Just a brief post to document a problematic experience I’ve had with the new Twenty Fifteen theme on WordPress.com…
[UPDATE: 27th December 2014. Since there are still problems with Google accepting the above site, and I’m no longer using Twenty Fifteen, I should stress that it now appears there are other factors at play, and Twenty Fifteen was not the root of the issue. However, the account below may still prove useful, and Twenty Fifteen remains the only theme Bing Webmaster Tools would not verify. Bing has now fully indexed the site – only Google is refusing it.]
After using Twenty Fifteen for over a week on my new blog Twerds, I found that none of the posts had been indexed by Google, which is extremely unusual for a WordPress blog. I had previously left the blog set to discourage search engines for a while, but in the past, as soon as I’ve changed that setting and Google has found the updated Robots.TXT file, the search engine has indexed any submitted posts immediately.
This, however, didn’t happen with Twerds. I submitted the whole, fully-search-accessible blog to Google Webmaster Tools on 14th December, and subsequently submitted two or three single posts as I posted them. But by today, 23rd December, the search engine had still not indexed any posts. I therefore re-submitted the entire blog, waited a short while, and went back to Google Search to check the index. Just one of the posts was now showing, which again was unusual. If the blog’s okay, Google will typically put every submitted post into the index. It may not prioritise any of them to a visible SERPs position, obviously, but it will accept them.
I made a few other checks, then a while later went back to Google to see if any other posts had been indexed. Google had now thrown out the single post it had taken, so the number of posts in the index was back to zero. There was clearly something technically wrong.
I thought I’d give Bing a try next. I still needed to verify the site with Microsoft by adding the Bing ID meta tag. But unfortunately, Bing wouldn’t even recognise the site. The verifcation failed, with Bing reporting an HTML error. I checked and double checked. The tag was definitely added correctly so I tried another couple of times. Both failed.
By this time, I suspected the theme was to blame, so I switched it for Twenty Fourteen, which I’ve used on other blogs and know I can trust. Immediately after I’d switched themes, Bing Webmaster Tools accepted the site verification.
Then I headed back to Google Webmaster Tools, picked six specific posts from the blog and once again, re-submitted them for indexing. This time, all of the submitted posts went into Google’s index without delay, and stayed put – indicating almost beyond doubt that the problem had been with the Twenty Fifteen theme. I know that the indexing was not just a delayed action acceptance from earlier in the day, because it only included the six specific posts I submitted AFTER changing themes.
So I’d suggest if you’re considering using Twenty Fifteen, that you test it on an unimportant blog before you try it out on anything that actually matters. I can’t find any reports of SEO issues with Twenty Fifteen online, but in my particular circumstance, it’s very difficult to see what else could have been to blame. Twenty Fifteen is really not the most impressive theme ever made anyway, so I’m sure I can live without it.