The other day I reviewed a list of the best adsense WordPress themes available online. One of the themes featured in the list was the Heatmap Adsense Theme.
Heatmap is a feature rich premium WordPress design that was designed specifically for those who want to make money through Google Adsense. It makes inserting Google Adsense ads into optimum positions on your website easy. The developers of Heatmap kindly sent me a test copy of the theme so today I would like to show you all all the theme options area and talk about the pros and cons of using the theme. I hope you enjoy the review 🙂
HeatMap Theme Options
HeatMap has an options page that will give most WordPress frameworks a run for their money. Each option has a help icon that explains what the option does. Rather than popping a message up, clicking on the help icon will send you to the appropriate section on the HeatMap user guide.
There is an option to display a featured page before your posts on the home page. Posts can be hidden if you want to only shown your featured page though you could do this via the settings-reading area instead. You can hide meta information and comments if you wish.
The length of post excerpts can be changed too but there is no option to do this with the featured page. This means that if you do want to place a featured page above your posts the featured page will be displayed in full whilst your posts will be displayed using excerpts. In my opinion this makes the featured page option pretty pointless unless you use it as a way to display a short notices and announcements (e.g. an introduction). It doesn’t work well with long pages as excerpts can’t be used.
HeatMap has some good SEO features built in. The home page description and keywords can be changed and you can set which pages get H1 and H2 tags for titles. By default the home page, pages and posts are indexed but you can also choose to index categories, tags and archives. Alternatively, you can index everything.
Underneath the post editor, you can set the SEO information for each post or page. Meta descriptions and keywords can be set here and there is an option to display text just after the body tag (SEO Text). There’s also an option to customise the ‘Read More’ text for each post or page and replace it with something unique like ‘Find out more about this amazing new product’.
Thankfully, there is an option to disable all SEO features if you want to use a WordPress SEO plugin instead.
The theme structure area lets you move the sidebar from left to right or remove it altogether. You can also activate squeeze mode if you want a thinner layout. The general layout of the header can be customized. The logo and favicon can be uploaded here and there is an option to hide the header or title altogether. The navigation menu can also be changed and can be moved above or below the header.
HeatMap allows you to control 5 post types: pages, posts, categories, search, and archives. For each type, you can hide the titles, details, and comments.
There is a left and right footer near the bottom of the design and copyright details can be added to the left and right of a sub footer at the bottom of the page.
Featured images can be defined for the home page and archives, posts and pages. They can be placed on the left or right or switched off.
The theme is also setup to work with Google search so that you can make a little extra money through Google search ads. Google Analytics can also be integrated here.
There is a social media profile area which can be placed in the page or categories navigation bar. By default posts show sharing buttons for Google+, Facebook and Twitter however these can all be switched off and on.
The header and footer can both be locked so that when a user browses your page these section remain stationery with the content scrolling as normal. It’s supposed to work in a similar way to HTML frames though when I was unable to get this feature to work on any browser during testing.
Header scripts and custom CSS code can be added at the bottom of the options area.
In addition to the SEO options I mentioned earlier, you can also customise the excerpt for the included recent posts widget. There are some great affiliate options that you can utilise for each post too. The affiliate link option lets you add a button to your posts. For example, you could add a ‘Buy Now’ button for your book review and link directly to Amazon using it. The featured image can be linked using your affiliate link too.
At the right hand side of the post editor you can change the template that is used for a post. There are 9 templates to choose from including a full width template, a no ads template and a gallery template.
HeatMap Ad Options & Widget Area
HeatMap was built for displaying ads and this is reflected in the ad options page and widget area. It may seem a little confusing at first however the way you insert adds into your HeatMap powered website works really well. The theme lets you define up to 20 Adsense ads and 3 Adsense link units.
