WordPress themes SEO

Does Changing WordPress Themes Hurt Google Rankings?

Every website deserves a refresh, but if you’re changing WordPress themes, you might be wondering whether your Google ranking will drop. The answer is, it depends.

In a recent video, Google’s John Mueller answered the question of whether changing WordPress themes causes websites to drop in Google rankings. According to Mueller, the answer depends on what else is changing on the website when the theme is changed.

While it’s possible that changing WordPress themes could hurt your SEO, working with an experienced web development agency like Web Publisher PRO can lessen the impact.

WordPress themes are groups of files that come together to create the overall look of a website. Style sheets, codes, and graphics all join together in a comprehensive website theme. WordPress themes impact how a website displays content, including text, images, and headings. The theme can also impact page load times, website speed, internal linking, website navigation, content options, and structured data use.

Every WordPress website has some type of theme installed and activated, but that doesn’t mean every publisher must use their theme’s design. Publishers can have completely custom websites, even when they use widely-popular WordPress themes. That might sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

Most digital publishers choose to work with a web development agency, like Web Publisher PRO, so they don’t have to stress over the nuts and bolts of the website building process. With Web Publisher LITE, publishers can choose from more than 50 layouts designed specifically for B2B publications. Web Publisher PRO works together with our publishing partners to create impressive websites using the No. 1 most popular magazine theme of all-time, Newspaper X.

Back to the question at hand: Will changing your WordPress theme cause your website to drop in Google rankings?

The best WordPress themes make it easier for search engines to understand how websites are setup. That means that choosing the right theme can positively impact your website’s Google ranking for relevant keywords. Themes like Newspaper X are designed to make it simple for search engine bots to crawl. However, when a theme is changed or removed, those bots must re-crawl the website to understand its new structure. Because of that, there is a chance that a website’s ranking may drop when a theme is changed or removed. Usually, any drop in Google ranking that occurs due to changing a website theme is temporary. Once Google’s bots have an opportunity to crawl the website again, the website should return to its position on search engine results pages.

Working with a web developer that’s experienced in WordPress development can lessen the impact.

Experts generally recommend building a test website before launching new themes. On the test website, a developer can add the content from a previous website, so the publisher can easily compare. Indexing is blocked on all test websites.

When evaluating themes, digital publishers should be sure to look at the HTML generated by the theme to ensure the new website will be easy for bots to crawl. This is another area where having a web development agency can simplify the process from digital publishers. At Web Publisher PRO, we evaluate the HTML generated by themes and use Google’s Search Console testing tools.

Because WordPress themes can determine so many things across a website, it’s a good idea to take the time to consider which theme will work best for your publication before making any definitive choice.

For more information about improving the performance of your website, read How to Optimize a WordPress Website for Speed and Performance.