What is the effect of changing WordPress Theme on SEO and Traffic?

If you are using a free WordPress theme, chances are you change your theme every so often.
While switching to a better looking theme surely seems tempting, there are few problems that may crop up after changing your WordPress theme. 

Migrating a theme may affect two major things – your website's traffic and its SEO.
Well, before you jump to any conclusion, let me tell you that there are various possible reasons which may affect your website's SEO and traffic. Some of which are discussed below:

Who is handling the SEO of your website?
There are various themes that come with built-in SEO options and thus it's no surprise to see webmasters making use of those features instead of using an SEO plugin. 

The major advantage of this is that you run one less plugin. So, webmasters who are intimidated by changing themes often can leverage the benefits these themes offer. However, for website owners who have the habit of switching themes, the idea of having the theme's SEO feature handle the SEO of the website does not seem to work. 

Using an SEO Plugin, instead, can prevent such websites SEO rankings from going down since you don't have to optimize your site everytime you switch to a new theme.

In simpler words, if you are using WordPress themes that come with inbuilt SEO options and/or using those features to optimize your website for search engines, there is a high possibility that your website's SEO will be affected while shifting to a new theme.
Changed Permalinks
Permalinks are the URLs of your web pages and blog posts. Needless to say, they play a crucial role in optimizing your website for search engines. If the permalinks of your website are altered after changing the theme, then it will negatively affect your search engine rankings.
Ensuring that the permalinks in your new theme are same as those in your previous theme can save your SEO efforts. Also, ensure that the URLs are redirecting to the right blog post or web page as the previous ones did.

W3C Validation
Search engines like Google crawl the HTML of your website in a linear manner. So, when you switch your theme with a right sidebar to a theme that comes with a left sidebar, the search engine bots will crawl the sidebar content first. And this can affect your rankings. Regardless of the theme you are switching to, it is imperative to check the order of the source code on your browser. To do so, right click on your homepage and click “view page source”, you will see a new page opening with the HTML code of your website's homepage. Now check if the HTML of the body section displays your main content first. If not, be prepared to have your SEO affected badly.

Keeping Existing Links
Permalinks are not the only thing you need to be considerate about. You have to keep an eye on all the links on your website since Google algorithm that calculates a website's rankings take every single link into account. Every existing link in the new theme should match the previous theme's links. As an instance, tag links should be kept in the same manner, as should any link connected with the images, graphics, archives, and blogroll.
It is always a bright idea to check the entire linking structure while changing them to ensure all the links are functioning well. This includes all links in the body of your page or post, your widgets, sidebar, and adverts. 

If you are switching to a theme which has been developed with a shared markup vocabulary like schema.org, your ranking will improve. One such example is Genesis WordPress Framework. If you select a theme that improves your website's readability, you will see a drastic jump in your SEO. 

Page loading speed
Speed is yet another factor that plays an important role in improving or deteriorate your search engine rankings. If your new theme takes forever to load, you may lose many potential customers. Similarly, if you are switching to a theme which is optimized for speed, you can see an improvement in your website's ranking. You can make use of PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to check the speed of your website. 

How to change WordPress theme without affecting Search Engine Rankings?
Before you switch your theme, it is imperative that you create a full backup of your Wordpress website. Also, before activating your new theme, preview it to see how it will affect your website. WordPress allows its users to install and preview themes before activating it. 

Import SEO Settings to plugin:
As mentioned earlier, if you are using a theme's inbuilt SEO option, export all your SEO settings and import it an SEO Plugin such as All in One SEO Plugin or Yoast SEO. After importing, you are all set to migrate your theme. 

Pick a theme:
When it comes Wordpress themes, there is a wide variety available to choose from. However, you should choose an SEO friendly, responsive and bug-free theme. Once migrated, you can make use of various tools to see if search engines can detect any errors in it. If so, start fixing it immediately, before you see any major negative effect on your search engine rankings.
We hope you find this article helpful and beneficial. Also, did you notice any change in your website's SEO after moving to a new theme? Don't forget to share your reviews on changing WordPress theme and its effects on search engine rankings.

Author Bio:
Jason is a web development professional with hobbies of innovative and technical writing. Currently, she works for WordSuccor Ltd., a leading PSD to WordPress Company that has successfully delivered many top-grade projects related to it. He has been actively writing blogs and articles about technical stuffs.

Tags : SEO Effects of Changing a WordPress Theme,changing wordpress theme, seo impacts on wordpress, WordPress Theme change Affect Traffic and SEO


  1. Wow.. Nice information.... I really appreciate.. Thanks for sharing..This will be very helpful.


  2. I really appreciate the work you have done on this post. The multi channel marketing strategies are really great point and I will use this for my projects, thanks for sharing.


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