Does Your Website’s Theme Affect SEO?

Does Your Website’s Theme Affect SEO?

The advent of CMS (Content Management Systems), such as WordPress, has revolutionized the internet, with around 5-10 websites being built every single second. If websites were built before only by professionals, today anyone can create a website in a matter of minutes, with little to no coding knowledge.

That creates lots of opportunities, but also comes clogged up with many problems.

After an easy 5 minutes install process, one of the first things most people want to do is customize the aspect of their new website. This isn’t hard to do. The market for themes and templates it’s HUGE. But how does the website’s theme influence you rankings and overall SEO ?

he problem is that most users only think about the visual aspects of a theme, completely ignoring the technical ones. Even more, almost every template out there comes up with the phrase “SEO optimized” in the description, many times misleading the user into thinking it will solve SEO issues for them (more on that later in the article).

So after some time, when amateur webmasters start to learn about SEO, the question finally pops up:

“Should I change my template? Can the website theme affect my SEO?”

The short answer is yes, a theme can affect your SEO. I spotted what the source of the issues might be, and, to find out more, I took the effort to ask a couple of theme developers about it. Together, we came up with this article, intended to answer questions for both users and developers.

Knowing these technical aspects can help you make a more educated decision when purchasing a theme. You’ll still have to optimize your site for the best results, but the theme can help you solve a lot of problems from the start.

While I will be talking a lot about WordPress, these things apply to other CMSs as well.

Read about the top 20 wordpress themes here.

Why and How Do Themes/Templates Affect SEO?

A long long time ago, SEO used to be very easy. Put up a bunch of keywords somewhere, and you were all set. If that wasn’t enough, just build some links and you’ll definitely rank.

Today, however, a lot more search ranking factors have been developed, from necessity. A lot of people have been abusing the old ways of doing SEO, so optimization had to adapt in order to return useful results for the users.

Design aside, themes, and templates are a very big part of a website’s structure, and they also can affect speed. If you don’t get all of these three things lined up and working well together, you’re prone to see lower rankings, even if your content is good.

Ugly Design Will Scare the Users Away

If your design is too clogged up with things, it might turn off readers. You have to find a balance between ad and content placement, user experience and looks. Don’t think just about what you like, but think about what your target audience might like.

For example, many people tend to create their websites using a flat design, but sometimes, flat design actually causes confusion for the users because they have no idea where they can actually click. This can eventually affect your revenue and overall rankings.

Read about some hacks for SEO growth

You can clearly see at the bottom of the left picture that people focused more on the target link, because the target link was uppercase, bold, blue and underlined, instead of just having the same font. On the other side, people focused more on the heading, as the click signal was not strong enough.

Since the heading wasn’t actually clickable, this could have led to a bad user experience, as people would try to click the heading in vain. Google uses user experience as a ranking factor, so getting people to navigate your site easily is a good idea.

Sometimes, you have to give up on your favorite version of the design, simply because it doesn’t work as well.  With a little bit of extra work you can find the right balance.

Slow Speed Will Bore the Users to Death

People hate it when they have to wait a long time for websites to load, and the truth is most websites load really slow. On 3G mobile connections, the average load time for a website is 19 seconds. It’s estimated that about 50% of users leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This will increase your bounce rate and reduce your revenue.

One of the solutions Google brought us are Accelerated Mobile Pages. However, these pages are still limited in a number of ways, and many webmasters don’t want to use them.

If a  user leaves your website or blog before it even loads, clearly their experience with it was 0. Google notices this and tries to return the fastest loading results to its users.

You theme has to help the site load pages as fast as possible in order to keep visitors happy.

Bad Structure Will Puzzle Search Engines

Search engines don’t really see the website. Instead, they see the code behind it. If that code is not well structured, and HTML tags aren’t correctly placed, search engines won’t understand what the website is about very well.

For example, many templates could be using multiple H1 tags to style text on the homepage. Good for design, but bad for SEO. Hell, many templates could be ignoring the headings altogether, leaving your pages with just the title tag and some divs. Google can still understand the text in the divs, but the important content won’t be highlighted anymore.

Structure is also closely related to speed. The code has prioritized the loading of the visible content. This content is often referred to as ‘above the fold’. Even if your website loads fast, if certain elements that are towards the bottom of the page are loaded before the ones at the top of the page, search engines will notice it and consider it a bad practice.

You can read more here.

Also, thanks to Deepak, who have made me to come out of my comfort zone and start with all of this. you too can join his internship program.

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