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Changing Your WordPress Theme Can Affect SEO
Google's John Mueller said that changing your WordPress theme can directly impact your rankings in Google Search. Here is the video for the full context:
Templates can be used to optimize your site for search engines and make sure everything looks good at the same time. But you have to make sure that the code is well-written and clean to perform well, otherwise modifying each template on your website can take a lot of time and be costly. Some common page templates are: category, article, page, etc.
WordPress themes are a great way to change your site’s look and feel. However, many WordPress templates will come with a lot of plugins, which can impact your performance and core web vitals. WordPress themes do not affect search engine optimization by default. They only have an effect if they have been designed poorly by using certain plugins or badly coded HTML code. If they have been designed well, then the theme won't have any negative effects on SEO at all; they should help your technical SEO.
Changing your WordPress theme will change how content is displayed. You may even have some blocks that need to be manually re-integrated as your new theme does not allow a simple transfer of content. For example, some themes do not rely on article excerpt descriptions. Your new theme may require you to create one as design elements use those excerpts in category pages. John Mueller said a good theme can make it easier for Google to understand your website and its content.
It depends on what is changing with the website when you change the theme. Usually, it can impact your Google rankings. Here are some examples John Mueller gave regarding the changes that impact SEO:
- Content is displayed like headings, text and images. If your theme impacts content elements, this may be something to evaluate.
- Internal linking and the site navigation - this element is an important part of on-site SEO optimization that often gets overlooked.
- Page load time and speed - Core Web Vital can definitely be impacted by a theme change.
- Content - you may impact your templates which in turn can cause your content to become less relevant or lower its quality.
- Structured data - you may not notice it, but search engines definitely will! If you remove markup from your site, it may impact your organic visibility.
In this era, there is little doubt that a homepage - which is often the first and most important page of a website - should be optimized for search engine optimization. When it comes to optimizing a homepage, the two things you should think about are search engine optimization and conversion rate optimization. Very often, any change to this page: code or content-wise will impact your organic visibility.
Changing a WordPress theme can impact your website stability, speed, content, meta data and indexation. There are a few best practices to follow if you want to ensure that the theme change goes smoothly.
- Check that your new theme is not slow to load by testing the demo in Google Page Speed Insights
- Make sure your content can easily be transferred from your new theme easily, in the most automated way.
- Make sure all of your pages are carried over or that the pages you are not maintaining are redirected properly.
- Make sure that there are no intrusive interstitials (pop ups) on your pages.
- Check the content hierarchy of your pages (H1, H2, H3).
In summary, changing your WordPress theme could affect your SEO. It is difficult to predict if the changes will be significant in advance. Ultimately, your content is the most important asset you have on your website, but the design and the performance of your WordPress theme also matter. By knowing what factors to consider, you can make an informed decision about the best WordPress theme for your business when the time comes to change!