The advent of a Content Management System like WordPress has brought a huge revolution online. It is because WordPress has made web building a lot easier and hence websites are being created every second.
This has created numerous opportunities but has also lead to many issues.
There are innumerable templates and themes available online, but have you ever wondered how a theme can influence the rankings and ultimately overall SEO?
Mostly, SEO marketers believe that only visual aspects of a theme can make a difference and eventually ignore the technical aspects.
Moreover, most templates come up with the term ‘SEO Optimized.’ This makes users believe that it will resolve SEO issues for their website.
So, whether it actually happens or not, we will discuss the same in this post!
Does Changing a WordPress Theme Affect SEO?
Yes, it’s true! A theme can greatly affect SEO.
But make sure you select a theme that exactly meets your user’s requirements as well as relevancy of the website. For this, it is best to know some technical details as the same will help you make a well-informed decision when you pick a theme.
Above that, a theme can affect SEO, but you must SEO optimize the same to achieve better results.
How Templates / Themes Impact SEO?
Earlier, SEO was very simple. Placing a couple of keywords was enough to gain top ranking in Google.
Presently, however, things have transformed. With the development of SEO ranking factors, it is vital to focus on all of it and optimize your website accordingly to gain valuable returns.
In addition to this, templates and themes are a critical part of the website’s structure and also affect its speed. Even if your content is good, if the structure, theme, or template of a website is not up to the mark, your rankings will suffer.
1. Avoid Creating Ugly Website Design:
If you create a clogged up design, it may be unappealing to the readers. Create a perfect balance between content and ad placement, looks, user experience, and more. Make sure you always offer stuff that impresses your target audience.
From heading to everything being displayed, each of them must offer a rich user experience. User experience is a crucial ranking factor in Google. So, make sure your users can easily navigate to the website and everything on it must be clickable.
2. Slow Website Speed is Boring:
Users hate when the websites take too much time to load. Even, around 50% of users leave the website. If this happens frequently, it will boost the bounce rate and reduce revenue.
One solution introduced by Google in this context is Accelerated Mobile Pages. But these pages have limited use. For example, a user leaving your site even before uploading the blog means zero user experience, which is being noticed by Google as well.
Keep users happy by providing websites with fast loading speed!
3. Users Get Puzzled with Bad Website URL Structure:
Search engines primarily don’t see the site. Rather, they are interested to know about its code only. If a code is not well-formatted and HTML tags are not precisely positioned, search engines will not understand that the site is excellent.
A large number of templates might use multiple H1 tags, which is good for design but not useful for SEO. Many templates may ignore headings, leaving the pages with some divisions and title tags. But equally vital is the website’s structure.
The website structure is related closely to its speed. If there are elements in your site that load later than the others, Google considers it as a bad website experience.
What are the Important Elements of an SEO-Friendly Theme?
The main purpose of a template of the theme is that it makes your website look good. Its alternate benefit is letting you have an SEO friendly site.
Also, content is a vital part of a site and hence only having a rich template does not mean that your website is SEO-friendly. A template does not affect the website’s architecture or URLs.
You see, a website template is like an uncomfortable suit that looks well but may not work well throughout the day.
So, how can you create an SEO-friendly theme?
1. HTML Markup:
This is the most vital aspect to consider while creating an SEO-friendly theme for your site. The role of your template must be to create digestible content for your site. It is essential to appropriately use the HTML 5 tag to highlight the most vital aspects of content and its subordinates.
Google does not like HTML, which makes no sense and title tags, which appear at the bottom of the webpage. Remember, H1 tags are more valuable in search engines. Hence, use them wisely.
2. Page & Speed Size:
Websites with slow loading speed is a clear indication of a poorly developed theme.
A theme must first render the top part of a site, known as a fold. But at the same time, the upper parts must load at an equal pace. If they load at a slower speed, Google will consider the site as slow.
Moreover, is a site renders chaotically, users will consider it as broken or bugged.
Additionally, the code files must occupy less space.
3. Responsive Images and Design:
Presently, having a responsive design is a standard requirement. If a website does not load well on mobile devices, it is possible to lose bulk volume of traffic.
It is quite difficult to achieve a website that fits all widths and screens well. Most of the responsive designs select the same CSS files for the entire widths.
Even the images used in websites can create lots of problems or challenges. The major issue is using images make a website slow. Also, it is important to display a perfectly sized image for every screen width.
An alt text attribute can be used in order to ensure image loaded is nearest to the screen width.
4. Content Hierarchy:
An SEO-friendly theme is one that effectively points out to search engines the part of the content, which is most vital. Tabs within customizable templates must properly use HTML tags.
