How Does Web Design Affect SEO?

SEO is about much more than just keywords. If you want to rank highly in the search results, you need to make sure that you nail your web design and development.

UX and SEO are best mates

A kick-ass user experience (created through professional web design) has become a crucial search engine ranking factor and will become even more important with the Google algorithm update rolling out in June 2021.

This means making sure that the site is simple to navigate, fast-loading, intuitive, and easy on the eye. The good news is that these are all now important SEO considerations too. This means, if you’re prioritising the UX on your site (which you should be), then you’re doing yourself a sweet favour in the SEO department too.

First-class web design is a winner for SEO

Search engine bots and algorithms are becoming more and more adept at understanding what users want when they search and interact with websites. They take into account metrics like bounce rate, average time on page, pages viewed per session and number of interactions to determine a site’s search ranking.

Good web design with mobile-friendly pages, easy-to-read text, sensible formatting, enjoyable navigation, awesome imagery, and interactivity will keep visitors on your site for longer, and they’re more likely to check out your other content and follow CTAs while they’re there.

A website that loads quickly and a structure that just makes sense are also must-haves for SEO – it allows those bots we mentioned to crawl your site with ease which will put you straight in their good books. A decent web developer can work with SEO specialists to make sure your web pages are structured in a way that fully optimizes your site and creates a breezy path through for users.

Second-rate web design lowers your SEO rank

Just as good web design increases your ranking, poor web design practices lower your SEO rank, meaning it will be hard for visitors to come across your site at all. This may seem obvious, but the takeaway is that you can’t just ignore your web design to focus on other SEO considerations because bad design, which results in a poor user experience, will drag your site down the rankings no matter how good your content is.

Think about your site like a shop – if you’ve got peeling wallpaper, dim lighting, rude staff and the whole place has a weird smell, who cares what you’re selling? No one’s coming in to browse.

Plus, a lot of your website’s value in the ‘eyes’ of a search engine comes from backlinks from other high-quality, authoritative sites. Who the hell is going to want to link to a poorly designed, poorly performing website?

The new Google algorithm makes page experience even more important

The new google algorithm update in June 2021 further prioritises page experience, focusing on three criteria: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. This means that UX, mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines carry even more weight when it comes to determining your ranking.

Build in SEO from the start

DO NOT try to ‘stick SEO on’ at the end. Although there will be some things you can achieve, you will have lost a lot of your website’s potential.

SEO needs to be woven seamlessly throughout your site, not tagged on as an afterthought. It’s much better to build a website with SEO considerations in mind from the start – from the architecture to the content – rather than trying to stick them on at the end. Otherwise, you can end up with something very messy which does the opposite of what you need it to do.

Good web design affects SEO just as much as the quality of your content because it all amounts to one thing – a great user experience. If people enjoy being on your site, Google is sophisticated enough now to know it. What you need to do to improve your site’s SEO is pretty straightforward – optimise your site for the user, not the bots.


If you’re looking for a website design studio in Exeter that keeps SEO considerations in mind from the start, drop us a line.