If you want your small business to thrive, you need to make sure local customers can find you —especially if you have local competition.
One way to get found more easily is to revamp your business website using the latest best practices from Google and other search engines: schema markup to deliver rich snippets, an SEO-friendly site structure, and fast load times even on mobile browsers.
This sort of overhaul can be as complex and costly as hiring a developer to redesign your small business website. Or, it can be as easy and cost-effective as installing a free WordPress template that follows these best practices.
If you’re interested in that second option, here’s a look at some of the best free themes for small businesses now.
Brainstorm Force’s Astra WordPress theme is highly rated because of its built-in schema markup and its speed, with a page load time of 400 milliseconds, both of which can help your site rank better in search results. Astra is unusually customizable for a free theme, with real-time preview tools so you can see how your chosen colors, fonts, page layouts, and headers look before you publish them.
Not sure what you want your site to look like? You can import one of thousands of Astra-based websites from Astra’s library in one click.
Astra has a pro version ($59 and up) with many more customization options, WooCommerce integration for selling products online, and LifterLMS and LearnDash integration that’s useful if you teach online classes.
2. Blossom Consulting
Consultants, coaches, attorneys, therapists, and other solo practitioners can use Blossom Consulting from Blossom Themes to stand out in search results, build an email list, demonstrate expertise through blog posts and testimonials, and sell products on the site.
Blossom Consulting features an email opt-in/content giveaway header at the top of the homepage, followed by contact information, menu tabs, a hero image with room to explain what you do, a call-to-action button, a “trusted by” section for client logos, and a large “about us” section where you can help prospects get to know you.
Blossom Consulting is fast-loading, SEO-friendly, and schema markup optimized. It also includes WooCommerce integration and a Back to Top button, which is often a premium theme feature. Blossom Coach Pro ($49) adds Google Fonts, more color and layout options, and sections for podcasts, case studies, and events.
3. Schema Lite
Schema Lite from MyThemeShop is very popular because of its schema markup integration, fast page loads, and SEO-friendly structure.
Schema Lite’s default appearance on laptops is clean and minimalist, with a menu tab bar followed by an above-the-fold post and a sidebar featuring social media icons, post tags, and latest post summaries and thumbnails. On smartphones, a single column of content and an off-canvas menu for sidebar categories maintain Schema Lite’s clean design. The theme allows for unlimited color and background customizations, so you can rebrand it with your business’ colors and logo.
The paid version of Schema ($59 license for up to five WordPress sites) delivers page load times of less than one second. If you’re in a competitive local market and want to work your way up in local search results, this may be an investment worth making.
4. Medical Spa
Rara Themes’ Medical Spa WordPress template can work for all kinds of local service businesses, especially photo-friendly ones like (yes!) spas and beauty salons, home décor and gift boutiques, bakeries and caterers, and event planners. Like Schema Lite, Medical Spa is responsive and incorporates schema markup, page speed optimization, and SEO support for a site that loads quickly—even with lots of images–and performs well in search results.
On laptops and phones, your logo and contact information appear at the top of the homepage so customers can get in touch right away. They can scroll past the full-width banner image to the category images, about us section, services, call to action button, and testimonials to learn more about your business. Medical Spa also gives you room to list your business hours for each day and to display a map of your store location.
The parent theme of Medical Spa is Spa and Salon Pro ($59). It keeps the same basic layout as Medical Spa but replaces the full-width homepage banner image with a banner slider. Spa and Salon Pro also adds online booking capability, supports WooCommerce, and gives you Google Fonts access and extensive customization options.
Picking the Best WordPress Theme for Your Small Business
Take your time exploring schema-markup friendly themes for your business—changing your site’s appearance and function is a major step.
As you’re creating your shortlist of possible new themes, ask yourself if they support the functions your business needs, such as online booking, an email list opt-in box, or a blog.
Then think about how potential customers will find your site. Most searches are now done on mobile devices, and people often do “near me” searches on their phones when they’re ready to buy, so make sure your “contender” themes do a great job of putting your most important business information up front on small screens.
What looks great on the publisher’s demo pages may look different with your content. Once you’ve narrowed your list to a couple of strong options, download those themes and use the live preview tools to see how your content will look in each one. After you’re satisfied that your chosen theme works with your site, then you can update to show your new look to the world.
How will you know if your new theme is delivering the improved search performance you want? Metrics. It’s a good idea to set a baseline before you update your theme so you know your traffic sources, traffic volume, bounce rate, time spent on your site, and click-throughs or conversions. These numbers should improve in the weeks and months after you install your new theme. If they don’t, you may need change your site content, upgrade your web hosting, or upgrade your theme.
Even with all these steps, using a new theme to get more customers is still much, much easier than relocating a brick-and-mortar location—and with so many high-quality free themes, it’s a bargain, too.