If a separate content section is added, it must include <p> tags. Also, the heading section must be included in H1, H2, and HR tags. Images added outside WordPress library must include an alt attribute.
It is quite difficult to add such features afterward. Hence, it is best to take them into consideration right from the very beginning.
5. Structured Data:
You must use schema.org markup in order to please search engines. It is highly useful, particularly for eCommerce websites. Using this lets search engines showcase some part of your site directly in the search engine, allowing your result to stand out. Such results are known as rich snippets.
6. API Hooks:
It is related more to the technical aspect of a theme. The Hooks are of extreme importance as without them no SEO plugins can improve your website’s performance correctly.
This implies any modification to the site will need the intervention of a custom theme, which is quite expensive.
Tips to Select a Good Website Theme for Rankings and SEO:
It is best to select a theme that is good for rankings and SEO. This simplifies later modifications and most of your challenges to a great extent.
But before you continue, let me tell you the reality of PageSpeed Insights. It is an efficient way to determine the website’s HTML structure quality. However, it can sometimes lead to misleading results.
While it’s true that images can be optimized, but it will change the preset anyway. The response time of the server also highly affects the score. Placing a theme on a good server would not create any issues.
Again, caching is nothing related to the theme. Hence, ignore it.
1. Check Images:
I already discussed before that most images on the template will be substituted. It is your responsibility to ensure you filter them using a plugin such as WP Smush or TinyPNG. You just have to check the core images of a theme for compression. The background, images, and icons won’t be replaced.
An important thing is whether images use srcset attribute or not. It will load ideal versions for screens of varying sizes. This can be done correctly clicking an image in Chrome and then Inspect.
Mostly, WooCommerce templates use srcset function for only images of products as it is its basic feature. However, it may miss other areas like page builders. Hence, it is best to verify more than one page on your site.
2. Check Headings:
A good customization theme is one that optimally uses tags and codes wisely. Click CTRL + U on the demo theme and search for H1 and H2 tags. If no heading appears then the page is not optimized for SEO.
It is of utmost importance for a page to have an H1 tag. It can have numerous H2 tags, but each one of them must have the same size and style.
3. Use the Testing Tool for Rich Snippets:
If you are searching for an eCommerce template, check structured data markup using the tool for structured data. Check product pages, articles, homepage, and category pages for the same.
Consider product pages and check product attributes. It must be free from errors.
4. Fix Your Theme:
It is always not necessary to select the best theme as it is possible to fix most things. But there is one issue to it, your website may crash.
Add a cache plugin to boost up website speed for recurring users. Include a plugin for image optimization to let images gather less space. Moreover, include a minification plugin but do it carefully as minifying files of a theme can lead to crashes or render issues.
5. Send an Email:
You may email developers to ask about specific features of their theme. Developers who respond fast usually have genuine features and functionalities. This also implies they are ready to offer great support if issues occur in the template.
You may also ask developers if a template uses default WordPress Hooks, which increases compatibility of a template to other plugins.
Tips for Developers to Create SEO-Friendly Themes:
1. Use Less Number of Sliders:
Slides are good but too much use of them does not make your website cool. Sliders perform images and they need numerous coding to get the work done. Animated sliders load multiple images, creating numerous server requests and thereby increasing the overall size of the page.
Mostly, people see only the first slider. They rarely click a slider. Avoid incorporating multiple sliders on one page.
2. Optimize the Core Image of a Theme:
Sometimes, themes have images set as default like buttons and backgrounds. They may not appear relevant and if removing them saves even 10KB size of your website, it could load faster.
Moreover, there are numerous images from a theme, which people may like. If they have been generated using media gallery, optimize them using a plugin, or they must be default optimized. Most of the users out there are not tech-savvy.
3. Incorporate ‘srcset’ Attribute:
Creating a responsive theme is time-consuming and difficult, but it looks amazing. Try to load fast by not including big images, which take more time to load. Use a srcset attribute in the image to compress big images into smaller ones.
Also, there is an alternative available for backgrounds as well. Use this option in order to create responsive designs with background images.
4. Focus on PageSpeed Insights:
It is important to point issues, which you can fix and correct them fast. Google recommends using PageSpeed Insights, which means it is using the same to rank websites. Even it may impact the search engine algorithms. Hence, make sure you don’t ignore it completely.
5. Minify Codes:
Code is important to you but online it is the speed that matters. The plugin, as well as theme developers, must minify codes wherever possible to maintain a good speed for their product.
You may also minify codes on live versions so that users don’t fear to break the websites.
To Sum Up:
You see, themes affect not just a website’s design, but SEO and rankings as well. Therefore, always pick a theme that makes your website fast and responsive for users and easy to read and crawl for search engines