WordPress (not com) Themes: Search and Spam

After the good news about themes at WordPress.com comes some bad news about themes for self-hosted WordPress sites. Siobhan Ambrose at WPMU.org wondered what she’d find if she Googled “Free WordPress Themes.” She examined themes from each of the top 10 hits for that search.

The result? Only one of the 10 theme sites was “safe.” Another was “iffy.” For the other 8, Siobhan’s advice is “avoid,” on the basis that some of the themes use Base64 encoding in order to sneak spammy links into the theme. Base64 can also be used to include malware.

The safe site is the WordPress.org themes directory. Since it currently includes well over a thousand themes, there seems little danger of a free theme shortage. Each of the themes there is under the GPL, and so is free as in freedom and well as free as in beer. In other words, you are free to modify the code of those themes.

This doesn’t mean that every source of free themes other than the official WordPress.com directory is bad. What it does mean is that, just as social media attracts spam, social media tools attract spam-producing components. It also means that some of the people who make those components also study the dark side of SEO.

Sarah Lacy Interviews Eliot Spitzer!

Not really. But shouldn’t someone do this interview on YouTube? I won’t add to the excess of pixels spent on each of the two stories individually, and you probably shouldn’t either, but mashed up together they could still taste fresh.

Another excuse: even the most conscientious of bloggers breaks out a little black hat search engine optimization sometimes ; and so do I.

I also wanted to make sure I was first with what should surely be a contender for blog post title of the month ( at least as for the US).

Now you’re here, please do take the time to check out some of the real content.

NY Times and Getting the Web

Yesterday’s New York Times carried an article on The Best Kind of Traffic for Web Sites. Here’s the bottom line.

That honor goes to the people who arrive at a site by typing its Web address directly into their browsers or clicking on a bookmark. Such visitors, who tend to be repeat customers, linger the longest, spend the most money, and are the most likely to “convert” to buyers, doing so on 3.3 percent of their visits. On average, their visits are worth $5.69 apiece.

So some of these best web customers are people too dumb to bookmark? Apparently so, according to Engine Ready. I’ve linked to the firm’s site, since the NY Times can’t be bothered to.

Engine Ready was founded in 1998 as a Search Engine Optimization firm, and has had a blog since… 2008? So I have to refer you to the post entitled Why are there still boundaries between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0?