How Website Theme Impacts SEO

SEO is a complex area of digital marketing. There are many ways that you can improve your search engine result rankings. There are also many ways that you can hinder your online presence. Understanding how different aspects of your website relate to one other can help you form a clearer picture of your overall SEO strategy.

Google’s mission, in their own words, is to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. In this sense, SEO should be a fairly intuitive process. If your website is accessible (a website overlay can help in accessibility) and contains useful quality information, Google will reward you.

Of course, the process of optimising a site for SEO purposes is a little more complex than that. However, if you and your web design company continually keep the end user in mind when making decisions regarding your site, you are unlikely to go wrong. These decisions can cover everything from what CMS platform you use to the design aesthetic you follow.

In fact, Google recently released a super handy video that outlines the degree to which changing your website theme can impact SEO performance. To learn more about the concept of a website ‘theme’ and how it can sway human users and Google’s search engine bots, continue reading.

What is a website ‘theme’?

These days, most websites are built using what is known as a CMS platform. A CMS —or content management system — is a type of software that simplifies the process of web development.

There are many different types of CMS platforms out there. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Deciding on a CMS platform is often the first step in building a new website. Your web development team might recommend WordPress, Drupal, Kentico, or any other of a number of popular CMS sites.

Contrary to popular belief, CMS platforms offer plenty of opportunities to customise your website. However, many developers and designers choose to work with what are known as ‘themes’. As per the Drupal website, a theme is ‘a set of files that define the visual look and feel of your site’. Themes control everything from font to layout. Using a theme means that making visual changes to your site will be easy. Rather than having to alter each individual page (and you can have thousands of pages on your website), you can simply press a button and let the CMS do all the hard work for you.

Any good web design company will tell you that your choice of website theme can have a significant impact on both user engagement and SEO results. After all, your theme will control how headings, text, and images are displayed, as well as the general page speed (more complex themes can hinder page load time) and internal links.

All of this is to say that you need to think about a lot more than pure visuals when it comes time to pick a website theme.

Web design and SEO best practices

Building a new website from the ground up or even simply re-designing your current site presents as a fantastic opportunity to review your current SEO practices. As demonstrated, there is a strong link between web design and SEO. Teams who provide SEO services in Melbourne will often make recommendations regarding the layout, legibility, and interface of your website. These comments are made with two audiences in mind — human users and Google’s bots.

Here are a few important tips that can help you make decisions regarding your theme or individual design aspects that are in the best interests of your SEO efforts:

  • Site structure: If your website doesn’t make sense to a human user, it’s not going to make sense to a search engine bot. You have plenty of tools at your disposal to create an effective, clean website design, including headings, subheadings, links, and menus. Make the most of these when structuring your site.
  • Mobile performance: Google has indicated that they are gradually transitioning to an entirely mobile first indexing algorithm. This means that mobile performance is imperative from an SEO perspective. Ensure your mobile website loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and comes with all the features found on the desktop version.
  • Images: Photos, illustrations, and graphics play a huge part in creating an overall engaging web design. There are also several important SEO considerations you need to take into account when dealing with these elements. Make sure that all your images contain keyword-rich alt text (which can tell Google what the file contains), and are the correct size and file type.

Deciding on a website theme is one of the most exciting aspects of creating your new site. It provides you with the opportunity to tailor your business’ online footprint and brand. In doing so, keep in mind that you’re trying to appeal to a far wider audience than just your customers.

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