Is it worth switching to a new WordPress theme?
Unfortunately not so many mention how switching to a new WordPress theme will affect the SEO of your website. I read in so many different articles that some bloggers are changing their website themes every once in a while to improve the design of their blog. It sounded interesting and very exciting. Mostly, people switch their themes if they would like to have a new look at their website. Some of them switch to have new features that were not available with the old theme, such as new widgets.
This looked interesting, but no one from those bloggers mentioned about a very-very big impact on the website’s traffic when you switch your theme. A New WordPress theme may have a tremendous impact on the SEO of your website. Believe me, switching to a new theme will definitely affect organic traffic to your website. I will tell you more about it later.
Can switch to a new WordPress theme affect SEO of your website and traffic to your website traffic?
In brief – YES, it CAN and more probably it will affect your traffic in a negative way. Be ready that, as soon as you switch to a new theme, your traffic will DROP. This is what happened to me and my blog.
I decided to switch my theme which I had for several years to be able to update my blog and give it a fresh and modern look. After researching for some time, I found a multifunctional theme and I activated it. As soon as I did this, in a couple of hours, I noticed that my organic traffic dropped a bit. During the next couple of days, I kept monitoring the site traffic and it was continuously dropping. After five days of the website being on the new theme, my organic traffic dropped down to one-third of the traffic I used to get on my website before.
I did some research about it and figured out that switching your theme will most probably affect traffic on your website.
Does changing a website’s WordPress theme affect its SEO, ranking, and performance?
f you have a new blog with not much content yet, you shouldn’t worry about it. You can easily experiment on different themes while you are satisfied with the results. But if you have your blog running for a couple of years and decided to switch to a new theme, the short answer is – yes, it will affect your SEO, as some headers can change from H2 or H3 to some other formats.
In case your new theme is more SEO-friendly than your previous theme, and you do the switch the right way (I will mention later the best way to do it) your website might experience even higher ranking, and as a result, have more organic traffic.
What to do if you want your blog to look more modern and keep your current theme?
All of us would like to have a beautiful, stylish, attractive to readers and modern looking website. Is it necessary to change your current theme for it? No, definitely not. You can still update the design of your website on your current theme. If you are delighted with the performance of your theme according to the features you are looking for in the theme – loading speed of your website and SEO performance. I would suggest not to switch your theme. Switching to a new theme might negatively affect your blog in some of those categories.
If you are running your blog in WordPress, the best advice I can give you is to redesign your posts or pages with the current tools which are available for you with your current theme. You can install some plugins which will help you with this task. You can find a couple of good plugins to help you there. The most important is to check the loading speed of your page once you’ve got it redesigned with those plugins. Many plugins make your page look beautiful, but they negatively affect the page’s loading speed.
My recommendation which plugin to use on your website
I recommend just those things which I personally use on my websites and blog and I am happy with their performance. My recommendation is to use a plugin called Elementor. I personally use this plugin on a couple of my websites and it does the job perfectly well. You can use its free version. If you want, you can upgrade it to a PRO version and have many more features available to create a beautiful and stylish website.
This plugin is quite easy to operate. You don’t need to have any coding skills or other special skills to operate it. The most important is that it doesn’t affect the loading speed of your website. Which is so important for your readers and for the SEO ranking.
If you found a really great theme, you tested its performance and you are happy with the loading speed of your website. I suggest keeping in mind a couple of things before switching your current theme over to that new them
What to keep in mind before switching to a new theme?
- The site structure changes. If you will remove some pages, or make some changes in the URL of some pages that are already ranking, this can affect their SEO. Some themes may change the permalinks. Keep this in mind and make sure to keep the same URLs as before if you decide to switch your theme.
- Make sure that your website is user friendly, especially on mobile devices. Every design change of your website can be very stressful for your readers, as they are used to one style, and they know where to find certain information. As soon as you change it, make sure it is still easy and intuitive to navigate your site, especially on mobile devices. Even Google mentioned that it is now a key factor in ranking. Test your website here to see if your website is mobile-friendly, according to Google. Make sure that the new theme will pass this test.
- Content changes. You might have a good ranking because the search engine counts that its content is relevant to the keywords. You need to make sure that a website running on a new theme will be the same relevant, if not more. Try not to reduce the number of pages or text from your website while switching to a new theme.
- Make sure that a new theme will improve the loading speed of your website. Or at least it will stay the same. Sometimes, new great-looking themes, especially with many moving elements such as sliders, or other jumping features may drastically slow down the loading speed of your website. You can check how Google sees the loading speed of your website here. Make sure that all of your images are properly optimized on your website.
- Make sure that Internal Links still exist. Internal links between posts of your website are very important for SEO. Make sure that all links stay the same and work well.
- Make sure that Page Title Tags and Meta descriptions stay the same. If you already have some pages on your website, make sure that, when switching your theme, all of those settings will remain the same as before, or remain similar. So you will not lose your ranking in SEO.
- Submit an updated sitemap to Google Webmaster tools. You can search for some plugins. Some of them can help you do it automatically, so you don’t need to worry about it.
What did I learn after switching my WordPress theme and how it affects the SEO of my website?
Switching your theme is a pretty scary thing to do when it comes to SEO rankings. Google will re-crawl your website and will notice your changes and will decide if your new looking website is still worth having the same ranking or not. The most important thing is to continue providing high-quality content on your blog. Even if you will notice some changes, it will be temporary. In my case, after switching to a new theme my traffic dropped. When I switched back to my previous theme it improved a bit, but I am still waiting to return to my regular organic traffic amount as it was before.
If you would like to read more about the WordPress theme, I suggest reading this article: How to choose the right theme for your WordPress blog? What do you need to know before buying a theme
Good luck with your new WordPress theme and SEO of your website! I hope this article helped you make the right decision on whether to change your current theme or to keep it. If you decided to switch it, I believe it will help you do it the right way.
My final suggestion, don’t switch your theme on the live website. Switch your website to maintenance mode first. In case you need to do some changes, it will not affect your readers. Try a new theme offline on your website first. Then activate it when you are sure it performs as desired.
Good luck, leave me some comment about your experience when switching to a new theme.
This post contains affiliate links. I want you to know, I recommend just those services I use on my blog and believe will be very useful and helpful for yours too.