4 Ways Bad Web Design Affects Your Google Search Rankings

Before we do link-building, content creation, or other search engine optimization projects, we usually do a full technical SEO audit of our client’s website. The main reasons we do this are to max out potential low-hanging fruit SEO improvements and to give our other marketing activities a firm foundation for success.

During these technical SEO audits, we occasionally encounter situations where a site’s overall web design is the root cause of its SEO issues. If this is the case, we might ask the client if they will consider a site redesign facilitated by our web design and web development teams. What is a “Bad” Web Design?

To a point, whether a web design is good or bad subjective. However, we consider a web design to be bad if it actively interferes with a specific business goal, such as conversions or organic search visibility. Suboptimal design can be the result of different causes, including inexperienced web designers and developers, or site owners and project managers who aren’t sensitive to user experience (UX) or SEO issues.

Regardless of what causes these issues, bad web design usually means bad news for a site’s position on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). If a site does not rank for its target keyword on Google Search’s first results page, then its value for driving leads and conversions will be severely limited.

Naturally, you want to avoid bad web design when you can. But how exactly does it affect your landing pages’ ability to rise to the SERPs? Here, we explain some of the most common ways site design issues kill your visibility on Google Search.

1) Bad Design Often Affects Site Performance

A vector of optimizing site load speed

If a website is designed without UX or SEO in mind, chances are that it will be full of elements and design decisions that significantly slow down its speed and availability. Badly-designed and implemented websites tend to have a lot of needlessly huge files and bloated code embedded in the backend, both of which can consume large amounts of server resources, severely slowing down page loading speeds and causing server timeout errors.

Part of the reason for this is that website creators don’t always have a background in either web design or best practices in web development, let alone SEO or UX. As a result, they will often stop improving the site the moment it looks “good enough” with little regard for the finer details of its functionality. However, this is not a good approach for SEO. Google has long included site speed as a ranking signal , citing UX reasons. Even if a website is visually stunning and contains great content, it will struggle on the SERPs if it isn’t fast enough for Google’s liking.

2) It Can Degrade the Site’s User Experience

Speaking of UX, anything that negatively affects UX is probably going to be bad for search visibility. Google has consistently configured its algorithms to reward sites that offer good UX and punish those that don’t.

While SEO experts can’t seem to completely agree on what ranking factors are at play when Google weighs UX, many believe that dwell time and bounce rates are, at least, indirectly used to determine how engaged visitors are. However, it’s less important to focus on what metric Google might be using and more critical to focus on delivering a positive user experience. This should not only be great for your SERPs rankings but it should also ensure that your page is consistently generating leads and conversions. 3) Badly-Designed Websites are Often Difficult to Crawl

Websites that are unplanned or have undergone a fraught design and development process often have inefficient or illogical site structures. This often causes navigation issues not just for human users, but for search engine bots as well. Badly-designed site structures will often eventually result in some crawl errors, especially if the webmasters don’t do regular maintenance.

Likewise, the heavy use of poorly-implemented JavaScript causes a plethora of crawlability issues . JavaScript is not bad for SEO per se. It’s actually useful for all kinds of search optimizations. However, it is often implemented in a way that has no regard for SEO, often resulting in such issues as excessive use of server resources, unindexed content, and uncrawlable internal links.

4) Poorly-Constructed Websites Often Give a Miserable Mobile Experience

A vector of a man using a laptop and a mobile phone

It shouldn’t surprise you that Google will downgrade sites that offer a poor experience on mobile devices. This makes a lot of sense, as mobile devices are now the source of a majority of the world’s internet traffic. However, because websites are still designed and developed predominantly on desktop devices, there is occasionally a tendency to overlook mobile-friendliness in web design.

Fortunately, implementing basic mobile-friendly design practices is straightforward, more so if the website has an adaptive design. Google itself has a tool that lets you test your website’s mobile-friendliness and it has also rolled out documentation outlining mobile-first best practices . With these resources, web designers can easily implement fixes to improve their site’s mobile experience and search visibility.

Final Thoughts

While all of these web design, UX, and technical SEO issues could be fixed, it’s usually best to design and develop your site to avoid these problems from the very beginning. By taking a more conscious and deliberate approach to your web design, you not only increase the odds of succeeding on Google’s SERPs but also ensure the best chance of success for all your digital marketing projects.

To put the odds even more in your favor, you can get in touch with the Philippines’ most respected SEO agency. Contact SearchWorks.PH to learn more about our web design and technical SEO services.

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