Does Changing Shopify Theme Affect SEO?
Sometimes, making a change to your Shopify theme can be just the thing you need to give your store a fresh start. Maybe your sales have been lagging and you're looking for a way to give your store a boost, or maybe you're just ready for a change. But does changing your Shopify theme affect your store's SEO?
The truth is, if done correctly, changing your Shopify theme doesn't adversely affect your store's SEO. Of course, there are a few things you want to keep in mind to make sure you don't unintentionally hurt your store's ranking.
In this post, we go over everything you need to remember before changing your Shopify theme to ensure you don't hurt your store's SEO in the process. We also discuss why partnering with us for comprehensive SEO services can help during the transition.
What to Keep in Mind Before Changing the Theme
There are several things you need to take into account before changing your Shopify theme. They include:
Keep Navigation the Same
Your navigation is one of the most important elements of your website. It's how users get around and it's how search engines understand your website's hierarchy.
This is why it's important to keep your navigation the same when you change your Shopify theme.
If you don't, you run the risk of confusing both users and search engines, which could hurt your SEO.
Your navigation structure is the skeleton of your website; all the other elements are built around it. If you change it, then everything else has to change too.
But how does navigation affect SEO? For starters, it affects search engines’ ability to crawl your website. If your navigation is confusing, it’s harder for search engine crawlers to understand the intent of your store. This leads to them indexing fewer pages, which hurts your chances of ranking in SERPs.
It also leads to a higher bounce rate, as users have difficulty finding what they're looking for. Therefore, if you decide to change your theme, keep your new theme's navigation as similar to your old one as possible.
Maintain Heading Structure
One of the most important things to remember when changing your theme is to maintain the same heading structure. This means that all of your H tags (H1s, H2s, H3s, etc.) should stay in the same order and convey the same meaning.
If you have a page on your old theme that’s ranking well for a certain keyword and you want to keep that ranking, make sure to use the same H tags in the new theme.
This, however, doesn't mean that you can't change the look of your headings. For example, you might want to increase the size of your H tags or make them a different color. As long as the heading tags maintain the same order and meaning, you should be fine.
Use The Same URL Structure
In addition to maintaining the same heading structure, you'll also want to use the same URL structure. This means that if a certain page on your old theme had a certain URL, that same page on your new theme should have the same URL.
For example, let's say you had a page on your old theme with the URL "yoursite.com/page". When you switch to a new theme, that page should have the URL "yoursite.com/page".
If you change the URL, you can run into various issues, including:
- Lose any existing rankings for that page: If a page is ranking well for a particular keyword and you change the directing URL, you'll lose that ranking.
- Confuse Google: If you change the URL of a page, Google sees it as a new page. This can lead to confusion and may result in Google not indexing your pages correctly.
- Lose traffic: If people have the old URL saved or bookmarked, they're no longer able to find that page. This can lead to a significant loss of traffic.
- Redirect users to 404 pages: 404 pages are error pages that people see when they try to visit a page that doesn't exist. If you change the URL of a page and don't set up a redirect, anyone who tries to visit the old URL will be redirected to a 404 page.
As you can see, it's important to use the same URL structure when changing your Shopify theme. This saves you a lot of headaches and ensures that your pages continue to rank well in search engines.
Copy Over All Custom Code from theme.liquid
The theme.liquid file is the main template file for your Shopify theme. It controls the overall look and feel of your shop.
When you switch to a new theme, you want to copy over all custom code from your old theme's theme.liquid file into the new theme's theme.liquid file.
This includes things like:
- Custom CSS: CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a code that controls the look of your shop. If you have any custom CSS in your old theme, ensure it’s well copied.
- Shopify's default checkout button: By default, Shopify includes a "Checkout" button on the cart page that takes customers to the checkout page. If you've removed this button in your old theme, you also want to remove it in your new theme.
- Favicon: A favicon is a small icon that appears in the browser tab when someone visits your shop. It helps people quickly identify your shop when they have multiple tabs open. If you've customized your favicon in your old theme, copy the code to the theme.liquid file.
Failure to copy this code makes your shop look broken. You need to ask your developer to help you out or be exceptionally careful when copying over this code.
Copy Over All Scripts
Scripts are small pieces of code used to add features or functionality to your shop. Scripts are typically added to the theme.liquid file, but they can also be added to other files like the product.liquid file.
When switching Shopify themes, you want to copy over all scripts from your old theme into your new theme. This includes things like:
- Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a script that allows you to track the traffic and behavior of your shop's visitors.
- Facebook Pixel: The Facebook pixel is a script that allows you to track the actions people take on your website.
- Tiered Discounts: Tiered discounts are a script that allows you to offer different discounts based on the number of items a customer buys.
- Bundle Discount: A bundle discount is a script that allows you to offer a discount when customers buy multiple items.
- Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO): BOGO is a script that allows you to offer a buy one, get one free deal on products.
If you don't copy over these scripts, they stop working and you'll lose any data they collected. Therefore, your developer should carefully copy over all scripts when switching themes.
Ensure Rich Scripts Are Working
Rich snippets are specialized pieces of code that tell search engines more about your content. This includes product reviews, event information, and people profiles. You want to ensure that any time you change your theme, your rich snippets still appear correctly in the search results.
If they're not, it could hurt your click-through rate and, ultimately, your traffic and conversions.
You can use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure they’re working. Simply enter your URL and it will show you if your structured data appears correctly. If you see any errors, talk to your developer about fixing them.
After Redesign - Run an Seo Audit To Find Issues
After redesigning your Shopify store, you need to partner with GoldenWeb for a full SEO audit. We have a proven track record for delivering successful SEO campaigns and can help you identify any potential issues with your new design.
GoldenWeb’s full audit is basically a comprehensive Shopify SEO review that covers everything from on-page optimization to technical SEO to link building. We analyze over 285 SEO and CRO potential growth opportunities to give you a comprehensive look at where your site stands and what needs to be done to improve it.
To understand our entire process, we provide a free mini SEO audit that identifies the top pain areas that need to be addressed on your site. This will give you a good idea of what to expect from our full audit service. Book your free mini audit today and see how we can help improve your Shopify store's SEO.
"GoldenWeb’s work has been amazing for us.
We already had a decent base with content and structure, but their work has positioned us to continue to make gains in very competitive areas."
"Benjamin and his team have been great to work with, have proven themselves with a ton of results.
Benjamin goes out of his way to provide value in all areas of the business as he's an operator himself."