John Mueller, the Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, recently posted a video response to a Twitter user (@imnidhin3) who asked, “Does changing the theme of a WordPress website affect ranking? If it does, to what degree? What are the best practices while changing the theme/design?”
In the video, Mueller confirms that themes do in fact play a role in the SEO value of a website. Among the reasons he lists is the general navigation introduced by site themes. The easier it is for users (and search engines) to navigate and understand the site (i.e., the visual and mapping elements laid out by theme), the better chance of a positive SEO effect and greater traffic funneling.
At Snap Agency, we provide extensive SEO, web development, and web design services. Piggy-backing off Mueller’s response to the tweeter, we wanted to emphasize how vital each website element is to your site’s SEO performance. So, we’ve put together this post to highlight the significance of the theme as it relates to your traffic and what you can do to improve it.
The Factors That Make the Difference
Website themes are made up of more than just pretty pictures and font styles. The structure of the content, how the mapping is laid out, image sizes, and more all have their influence. And these are the factors that specifically can affect SEO value via theme, according to Mueller:
- Page load time
- Content options
- Internal links
- Content display
- Structured data use
These elements specifically play important parts in the design and operational efficiency of your individual web pages and your site as a whole. In fact, many of them work hand in hand with each other. If your content resolution is too high or is otherwise difficult to access, page loading times will suffer and, subsequently, so will your SEO efforts.
A Few Tools to Optimize Theme Performance
Want to know how your new website theme will fair when it’s up and running? There are tools available, many of them for free, that can help. Start with these:
When it comes time to pick your theme for a revamp or new build, you’ll want to test the theme before you put it up live. Using a test website, including content from your previous website in a mockup of a theme you prefer. Then compare the old site with the new one side by side.
Note: you’ll want to also block indexing of the test website.
Page Speed Analysis
There are free online tools, like Google’s PageSpeed Insights, that will test your website’s page loading speeds and score them on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the number, the better the score. So, a website with a score of 38 will have greater SEO struggles than one with a 91. A score over 60 is decent, but that ideal number is 90 or above.
What Other Experts Are Saying
Other experts suggest choosing themes that pair well with mobile use and, in general, format well across different platforms, browsers, and devices. You’ll also want a theme that supports plugins (like Google Analytics or Akismet); a good plugin will increase visibility and lead to a more dynamic website.
Look around and you’ll find that many digital marketers also recommend the same batch of themes for SEO support. Typically, these themes include Astra, Jayla, Divi, and Kadence. The theme that works best for you will depend on your industry and your clients’ needs.
Practical Digital Solutions From an Experienced Twin Cities Marketing Team
Themes aren’t the only factor heavily influencing your SEO success. Your approach to content, headings, keywords, links, images – they all play a part. At the end of the day, however, your website’s performance is only as good as the marketing team behind it.
Snap Agency provides extensive digital marketing services for B2B partners from a variety of industries. Looking for SEO or web design assistance? We offer help in those areas and much more. Give us a call or connect online to get started.