Even if you’re new to digital marketing, you’ve probably heard about WordPress. The platform, which started as a simple blogging tool in 2003, has quickly evolved into a robust, creditworthy Content Management System (CMS).
For most people, using WordPress is a no-brainer. 91% of users chose it for their new website projects in 2020. And, all things considered, it’s easy to see why. Not only is WordPress highly intuitive, but it is also extremely SEO-friendly by default. With WordPress website design services, you can use:
- Attractive permalinks containing relevant keywords
- Title tags and headings
- A digestible HTML markup
- Several image optimization tactics (ALT tags and descriptions, among other things)
WordPress also offers a ton of high-quality SEO-optimized themes to help streamline your SEO efforts. Usually, these themes are characterized by a responsive design, clean code, and fast loading speeds.
That said, not all WordPress themes are made the same. In this post, we’ll discuss a few steps you can take to select an SEO-friendly WordPress theme for your website.But first, let’s take a deeper dive into why WordPress themes hold significant weight in SEO.
1. Why Do WordPress Themes Matter for SEO?
When it comes to website design projects, many users gravitate towards certain WordPress themes for aesthetic reasons. While there’s no denying the importance of visual appeal, you shouldn’t base your choice on good looks alone. Here’s why.
In a recent #AskGooglebot episode, Google’s John Mueller explained how changing your WordPress theme can affect your Google rankings.
As per Mueller, website themes determine a lot of things, including:
- Content formatting and display
- Internal links
- Page load speed
- Content options
- The use of structured data
These background details often influence how search engines view your pages. To put things into perspective, messy structured data and slow site speeds can seriously hurt your rankings.
Besides, themes play a vital role in shaping user experience – a critical part of SEO and conversion. For instance, most people hate slow-loading pages. Approximately 40% of users will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
Likewise, 59% of global consumers would prefer a beautiful design over something plain and unassuming. With this is in mind, webmasters need to understand how the backend of a WordPress site impacts SEO signals.
So, in case you’re on the hunt for an SEO-optimized WordPress theme for your website, here’s what you’ll have to do.
A) Define Your Absolutes
For the uninitiated, choosing a suitable theme may feel like an uphill struggle. But as long as you prepare in advance, you’ll have no reason to worry. You can list your needs in detail before getting started. To do this, ask yourself the following questions.
- What’s your version of an ideal website?
- Would you rather have simple, minimalistic pages, or heavily ornate ones?
- What type of customization do you require?
- Does the theme match your content style?
- Will you need to change your site frequently?
- Where do you see your website one, two, or five years down the road?
- Do you intend to add more elements to your site in the future?
- What are your plans for website maintenance?
Answers to these questions can help you narrow your search for a worthy WordPress theme.
B) Consider Mobile Friendliness
48.14% of web visits are currently mobile. This means that nearly half the population is using phones and tablets to surf the internet. If you want to keep up with them, you’ll have to ensure your website fits on multi-sized screens.
A mobile-friendly design allows users to access your website on the go. This usually results in a positive user experience.
Begin with getting a handle on your mobile traffic. An easy way to do this is by using Google Analytics. You can view the number of visitors per device type under the Acquisition Device tab.
Next, select a WordPress theme that is known to have a good mobile UX.
Truth be told, almost all WordPress themes are mobile-friendly these days, save a few exceptions. But you’ll want to double-check and see if it displays well on any device. Furthermore, remember to test drive the demo site and read customer reviews before making your decision.
C) Look for Themes with Simple Code
Simpler code makes it easy for Google crawlers to reach your site. Alternatively, messy, complicated code can lead to inactive links and slow load times, effectively jeopardizing user experience.
It’s safe to say that no search engine rewards poorly coded websites. Consequently, webmasters need to understand how their site’s coding performs in search.
You can use tools like WordPress’s Theme Check to gauge this. It’s a simple plugin that lets you know if your theme qualifies for recent review requirements. Once this is done, you can list out some of the themes with simple code and take your pick.
2. What if You Need to Switch?
Once you choose a solid new theme with the right optimizations, you should be able to avoid any long-term setbacks. However, in some odd cases, a theme change could be the need of the hour.
Here are a few signs that indicate it’s time for you to replace your WordPress theme.
- Your site is not optimized for mobile
- You have a high bounce rate
- Your site has security issues
- You need to add new functionalities to your site, such as an eCommerce checkout or personalized web forms
- Your site is hard to navigate
Remember, not all issues call for a theme switch. A few problems, such as poorly optimized keywords, extended load times, and malware can be fixed without changing themes. Still, it never hurts to start afresh.
Also, migrating a site to a more SEO-friendly theme is not difficult. But it’s best if you seek expert help, especially the first time around. A WordPress website development expert will guide you through the entire process to ensure optimal results.
The Next Step
Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into how WordPress themes determine your website’s SEO performance. Unless your theme is quick to load and easy to read for search engines, you’re more likely to have a tough time drawing visitors to your site. On the flipside, an SEO-powered theme can help improve user engagement and increase your web traffic.
Do you need a full-service website design company to build and maintain your website on WordPress? Look no further than Watermark Design! We’re a team of creative innovators providing web hosting and development services to the ‘little guys’ in Minnesota.
From startups and mom-and-pop shops to churches and small businesses, we can create eye-catching and functional websites for people across the board. For more information, feel free to reach out to us today!