SEO Web Design: What Is It & How It Makes a Difference?

SEO web design is the key to a strong online presence. How can web design impact search engine rankings? What design elements are the most vital? Find out here.

Marketing design
February 7, 2023

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There’s no point in having an amazing website if it doesn’t come up when people look for it. One thing you can do to help your website rank is to implement SEO web design. Discover how web design affects SEO and tactics design tactics you can use to help your website perform better!

Having an online presence can only become rewarding when the target audience engages with your website and its content to such an extent that Reach turns into ROI.

Getting the target audience to your website in the first place is one of the most challenging tasks if not approached correctly. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the holy grail for anyone who wants their brand to be significantly visible amongst the top search results.


SEO and the user experience

In recent years, the focus of all SEO-related activities has drastically shifted towards ensuring a great user experience. Google’s search algorithms have adopted a user experience-centric approach for good reason.

One of the main aspects of the user experience is the right web design. The importance of a great website design is enormous in engaging the audience and increasing the conversion rate. Want to learn more about the role of  web design for SEO? Keep reading.

One of the main aspects of the user experience is the right web design. The importance of a great website design is enormous in engaging the audience and increasing conversion rates. Does web design affect SEO, and how? Keep reading to find out.

Web design: A differentiator

Attracting new clients and holding their attention has become quite challenging in a competitive market. It has become even more difficult given that our collective attention spans have considerably reduced in the digital age. In such a scenario, the value of visual stimulation can’t be overstressed enough.

Human beings are known to be visual creatures, and they are naturally attracted to visually appealing content. The same applies to digital content. Users prefer to engage with content that skillfully combines text and other visual mediums to get a point across.

The appealing graphic design of a website can serve as a medium of visual communication with the target audience. Brands can significantly improve awareness, help form perceptions, and attract more customers with the help of an exceptional web design.

Since SEO is all about improving the visibility of a website on the SERPs (search engine results pages), the impact of having a great web design plays right into the same ballpark. Web design and SEO go hand in hand as the former impacts the latter greatly. The quality of web design can often serve as the differentiator between the success and failure of the SEO efforts of a website.

Why is SEO web design so crucial?

Does web design affect SEO? Indubitably.

To understand why web design is vital for SEO, we need to understand its impact on the target audience and search engines. The following are a few reasons why web design is a crucial element of any website:

First impressions make or break

The first few moments on your website are crucial for a visitor to decide if they want to stay. The window of creating a positive impression on the visitor is very narrow, and the first impression allows them to form an opinion about the company and its products and services. The quality of the landing page website design is your best bet at creating a desirable impact.

A great web design can create a lasting first impression on a first-time visitor. Not paying attention to the web design can be detrimental to your SEO efforts in terms of a higher bounce rate(the percentage of visitors who leave the website after viewing only one page). A boring, cumbersome, and unappealing web design dissuades users from further exploring your website.

If you want an SEO-friendly web design, you need to create a positive first impression of your brand. People need less than a second to form an impression of a website. So, your bounce rates will skyrocket, unless your web design meets their expectations.

Website design.png

Notice how it has a minimal set of main menus and contains relevant sub-menus under them. The website aims at making the user experience unforgettable and easy, which also helps in boosting its SEO.

Image Source: Oreo

Image Source: Oreo

Manypixels website menu

Image Source: Manypixels Ad Campaign

Image Source: Manypixels web design portfolio

It helps to build trust with the target audience

One of the contributing factors towards SEO is establishing trust with the target audience.  In fact, 75% of people will judge your company’s credibility based on its website. When your target audience trusts your brand, it keeps coming back to your website and spreads the word about it.

This increase in traffic informs the search engines about the increasing popularity of your website. Popularity is one of the factors that indirectly helps to increase the ranking of your website on the SERPs. A popular platform is treated as a thought leader(a source of valuable information for users in a given niche) by the search engines. So this is another way how web design affects SEO directly.

Websites with poor design fail to inspire trust amongst their visitors. When your website design is not updated with contemporary design elements, it gives off a shady and outdated feeling. Both of these factors hinder trust-building efforts with the target audience.

In contrast, when your website contains a professional design, replete with easy navigability and appealing visuals, you can build trust with your audience. Exceptional web design makes your target audience comfortable spending time on your website, and motivates them to return.

It has a direct impact on SERP visibility

Your SERP visibility is also dependent on quite a few web design practices and elements. This ties into the visibility of your web pages on the SERP because these elements(navigation, font styles, header hierarchy, images, etc.) affect the way search spiders crawl your website.

The indexing of your web pages is significantly impacted by the web design practices you follow. Simply put, your web design forms a crucial part of your on-page SEO efforts.

