There are millions of themes available for WordPress platform and many of you keep changing it. I am writing this post because the question was asked by Arvind Rana (@cr7_arvind) on twitter in our Q&A tag, he asked Does changing WordPress theme affect SEO ?
Well the direct answer to the question Does changing WordPress theme affect SEO ? is Yes, changing a wordpress theme can affect your SEO.
The question to this answer depends on various factors like Framework, SEO, Plugins etc. I will try to write a brief answer.
SEO is dependent over two factors, one is Theme and second is Plugin.
- If you are using Genesis or Thesis framework themes comes with In-Built SEO options, they are already optimised themes hence recommended one. If you are using them then surely there is no doubt that it will affect your SEO.
- If you are using SEO plugins like Yoast SEO etc. then there is a chance that you can retain SEO of your blog but only if your new theme if SEO optimised.
Google Reads HTML
Talking about ranking, the first question is “Is Google read the frontend content or Do Google read the code”, well the answer to this question is Google reads the HTML of the page, to view the source code of your page, press right click (mouse) and hit View Source Page.
If you change the theme then surely HTML is going to be changes, if you are using a theme with right sidebar then the sidebar code will execute after the main content and if you are using theme with Left sidebar then order of execution will be first sidebar code and then main content, it is recommended that you make sure that content executes first before the sidebar code.
Algorithms provide different weighting to your keywords or semantically related vocabulary according to where it is presented in your linear HTML. They read the text outside tables first, and then the text within tables in the order these tables are presented. The introductory text is given higher weighting than that close to the end, while keywords in the final paragraph also receive a high weighting.
To summarize, if your new theme changes the way your HTML is read by the search engine spiders, then your ranking position can also be affected.
You all have heard that Genesis and Thesis are two of the top SEO optimized WordPress themes. This is because their codes are clean, they use proper heading tags, and they take care of all small requirements for an SEO optimized theme.
The first priority in every theme is Heading or Meta, the search engine reads first header tag and then content, so if you are changing your theme then please make sure that the Heading tags do not change or hyperlink changes, because this will surely affect your search engine rankings.
Changing Of Permalinks
Permalinks are links (URL or Web Address) of a page, in much the same way as the URL of a web page defines the location of that page on your website. If your permalinks are changed when you change the WordPress theme, then that will definitely affect your search engine rankings in a bad way. Beaware ..!
You should make sure that the Permalinks in your new theme must be exactly same as they are for the previous theme. Other bloggers will use the permalink as a link back to your page, and you will use it as a link back from another web page on your site or in an email linking to your post.
If you changed the permalinks then Google will de-index the pages/posts/images ranking because for the previous URL by which they have been indexed will show a 404 error. If you are unable to make previous permalinks then make sure to do 301 redirects to the original post/page/image.
Protect Your Site’s SEO [Do’s before changing theme]
- Take care of the sidebar as I have already discussed the importance of Sidebar.
- Permalinks should be same as they are for the old theme.
- Backup your files.
- Import SEO settings for the plugins, for example
WordPress SEO by Yoast, offers this feature internally, and you can quickly import all SEO data to the Yoast plugin. After this step, you can change your theme to any other theme without any effect in SEO.
- Pick an SEO friendly theme and this is the most important thing.
I recommend you to stick on one theme for a long run, changing your theme in every short interval is not good for your blog, when you change your theme it will surely affect the crawler and also hurts the branding or marketing.
Let me know if you have any query of what changes you have noticed after changing your theme.