Does Changing Your Theme Affect Google Ranking & Traffic?

Changing Your Theme?

Will changing your theme on your website affect your Google ranking and traffic? I really hadn’t given it much thought until I thought of making changes after seeing others change their themes pretty often. What I have found is a mixture of answers to this specific question. So I wondered have you noticed any changes when you changed the theme on your website or blog?

your theme


Here are some of the answers I found along the way:

It may cause the site to jump around in the SERPs temporarily, but if the on-page SEO is roughly the same or better than it was previously, it should come back or get higher than it was before.

I was actually just going to start a thread about this. I switched my theme and my rankings completely tanked. Ive switched back, its been a few days and the rankings still haven’t come back. I haven’t done anything to the site other then change the theme in weeks so I can’t really think it would be anything else.


What other factors affect the Google ranking that could be theme related?

  • Fresh Images – Would changing the theme help this one? (a Panda update).
  • Image Size –  This is an upgrade  to how we use the size of images as a ranking signal in Image Search. With this change, you’ll see more images with larger full-size versions.
  • Fresh Content – Does changing the theme mean “fresh content? “
  • Faster Mobile Browsing – If you changed to a responsive theme would that increase your Google ranking in the speed area? Or if you went from a responsive theme to a non-responsive theme would it hurt your Google ranking?
  • Page Layouts – Content must be “above” the fold. If a theme made this better would it also help for page layouts?
  • Browser Size Tool – This is how your blog will look under various browsers. If the new theme improves in this area wouldn’t it improve the rank and thus traffic?
Google ranking is not the only factor for SEO but the overall SEO may be a factor when changing themes. Whether or not changing yours is a major factor appears to be really an unknown variable at this time.

I’d love to hear from those of you have changed your theme this past year and if it has affected your Google ranking or traffic in any way.

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Lisa loves helping others to thrive online through Content Marketing with Social Media, Blogging and SEO. What good is knowledge if you cannot share it with others? She has 20+ years experience in marketing/advertising with 7 years experience in content marketing, social media, blogging and SEO. Check out her latest eBook "Learn to Tweet and Thrive on Twitter" now on Amazon.

53 comments On Does Changing Your Theme Affect Google Ranking & Traffic?

  • I recently change theme to one of my blogs and this has cause a drop in my traffic. I am planning to revert it back to the former theme. The has given me some info. when i find the right theme i will move most of my blogs. Thanks

  • Hi Lisa,

    I am visiting your site for the first time and found this topic. I have installed freshlife theme on my website which is wordpress based. My site is not ranking well in SERP’S. I have tried many things but didn’t tried changing theme. Will definitely try this and let you know.
    Radhika recently posted..Top 10 Most Funny Awkward MomentsMy Profile

  • Honestly probably about 10-12 since I started 1 1/2 years ago. I’m settling on how my site looks now and going to focus on seeing if that helps over time. I change things too quickly to give it a chance to thrive 🙂
    Bob Sharpe recently posted..P90X vs INSANITYMy Profile

  • I change my theme TOO much lol. In fact, I’m changing it now as we speak (it is what led me to your page). I haven’t really seen any major changes in rankings except for when I install a theme that is slow to load. When that happens, then I have to deal with page speed which google does keep an eye on in rankings!
    Bob recently posted..Buy Shakeology CheapMy Profile

    • Funny Bob, I am trying to change mine but with a custom theme it’s very hard. I’m looking for something that will be faster, more minimal. I just did a post on pagespeed recently and that’s what is making me want to change it too. I haven’t changed it since I started on WordPress. How many themes have you gone through Bob?
      Lisa recently posted..The Race to Post, Comment and Share To SuccessMy Profile

  • I changed my theme in December then traffic gone down, again i changed my theme in feb., again traffic gone down. My bad luck whether it is due to changing or other plugin.
    Surendra Kumar recently posted..Show Battery Percentage in Status Bar on AndroidMy Profile

    • Surendra, I’ve always wondered what themes can do for your blog – as far as SEO. I had explored that once and it was a gray area but I suspected it had to play a role. Plug-ins could cause that too as they can make a site slow. There are so many factors. Did you also check your webmaster tools? They can give hints on the keywords for you as well. Good luck and I hope it goes back up soon for you Surendra.
      Lisa recently posted..Page Speed – Which Website Formats Have The Fastest?My Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    This is my first time on your site and I’m enjoying your recent posts.

    On this topic, have you come across any verifiable proof that free WordPress themes rank worse than premium themes? I’ve seen a boatload of speculation, much of which suggests this is the case. That said, even a premium theme in WordPress can rank badly.

