The Impact of Choosing the Right Website Theme for Conversion & SEO

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the impact of choosing the right website theme for conversion seo

You may have heard that WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms in the world. And this is true – WordPress currently runs 455 million websites! There are lots of reasons why people decide to use this hosting service: it’s user-friendly, has lots of variations, versatility, customization, and so on. But lots of businesses have no idea which is the best SEO WordPress theme for their site.

That’s right.

Many people don’t realize that the theme you choose can impact your site’s conversion rates and SEO rankings. SEO performance is closely linked to any business’s success – if customers can’t find you online, growing sales is going to be an uphill battle.

So, if your site has severely struggled to gain online traffic or you aren’t reaching the top spots on the SERPs (search engine result pages), the WordPress theme you’re using could be part of the problem.

Here’s why and how to choose the best SEO WordPress theme for your online business.

1. Why Do WordPress Themes Influence SEO?

wordpress themes and seo

First, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty on why a WordPress theme has any influence at all on your site’s overall SEO performance.

Most WordPress users – who are not experts – will choose a theme based solely on exterior features, like the look, colors, or layout. However, what might look good to you might not actually be the best choice.

One of the main reasons why a theme can hurt your SEO is its performance and experience on the user end. Sure, your site might look fantastic – but if customers have a hard time navigating or the menu options are hard to read, it’s not going to perform well.

Considering that 88% of people will abandon a site in seconds if they run into user experience issues, a bad theme will make your bounce rate skyrocket. Google takes this number into account when determining ranking positions. Remember, Google wants its users to have good experiences. So, they won’t likely place a website with a high bounce rate favorably on the SERPs.

Another issue that some WordPress themes create is slow loading speeds. If you go with a theme that has a lot of bells and whistles, it could take longer to fully load. We live in a pretty impatient society – 25% of visitors are only willing to wait 4 seconds for a webpage to load.

When you choose a WordPress theme based on design only, you might ignore the backside of the theme’s design which impacts SEO. There are many issues with poorly built designs that can hurt your site’s SEO ranking signals. This includes internal links, navigation setup, and site responsiveness.

So, how can you avoid this SEO issue when choosing a WordPress theme?

2. Define Your Non-Negotiables with Theme Design

It’s important to nail down the exact features that your website must have – then create a list of ones that are a give or take. Sure, it would be great to have lots of moving images on your site – but if this slows down its loading speed significantly, using static photos will have to do.

Do you need a premium theme or will your site be better with a simpler design?

kadence wp theme

Source: Kadence WP

genesis framework themes

Source: Studiopress Genesis Framework

If your website is the primary source of revenue for your business, it will be best to invest in a more premium design. It’s similar to building out a storefront. The more you invest in the look and feel of the building, the greater the chances are that you’ll attract more customers.

However, if your website is more informative, rather than operating as an ecommerce platform, a simpler design may be best. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to make a good impression.

Either way, it’s still important to choose a theme that supports your brand and is visually appealing. According to a study from Goodfirms, some of the most common design mistakes businesses make are overly crowded designs, bad typography, and even poor use of white space.

Further, 39% of customers stated they would exit a site if it had an outdated or ugly design!

Will you need to change your site frequently to add new content or web pages?

kadence wp editor page

Another factor to consider is how frequently you will need to change up and add to your website. WordPress is designed to be a content management system first and foremost; it was originally created for blogs.

Adding a blog to your website is a fantastic move to boost your SEO. Websites with active blogs have double the traffic rates of sites without this type of content. But if you plan to add lots of content to your site frequently, you’ll want to choose a WordPress theme that is designed for easy additions and publications.

The same goes for product pages. If you’re constantly adding new items, changing your offerings, or updating category pages, keep this in mind when picking a theme. WordPress is known for being pretty user-friendly in this regard, but some themes will be better for this than others.

beaver builder page builder example

Source: Beaver Builder

Ok, so now let’s get down to the root of it all and answer: what features create the best SEO WordPress theme?

3. Mobile-Friendliness is Key for the Best SEO WordPress Theme

make your website mobile friendly

It should come as no surprise that a lot of your traffic comes from mobile devices. These days, about 55% of all website visitors find websites through mobile devices. Customers are comfortable using their phones to handle most of their searches and online purchases. So, mobile-friendliness needs to be a top priority.

Google also gives preference to websites with high mobile responsiveness. Several of their latest algorithm updates focused on analyzing mobile capabilities. Now, Google will even specifically label sites that meet their standards!

One key way to determine the best SEO theme for WordPress is by evaluating its mobile design. Genesis Framework, Beaver Builder, and Kadence WP are great themes to consider for this reason, since this theme is optimized to fit any type of device and screen size. This is one of our favorites at Foxxr.

foxxr wordpress themes logos

The key to mobile-friendliness is responsiveness. This means that they should be able to select the same things, navigate to every page easily, and use the same features as they would on a desktop. The page may look slightly different, but users must be able to find the menu, search features, and CTA (call-to-action) buttons easily.

4. The Best SEO WordPress Themes Have the Simplest Code

Complex themes are actually less SEO-friendly as they are harder for Google to “read.” Complicated codes also create more room for error, so there’s a higher chance that there will be mistakes or bugs, which can lead to major issues.

