Choosing a WordPress theme might seem like a daunting task. There are so many different things you need to consider.
Unless you have a checklist to follow, you are likely to end up with a theme that might not serve your needs.
The greatest advantage of using WordPress is the flexibility it offers. WordPress allows users to change a theme with just a few clicks only.
However, changing in between premium themes can be an expensive experiment, since most of the great themes are paid.
I’m going to help you choose an SEO optimized theme that you can use for your WP site today.
Why do you need an SEO optimized theme?
Websites are built for people to visit them. No matter what type of business you do, you’re going to need people to visit your website.
If you own a vet clinic, you want people to call your office to schedule an appointment. If you own an eCommerce store, you need people to check your goods to buy from you.
Otherwise, it wouldn’t make any sense to build a site in the first place. The primary source of web traffic is the search engines.
There are some businesses use paid advertising, social media platforms, directory listings, or classified ads to bring people to their websites.
However, this applies only to a minority portion of businesses. Even if you aim to bring visitors to your website through other traffic sources, it would not hurt to have search engine traffic on your website.
So far, we agree that having search traffic for your website is invaluable. You need to do SEO to achieve that. Also, SEO isn’t done after a website has been built.
Many people make the mistake of implementing SEO after the website has been completely built.
However, SEO doesn’t mean doing the keyword research, and link building only. Its mission extends far beyond that.
Right SEO starts at the point of web hosting and theme selection.
Because, unless you have a reliable web hosting company, and a well-functioning theme that can accommodate your needs, you will not be able to achieve high SERP positions.
If your web hosting provides a slow website experience, people will leave your website.
This will cause a rise in your bounce rate, which tells Google that your site might not have what the user is looking for.
As you can see, everything is tied up to work together. In SEO you cannot ignore one thing to compensate from other things.
Everything you do adds up creating a sum result. Hence, choosing an SEO optimized theme is crucial.
In this post, we are going to discuss what makes a theme perfect to drive organic traffic from Google. Here are some of the most important features you should be striving for.
It is no surprise that Google uses page loading speed as a ranking signal. It means that sites that are faster likely to rank higher on SERP results.
The performance of a website depends on many factors. But a few of them affect your results much more significantly.
How to check the performance of any theme?
You are going to visit a few websites, and test on all of them to make sure your selected theme performs the best.
Pingdom allows you to test your website from a few different locations. Pick the server location closest to your country target.
Why to use a few tools rather than using Google’s tool only?
Because the tools are not perfect, and opinions about the performance of a website can be different.
Also, don’t focus on the site speed too much. If your website can be accessed in less than 3-4 seconds both from desktop and mobile devices, you are doing ok.
You will not get any SEO boost for every millisecond your website opens faster. However, faster websites tend to leave a more trustworthy impression then slower websites.
A mobile responsive theme has the capability to adjust its layout to work across various devices.
What are the mobile devices?
Tablets and phones definitely. Your theme should be fluid like water to adapt itself for various screen resolutions.
The responsiveness of a theme is in direct correlation with the user experience.
The days of creating mobile versions of websites are gone. Webmasters no longer want to deal with a mobile design from scratch for an existing website.
If a visitor lands on your website from a cell phone and cannot click on the “buy button” easily you have literally lost the client.
An increasing number of people are using tablets and phones to access the internet.
That’s why we have seen significant growth in the number of responsive WordPress themes developers are creating.
Adaptive To Different Screen Sizes
Before purchasing a theme, it’s crucial to check how responsive the design is. You don’t need to see the design of a theme on multiple devices to learn that.
There is an integrated tool in your browser that lets you to conveniently test the responsiveness of any website.
#1 – Load the demo version of your theme in a new tab first.
#2 – Then click Control + Shift + I to open the developer console in Chrome.
#3 – Then click Control + Shift + M to incentivize the Responsive Device Toolbar.
#4 – Click Control + Shift + M to open the Responsive Design mode in Firefox.
By using this tool you can monitor your website design to test its responsiveness. You will also see how theme design looks at various screen sizes of mobile phones and tablets.
People using mobile devices utilize touch gestures to navigate a website. They tap on the screen to open links and swipe to navigate everything on pages.
If your theme cannot support these touch gestures, your website is not providing a good user experience.
It’s not a big surprise that minimalism is a timeless cultural shift that affects conversion rates.
Most themes offer a wide selection of colors, layouts, and functionalities that may be valuable. But at the end of the day, you want to concentrate solely on simplistic design.
You need to ensure the theme you choose isn’t too complex and helps your content to be more understandable. Certain templates may be gorgeous looking but cannot serve your goals to grow your business.
Keep in mind that you are developing a site for your customers, and you want them to easily find what they are looking for. Hence, choose a lightweight theme that makes it a joy for your visitors to navigate.
Every business owner’s needs are different. They want to be able to shape their website in accordance with their needs.
Having a wide variety of customization options that are easy to switch in between is highly desirable.
Make sure you pick a theme with features of custom styling, color selection abilities, image library configurations, banner placement support, one-click connection with social media accounts, etc.
