Although most businesses realize that their website’s design can impact its usefulness to their customers, what is often overlooked is the impact of web design on SEO—or search engine optimization. In fact, the design of your site can be one of the leading contributors to your success in SEO. Even with careful attention to content creation and keyword selection and utilization, poor site design can send your site to the bottom of search results pages, turning off your current customers and costing you potential new ones. Is your website’s design costing your business clicks? Here’s a look at how site design impacts SEO success, and what you can do to ensure your design boosts your rankings.

The link between web design and SEO comes from user behavior.

When a web user plugs a term into a search engine, that search engine sorts through all of the available websites to return a list of results that are most likely to match what the user wanted to find. The results are listed in order of relevance and quality, as determined by the search engine. You may hear this process referred to as organic search or the results referred to as organic search results.

Although each major search engine has its own algorithm for determining the quality of sites and their relevancy to search terms, one factor that they all consider is bounce rate. Bounce rate refers to how quickly a user clicks away from a site after visiting it. If users repeatedly click on a site from a list of results, but then click away from it quickly, then that site has a high bounce rate.

High bounce rates tell search engines that users aren’t finding what they need on that site, which in turn tells them that the site is not high quality. As a result, that site is likely to see their ranking in search results fall. A leading reason for high bounce rates is poor website design. When users open a site and see a design that looks outdated or difficult to navigate, they will move on and look for a better option.

You can improve your SEO by changing your website design.

If you aren’t happy with your SEO performance, even if you’re leveraging things like your editorial calendar and keyword usage carefully, review the design of your site. Making changes on both the front and back ends of your site’s design could pay dividends in your SEO performance. These design strategies could be game changers for the performance of your site:

  • Ditch the double sidebar. Double sidebars are out of favor with users, don’t work well on mobile devices, and make your site run slowly. If you can’t completely remove the double sidebar, at least reduce the amount of content contained in it. However, getting rid of it entirely will be better for your SEO.
  • Do more with less. Web users are no longer impressed with bells and whistles on sites. Instead, they want something that looks clean and that is easy to navigate. Minimalist design catches the eyes of many users and will keep them on your site, preventing the dreaded bounce. Minimalism is so favored by web users that one-page, scrollable sites are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their simple layouts and ease of use on both desktop and mobile devices.
  • Contain your color selection. Just as web users are favoring minimalist designs and simple layouts, they are also craving simplicity when it comes to colors. Sticking to two or three colors that represent your brand is most effective and will make your site look fresh and modern.
  • Clean up any backend issues. Web users can’t see all of the things that go into your website design, but they can experience the slow loading times and crashes that go along with heavy-handed backend coding. Cleaning up these issues should help:
    • Get rid of unnecessary Javascript files. The more Javascript files you have, the more likely your site is to crash and experience slow load times. Only use them when absolutely necessary.
    • Compress CSS files to cut the line count so that the site loads as quickly as possible. Remove an inline CSS if possible.
    • Rework unreadable URLs. URLs should be easy to understand and have as few directory links as possible. Ideally, the URL should be descriptive and tell what is found on that page.
  • Fix broken links. When you have broken links on your site, they will generate error messages or redirect requests. Search engines see these as indicators of a low-quality site. Periodically run a link checker on your site so that you can find and correct any broken links.

Standout web design deserves the highest quality content. At Pennington Creative, our experienced team of copywriters and content marketing professionals can create SEO-driven content for your site, ranging from short-form listicles to long-from, industry-specific pieces. Contact our team in Tucson today to find out how we can help you reach your SEO goals and get your business in front of the right audience.

About the Author

Heather - Digital Marketing Specialist, Copywriting
Heather McDonald

Digital Marketing Specialist, Copywriting