Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by Olli Kokkonen on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, April 12, 2018).

When we change the theme, does it affect to our current rankings?

Hey guys! My company is having corporate blog on subdomain. We are using Wordpress.org as CMS. Now, the current theme is old and terrible and we have decided to get rid of it and find new "ready wordpress theme". When we change the theme, does it affect to our current rankings? If it does, how badly? Any other tips you could share me about this topic?

Thanks for the help!

This question begins at 00:27:29 into the clip. Did this video clip play correctly? Watch this question on YouTube commencing at 00:27:29
Video would not load
I see YouTube error message
I see static
Video clip did not start at this question


Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • Michael Martinez: It depends on the theme and WHY your search referral traffic is affected is a matter for much discussion and debate. We have changed WordPress themes on a number of sites that saw consistent drops in search referral traffic after the themes were changed. We didn`t spend much time trying to determine what the themes were doing. We either reinstalled the old themes that were replaced or tested new themes. Search referral traffic patterns returned to normal after replacing the new themes. We don`t use the exact same layout and widget configuration on every site, so some themes that appeared to be connected to problems work fine on other sites (or we just need to look more closely at those other sites). Generally speaking, we`re more likely to be concerned if a theme is not compatible with the widgets we are trying to display; obscured content from improper layout may cause some quality algorithms to downscore a site or page. So you have to experiment with a new theme. Ensure that content displays properly on the mobile and desktop devices and that it`s fast and easy to use.
  • George G.: yep, have the same observations as Michael Martinez. google just seems not to like certain layouts and html structures.
  • Travis Bailey: A lot of themes include short codes and widgets, that usually won`t be present in another theme. So there`s a possibility chunks of content that were there before could disappear. I`ve never been involved with a project that does worse after a theme change though.Then again, I usually find them in `couldn`t be worse` condition. And I don`t like to use `everything to everyone` themes, such as those found on Theme Forest. So if a theme has ZOMG, All The Things, run away. There are a lot of Genesis/StudioPress themes that are pretty clean, and easy to work with. There`s a bit of a learning curve, on top of WordPress, as Genesis tends to run heavy on hooks for customization - beyond CSS. But I`ve been pretty happy with the framework/themes since 2010.
  • Marcus Pentzek: Recommendation switch from Subdomain to subfolder.
  • Michael Martinez: There is no benefit to using a subfolder over a subdomain (or vice versa) as far as the search engines are concerned.
  • Michael Martinez: "From our point of view they are essentially equivalent. So you could do lots of things with subdomains and you can do lots of things on subdirectories, it kind of depends on your infrastructure which way is easier for you to handle. So from our point of view this is essentially up to you. If you want to put a blog on your main website in a subdirectory that’s fine, if you want to use a subdomain that’s fine. If you want to use a different domain name, that’s possible too." http://www.thesempost.com/better-subdomains.../
  • Marcus Pentzek: Correct, that is what Google says. My experience is different. My advice still is my advice ;-)
  • Matthew Drake Shockey: Michael Martinez blocked me, not sure why.. If you were following the conversation, here is a screenshot of what I said.
  • Matthew Drake Shockey: I wouldn`t recommend subdomains in 2018. 20 years ago, sure. But not now.
  • Stockbridge Truslow: The big difference with themes are as follows:1) Proper Markup - themes that are going to rank well for you use proper markup like having sidebars and other widget areas properly marked as <asides> in the HTML. Other key elements are things like properly marked navigation and breadcrumb elements. <article> is another one that should be there. A lot of good themes also incorporate some automatic schema markup, too - like properly marking up post metas with authors (and links to their G+ and Facebook ID`s) article and update dates, etc. Quite a few themes don`t bother with this - and some do, and have been doing it for years. 2) Clean Markup - the biggest culprits here are the popular "this theme does everything and comes bundled with 50 plugins and visual page builder" type themes. I used to be able to name them all - I don`t bother anymore - there are too many. They are typically "paid" themes and you can identify them because of their promises for "ease of use" and "awesome visual designer". The biggest problem with these is that the markup generated by the visual designer is overly bulky. To center a block on a page, you end up with 3-4 nested divs where you could just say, "<h2 class="center">Here I Am!</h2>"Another major issue with this type of theme isn`t one you should experience if you`re converting from an old site to a new theme - and that is the lack of consistency. Sites built using these tend to have very little "fixed" content on a page and a lot of "every page designed by hand" type things. Google likes consistency. It doesn`t like things all over the place. The hard thing (and expensive thing) is converting from one of these themes and a site that has used a visual editor and getting it back to just simple plain and clean HTML in your article/post content. I`ve oversimplified this example a bit - there are a LOT of factors involved, but as a general rule - visual page builder sites and a lot of commercial themes tend to have overly complex and inconsistent markup. ----Different themes CAN rank very differently from one another. And from my experience the most popular themes tend to be the ones that are hardest to rank. Look for clean themes that follow web standards AND wordpress standards. Don`t get themes with a lot of "built in" plugins that muck things up - get a clean theme with very few features and then download and install the plugins you NEED. (I could rant for days on this topic... but that sentence should suffice as a good rule of thumb).
  • Jim Munro: Matthew Drake Shockey All opinions are valid here and you are expected to treat others with respect. I think you were wrong on 3 counts. BTW, I have read that Google`s public stance is that subdomains and subfolders are more or less equivalent but it doesn`t matter to googlebot either way. Besides, every site is on a subdomain, www is a subdomain, even your root directory is a subdomain of your tld.
  • Ste Hughes: Is this real life.....
  • Gerry White: Caught in a landslide... no escape from ...

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Thursday, April 12, 2018).

Reference Links

All Questions in this Hangout