Make sure that the theme has “clean” code, meaning that it uses essential elements like meta, title, and header tags. These are critical SEO features that help Google to categorize your website and “understand” its content. If you miss any of these features or input them incorrectly, it could have a negative impact on your website’s SEO.

Sticking to WordPress themes with simple code is a smart choice because this will make Google’s job a lot easier. These themes are also much easier to change and update without having to alter the code. Beaver Builder (another Foxxr favorite) is a great example because it actually uses a codeless website control and is super developer-friendly. This means additions and alterations can be made without any coding needed.

You can also use tools like Page Speed Insights to see how well the theme performs.

page speed insights mobile score

5. Added Plugin Support and Compatibility

wordpress plugin compatibility example by Kadence WP

Plugins Compatibility Example by Kadence WP

Another huge perk of WordPress is the library that contains thousands of plugins to add in or optimize features. There are lots of plugins that can boost your site’s SEO through other methods.

For example, there are lots of plugins designed to improve your website’s schema, which helps Google crawl your website and categorize the content. Other SEO plugins can help with things like keyword optimization or sitemap building.

The theme you choose must support the plugins that you want to use to improve your site’s performance, SEO, and features. Not all themes are compatible, so you have to take this into consideration. Compatibility is typically listed on the plugin’s information page, so you can quickly search for your theme.

6. Consider Website Browser Friendliness

While the majority of browsers will Google Chrome, you should use a theme that will work with other browsers, too. Eighteen percent of internet browsers use Safari, while smaller segments use Samsung Internet, Firefox, Edge, Internet Explorer, and other options.

Some themes don’t work as well with other browsers. This can cause major frustrations with customers; they will quickly exit your site if it has any troubles with your website.

powermapper browser friendliness tool

Tools like PowerMapper are fantastic ways to check on your site’s compatibility. This will let you know how well it operates on Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Edge, as well as Android and iOS tablets. If your theme does not operate well on any of these browsers, it’s best to explore other options.

Whew, ok that was a lot – and it still leaves you with lots of themes to choose from.

How can you narrow down the right WordPress theme that will support SEO and still look great?

7. How to Find the Best SEO WordPress Theme

Since WordPress offers thousands of themes, there are plenty that meets the basic standards for SEO success. So, how can you find the right one for your business that is also the best SEO WordPress theme?

Research Theme Reviews

Just as your customers will rely on reviews and ratings to trust your business, you should also use them to guide your theme decisions. Take a look at the reviews and be sure to research specific details related to SEO.

Don’t just go by overall rating, as this could be misleading. Instead, look at reviews with keywords like “mobile-friendly” or “slow loading” or “error messages” to see what kinds of pros/cons the theme provides.

Check the Update History

You want to make sure that frequent updates are issued for the theme you use. These updates are designed to correct bugs, patch up security issues, and even address compatibility problems.

You want a theme that is constantly improving, especially since SEO rules change all the time. If Google decides to roll out an algorithm update, you need to be sure that your website still meets its standards. Stay away from themes that don’t offer frequent updates; this is actually a sign that their coding system is probably not high quality.

Hire a WordPress Web Designer

Although many WordPress themes market themselves as being user-friendly, this isn’t always the case. Plus, you’ve got a lot of things to focus on when running a business. Chances are that you don’t have hours in your day to allocate solely to playing around in WordPress to create your site.

WordPress can be super tricky if you aren’t familiar with the program – and there are thousands of themes to choose from. Partnering with professional web design services makes this process a lot easier- just be sure to hire a WordPress designer who specializes in SEO.

Here at Foxxr, our bread & butter is helping businesses build out websites using WordPress so they can quickly get their sites up and running. But just because we can build a website quickly doesn’t mean that it won’t work well.

Our team of designers is highly skilled in SEO. They will only use the best SEO WordPress themes to ensure that your site performs well. But don’t just take our word for it – check out some of the websites we have built for our clients!

8. What If You’re Already Using a Specific Theme?

So, what if you’ve already chosen a theme and built out a WordPress website? Is switching to a more SEO-friendly theme the best choice?

Well, the first step is to evaluate your site’s performance. We offer free website auditing services that will check important KPIs like broken links, loading speeds, and image loading problems.

get a free website audit

You can also use tools like Sucuri Scanner to check for Malware issues that could cause SEO problems. Theme Check is another useful program that tests your site to see how well your specific theme performs.

If your site is performing poorly, it is highly recommended that you partner with a developer to see what the next best steps are. Changing your website’s theme can negatively affect your SEO if you don’t do it correctly.

Be sure to work with a website optimization team to see if you can correct your current theme and improve your SEO – or if you should switch to a different theme. Some issues like missing tags or low keyword counts are easily fixed. However, troubles like slow loading speeds or poor mobile compatibility may be best fixed by opting for a new theme.

What’s the Next Step?

Building an SEO-friendly website doesn’t need to be complicated. However, there are lots of little details that have to come together to support a site’s SEO-friendliness. Choosing the best SEO WordPress theme is only the beginning.

In order to take your business website and digital presence to the next level, you’ll want experts on your side. Our team at Foxxr provides many types of digital marketing and web design services to help your company grow.

To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help your company, contact us online today!