This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.
Theme selection to optimize your website’s SEO is more important than you might think. SEO can easily be negatively affected by poorly written themes. Specifically, the following points can hurt your SEO or the user experience causing your search engine rankings to suffer:
- The inability to remove spammy links. Too often free or low-cost WordPress themes are given away in some campaign to generate leads and come with code and links that can hurt your organic search visibility.
- Poor usability can result in higher bounce rates
- Non-mobile friendly designs will suffer to Google’s SEO scrutiny
- Poor design will result in a lower average time per page which tells Google your content isn’t relevant resulting in a lower ranking
- Slow loading time from a bloated them will also go against Google’s best practices for SEO
- Regular updates and ongoing support. Very few free or low-cost themes are patched for security purposes or upgraded when new versions of WordPress rollout. This leaves your site open to all sorts of vulnerabilities from hacking to poor SEO performance.
These all contribute to the overall user experience, and will consequently affect your SEO. With that knowledge as a base, we set out to find the top five WordPress themes for SEO visibility. This list will outline our top five and give you insights into how they will strengthen your site’s SEO performance.
1. SEO WP
According to Brian Dean, renowned SEO expert, SEO WP is his top recommendation for SEO optimized WordPress themes. What makes it so special?
- From the minute you download it, you a get blazing fast theme load time of only three seconds, which greatly improves the SEO of the website and the overall user experience.
- Your website is fully responsive and will look great on any webpage. They validate every site with a Google mobile-friendly check.
- Consistently updated each month to have the best written code for SEO and to make sure it is free of all known bugs.
- Lightweight design and code cuts the average size of your site in a third.
In addition to a solid SEO foundation the theme comes with a free live composer page builder which allows you to customize the theme to any layout you desire.
BoomBox is a solid theme choice right out of the box. It was designed specifically for SEO because its purpose is to cater towards creating viral content and building popular websites that generate a large amount of traffic each day.
Much like Reddit, BoomBox has a neat front-end submission feature built in so visitors can submit content for voting without visiting the back-end admin section of the website. You also get the option to vote on posts based on your desired emoji response. This feature is, of course, optional.
Read more about BoomBox, get user feedback, and download the theme on ThemeForest.
Salient is a multipurpose SEO-optimized WordPress theme that is well known for being a high-quality product. It comes with a specially tailored version of Visual Composer’s drag-and-drop builder to make even the most novice website designer to pro status in no time.
Salient boasts 150+ professionally designed templates so you can get your site built efficiently and to your standards. It also has over 3,500 icons, over 700 fonts, and unlimited color possibilities including gradient colors.
If you want truly customizable and full SEO optimization right out of the box then head over to ThemeForest and download Salient.
4. X Theme
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One of the most popular themes of 2017, the X theme has taken the WordPress theme market to a new height by introducing the concept of stacks. Currently X has four different stacks to choose from:
- Integrity – Perfect for professionals, creatives, and business sites.
- Renew – Designed with a flat look that showcases your content in an easily digestible format. User-friendly content keeps visitors on the page longer which is a key metric in any SEO analysis.
- Icon – Crafted for more modern blogging sites. It gives a minimal design that gives the blog’s words the spotlight. This site will run lighter with fewer design elements which gives your site an SEO boost in the speed category.
- Ethos – Built with magazine sites in mind. Ethos highlights engaging content that promotes click through rates and with it a more respectable bounce rate.
Like many of its heavyweight counterparts, X comes with a front-end page builder. You get a free license for Cornerstone with each purchase.
To give the X theme a shot or to see some live demos check out ThemeForest.
As far as SEO optimized WordPress themes go, Schema is among the highest in demand in the market. It combines SEO support with unparalleled load times. It is advertised as being the fastest loading ultra friendly SEO WordPress theme on the market — a statement that is echoed by all the 5-star reviews you will find on MyThemeShop. Knowing full well how much loading time affects search engine rankings makes Schema a smart choice for those looking to maximize their site’s performance and still roll in under budget.
As you can see they don’t just talk about SEO optimization results, they test them. One of the ways Schema sets itself apart is by utilizing a vast library of shortcodes that work with rich snippets to help you rank higher on search engines. They also code with Google’s SEO best practices in mind and write quality code to make the site even more friendly to Google’s algorithm.
To read more about Schema or try it yourself, check out MyThemeShop.
Now that you know which themes are top shelf, you can move forward into deeper testing and tweaking of your site’s settings and content to rank even higher. Follow this short SEO checklist for best SEO practices:
- Run a quality check against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly
- Make sure your website loads quickly
Finally, no matter the theme, you can still mess up your SEO with your content and configuration. Remember to supplement your theme’s built-in SEO with high-quality content written for humans (not search engines) and a solid SEO plugin like Yoast or All In One SEO Pack.
If you’re looking for somewhere to host your WordPress site after you’ve got your theme choice figured out, take a look at our partner, SiteGround. They offer managed WordPress hosting, with one-click installation, staging environments, a WP-CLI interface, pre-installed Git, autoupdates, and more!
If you’re looking for somewhere to host your WordPress site after you’ve got your theme choice figured out, take a look at our partner, SiteGround. They offer managed WordPress hosting, with one-click installation, staging environments, a WP-CLI interface, pre-installed Git, auto-updates, and more. They even have a tailor-made plugin, SG Optimizer, which optimizes and speeds up client sites tremendously!
What other themes have you found that boost your SEO? Tell us in the comments.
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