There are over 1.5 billion websites across the internet, and even the most active web user has hardly heard of any of them. Most of them are simply too difficult to find.

Luckily, with the right web design, you can help increase your website’s visibility for a long time to come.

Let’s talk about how proper web design will improve your search engine optimization (SEO) performance.

How Web Design Impacts SEO Performance

It’s important to remember the purpose of Google’s algorithm. Google and other search engines attempt to offer the most relevant information to users by utilizing context based on the keywords of their search, demographic profile, previous search history, geographic location and more.

It attempts to pair the user with the best, most relevant information for every search. Unfortunately, no company could have the resources to provide human oversight for the search volume Google manages. So search engines have to rely on algorithms that need to be as close to perfect as possible.

If their algorithms led users to sites with low-quality content, difficult usability and a poor user experience (UX), users would turn to a different search engine. Keep this in mind as you are trying to compete with other websites in your niche to prove that you have the best website.

Here are the most critical issues related to the quality of your website.

Page Speed

Many factors determine page speed, including the number of CSS and JavaScript files present, quality of your images and junk code.

No matter what the cause is, it’s important to remember that the average web user will only wait three seconds for a page to load before exiting. Google is well aware of this and prioritizes pages that load quickly, especially for mobile devices, which often have slower processors.

Good web design purposely avoids the issues that slow down page speed, giving you a lightning-fast site that will appease the most impatient site visitor. Good design also incorporates technologies like lazy-loading images to further speed up your website.

A professional site audit is often the best way to determine what is slowing down your pages, and the issues will have to be resolved across the site. The smallest delays not only hurt your search engine performance but can also have a substantial negative impact on your conversion rates.

Page Quality

From your homepage to your blog posts, there are certain factors regarding page structure, layout and word count that determine the quality of each page.

Of course, your landing pages and homepages are the most important for having high quality, but to Google, they are all the same.

Page quality will include your H1, meta description tags and links, as this is how crawlers will understand what your site is about. 

Google also will look for things like duplicate content, keywords and the average number of words per sentence. Uniform quality throughout every page on your website will only help you rank higher.

Dwell Time

Dwell time, the amount of time a user spends on your site after clicking over from Google Search, is widely considered a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. The quickest way to get someone to click off your site is to have a poorly designed site. 

Lousy navigation, mismatched colors and a mishmash of fonts are all likely to turn a visitor away before they even have a chance to read your copy. But a clean, cohesive look invites visitors into your website, inducing them to spend more time there. Good design equals a longer dwell time, which equals better search engine performance.


Another way to increase dwell time is to quickly establish the credibility of your website. Site visitors want the assurance that they’re dealing with a real company, and the best way to do that is to make sure your company name and contact information are clearly displayed. If your visitors are comfortable with your company, they’re more likely to spend more time on your site.


This is an essential aspect of SEO because as much as 56 percent of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. As a result, Google places top priority on the mobile-friendliness of a website. Mobile design is a significant part of proper web design, and it’s only becoming more critical with time.

There are crucial differences in a website when you access it from your desktop at home or work versus on your smartphone. What looks great on a desktop may not even work on a mobile device. Good website design accommodates these differences, ensuring a seamless experience for your mobile users.

Image Optimization

Images need to be optimized for page speed, usability and search engine crawlers. These crawlers can’t read images in the same way that humans can, so they rely on context to understand an image’s meaning.

Part of optimizing your images is providing that context with descriptive image file names, captions, alternative text and image attributions. However, there is also a need to ensure images don’t slow down your page. Good web design takes image size into account so that image download speed won’t be an issue.

You also want your visual imagery to be captivating, as this helps improve your user retention on each page. Again, the more time people spend on your site, the better.

As a bonus, well-optimized images can rank well in Google’s search results on their own, giving you another valuable source of site visitors.


Well-crafted, carefully-placed videos can help increase the dwell time on your site, plus there are indications that feature-rich pages rank better on the search engines. Like images, videos can also rank well in Google’s search results, giving searchers yet another way to find your site.

Content Readability

As we’ve said, UX and SEO go hand in hand. You can improve the readability of your website’s content and boost SEO value by: 

  • Breaking up articles with subheads and lists
  • Reducing run-on sentences
  • Improving spelling and grammar
  • Using an easy-to-read font size and style

Make sure to include important keywords in your subheads for maximum SEO impact.

Page Errors (Avoid Them)

404 errors – the dreaded “page not found” errors – are a common problem among nearly all developed websites. Sometimes, it’s a case of a page being accidentally deleted; other times, it’s a problem with poorly implemented 301 redirects. Whatever the cause, missing pages do not look good to Google’s algorithm. Having a professional web developer reduce the number of errors across your website will dramatically help when it comes to establishing trust with Google. A simple cleanup goes a long way.

Intrusive Pop-Ups (Pass on Them)

Google’s Page Experience algorithm update comprises a wide range of factors, including “intrusive interstitials,” i.e., annoying pop-ups. While an appropriately sized, well-timed pop-up can be useful, you want a web design that avoids large pop-ups that are hard to close. Those will just put you on the wrong side of Google’s algorithm.

Readable URLs

A simple URL (say /seo-guide.html vs. /12sd896jk.html) not only helps Google understand your page better but also gives Search users the confidence they need to click on your link in the search engine results, helping boost your click-through rates.


Internal links are essential, not only for your users to navigate through your site, but also for Google to index it. If Google’s crawlers have difficulties navigating the pages on your site, this won’t help your SEO prospects.

Poor navigation tools harm your SEO efforts and your user retention. If a user lands on a page but has no idea how to navigate the site, they won’t stay for long. Navigation tools should be simple, clean and easy to follow.


An often-overlooked element of web design is a good sitemap. A sitemap helps Google find and index your pages, making it more likely that your pages will be able to rank well – they can’t rank if Google can’t find them. Some site visitors also like navigating by using sitemaps, so the presence of one increases your site’s user-friendliness.

Call to Action

Every good web design includes at least one strong call to action (CTA). It’s not a direct ranking factor, but after putting in all the work to make sure that searchers can find your site, you should ensure they can quickly and easily contact you.

What Google Says About Website Design

In September 2020, John Mueller, one of Google’s most widely quoted spokespeople, said that changing a website’s design can affect that site’s SEO performance. In part, Mueller said, “Things like figuring out how to use titles properly on a page, how to do internal linking properly, how to provide more context for the article itself. All of this can definitely affect SEO.”

Build Your Site

Now that you know how important web design is to SEO performance, work on improving your website starting today. The sooner you do, the sooner you will see the benefits of your SEO strategy. Good web design starts with the right team, so be sure to research the services a web design company offers and reach out to the provider that best meets all your requirements.

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By Margaret Blank

At the moment I am an expert-analyst in the field of search engine optimization, leading several projects and consulting on website optimization and promotion, I am actively involved in various thematic seminars and conferences.

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