Sometimes, changing the WordPress theme is inevitable. The older theme might not be suitable for your site anymore.
In that case, the first question that crops up is, Does changing your WordPress theme affect your SEO?
It is essential to find the answer before making the switch. Today, we will not only answer this question but also provide you with other relevant information so that you can decide accordingly about changing the WordPress theme.
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Will It Actually Change Your SEO?
Yes, changing your WordPress theme does affect Seo rankings in multiple ways. When you change your WordPress theme, the user experience might change, the site speed might change, there might be a modification in the content formatting, the bounce rate might change, and so on.
These are just a handful of reasons your Seo rankings can be impacted once you change the WordPress theme. We will go into the details of all these reasons below, and after that, we will list how you can make the switch without impacting your Seo rankings.
Why Changing The WordPress Theme Can Affect SEO?
The WordPress theme on your site determines many factors like the user experience and content formatting. Hence, it is essential to understand how changing the theme can impact before knowing the precautions.
1. Deterioration of user experience:
The user experience is heavily reliant on the WordPress theme you are using. In case the design of the new theme is not appropriate for the users, the user experience will deteriorate. In that case, search engines might downrank your website.
When your website is good enough for the mobile audience, it will rank your website on the front page. For example, if the new theme is not user-friendly for smartphone users, Google will downrank your website. That is because Google uses mobile-first indexing these days.
Thus, if the user experience deteriorates on changing the theme, it will negatively impact your rankings.
2. Change in site speed:
Not every WordPress theme will load at the same speed. Many of them might consist of unnecessary elements. In that case, the switch will slow down your website.
It is widely known that Google prefers websites having a fast loading speed. That is why, if after changing the WordPress theme, your website slows down, your rankings will certainly plummet.
Before choosing a theme, test its loading time on other websites using the same theme. Only then can you avoid the negative impact of the theme switch on your website.
3. Modification in content formatting:
Changes in the WordPress theme will not change the content itself. However, formatting the content can undoubtedly change when changing the WordPress theme.
This is especially true for the heading tags used for content formatting. If the new theme does not recognize them in the same way, it will lead to modifications in content formatting.
Since Google takes these headings into account while ranking your website, your rankings might change as well.
4. Different SEO metadata:
It is widely known that Google considers structured data to create search snippets. If the new theme you choose messes up with this structured data, you might lose your position in the search snippets.
The search snippets bring in many visitors to websites placed in them. That is why, after switching the theme, if you lose even a single search snippet, it will impact your rankings and your traffic.
5. Bounce rate changes:
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who close your website or go back to the search engine after just visiting one page on your website. Google has acknowledged that the bounce rate is undoubtedly a ranking factor.
If the new theme messes up with the navigation or the content, the users are much more likely to return to the search engine after the page loads. It means that your bounce rate will increase.
Like the bounce rate increases, your rankings will decrease. It is one of the significant reasons why switching the WordPress theme can affect your SEO.
6. Plugin incompatibility:
Usually, your website will be using at least 5 to 7 plugins. Most of these plugins can work with any theme. However, the plugins that haven’t been updated for a long time might not be compatible with all the WordPress themes.
When you decide to switch the theme, and if the plugin is incompatible with the same, it can mess up the content.
Google and other search engines will not prefer to rank a website with messed-up content. When you make the switch, you can lose your rankings.
If you plan to deactivate the plugin or change it, you will have to change the content formatting to ensure that it is no longer reliant on the plugin.
Either way, there are high chances that you might lose your Seo rankings or be downgraded at least temporarily.
7. Loss of custom theme settings:
While WordPress offers quite a few themes, you will always need some customization to make your site work right.
On searching the theme, you might lose these custom settings. Your content, navigation, or another aspect of your website might be impacted when that happens. In case the indexed part of your website gets affected, search engines might push your site backward. That will certainly mean a loss of traffic.
As you can see, there are numerous reasons why changing your WordPress theme affects your Seo.
However, there are precautions that you can undertake to ensure that this does not happen. We will cover them below.
How To Ensure Your SEO Won’t Get Affected When Changing The WordPress theme?
If you take the necessary steps, you can ensure that the big majority of the time, changing the WordPress theme does not impact your Seo rankings. There is a small chance that some unknown error or glitch might impact your Seo rankings.
Take a look at the steps below and ensure that you follow them if you plan to make the WordPress theme switch.
1. Select SEO-friendly theme:
The first thing is to select an SEO-friendly theme. While choosing the theme, most Webmasters look at the aesthetics and the content organization. However, if it isn’t an SEO-friendly theme, you will start losing your rankings sooner than later.
When you go through the sales pitch of the WordPress theme, make sure that you see how it fares on the Seo aspect. Only if it’s SEO-friendly you should go ahead with it.
2. Double-check everything before making it live:
The best way to double-check a theme is to create a staging site and use the theme on that first. Only when you inspect the test content and other pages on that website should you make it live on a website that is already ranking.
This means that you might have to spend a few extra hours and buy a domain for testing, but it is well worth it. If you directly make it live on a ranking website, the resultant loss of traffic might cost you much more.
3. Work on site speed:
While switching to the new WordPress theme, always try to improve the site speed. There are numerous tools like Gtmetrix that can help you test the site speed and let you know how to improve it.
However, you should do so after making the switch rather than waiting for a few days before improving the site speed.
4. Select the proper plugin for optimization:
To ensure that your site is SEO-optimized, you must use widely popular plugins like Rank Math. Merely installing this plugin will not do. You have to go through the various settings to understand what they mean and how to optimize your website properly.
Similarly, for speed optimization, you also have to use a CDN plugin to ensure that your website loads at a blazing fast pace.
5. Do not change theme often:
The WordPress theme of your website is not something that you change every 2 to 3 months. If you change your WordPress theme pretty often, there are high chances that one of the new themes might not be Seo-friendly or might deteriorate the user experience, which can lead to downranking your website. That is why stick to your WordPress theme for a long time.
The simple precautions will ensure that you do not lose your rankings when changing your WordPress theme.
We will now answer some FAQs about changing the WordPress theme and SEO rankings to go through some of your doubts.
Is Does changing WordPress theme affect content?
Changing the WordPress theme will not impact the content itself, but the formatting can undoubtedly be impacted.
What is SEO friendly theme?
An SEO-friendly theme is responsive and allows you to control various optimization aspects of your website like page title, Meta description, and so on.
Our recommendation is the Astra which besides all of the mentioned above it is super light and simple to use
So, the answer to the question, Does changing your WordPress theme affect your SEO? is a yes. There are reasons why that might happen. Once you go through the guide above, you will be aware of these reasons and steps to undertake to ensure that your Seo rankings do not get impacted when you change the theme.
We hope this review on “Does changing your WordPress theme affect your SEO?” was helpful, please feel free to comment if you got any questions.