Building a website has become much easier and faster with the help of frameworks and CMS’s like WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Joomla, etc. But the world of web design has also become very competitive, and directing visitors to a website is not as simple as building it. So, to be seen in this busy cyberspace, you need to be familiar with the “rules”, learn about SEO, and go through some inevitable difficulties!
In this guide I want to give you an overview of Search Engine Optimization and the structure of SEO-optimized themes. This will help you to choose a suitable and search-engine-optimized template for your website, no matter which platform or framework you use.
In addition to an overview of SEO concepts for all the CMS’s and frameworks, I will also focus on WordPress in more detail (one of the most popular CMS’s) and will show some of the best SEO-friendly WordPress themes you can use to create a high-performance website. You will also learn general tips and tricks about finding, improving, or generating a SEO-optimized theme.
Ready? Let’s get started!
What a Theme Does and Why it’s Relevant to Search Engine Optimization
Most website-builder frameworks and CMS’s have a three-part structure consisting of:
- The core of the framework itself
- Templates (themes)
- Plugins (extra functionalities)
All three parts work together to bring you a complete and SEO-optimized website.
The SEO process means organizing and optimizing content in a structured form to help search engines like Google find it so it can index and rank it. The theme you use plays a big part in this, which is why it is important to use a SEO-optimized theme for your site.
SEO Factors for Themes
Before you can distinguish an SEO-customized template from a non-optimized one, first, you need to be a little familiar with SEO factors in web design and theme development.
So, here is a shortlist of the essential SEO factors for a theme. An SEO-optimized theme:
- Performs well and has a high loading speed.
- Is responsive to all screen sizes.
- Is structured with care based on search engines’ (crawlers) behavior.
- Follows user experience standards to make sure readers find what they need. It encourages them to stay on your site for a longer duration and explore more pages. This will improve your SEO ranking.
Accordingly, an SEO-friendly theme should follow essential SEO standards and give you a responsive, fast, and structured website that can be easily indexed and explored by both search engines and visitors.
If you don’t have much previous experience in search engine optimization, I recommend reading the article below before going further.
Now, let’s head over to the main topic and learn how to find a SEO-optimized theme.
What an SEO-optimized Theme Looks Like and How to Find One
All the website-builder platforms (like Shopify, WordPress, Joomla, Magento, etc.) have an official website that includes their assets. In these repositories, you can find many themes by various developers of any level. But if you want to ensure your theme is a quality one, you can search in ThemeForest and Envato Elements to find what you are looking for.
These websites are two of the biggest marketplaces on the internet and provide you with thousands of premium SEO-optimized templates. ThemeForest, powered by Envato, has a rigorous evaluation process for its products and only allows professional and quality developers to publish their templates. It is already trusted by millions of customers and web designers, where you can find a suitable theme with ease. Please note that the theme you choose should:
- Be lightweight
- Be popular and well-rated
- Be already used by well-known websites
- Get a good score from online performance and SEO tester tools
To find a Search engine optimized theme, go to the ThemeForest website. Then navigate to the category that contains your platform’s templates (for example, I use WordPress).
So, from the top bar menu, select the WordPress category and search for keywords like SEO-optimized, fast, lightweight, etc.
Then from the Filters bar, select a suitable filter like Best-sellers or Best-rated. Remember, a best-seller item (for example, a theme with more than 200,000 sales) is valuable to its owner company. It motivates them to care more about details (like search engine optimization) and try to provide a higher quality product.
Best WordPress SEO-optimized Themes on ThemeForest
In this section I want to show you some of the most optimized WordPress themes for search engines that will help you attract more visitors to your site and get a better rank in search results.
The7 is one of the most popular WordPress themes with more than 250,000 sales on ThemeForest. This stunning and fast WordPress theme comes with many pre-made demos and enables you to start your website quickly and implement your content inside a search-engine-friendly environment.
This one is a beautiful theme with 610 stunning demos you can import with a single click. Bridge has a powerful developer team behind that in addition to strong support, they guarantee you a website with an SEO approach.
“(Using Bridge) Search engines will easily index any page of your website because of the integrated search engine support. Set meta keywords and description for each individual page and increase SEO ranking.”
If you are planning to build a search engine optimized online store using WordPress and WooCommerce, the Impreza theme can be a good choice. This well-developed WordPress theme has more than 88,000 satisfied customers and can help you to showcase your content on a well-structured template.
How to Test SEO for a Theme Before Purchasing It
Now, let’s assume that you have picked some high-selling, well-rated, and SEO-related themes. To ensure the quality of a theme, you need to check all the SEO factors we mentioned in the last sections with the help of online performance testers. To do that, you can use online SEO tester tools like GTMetrix, Neil Patel’s SEO Analyzer, SEO SiteCheckup, etc.
First, open a product’s demo from ThemeForest and copy its URL. Then open one of the performance testers above and paste the URL there. The site (for example, GTMetrix) will provide you with valuable feedback about the demo and its SEO level.
With this trick, you can find out how optmized a theme could be at the moment of the first installation. Do not forget that the results are not 100 percent accurate, and they may perform a little bit differently on your host.
Best Ways to Improve SEO for a Theme
To improve the SEO level in a theme, you can directly change its code and customize it based on the most critical SEO factors. There are also plenty of search engine optimizer plugins and side add-ons for all frameworks and CMS to help your theme act better. For WordPress, you can use Yoast SEO, All in One SEO, HubSpot, and more.
If you are using WordPress and have some coding knowledge, creating an optimized child theme can also be a good idea.
What Is a WordPress Child Theme?
How to Make a Child Theme in WordPress
Build Your Own SEO-Optimized WP Theme from Scratch
If you are not a beginner web designer and have enough passion for creating your own SEO-optimized theme from scratch, you can use different online tools to easily build it with drag and drop (mainly for WordPress).
Here is a list of the best online theme creators:
This way, you can have complete control over your theme’s structure, responsiveness, and performance.
In this quick tutorial, you have learned about SEO fundamentals and the basic concepts of choosing an SEO-optimized theme. You have also seen how to search and find a search engine optimized theme for different frameworks – especially for WordPress. Now you can easily pick a powerful theme for your site, start creating content, and get on the first page of a search engine!
If you still want to learn about SEO-optimized themes, please explore Tutsplus.com or read the articles below.