plugin – which always felt like functionality which should have been in the base Thesis install.  But to be fair – this was my first experience with a sophisticated Framework rather than a simple theme – it took some getting used to!

FRUGAL:  Frugal installs a 6-option menu which I find quite simple to work my way through. The excellent videos from the developer Eric Hamm describing each and every option are extremely useful.

THESIS:  I  had to use code to add a header image and to match the background colour. This is the single reason why so many Thesis installs look like a default Thesis install.

FRUGAL: For comparison purposes I’ve included a list of Thesis and Frugal themes sites at the end of this post – just to show what “non-designers” can do with these themes. But the bottom line is that its really easy to add a header and then change the background colours of Frugal – much, much easier than it is with Thesis. If you can do these two things you can make your site look unique!

THESIS:  Using images is painful – I have to import an image and then cut and paste and add the thumbnail image code so that I can have the combination of having a picture anywhere I want in the picture plus having the thumbnail appear on other pages such as categories – its a nuisance. (Upgrading to 1.7 made this even more painful as I had to scroll a LONG way below the post past all the useless javascript libraries to get to the thumbnail options.

FRUGAL: Thanks to Thesis 1.7 ignoring the functionality of WordPress 2.9 native’s support of thumbnails I’ve had to go thru my past posts and nominate an image as a thumbnail – but going forward – images are very straightforward – import the image into the post – nominate as a thumbnail – job done!

THESIS:  Thesis is expensive if you want to deploy it. If you want to run it on more than one site you need that developers editions – that’s another $77 over the initial $87 for a single user. Plus if you want to sell a customised theme to a client that’s another $15 now $40 per a client theme.

FRUGAL: Exactly the same pricing! For one site $87 for a single site or $164 $164 for a developer’s licence  plus $40 per a client site. I notice that both themes now have a 30-day money back guarantee – something that Thesis didn’t have when I bought it. Nice to see competition doing its thing. Honestly I think Frugal should be a little more aggressive on their pricing in order to differentiate themselves from Thesis – once they have the market share they can then up the price – but until then – just my opinion though!

THESIS:  Thesis makes a big deal of being SEO friendly – but its SEO settings are no more difficult to use than the free all-in-one-seo plugin – it replaces that plugin – but most people would already be running all-in-one anyways.

FRUGAL: Is just as easy to set up for on-page SEO- if not more so (the defaults are much better than the Thesis defaults for SEO).  I’ve seen Frugal Theme criticized for  its SEO this over and over – there is no issue that I can see Frugal is just fine for SEO (and replaces All-in-one-SEO or Platinum SEO plugins).

THESIS:  if you are a designer Thesis really is a framework and you can no doubt do beautiful things -but its a bit like giving me a top-quality blank canvas and a paint brush and tell me go create – I am a rather more paint by numbers gal! You maybe able to do beautiful things with Thesis – or afford someone who can – I can’t do either.

FRUGAL: Frugal is astoundingly easy to to customise for a non-designer.  It is dead simple to produce a site which looks like a website not a blog. Its astoundingly easy to customise the look and style of the site. Its everything I hoped Thesis would be  when I bought Thesis 1.4 and which Thesis 1.7 has still failed to deliver on

THESIS:  The ability to display ads using the “multimedia” box is fine and the ability to control this down to post level is impressive. What’s not is the place you put the code shows at most 2 lines of a narrow column- you have to use a text editor to actually edit and update the code – this is because most of the screen space has been used on the unecessary design elements.

FRUGAL: There is not quite the same concept as the multimedia box in Frugal – but you can do custom layouts for pages and the ability to add custom widgets at almost any point in the design – so I am experimenting with this. I’ve gone away from the standard 125×125 ads in the sidebar anyways – they use up a lot of space and rarely converted. Frugal Theme’s use of and implementation of hooks is brilliant – its a difficult concept but a truly understood it with Frugal – never had with Thesis. The fact that you get dummy text when you hook in widgets to hooks is fantastic for those who are learning this stuff (like me and most of their customers).