When you type a URL in the address bar and hit enter, your browser sends a request to the server (the host that have site content).
The server responds to search with the content, then an HTML file that is rendered by the browser to display the result page.
These differences create extra work for the webmasters.
It is the primary reason to implement cross-browser testing. The purpose of this testing is to make sure that content and functionalities are uniformly accessed from different browsers.
Make sure that navigation, input fields, touch input work equally fine across various browsers and devices. Also, the layout should be responsive with its all components.
Ask other people’s opinions
You may decide to purchase a certain team since you believe it is the best. However, we humans are subjective creatures. Not all the decisions we make represent the common sense.
Ask a few friends for their opinions about the theme you want to select. If you can show a few options to them that technically satisfy your requirements, it is even better.
At the end of the day, you are choosing a theme for people, and asking people’s opinions can really help.
Equipped with HQ Page builder
Page builders help designing pages for specific needs. Using WordPress, you can always install page builder applications on your website.
However, If your WP theme is equipped with its own Pagebuilder, it is even better.
Let’s say you want to buy a theme built for HVAC companies. If you have a page builder that has great templates you are in luck.
You can tap a large library of piping issues, equipment installations, etc to build a more relevant site much faster.
You can make niche-specific integrations more efficiently using a built-in page builder in your theme.
Conversion means different things for different businesses. For some businesses, it may be a form sign up, while for others it may be a phone call. An eCommerce business may consider only a sale as a conversion.
Whatever the conversion goal you target, make sure the theme you select can serve that goal the best. Because you are in the business only if your business converts for you.
A high converting theme should cut off all the unnecessary stuff in between your audience and your conversion goal.
Anything that can distract your audience from taking the action you want will harm your profitability. Make sure you prevent them even before they can appear.
A good WordPress theme should generate pages for everyone’s use including those who cannot see or use a mouse. The default WordPress theme is a fairly accessible one.
However, make sure you choose a theme that has good accessibility features by default. Website accessibility is a complex subject, however, it consists of primarily 4 core principles.
#1 – Your content should perceivable. It should be available for everyone no matter what user agent they utilize or what senses the user lack.
#2 – Users should be able to comfortably navigate a website not depending on they use a mouse or not.
#3 – The pages should be served in a manner that supports comprehension.
Using a theme that has known user behaviors (such as underlining hyperlinks in a text) helps in this respect.
Similarly, site operations should be straightforward. This includes links, navigation menus, forms, etc.
#4 – The website should be accessible across a large selection of user agents. Themes implementing “assistive technology” specifically designed for disabled users should be preferred.
Best User Experience
Having a WP theme providing the best user experience (UX) is very important. Google values UX over every other ranking factor. Most of the other subjects we discussed on this page target improving it.
It’s the people who make business with you, not the search engines. However, improving UX boosts SEO as well. In fact, the new generation of SEO is providing the best UX possible.
Know Your Budget
This is not directly related to choosing an SEO optimized theme. However, it is necessary to mention.
Building a business website using a free theme is not a good idea. Free themes come with no support. They also lack advanced customization features. You will need a premium theme if you are serious about what business you are in.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, and most people start a business without having a large sum of initial capital.
Make sure you have a certain amount of budget to pick a good WP theme. There are many great themes for less than $100.
Here is the theme I have been using happily on this website without any issues.
Excellent Customer Reviews
Reviews are social proof behind any product, provided it is regulated by a trusted 3rd party.
I want to show you Amazon as an example. Anyone who wants to buy a product can read reviews to have an idea if the product is good enough.
When it comes to WP themes, the same principle applies. If you are buying your theme in a trusted market place like ThemeForest, you are going to be able to read reviews that previous customers provided for your selected theme.
Make sure your theme has a ton of good reviews since it is the very best way to assure your money is well spent.
Check the latest update date
Choosing a theme that hasn’t got any new updates in the last few months isn’t a good idea. Ideally, pick a theme that has been sold at least a few thousand copies. Because these themes are likely to get updated more often.
Sometimes developers stop supporting a theme to initiate new projects. Make sure you are not buying a theme of a stagnant project.
Certain themes are more susceptible to hacking attacks. It may be sourced from different reasons.
The theme developer may leave vulnerable points across the coding, or certain complementary plugins work with the theme can be the problem.
Make your research not to hold on to a theme that is not secure enough. You will anyway need to use a WP security plugin. However, don’t use your security plugin as a reason to choose a vulnerable theme.
Check Developer’s Support Policy
Every theme has a certain support policy. Know beforehand what kind of buyer protection your theme developer guarantees.
Basic theme support usually includes:
- Getting an answer to your support tickets directly from the author.
- Get assistance to compatibility issues, and possible bugs.
- Support with included 3rd party assets.
Most of the time you can extend the standard support period paying an additional fee. Of course, it is up to you to have it or not.
Finally, choosing a theme that is optimized for SEO is very important. Implementing the recommendations above you can pick a decent theme.