Therefore, to have good visibility on the SERPs, you need to pay a lot of attention to your web design practices. No doubt the content of our website will take center stage but, some of the design elements will also affect SEO directly.

The SEO success of all your digital campaigns will not just depend on their content but, the design will also matter in an equal measure. Always study the analytics of how your digital campaigns perform to figure out if you need to make changes to the copy or its design. UTM tracking for digital campaigns helps in getting the required insights.

Website Design SEO Ad Campaign.png

It can elevate you above your competition

Ensuring a web design that stands out will give you an edge over the competitors in your niche. You can majorly improve the quality of your website if you follow the best design practices. An SEO-friendly web design will prevent your target audience from moving to your competition, since it will help put your website in the top search results.

It ensures consistency and uniformity

Familiarity impacts the human psyche immensely and plays a big role in our decision-making. Uniformity and consistency are the two building blocks to induce familiarity amongst an audience regarding any given subject.

The same applies to the process of generating actionable leads for your website. To induce a sense of familiarity amongst your target audience about your brand, you need to have a consistent and uniform web design. We can observe the subconscious impact of having consistent web design elements in the form of more web traffic and a greater conversion rate.

The idea of an SEO-friendly web design is to present all your web pages with a consistent layout and the same fonts, colors, styles, etc. Doing so gives a professional look to your website and provides a positive user experience (familiarity being one of the main principles of good UX/UI design). It also plays a vital role in creating brand recognition.

It creates a perception regarding customer service

Believe it or not, your target audience can form an opinion about your customer service by just looking at various pages of your website. The idea is that a dull, boring, and outdated web design gives the impression that you lack the will to improve the user experience for your target audience.

Such a view leads to the target audience believing that you would similarly not be too keen on offering good customer service. This way, your website design acts as an indicator for visitors to gauge the quality of your customer service.

Even if you have an excellent customer feedback mechanism, the first impression given by your web design can quickly negatively impact  the opinion of your target audience. Therefore, it’s necessary to pay attention to a welcoming and appealing web design backed by vivid, exciting, and modern elements.

SEO web design: how to make your website better?

By now it’s clear that web design and SEO go hand in hand. But how can you make sure that you create an SEO-friendly web design? Here are some tips.

Create easy navigation

When a user visits your website, one of the first things that inform their experience is the ease of navigation on your website. Your website gets a thumbs up if the user can easily access the information they require without wandering a lot.

The navigation aspect of your web design should be self-explanatory and easy to follow. Implement a web design that enables users to access the required information quickly. Use broader headings and don’t scatter subtopics all over the place. Also use menus to group information in a user-friendly way.

The following are a few steps that you can take to ensure easy navigation on your website:

  • The main menu should be limited to only a few broad levels. People should find the path to the required content from these levels. Include a search bar on top of each content page to make it easier for users to find the information they need.
  • Each page should have a name. The naming convention should be based on defining what the page is about within a couple of words.
  • Embrace predictability in placing the navigation menu. Users should not find it tedious to find the navigation menu.
  • If your website goes deeper, say for more than two levels of pages, make it a point to use breadcrumbs. The idea is to help them easily retrace their navigation steps in case they want to go back.
Website Design SEO Website Menu.png

Write relevant web copy

Web design elements won't be much use without high-quality, informative, yet easy-to-read web copy. Each page on your website should contain relevant text that complements the web design elements.

The main reason a user visits your website is to gather the information they require. Thus, it’s vital to write a web copy that captures their attention, given people's short attention spans today. The style of the web copy should also be in sync with the style of the design elements. The idea is to maintain uniformity of style.

You should write the content so that it can be easily read and indexed by search engine crawlers. Make a point of adding relevant links, headings, and paragraphs.

Don’t forget to add alt attributes to images. This way people can also discover useful images (such as infographics) in the Google image search results.

Check page speed

No matter how good your website design is, it will be useless if the pages on your website don’t load quickly enough. Page speed will determine the success of your website because users detest loading delays.

The quicker your web pages load, complete with the last element, the better your web design fares in the eyes of the user. A faster page speed is a crucial factor in deciding the quality of the user experience.

You can use PageSpeed Insights by Google to check if your web pages have a quick loading speed.

Good website design for SEO also means optimizing images and videos for web use. If your images are too big, use a resize tool, or ask a professional designer to create something with the correct specifications.

Design responsive websites

A majority of internet users access the internet using their mobile devices today. In such a scenario, you must ensure that your web design elements are optimized for mobile devices. A responsive website allows users to easily access your website irrespective of the device they use.

Responsiveness means that all your web design elements should adapt to the device used to access them. The images, animations, text elements, etc., should adapt to the size of the screen of any given mobile device, be it smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc.

