What’s the best WordPress theme for SEO?
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What’s the best WordPress theme for SEO?


Hello, this is John Locke, and today, I want
to answer a question that I’ve heard from time to time. What do you think is the best WordPress theme
for SEO? Now for those of you who don’t know, WordPress
is a very popular Content Management System and platform for building websites. I believe that right now, 33% of the websites
that exist on the web utilize WordPress. Here’s my answer to this. The best WordPress theme [for SEO] is going
to be one that loads quickly — you don’t want a bunch of unnecessary cruft or files
downloading that you don’t need. Because site speed is very important to SEO,
and your customer satisfaction. They don’t want a website to be taking six
seconds to load each and every time. Also, the best theme for your particular needs
is going to be one that you don’t have a lot of difficulty editing with. Whatever your system is for publishing new
content, that has to work for you. So that said, I want to just analyze some
things that I’ve seen. Now I’m going to preface this by saying that
over the last four or five years, the majority of sites that I have built for myself, for
my clients, and as a subcontractor to bigger agencies — which I was doing until a couple
of years ago — the majority of those were custom built sites. So I was using what we call a “blank theme”,
like Underscores (_s), or WP Rig, back in the day it would have been something like
Starkers. It’s basically a blank canvas with which to
create exactly what you need, and that’s it. Those are the majority of themes that I have
created. Now what I have seen my friends in WordPress,
and in web design use over the last few years. Two years ago, maybe three years ago, a lot
of people were using the Genesis theme. Now Genesis is a theme framework that was
developed by a company called StudioPress. And this came out — I believe it was inspired
by another theme that was popular in the early days of WordPress, called Thesis. Now Genesis was like a version of Thesis,
but better. More efficient. It required a little bit more of developmental
skill, because of the way the theme was constructed. It was meant to really be developer-centric. Anyway, back to the story. A couple of years ago, a lot of people were
using Genesis with Beaver Builder on top. And Beaver Builder is what we call a page
builder. Now if you’ve ever used a WordPress theme
that’s been bought off of ThemeForest, you’re probably familiar with a plugin called Visual
Composer, or now it is called WP Bakery. Where you can add different elements to a
page. Not quite drag and drop, but kind of like
that. Beaver Builder is a very unobtrusive, not
heavy on the extra code type of page builder. Now a lot of people were using Genesis and
Beaver Builder a couple of years ago. What I am seeing most of my friends that are
into web development, they are into building websites, they are into marketing, and they
are heavily involved in the WordPress community — most people that I’m seeing now are kind
of turning towards a stack of Astra as the theme, and Elementor or Beaver Builder as
the page builder on top to modify content. I’ve used Astra for a couple of sites. It’s fine. It loads quickly for what it is. Now I’m going to say something else that’s
a little controversial. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, you be the judge. Most of the agencies that I know that are
not doing custom development are buying themes off of a marketplace called ThemeForest aka
Envato — where you can buy what’s called — not what I call it [laughs] — you can
buy what my friend Jonathan calls “Swiss army knife themes”. So these themes are loaded with all kinds
of cruft. And a lot of agencies rely on these. Most people who are do it yourself-ers are
going to buy one of the top 10 themes off of this marketplace, ThemeForest. And most of the themes that are up here are
loaded with all kinds of stuff. There will be three contact form plugins,
and five slider or slideshow plugins, and two or three page building plugins. It’s just complete overkill. And they might even have software in there
for e-commerce, and building forums. They are basically meant to literally be a
Swiss army knife theme. No what is terrible about these types of themes
is when you load up a page on the end user side, like you are the end user, and you are
loading it up — a lot of these things are loading up in the background. So it’s loading up all these files that power
these extra things that you don’t really need. And that is why I’m not a fan of pretty much
anything that you’re going to find on the first page of ThemeForest. Because all the most popular themes are loaded
down with lots of extra cruft and crap, and things that are basically going to slow your