THESIS: Their affiliate banners are really. really ugly – yellow is the only option – and this is in the marketplace where people care about design. This may have changed with the outsourcing of their affiliate program – I’m not up to date but Costa at Bloggigs is not very impressed with the new Thesis affiliate program for international affiliates

FRUGAL: In-house affiliate program which pays 40% to affiliates running on the iDevAffiliate platform which I’m seeing more and more often (TKA uses it too). Nice set of pretty banners – like this one 🙂

On Going Thesis Development Issues

Since I raised the issues above in September I have found Thesis continues to annoy. Because I chose to have images in my posts in different places in each post – there is no way that I can create an automatic thumbnail for each post – which is used in the extracts of older posts (a feature I really like with Thesis, but is easier to use with Frugal). Instead, after importing an image to a post, I had to go to the advanced setting of that image and cut and paste it in the thumbnail url below the post – and then edit it to reflect the actual thumbnail name!

The latest version of Thesis – made this worse by adding a whole bunch of JavaScript libraries immediately below my post’s editing area – which I now have to scroll past to get to the image urls and options.

Thesis seems to be loosing the plot with what features are released when. There was an active debate in their forums expecting that Thesis 2.0 would be out in September 2009 – and that it would have such innovations – such as easy point and click to change the header image. Still waiting on that easy header change AND Thesis 2.0 – but Thesis 1.7 has a whole bunch of javascript library options? Sorry but WTF  –  although its true that customers don’t always know what they want – but wanting to change a header image – thats pretty darn basic!  Because if you can’t retain your customers they are going to go elsewhere – and the options are starting to improve – not just Frugal but Headway too.

Which is Best Frugal or Thesis

As my readers know I don’t mind calling a spade a bloody shovel and I think Thesis is slipping behind. The risk is though that its winning the marketing war – the line up of “big” name A-list bloggers really does seem to impress people into the desirability of buying.

I don’t know how much longer that is going to work though – I think Thesis has made three key mistakes:

  • they haven’t listened to their customers and responded to the customers fairly basic requests (e.g. easy custom headers);
  • they do now provide a 30 day guarantee so that people aren’t “stuck” with the product that didn’t live up to the hype;
  • they have pissed off a whole lot of their affiliates – eBay has discovered that pissing off the people who bring you traffic is dumb idea – it looks like Thesis is going the same route.

Frankly Thesis hasn’t kept an eye on the competition. Frugal  does everything that Thesis sold itself to me that it would deliver on:

  • easy to customize without knowing css and php;
  • easy to upgrade and modify as my site developed ;
  • easy to deploy for my clients and to maintain for them (or preferably, teach them to maintain).

Frugal Example Sites

Terrible for SEO – but different Jim Chao

Used as a CMS rather than a blog – variety of different page styles Real Estate Leads

Leo is running Frugal on his Internet Marketing blog using a static front page layout which I may adopt.

More “standard Frugal” – but still unique enough Living Frugal Tips

An in your face design who seems to have upgraded from Thesis to Frugal for similar reasons as I  Enemy of Debt

Zen Habits – no introduction required I think. There is a free skin available from  Frugal based on Leo’s blog’s design (with his permission).

Thesis Example Sites

Most of the Thesis sites I found using a “powered by Thesis” search – found me SEO ‘s sites – Thesis is loved by the SEO and design community because of its promotion by the “A-listers” and its opportunities for consulting by writing e-books on how to use Thesis and custom designs for those who give up on the books.

Friction Marketer again a basic Thesis look – well worth reading the article linked to from the point of view of Brian Clark’s social media skills.  (BTW that was September 2009 Brian is talking about the release of Thesis 2.0 – it hasn’t happened yet).

R James Horne – the classic “Thesis look” – sorry James !

