Confirmed: Choice of WordPress Theme is an SEO Ranking Factor
It has long been suspected that by choosing one WordPress theme over another, your site’s SEO performance could be affected. SEOs and webmaster shave long spoken of switching WordPress themes having a significant impact on their SERP rankings.
The whole thing has been confirmed by Google’s John Mueller. Discussed in a short #AskGooglebot video, Mr Mueller said that Google search rankings can indeed be influenced by switching themes within WordPress.
However, Mueller’s confirmation did not actually bring anything to light that was not already plainly obvious. He said that while it is true to say that choice of themes is a ranking factor, it all comes down to the wider performance and quality of the website in question.
A Case of Common Sense Quality Indicators
Switching to a new theme that simply alters the basic visual appearance of your website is not going to make much of a difference. Instead, the extent to which a WordPress theme can impact SEO performance is based on a combination of the following:
- Overall site speed and page loading times
- Quality of the site’s navigation system
- The appropriate use of internal links
- Correct use of headings, text and images
- Quality and quantity of site content
- Presence of errors and potential bugs
- General usability and user friendliness
If any of the above looks familiar, it is probably because these are the basic rules that apply with all approaches to website design. They are by no means exclusive to WordPress, nor is WordPress exempt from the rules.
So while Mr Mueller confirmed that the choice of themes can affect SEO performance, the website in question will still be scrutinised in the same way as all other sites. It is not simply a case of Google ‘preferring’ some themes over others, or even handing out points for the choice of particularly pretty themes. The performance and technical prowess of the theme will play a role, but the rest comes down to how you design and populate your WordPress website in general.