site down, and that most people are only going to use maybe, thirty percent of it, and the
rest of it, they don’t really need. That’s why I build the custom themes to where
it uses only what’s necessary, and you’re not loading up, three slider plugins on every
page, and you’re only using one slider on the home page. Get my drift? Okay. So the best theme for you, is one that you
can use. One that is simple. One that is going to load quickly. If you don’t have a big budget for building
a website, here’s my advice. I wrote about this four or five years ago
in an article on my site, and I still believe it’s true. If you don’t have a big budget, you should
hire somebody to consult with you that knows this stuff — for an hour, and have them help
you pick a theme that’s going to work well with your needs. If you only have like $250 to build a website,
use some of that money to hire somebody for an hour to help you — have them help you
pick a theme. That’s what I would do. Because otherwise, you’re going to get loaded
down with something that you’re not going to change for 4 or 5 years, and it’s going
to be really slow, it’s going to be loaded with stuff that you don’t need. That’s my thoughts. Second half of this question that I want to
address. Themes that are good for SEO. Now some themes are out there that say this,
and notably, Genesis. So, apologies in advance to all my friends
that deal in Genesis for what I’m about to say. [shrugs] Genesis makes a lot of claims to
being “SEO-friendly” because it outputs Structured markup, Schema markup. So if you don’t know what that is, Google
“Structured Data Testing Tool”, and then plop any website into there, and it will show you
if there is Structured Data being output. So, Schema markup, MIcroformats, anything
like that, it’s going to be output there. This is hidden markup in the code, but it
serves a purpose. It tells Google information about that site,
that entity, that organization. So if you’re a company, a lot of times, there
will be metadata, that Structured Data being output about your company: saying, this your
web address, this is your physical address, these are your social profiles. WooCommerce, I believe does this as well,
it outputs Structured Data about the product. What category it is, whether it is In Stock
or not, the price, the SKU, different things , the description, the image URL. This is all data that Google uses to get a
better idea of what a web page is about. Now, Genesis output Structured Data. But, the Structured Data they output — and
you can check this — is Structured Data that says, this is a website. This is the header of the website. Here’s the sidebar of the website. Here’s the footer of the website. In the larger scheme of things, I do not believe
that this is super helpful for SEO. Google does know, or is smart enough to deduce,
if you see this area at the bottom of each page, and at the top of each page, those are
the header and the footer. It knows it’s a website. There are plugins that output Structured Data
for you. Yoast is one of them. You can set it up to either output data for
you as a Company (an organization) or as a Person (like a Public Figure). So that’s useful. There’s another plugin that I will recommend. It’s a free plugin: WP Structured Data by
Phil Singleton’s team out of Kansas City. I will put a link in the notes below. I want to sum this up by saying, there’s no
right or wrong answer to what is the best theme for SEO. The things that I would avoid would be anything
on page one of ThemeForest, most of it’s garbage. Genesis is fine, there’s nothing really wrong
with it. It’s pretty fast. I don’t believe that the Structured Data that
it outputs is insanely helpful. It might be negligibly helpful. I don’t really believe it makes a big difference. But aside from that, anything that you can
use to get your work done and that you are consistently publish with it is fine. Aside from that, just as long as it loads
quickly, it’s not loading cruft, you should be good. Aside from that, it’s really going to come
down to the content on the page, the design of the site (a little bit), the links coming
into your site, and how your brand is being mentioned and linked to outside of your website. But more than anything, it’s going to be the
content on the page. More than the theme itself. As long as the site looks halfway decent,
and loads quickly, you should be fine. Alright, that’s my thoughts, let me know if
that’s controversial or not. I’d love to hear your take on this. My name is John Locke. My business is Lockedown Design and SEO. We help manufacturing and industrial firms
with SEO so they get more RFQs. And we’re publishing videos every week, so
there’s no reason not to subscribe. Until next time, peace.

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