Even More classic Thesis (sorry Steve!) Social Media

These are more sophisticated Thesis “looks” – but would have taken quite a bit of custom code to achieve:

SEO Pitfall

Quick Online Tips


Frugal Theme Reviewed  Big Thumbs Up

Sorry – the post is a bit long even for me! But I really found it an interesting comparing Thesis and Frugal – one should have the first mover advantage (Thesis), both obviously have extremely talented developers – but one (Thesis) has outsourced their marketing to the A-listers, the other (Frugal) is going it alone and trying to build a good affiliate network. Frankly one of the reasons I took so much time on this post (and it took days) was that I have seen very few in-depth reviews of Frugal – and  came across some downright misleading stuff (like the so-called lack of SEO). This is my attempt to fix that (oh and get a bit of affiliate income too!)

Blogging Catalyst Lis Recommmends Paid Tools Tools WordPress

Passive Income Online – Now Running Frugal Theme!

Update April 2011 – I have updated the theme again – Frugal became Catalyst – which is a really, really turbo charged version of Frugal -which I got a free upgrade to as an existing customer. To read more about Catalyst check out my Catalyst review

Hi all – if you click thru and get your  yourself onto the actual site – you will see some stuff has changed around here! I am still getting the  edges smoothed off but Passive Income Online has had a spring clean and  is now running the Frugal Theme by Eric Hamm.

I have a (very) long post coming out in the next few days describing why I decided to move away from Thesis ( a theme I’d already paid for) and install Thesis Frugal – this is the short version in case anyone happened to notice (or care) about what happened around here.

In case you have already forgotten: this was this site running Thesis 1.7:

Passive Income running Thesis

After a bit of practice with Frugal (I’ve owned if for a couple of weeks) I took the deep breath and installed it here. Out of the box – i.e. just after I hit activate after uploading the Theme I had a site that looked like this:

Frugal Default Install on Passive Income

It took me a couple of hours – and I had written down the details of the design from the Thesis install. But I now have a site which at least resembles what this blog looked like with Thesis. I’m going to change it more – but I thought I would be too radical to start off with just so people didn’t think they’d wandered into the wrong site!

Frugal Looking Like My Thesis Install

If you want the gory details of how I did the customisationisation without writing a single line of CSS code and very little html. This is the short version.

  1. I made sure that I had the custom header which was kindly given to me by Costa over at Blogigs: WP Easy Customization Tips.
  2. I trawled thru the custom CSS  being used in Thesis plus the font and design options and wrote down little details like fonts and sizes and colour codes for the backgrounds, fonts and other shite.
  3. I installed Frugal 3.3
  4. I was impressed that Frugal preserved my existing sidebar arrangement complete with widgets.
  5. I easy fixed my top of page navigation which has been broken since I upgraded to Thesis 1.7.
  6. I had read the Frugal manual and watched Eric’s excellent videos so knew that I could use his custom widget functionality to add my yellow welcome box at the top of  the page (I chose to change it so it was full width not just above the content column as in  Thesis – it was easy to change by choosing a slightly different hook).
  7. I also used a custom widget to add a the blue box at the bottom of posts promoting The Keyword Academy.
  8. I have to go through each post and add a thumbnail. I wasn’t surprised – Thesis 1.7 was suppressing the WordPress 2.9 functionality of thumbnails so I knew I’d have to go back and fix a pile of posts. The good news is that from now on to add a thumbnail all i have to do is click that option when I import an image – not more cutting and pasting image urls yeah!

So far there are two things that I can’t  find a way to reproduce with Frugal:

  1. I quite like the single post followed by excerpts  of older posts which Thesis does. Frugal well let me have 3 excerpts below the main post – but I haven’t found a way to do more than three (without code – I’m sure I CAN do it with code but that’s not the point) Confirmed by Eric (the developer and owner of Frugal) that I will need to look at a slightly different layout – given that some of you commented you hadn’t realized I’d changed themes thats cool;
  2. The comments on pages appear to have gone AWOL – not sure how to get them back! Answer go to the “main options” page and select comments on pages and posts options – duh!