Why Switching Premium WordPress Themes is Plain Stupid

Eric Binnion

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Working with Art of Blog has allowed me the time and resources to work with the best premium WordPress themes on the market. The one thing that I have learned with almost all premium WordPress themes is that while they offer increased functionality, they’re also meant to lock you in.

And while this is not necessarily a bad thing, let’s discuss it further.

SEO Options Do Not Transfer Easily Between Premium WordPress Themes

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All of the premium WordPress themes that Art of Blog recommends come with included SEO support. This typically means that the theme will help you take care of things, such as:

  • Title Tag. This is arguably the most important part of your overall SEO strategy.
  • Meta Description. This will be the description that search engines show on the results pages.
  • Redirects and Canonical Links. Redirect and canonical URLs are ways to URLs to content other places.

Buying a premium WordPress theme will definitely make your life easier just because of the SEO aspects. But, what many people don’t understand is that by using a premium WordPress theme to store all of your SEO data, you are making it more difficult to switch themes in the future.

Extended Features Cost Extra and Do Not Transfer

If you’ve looked into using the Headway theme, then you’ll notice that it includes it’s own marketplace for extending the theme. If you’re wanting to add functionality to your Headway theme, simply check out the marketplace, buy a block and you’re done!

It also appears as if DIYthemes is trying to create their own marketplace after the release of Thesis 2. With the ability to easily add skins and boxes, definitely be on the lookout for a Thesis 2 marketplace coming in the future.

You may ask why you would buy a block/box when you could simply find a free plugin, and you’ve got a point. But, the security of having a piece of functionality programmed specifically for your theme seems worth the $20-30 to me.

The only problem with buying premium WordPress theme specific functionality is that you begin to rely on that theme. So later on, if you decide to change your theme, you will not be able to use you theme specific plugin.

Changing Premium WordPress Themes Could Hurt Your Traffic

There is speculation that dramatic redesigns of your website can temporarily hurt the traffic to your website. Articles on SEOmoz discuss this as well as various other posts throughout the Internet.

This traffic drop shouldn’t ever be an issue when you do a redesign of the same premium theme, because you will end up with essentially the same HTML output.

The potential traffic drop could come from using a different premium WordPress theme that structure their web pages much differently.

I have not seen anything that confirms this, but speculation from several respected places is well worth being cautious.

Bottom Line

Premium WordPress themes come packed with options that will help you build an amazing website. But, the tradeoff for having all of this functionality is that you are having to build your site based on that specific premium WordPress theme. This means that you are creating extra work later on when you decide to redesign and/or switch your premium WordPress theme. Not to mention the potential bad effects on your SEO.

Thankfully, for those that are dead set on changing their premium WordPress theme, check out  SEO Data Transporter. This tool will help you keep some of your data as you switch.

When you do decide to switch premium WordPress themes, I highly recommend you find a WordPress developer that specializes with the premium WordPress theme you’d like to use that way your transition is as painless as possible.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever switched premium WordPress themes? Did you run into any issues?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

P.s.

Are you looking for a great premium theme that you can stick with? How about you take the “Which Premium WordPress Theme Should I Get” survey!

Written by Eric Binnion

Eric Binnion is a computer science student at Midwestern State University. When Eric is not online, he is usually volunteering in his community or enjoying time with his family. You can find Eric on Twitter.

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Comments

  • I know what you mean. I have changed my mind on more than one occasion. Now I am locked into my theme all the way. I made it a social bookmarking site, and to try and change it would almost be impossible. That’s ok though, I learned a lot from the experience. I also like the fact that I can share other peoples content in this manner. It forces me to read a lot more. When I am ready I will build another one using the things I have learned along the way…

  • Rick Lomas says:

    Hi Eric, The 2 Premium themes I have used are Semiologic and Thesis 1.xx and now 2.xx. Semiologic seems to have died a death now, so I’m a Thesis guy now. I was getting a bit bored of everything looking similar with Thesis 1.85, so I started looking around for different skins. I liked some at ThesisThemes but they didn’t transfer to Thesis 2, so I had to create my own Thesis 2 skins. This seems to be the way forward for me, a bit more work but probably worth it in the long run.
    Rick

  • Robert says:

    I am a huge fan of Genesis, but I admit that sometimes this theme gets boring. I really want to change the theme, but thinking of moving all SEO tags make me feel sick. I have to step back and use Genesis again.

  • Yes, that was true that changing HTML markup of our themes considered something that will impact our SEO.

    And using premium themes is truly locking you down. I’ve been using Hybrid on one of my blog, though it is not really a premium themes, you can get it for free but some features like series are really useful and I can just can’t get it from any other themes, unless I use the plugin from Justin.

    Regardless for SEO, the best solution is choosing premium themes that having option to turn off their SEO and use plugin instead, two of powerful SEO plugin I’ve ever using is Yoast SEO and SEO Ultimate.

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hey Tiyo,

      Thanks for chiming in. I completely agree that one of the best approaches is finding a premium theme and using an SEO plugin. We’ve been using Yoast’s SEO plugin for a few months on Art of Blog now and like it quite a bit.

  • Getting locked into a premium theme used to be a problem. The SEO Data Transporter plugin really solved things though. I easily switched from Thesis to Genesis, and it got EVERYTHING.

    If that plugin doesn’t work, and you’re savvy enough, you can usually find a MySQL script to move the data over.