Why WordPress Templates and SEO Don’t Play Well Together

In the past, we’ve noted that WordPress templates don’t always offer the value you would expect, despite their low prices. One aspect of the problem that often gets overlooked, however, has to do with the marketability of websites built from templates. Specifically, that they may not rank as well in Google and the other search engines as you might like.

The reason has to do with the overwhelming amount of extra code that tends to be used on web templates. To see how this works in practice, let’s take a closer look at what actually matters…

Understanding How Templates Are Built
Because developers can be sure how their web template designs will be implemented, or which design features and plug-ins potential customers will find most appealing, they try to include a bit of everything into each template. And, they have a habit of re-working a handful of designs again and again, essentially papering over cracks and selling the templates as brand-new products.

For a solo web designer or overseas firm that’s trying to make money off of volume rather than quality these practices are efficient. To you as a marketer, however, they mean lots and lots of extra code that can be found within your webpages.

All That Extra Code Has to Go Somewhere
To Google, extra code on a page is like graffiti on the side of a billboard. It can obscure the message, meaning, and intent of a website. Remember that search engines use automated software to look through pages and analyze what’s on each of them. If too much extra HTML gets in the way, then that software can’t do its job.

While you could clear the extra coding out of a WordPress template website, it would take ages. In fact, it would be much cheaper to simply start over and begin with a clean slate and create a custom web presence for your business, which is why companies like ours tend to do that.

The other problem with extra bits of extraneous code is that they can greatly influence the performance of your website. That is, pages can load slowly, generate conflicts between plug-ins, or have multiple sets of instructions that make it nearly impossible for you to change the look and feel in a professional way. That can also affect your search engine rankings, but also the user experience that your customers get.

Google Wants What Searchers Want
Search engines ultimately prioritize the same things searchers do. That means pages that load cleanly and quickly, are friendly to mobile devices, and emphasize usability are going to draw the most visits. On the other hand, cluttered pages with extra coding, confusing link structures, and other technical errors are going to be degraded in the rankings.

Ultimately, there tends to be a false bargain when it comes to WordPress templates. They save you money in the short term, but cost you more than they are worth over time. Why settle for a website that looks good in a preview gallery but doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to and can’t drawing traffic from Google?

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