For each ad you can set whether it is displayed on the home page, pages, posts, categories, search results and archives. This means that you don’t have to have the same ad structure throughout your site, you could quite easily create different combinations of ads in different sections of your page. I also like the fact that the theme simply has a blank text area for entering your Adsense ads. They could have used a more stylish setup that only requires your Adsense tracking reference but by using a text area they have made it easy to combine Adsense ads with traditional banner ads and other ad scripts.
The widget area is a little overwhelming at first as there is a whopping 24 widgets to choose from. Due to the sheer number of widgets, you won’t need to float your ads to position them in your content. To help you do this there are left and right sided widgets.
If you add code to any of the 20 ad units or 3 link units, they will appear as a widget in the widget area. The settings are exactly the same as what you entered in the ad options page though you can change these via the widget if you wish and override the default settings you previously set up. It’s then just a matter of dragging and dropping the ads you created into the correct widget areas.
On the right hand side of the theme and ad options page there is a thumbnail and link to the widget positions. You’ll probably be referring to this frequently when you first use the theme.
The HeatMap Design
When I first tried the theme out I was a little disappointed with the design of HeatMap. The default skin that comes with the theme is very dull and not a great example of what the theme can do. It is very well coded though and with a few small changes to the stylesheet you will be able to create a good looking design fairly quickly.
One thing I did find missing from the theme was the option to change the size of featured thumbnails. Due to this, the post listings don’t look great with some images being too small and some being too large.
There is also no option to remove the theme thumbnail from full posts. For example, on one of my small content websites I display featured thumbnails on the home page and archives but on the post page I display a 300×250 Google Adsense ad. You can’t do this with HeatMap as if you show a featured image on the home page and archives, it will be displayed below your Google Adsense ad on your post page.
Despite the theme lacking some important options for featured images, it is still an incredibly versatile theme and it will help you create a range of different types of websites including content websites, squeeze pages and blogs.
In the members area you can download 10 different colour variations of their ultimate authority design and 25 classic skins. Additionally, HeatMap offer quick setup files for 10 different types of websites including a blog, author review website and designs optimised for click throughs. For each type of website they provide a demo and an .hmtq file and .xml file for setting the website up quickly.
Below are some examples of some websites that have been created by HeatMap developer Stuart Wider to showcase what can be achieved using the theme.
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For creating small content websites specifically for Google Adsense, HeatMap has everything you need. Up to 23 different ads can be added in the ad options page and then inserted into 24 different positions on your site. Ads can also be deactivated on different areas of your site so that lots of different combinations of ads can be displayed.
Most themes that have been created for Google Adsense only have a few basic options, most notably the ability to add ads directly into 3 or 4 ads into your site. Not only does HeatMap have many more ad options, it also has a huge number of theme options. Some of these features, such as the featured page option, could have been implemented better though there’s nothing that makes the theme unusable.
Those of you who read my review of adsense themes at the start of the week will have noticed that I included three WordPress frameworks in my list. In my opinion, good WordPress frameworks that support hooks so that you can insert code directly into a website are the only real alternative to HeatMap.
Bear in mind however that most framework hooks let you insert code into generic areas such as above content, below comments, under navigation menu etc, whereas HeatMap has been designed specifically for making money through Google Adsense. As a result, the 24 ad widgets which HeatMap has are in better positions to display ads.
Many affiliate marketers make money through Adsense by creating a large volume of websites. Each website might only make a few dollars a month but collectively they can provide a great return. For those developers, HeatMap is a great option, as there are 35 different skins available and setup files for over 10 different types of websites. Adsense veterans would be able to make complete websites (design and content) with HeatMap in just a few hours.
I own a few Adsense websites of my own and plan on developing more in the near future so I’m aware of the benefits of using a theme like HeatMap in order to optimise my ad placements and speed up the development of new sites. If you are looking for a way of quickly setting up Adsense websites, I recommend checking HeatMap out. You won’t be disappointed 🙂
Link: Heatmap Adsense Theme
* Thanks to Stuart from Heatmap Adsense Theme for providing me with a test copy of Heatmap for this review.