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Optimizing a website for the search engines is challenging work, to say the least. With more than 200 Google ranking factors to take care of, an SEO definitely has a lot on his mind. He has to worry about acquiring quality backlinks, making sure all the right keywords are there, and putting up the appropriate meta titles and descriptions, among other things. That’s why understanding how web design can impact your SEO is very important.

What many SEOs tend to forget to worry about, however, is web design. While web design is typically outside the territory of most SEOs, it cannot be denied that it can impact anyone’s SEO work significantly.

What we’re saying here is that good web design is good for your SEO, and bad web design can hurt it. Let’s focus on the latter and take a look at how bad web design adversely impacts your optimization efforts.

Website layout on a computer. A website layout can drastically affect your search engine optimization efforts.

How Bad Web Design Adversely Impacts Your SEO Efforts

Poor Aesthetics

People often judge a website by its web design. One look at how a website fares aesthetically can spell the difference between staying within the site or moving on.

Your website can be maximally optimized, rank high in search results, and get a lot of organic traffic, and still suffer a high bounce rate simply because it doesn’t look good. It could be the color scheme. It could be the fonts used or the lack of artistry and creativity on the part of your web designer.

As long as the website isn’t pleasing to the eyes, visitors who stumbled onto it because of your exemplary optimization efforts aren’t likely to stay for long.

Lousy Navigation

Let’s assume that on top of earnest SEO work on your part, your site also looks drop-dead gorgeous. It follows then that the visitors who found it after a query are going to stay and explore the site some more. 

Then they suddenly find themselves getting lost within your website because its navigation leaves so much to be desired.

Clearly, web design isn’t all about just making a website look good. It must also make sure that navigating it would be easy for visitors by providing functional search features and clickable navigation elements, among other things.

When its navigation structure is cluttered at best, users aren’t going to hesitate to add to your increasing bounce rate and hurt your SEO a lot.

Marketing Plan. Websites need more than just a nice design to succeed in search engine results.

Auto-Playing Music or Video

It’s incredibly annoying when you open a website, and the one that greets you is an auto-playing song or video. The attempt to be hip or cool is understandable, but not when the user is wearing headphones. More often than not, the volume startles and irritates them badly enough they automatically reach for the close button of the page.

If you can’t help but integrate music and videos into your web design, you should at least not make them auto plays. Give your visitors the option to play the song or video or not. They might just stay long enough to give you lead or maybe even a conversion.


Strangely enough, many websites still haven’t adopted a responsive design despite the fact that there are now more mobile users than desktop users and there exists a little thing called Google Mobile First Index.

You can pour your heart and soul into optimizing your site as best you can, and still miss out on the ranking, traffic, and potential conversions that mobile users can give you simply because your website design isn’t responsive. A responsive website design, on the other hand, can help your SEO reap its rewards and open up a whole new world for you.

In Conclusion

The best results are possible if your tenacity for optimization is matched by the attention you pay to your web design. The best results are always possible when good SEO and web design go hand in hand. So understanding how web design can impact your SEO as holistic as possible is only good for your website Google rankings.

About the Author

James McMinn

Senior Digital Strategist

James is a savvy digital marketing specialist with a Masters of Science in Internet Marketing. For the past fourteen years, he has been specializing in SEO, PPC & Marketing Strategy. He has a super sharp analytical mind and a finely tuned creative eye for marketing initiatives that optimize brands.

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