    I’m in the midst of rebuilding my site in a more modern, responsive theme, and this is one area I’ve been unable to find a concrete answer.

    Thanks in advance for your input,
    Tommy Landry
    Return On Now
    Tommy Landry, Return On Now, Austin Social SEO recently posted..By: 2013 Online Marketing Predictions From Around the Web | Return On NowMy Profile

    • Thank Tommy, welcome to Inspire to Thrive. I have not come across that Tommy. I’ve used both and haven’t seen a difference to be honest. I would dig deeper, those that push them could be affiliates making money from them (possible, right?) Responsive I believe is key with mobile growth. I love the responsive themes. Another question I would ponder is “Do the premium themes offer more plug-ins? More capabilities? If not I don’t see how they would make a difference in rank. I stil see some blogger sites rank quite well too.
      Lisa recently posted..WebMeUp Software for SEO and Much MoreMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa came here through a site where you had commented. I was just looking on tips to increase Alexa ranking. I stumbled upon this post and read it further. I feel tweaking of a theme can do wonders in the SERP rankings and overall searches.
    Rohan Advani recently posted..Top 10 Ways To Flirt With A WomanMy Profile

  • Yeah you are right Lisa. very informative post. 🙂

    Asad hanif
    Facebook Covers |
    Facebook Covers recently posted..Why did Dad name me so ?My Profile

  • Yes I changed Complete title but after few minutes title convert as before it was. and One of my friend said if u changed your title rankings probably dropped and it will take one month for traffic, Now tell me what can i do to get my rankings again and why traffic is down after changing title ? 😥
    Asad hanif recently posted..Ben 10 Cartoons facebook cover photoMy Profile

  • hi, my website have good traffic but unfortunately i changed my blog TITLE and after few hours my website traffic gonna down and down and i cant get again that traffic 🙁 please kindly tell my whats i do for my site ? my site URL is plz visit my site and tell me the issue. thanks i am waiting your reply. 😥
    Asad hanif recently posted..Ben 10 Cartoons facebook cover photoMy Profile

  • Hello Lisa,

    I have a problem, I changed the theme of my website. then google would not index my site again

    when I search for my website on google with “site: ‘, then I see the feature’ preview ‘(the arrow to the right of the search results), the image shown is a picture of my website with the old theme.

    then i check google webmaster, indeed, my website indexed with the old theme.

    Can you give me advice? Thank you very much

  • As per my experience themes do have a wide impact on a website rankings. I personally switched over one of my themes and results was a sudden boost in SERP’s

    • May I ask which theme you switched from? Thanks!

      • It was a premium theme which I had customized almost to something different, switching the theme did wonders and I got at least 2500+ additional views for my homepage within a couple of hours before my hosting company servers crashed with bandwidth limits( the servers crashed because my traffic was very high to consume 150GB bandwidth in just a few days). The only reason why I used to hate that theme was it took ages to load increasing the bounce rate of my website and consumed too much of my bandwidth limits. Although the theme looked very good and unfortunately I cannot disclose the name of the theme because some people will start making wrong use of that WordPress Theme. At least as per my experience Google loves that theme. Anyways Lisa your theme looks great.

  • 😥 yeah my to sites were receiving 4-5K per day i lost my traffic after changing my theme. Theme were even from same server. Can anyone help please
    Almas Ali recently posted..Floral Pattern Border Designs in Black and White Theme WallpapersMy Profile

  • thanks for the information, how can i back link effectively, any tips

  • Hello Lisa nice topic and good points, I don’t really think it would be a big deal changing your themes because I change often. If you are using StudioPress themes there are many setting that stay the same when you change to another theme.

    I have not seen a decrease in my rantings because of a change in themes. I notice someone posted they moved from to self hosting, this I think would affect your site and rankings. Thanks so much for a great post
    RobG recently posted..Separating Your Blog Post By Using The More-TagMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa 🙂 Susan makes some really good points above. The thing about changing a theme is that by its very nature, a lot of things can change at once. This makes it extremely difficult to pin down a specific reason for the change. For instance, a well-optimised theme could be let down by a rogue plugin that either slows down your blog or inserts code that has a negative effect.

    I would say that because of the large number of changes that occur when changing themes, all you can really do is to prepare for the changes, get ready to make them, and then take the plunge. Watch out for any issues reported in Google Webmaster Tools – if you see any, aim to address them.

    If you really want to see whether a change has a positive or negative effect on your blog, the best way to do this is to only change one thing at a time. If changing your theme, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to rank until the changes have settled down and it’s been at least a week or two since the change. Beyond that, you can always test out changes, one at a time, and monitor their effect 🙂
    Ben recently posted..Start Your eBook TodayMy Profile

  • Hi Lisa,

    I have to say that I had never thought about that. Changing your theme affecting your ranking wow! But I think that it makes sense now that I read this.

