Can a WordPress Theme Help Your SEO?
Your WordPress Theme Cannot Help Your SEO, But It Could Hurt It
There is no WordPress theme that will give you an SEO boost, but picking the wrong theme could prove to be a slight hindrance to your efforts. A poorly coded theme could potentially result in a slower load time, which could have some undesirable effects:
- It can raise your “I clicked on your result and got tired of waiting for the page to load, so I went back to Google” score
- The algorithm could register it as a slow-loading website and decide to rank faster sites higher than yours, especially on mobile devices.
Even if you did pick the “wrong” theme, that doesn’t mean that you need to scrap it for a new one. Read on.
There Are Ways To Speed Up Your Site
Start off by seeing where you are as far as your page speed. Google provides a tool called Pagespeed Insights that will:
- tell you how fast (or slow) your site is
- how to improve its speed
And best of all, it’s free.
WordPress Plugins to the Rescue
While you’re unlikely to ever get a poorly coded WordPress theme to rank particularly high on PageSpeed Insights, you can definitely get it to a respectable level. Just for comparison, these are the results for bbc.com:
Follow the recommendations for possible optimizations and you’re on your way to a much faster loading website that is unlikely to lose (impatient) visitors.
The most common recommendations that we see are:
Leverage browser caching
There are a number of free and paid plugins that can help you with all of these recommendations. In the next section I’ll go over a few of them.
This is my go-to when it comes to image optimization. It will optimize all of the images that you upload so that they are as small as they can be without losing quality. I don’t build a WordPress site without it.
This is a popular plugin to accomplish the “minify” recommendations that everyone seems to get with PageSpeed Insights.
WP Cache is a massively popular caching plugin. There’s no way that you haven’t heard of it unless you’ve been living under a drupal rock for the last 5 years.
Ultimately, Pick The Theme That Will Help You Create Something Great
Even if your theme isn’t blazing fast out of the box, as long as it coded well enough to not weigh down your load time, your focus should be more on the quality of the site that you’re going to be able to build with it.