If the majority of your traffic comes from mobile devices, it’s imperative to use SEO website design for mobile. This is another factor that will help your website’s ranking with searches on mobile devices.

Use the right visual elements

Visual elements attract the user’s attention and keep them hooked to your website. That attention leads to engagement and forms part of the user experience. Therefore, having visual elements such as images, videos, and infographics adds to the attractiveness of your website.

That said, don’t overdo the visual elements as they can quickly decrease your page loading speed and overwhelm the user. An excess of visual elements makes your website feel cluttered and negatively impacts the user experience.

Here are some of the most vital elements for effective website design and SEO.

CTA buttons

Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons form an essential part of seo design, as they allow to push your leads to take decisive action, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, subscribing to alerts about new products, etc.

Make sure that you use CTA buttons at the right places on each website's web page (neither too soon, nor too late). Also, ensure that these buttons are easily visible and attract the user's attention.

Hero images

This is usually the big image found on your homepage or landing page. Apart from being visually appealing, hero images need to clearly convey your value proposition. You wouldn’t put an image of a cake on a burger restaurant website, right?

You probably know that most people won’t read large chunks of text (or sometimes won’t read anything at all). So a convincing hero image can be a tremendous ally in the SEO process, as it may help engage visitors and entice them to stay longer on your site.

Blog content

We’ve already mentioned that images and graphics can also bring traffic to your site, so you should definitely make design a vital part of your content strategy.

Most sites these days have a blog section, as posting new and informative content will help you rank for relevant keywords. However, don’t forget to break up the text with images (for better readability). Ideally, make your images informative as well to increase engagement - infographics are the 4th most shared type of content!

Create a sound page structure

A well-structured page is easy on the user's eye, encouraging the user to read the entire content on a given page. A web page containing a defined structure is easily comprehensible by users, and it is also easily scannable by search engine crawlers.

Here are some tips to improve the structure of individual pages of your website:

  • Use header tags. Header tags are a great way to establish the content hierarchy on a given page. They also help search bots in extracting a summary of a given post. Based on these tags, the search bots can also discern if the content is organized like other high-ranking pages on the same subject.
  • Place a limit on your font styles and maintain uniformity throughout various pages.
  • Make it a point not to extend paragraphs beyond three-four lines.
  • Settle for easily readable font sizes. Anything around 15-16 pixels works best.

The bottom line of having a well-defined page structure is improving the user experience. A good user experience directly helps your SEO efforts.

Every page should be unique and serve a different intent

Every page on your website should be about different topics, and there should be no overlap in terms of the information each page provides. If multiple pages on your website contain the same information, there’s a risk of falling prey to keyword cannibalization.

Keyword cannibalization is a serious SEO problem and decreases page ranking on the SERPs. The search engine bots tend to ignore the content that other high-ranking websites already have. Therefore, you should make the content of each page of your website as unique as possible.

Having unique content and web design aids your SEO efforts as there’s a higher chance of search bots indexing your web pages for relevant keywords. Repetition of information should be strictly avoided.

Focus on metadata and include footer links

Metadata comprises two elements on your website: the meta description and the title tag. The title tag appears as the title of a given page on the SERP and can have a maximum of 60 characters.

The meta description is the description that accompanies a title tag on the SERP and appears right below it. It can have a maximum of 160 characters.

Some tips to boost your SEO using these two elements are as follows:

  • Your title tags and meta descriptions should be as unique as possible to make them stand out from the competition. Having unique metadata also prevents internal competition between your site’s pages.
  • You should include the focus keyword of a given page in its title, description, first image, and slug.
  • Descriptions should be crisp and to the point to increase CTR (click-through rate).

Another type of metadata is the alt text of all the images on a web page. The alt text is a description of a given image. This metadata helps in ranking your website’s images on Google images.

When it comes to the internal linking on a website, web designers generally use text links(target keywords in the anchor text) to create links between various website pages. But they can use footers when graphical, or Javascript navigation has been used on a web page. Footer links serve the same purpose as standard text links.

A real-life example of exceptional web design from 2021 is the winner of the Webby Award for Best Practices, Oreo. The website is a combination of appealing graphic design and easy navigation. The content is presented lucidly and makes it easy for the user to understand the purpose of each page with ease.

Website Design SEO Oreo Website.png
Website Design SEO Oreo Website 2.png


Exceptional web design and SEO go hand in hand, since website design directly impacts the user experience. If you want your website to have good visibility on the SERPs, you need to pay careful attention to the graphic design of your website. A great web design will supplement all other SEO efforts and bring more traffic to your website.

A functional, good-looking, and easily navigable web design makes a huge difference to the success of your SEO efforts.

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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