Changing your WordPress website theme can have a negative effect on your search rankings if you don’t go through your website and check changes to the following SEO details.
website theme change checklist
- Structured data: Check whether your new theme has any structured data errors. Use Google Structured data testing tool
- Page Load Speed: Use Google PageSpeed insights to check whether the new themes has an effect on page load speed
- Headings: Check whether your new theme contains the required headings. The most important once being H1.
- AMP compatible: If you were using AMP before changing theme, check whether your new theme is AMP compatible
- Mobile responsive: Check whether your new theme is mobile responsive
- Menu style in mobile devices: View you site with your phone to confirm that the top and bottom menu pages can be viewed via phone
- Security: Run a security check using WordFence to confirm whether the new theme has any vulnerabilities.
- Compatibility: Check whether your new theme is updated and compatible with your plugins and the latest version of JQUERY.
- Author profile: Check how author profile looks like in the new theme.
- Footer credits: Remove any footer credits as hackers may use them to track and hack your website if they discover a vulnerability in the theme.
- Logo and favicon: Ensure that your logo fits in the new theme. Also remember to add your favicon in the new theme
- Featured image: Themes have different ways in which they output featured image. Some will display on top of the article title and others below article title. Some do not display featured image in the article unless you insert it manually
- Header codes: If you had placed codes in the header like analytics, Alexa tracking, AdSense, etc. ensure that you have added them
- Search form: Check the results that the search form of the new theme outputs.
- 404 error page: Check if the theme has a custom 404 error page.
- Custom Functions: If you had placed any custom functions in functions.php, make sure that you have added them in the new theme.
Kindly note some factors if not checked have an effect on page rankings while others do not have. For instance, you may see some rise or drop in page rankings because of changes in page layout, page speed, structured data, e.t.c