    I changed the theme of all my blogs but before they were really ranking anyway, and recently the header of my personal development blog, but I don’t thing that counts, right?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..How To Find Direction And Purpose In LifeMy Profile

  • I haven’t noticed changing my theme to affect it. But when I moved from to a self-hosted wordpress site my ratings tanked and it took awhile to get them back up.
    Kristiina recently posted..{Mani Monday} Dea by ZoyaMy Profile

  • I would focus on factors that may have changed how people interact with the website.

    Is your website more user friendly now? Did your load speed change? Is the navigation different?

    If you haven’t changed content then it is off page factors that are messing things up. Some themes have major code issues. Bloggers wouldn’t be able to catch them.

    Some areas that cause issues
    Javascript errors (these also slow down your site)
    Poorly Executed PHP (also sometimes unsecure leaving you open to hacks)
    Use of HTML5 and CSS3 (still not supported by all browsers)
    Structural issues of various types
    Code Bloat (slows down the site and causes loading issues)
    incompatible plug-ins

    I would always read reviews and see how your theme stacks up to the current standards.

    AYour host can cause problems too.
    Lots of Down time
    Hosting many malicious sites
    (had a friend get banned as malware because of this, despite being clean. Just because he was on the same host as infected sites.)
    adding code in footer links (Go Daddy & Hostgator)

    This is just a short list. If I can find an informative post about off page issues (in plain speak), I will send it your way.

    Last thing too,
    After a major Google update,things get disrupted for awhile. But they will return to normal in a few weeks. If your ranking does not improve then see what changes you need to make to conform to the new standards.

    • Hi Susan, What is code bloat, too much coding? I have seen what nasty plug-ins can do and being down to a hosting too. Thanks Susan for this insightful answer.

      • Code bloat is when your theme has code you are not using.

        For example my theme came with many fonts. Each one of those was stored in my font directory. I wanted to stick with the basics (Arial, Georgia etc). So I deleted all of them and took out the code from my CSS. Now they don’t load at all and my website runs much faster!

  • Hey Lisa.
    Good question. I like to change my theme once in a while to get the general ‘look’ just the way I want it to be. So I decided to take a better look at the statistics. (Yoast WordPress SEO) and Google Anallytics. I assume the data read by either of them represents the true value’s. Some things I noticed:
    1. After changing to a new theme – even for a few minutes to check it out – be sure to see if the SEO plugin is still active. Some themes do not switch these features ON automatically. These tools help in the Google rankings as you know and you might see a temporary decrease in hits/pageviews.
    2. Be sure to flush the cache after you’re done testing.
    3. I have not seen an increase in Google bot hits after changing the theme.
    4. I don’t think changing a theme will ‘count’ as new content. I see no way how Google could determine that.
    5. All other SEO techniques (White Hat) do apply, stay away from the Black Hat techniques.
    6. Keyword stuffing is still the big page rank killer. ‘Quality content’ boosts it up.
    7. And (not unexpected…) having a full spam box on your comments does increase volume for a few days and sends it plummeting down afterwards.
    8. Frequent new posts and spinning it to the right services helps a LOT.

    As you see, a long list. Hope this will help a bit. 😉
    Jan Bierens recently posted..Pole Dancing Olympic SportMy Profile

    • Thanks Jan, “Flush” the cache? Do you mean delete cookies? Interesting about #7 – hadn’t heard that one yet. Oh yes #8 is true for sure. Thanks for the informative response Jan.

  • Hi Lisa,

    I don’t know exactly dear 🙂 Google gives priority to fresh content and it’s true. I’ve experienced it several times. However over time things will change. Don’t forget popular ones. Search engines send signals for popular pages and crawl often where people do visit mostly and stay more time on pages. Performance of the site (Web/Mobile) is a crucial factor as it directly related with bounce rate. So it counts 🙂 Anyway changing theme doesn’t mean it made fresh content, no? 🙂

    But yet all those are based on algorithms. Changing theme means the meta tags and HTML coding stuff behind it, right? There could be fact about being SEO friendly with the code behind the theme. Also if a theme follows search engine rules, they can be rank well too. So unless we know SEO stuff and user experience factors, we may feel theme did the thing for us 🙂

    Mayura De Silva recently posted..3 Great Twitter Stats to See How Effective Your Twittering IsMy Profile

  • I couldn’t tell you Lisa, as I never check my ranking. Probably a good thing as often as I changed my theme! :mrgreen:
    Brenda recently posted..The “Sisterhood”My Profile

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