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 your rankings and your overall SEO?
I want to thoroughly thank Vlad Olaru from Pixelgrade and Thomas Usborne from Generatepress. They both helped me out in putting up this article and provided heavy insights about theme development and its relation with SEO. Their ideas are spread out around the whole article.
The 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, such as Joomla, Drupal and Magento.
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.
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, the 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.
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.