Website Themes SEO Impact

Google posted a short video answering whether a website’s theme affects SEO. John Mueller, the host of the video, responded that yes, the theme of a website will affect SEO and pointed out how this can happen.

Mueller said:

“It’s easy to think of website themes as a simple splash of color on top of a finished structure. But there is much more involved.”

A theme will affect how the website displays many content elements that are critical for SEO:

  • headers
  • Text
  • Images
  • How the pages are interrelated
  • Page load times
  • structured data

According to Google, good themes will make it easier for search engines to understand the content and Mueller stated that changing a website’s theme will generally affect a website’s SEO.

Related: How to choose the best Shopify theme for SEO

Try the new website themes

John Mueller said it was a good idea to test a website theme before choosing one.


  • Try the themes on a test website
  • Add content from the old website
  • Block a test website from being indexed so Google doesn’t accidentally crawl it
  • Review HTML generated by the theme

Search Community Information

I asked some SEO and web design experts if they thought the choice of a website theme affected SEO.

Adam J Humphreys

Search marketing expert Adam J. Humphreys (LinkedIn profile) of Making 8 Inc shared his thoughts on how topics impact SEO:

“Yes, absolutely how websites are rendered affects how they are resolved for search engines.

I saw a 26% increase in overall views for a large group of vessels and their best year on record as a result of changes to their themes.

Themes really matter and frankly if you use WordPress for example you should use Gutenberg based editors (also known as Gutenberg block builders) for WordPress because they are the purest form of editor using WordPress core and will result in ridiculously fast page speed. .

The reality is that even if Google’s Core Web Vitals weren’t a ranking factor, I’d still make it a priority like I have for years simply because of how well users respond to fast sites. We’re talking about more clicks, more calls, and generally more sales conversions. Whether it’s a multinational level site or a local business, the positive response seems to be the same.

This is why I recommended Gutenberg Blocks based editors because they use the WordPress engine, which results in a much faster load time.

Oxygen and Bricks Builder this year are my only two topic recommendations for those willing to take the time to learn them.

Otherwise, just use the WordPress editor because everything else won’t achieve 100 mobile scores in a mobile first world.

Alternative themes load too many scripts, which guarantees lower results.

Fewer moving parts means less friction, which is the same for choosing a theme for SEO.”

Chris Labbat

Chris Labbate (LinkedIn profile), CMO of agreed that the choice of a topic was critical:

“Changing your WordPress theme can affect SEO rankings, to a significant degree if you make a poor decision.

One of the reasons is that your theme affects your design (CSS and JavaScript), which in turn can affect the speed of the site.

alex alexakis

Alex Alexakis (LinkedIn profile), founder of pixel chefs offered his insightful opinion on the importance of themes for SEO:

“Yes, changing the theme of a site can affect the speed of a website as the layout, page structure, internal links, and sometimes the architecture change.

For example, themes can negatively affect the speed of your sites by:

  • requires multiple plugins to work “properly”
  • overload external resources (scripts, webfonts)
  • overload internal resources (scripts, webfonts)
  • bad coding
  • css not optimized
  • javascript/jquery not optimized

Site architecture is a big issue, especially on site rebuilds, as some themes are set up with custom post types that force a URL structure that might not match the existing architecture.”

Choose your website theme carefully

Many themes are advertised as SEO friendly. But that is not always the case. Many themes provide low performance scores in Google’s PageSpeed ​​reporting tool. Even the demo sites for some of the “SEO friendly” themes perform poorly.

Page speed score of an “SEO Friendly” theme

Screenshot of poor performance scores from a This is an actual PageSpeed ​​Insights score of 35 out of 100 for a theme that advertises itself as SEO friendly

Adam J. Humphrey is right to mention Gutenberg Block Editor as a viable option for creating a fast performing website. Building directly with the WordPress Gutenberg site builder is faster because the site is built directly from the core and doesn’t have to go through any additional layers. WordPress has been constantly improving the Gutenberg code so that it only loads the files necessary to generate a web page.

It is important to understand that Gutenberg is not completely finished. It is being built in four phases and WordPress is currently in the second phase which addresses bringing the full site edition to Gutenberg.

Four phases of Gutenberg’s development

  1. Easier editing – now available in WordPress, with continuous improvements
  2. Customization: full site editing, block patterns, block directory, block based themes
  3. Collaboration: a more intuitive way to co-author content
  4. Multilingual: basic implementation for multilingual sites

As John Mueller suggested, always set up a test site to host your new WordPress theme where you can configure the site to be exactly how you want it.

Services like WP Stagecoach, which I have used, make the process easy.


Watch the Google video

Does the theme of a website matter for SEO?