These days, a website is crucial for your business to reach your target audience. It serves as a digital storefront for your enterprise and provides firsthand information about your products and services.
Having a website isn’t enough, though. You have to make sure that it’s visible to potential customers through search optimization. After all, organic traffic continues to be the dominant source of website traffic. Plus, topping search engine results can lead to a click-through rate (CTR) of 34.2%, which means an increased chance of profits.
Knowing this, you should continue to optimize your site for search engines. One way to do so is through your website theme. Although it seems pretty straightforward, the theme’s design and backend elements can significantly influence your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. That’s why you must put a lot of thought into choosing one.
Here are five ways that your website’s theme affects SEO:
1. Boost or slow site speed
Site speed has always been crucial since users want relevant answers to their queries right away, which is positively correlated with how quickly pages load. Google has officially made speed a ranking factor in 2018, specifically for mobile searches. (3)
The way your website theme is coded can either boost or slow your site’s speed. Image compression, plugins, and the server where your site is hosted are some of the factors that are directly influenced by the theme. Having a responsive design is also important since it automatically adjusts site elements according to the user’s screen and makes for a smooth experience, which gives users the perception of speed.
So, if you’re on Shopify, make sure that you use a fast loading Shopify theme. The same goes for other website builders, such as Wix and WordPress.
2. Alter SEO metadata
Metadata is vital for your website since this is how search engine crawlers understand your pages. It typically pertains to the page title and meta description. Although these aren’t direct ranking factors, they can influence whether users will click on your website or not in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The theme you use may contain additional metadata for your pages, which can significantly affect your ranking. If you’ve been ranking well for a particular keyword, modifying your website theme may remove that particular search term from your metadata and cause a drop in traffic.
3. Change structured data
Another element that search engine crawlers use to navigate through billions of web pages online and filter relevant ones for a user’s query is structured data. This type of code helps Google and Bing’s bots understand the context of each web page by presenting specific groups of text. (4)
A lot of work goes into customizing your structured data, which is saved in your theme. If your current website theme is already effective in giving context to search engine crawlers about your web pages, changing it might mean having to redo all of that keyword personalization process.
Again, having structured data isn’t a direct SEO factor. Nonetheless, it can help give your site a slight ranking boost in the SERPs when used properly.
4. Modify content formatting
Although your website theme won’t affect your content, it might modify the format of your blog posts. It’s important to use proper heading structure for your web pages, such as the Heading 1 (H1), Heading 2 (H2), and Heading 3 (H3) HTML tags. Just like metadata and structured data, these inform search engine bots on the importance of the keywords contained in these headings.
Content formatting also affects readability on the front-end. Search engines place great emphasis on ensuring that their users get relevant and engaging information, not just huge blocks of text, which can render your pages undecipherable. Having properly formatted headings can make your content skimmable as well, which is helpful for users to find the solution they want quickly.
Be careful when choosing a theme for your website. Make sure that it supports and automates content formatting to make your publishing process more efficient.
5. Influence user experience
Lastly, your website theme directly influences user experience. Human readers are more drawn to sites that are well-designed and intuitive. If your content is disorganized and difficult to read, it’s highly likely that people will abandon your page and look for another domain.
These are some theme elements that affect user experience and, in turn, SEO:
- Design – The colors and media you use on your website play a significant role in catching and retaining the interest of web visitors. Ideally, you should use hues and shades that align with your logo to boost your branding efforts. Make sure to use high-resolution images and videos as well. Additionally, your site should have enough white space to break up elements and guide users’ eyes to where you want them to go.
- Navigation – Your theme may also have preset navigation elements, such as the menu and labels. If you don’t want to customize the codes, you must choose a theme that makes the process of finding information seamless. For instance, a sidebar may work better than a drop-down menu since the former offers shortcuts at a glance.
- Search – Something as seemingly simple as a search bar can also affect user experience. If your current theme supports one, check if the new theme you want can provide this element, too. Having a search bar can help users find relevant content within your site quickly by using the right keywords.
You can also keep track of searches and use that data to determine which pages are more popular among web visitors. Then, perhaps you can add a ‘Most Searched’ or ‘Popular Posts’ section on your homepage for better access.
Your website theme is a crucial part of your SEO strategy because it’s used by both human users and search engine crawlers to understand your web pages. Getting a new theme can affect your ranking since your current one might already be optimized for search through the site speed, metadata, structured data, content formatting, as well as design and navigation. Always check these factors before you implement a new theme and make sure all the elements are in order.
- “Organic Search Improves Ability to Map to Consumer Intent,” Source: https://videos.brightedge.com/research-report/BrightEdge_ChannelReport2019_FINAL.pdf
- “These are the CTR’s For Various Types of Google Search Result,” Source: https://www.sistrix.com/ask-sistrix/data-studies/these-are-the-ctrs-for-various-types-of-google-search-result/
- “Speed is now a landing page factor for Google Search and Ads,” Source: https://developers.google.com/web/updates/2018/07/search-ads-speed
- “The Beginner’s Guide to Structured Data for Organizing & Optimizing Your Website,” Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/structured-data