The influence of web design on SEO

With Google getting smarter through AI and all its updates, the integration between web design and search engine optimization (SEO) an increasingly important aspect for the online success of businesses and individuals.

It’s no longer about integrating keywords into the text. It’s about providing the right user experience through a sleek web design that fits your target audience. In this article, I share how I go about connecting web design and SEO.

What is SEO and what is web design?

Search engine optimization refers to the process of improving a website’s online visibility by increasing its ranking on search engines such as Google. The objective is to improve the user experience and drive more traffic to the site.

Web design covers the aesthetic and functional aspects of a Web site, including layout, visual elements, user interface, and responsiveness. A well-designed website not only considers visual appeal, but also usability and accessibility for a wide range of users.

The importance of combining web design and SEO

The fusion of web design and SEO is vital to creating websites that are both attractive and findable. An intuitive and attractive design can keep visitors on the site longer, while a strong SEO strategy can ensure that more people find the site in the first place.

A strong combination of web design and SEO provides the following:

  1. Higher rankings in Google due to better user signals (such as lower bounce and higher time on page).
  2. A higher conversion rate due to stronger web design.

Good web design combined with SEO creates a 1 + 1 = 3 effect where you make a positive impact on both conversion and SEO.

The influence of web design on SEO in a nutshell

No time for a long article? No problem. Watch the video below for a summary of this article.

The influence of web design on SEO (video).

The basics of web design

Web design goes beyond the appearance of a website. It includes a variety of aspects that work together to create a seamless and engaging user experience. Some of the basics of web design are highlighted below.

Usability of a website (usability).

Usability refers to how easy and intuitive a Web site is for the user. A site with high usability guides users effortlessly through information and features without confusion or frustration. This includes clear navigation, logical layout and easy access to essential functions.

Aesthetics and appearance

The visual aspect of web design plays a crucial role in how a website is perceived by visitors. A careful choice of color schemes, typography, images and other visual elements contributes to a professional and attractive look that reflects the brand and appeals to visitors.

Responsive design

In today’s digital landscape, it is essential that a website function on a variety of devices, from desktops to smartphones and tablets. Responsive design allows the website to adapt to different screen sizes and orientations, providing a consistent and user-friendly experience across all devices.

Accessibility counts

Accessibility means that a Web site is usable by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities such as visual or motor impairments. This can be achieved by considering various accessibility standards, such as the use of alternative text for images, clear contrast ratios and keyboard navigation.

And then the basics of SEO

SEO optimization is a complex field that encompasses various strategies and techniques to improve a website’s visibility in search engines. The goal is to attract more organic traffic to the site and achieve a higher ranking. Key aspects of SEO are explored below.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual Web pages to make them search engine friendly. This includes using keywords, optimizing titles and meta descriptions, using header tags and internal links, improving loading speed and more. These factors help search engines better understand the relevance and quality of the page.

Off-page SEO

Off-Page SEO includes strategies beyond the website itself, such as building high-quality backlinks from trusted sources. This helps to increase the authority and reliability of the website. Other off-page tactics may include social media promotion, influencer marketing and guest blogging. This has a little less to do with web design.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the structure and coding of a website, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index it. Important aspects of technical SEO include a clear URL structure, an XML sitemap, using SSL certificates for security, and ensuring mobile friendliness.

The synergy between web design and SEO

The relationship between web design and SEO is complex and interdependent. A well-designed website is important not only for the user experience, but also for search engines. Some key aspects of this synergy are examined below.

How web design affects SEO

Web design affects SEO in several ways. For example, a user-friendly design helps extend the time users spend on the site, which can have a positive impact on search engine rankings. Responsive design ensures mobile-friendliness, a factor that search engines are increasingly weighing. In addition, a well-structured website can be more easily indexed by search engines.

The influence of web design on SEO in a table

Below is a table that lists the main issues where web design positively affects SEO, along with how it affects it and its priority.

AspectThe impact on SEOPriority
Mobile-friendlyMakes the site accessible to a growing number of mobile users; improves ranking in search engines that factor in the mobile experience.High
Website speedIncreases user satisfaction through faster load times; considered by search engines as an important factor for ranking.High
Navigation StructureMakes it easier for users to find content; helps search engines crawl and index the site more efficiently.Medium
Accessible contentMakes the site usable by all users, including those with disabilities; provides search engines with more context via alt-texts, for example.Medium
Responsive designEnsures a consistent experience across devices; is valued by search engines as a positive feature for user experience.High
Use of HTTPSImproves user security and trust; search engines such as Google consider it a ranking factor.Medium
SEO-friendly URLsHelps display page structure and content; facilitates crawling and indexing by search engines.Low
The influence of web design on SEO.

This table highlights the areas where web design has a direct and positive impact on SEO, and also prioritizes them to help determine focus during SEO optimization.

Common mistakes

  • Poor mobile experience: ensure responsive design that adapts to different devices. According to the latest news from Google, it is now going so far that if a page is not usable on mobile, Google will not index it.
  • Overuse of images: this can affect loading speed and cause problems with indexing.
  • Lack of meta tags and descriptions: make sure each page has relevant meta information to increase search engine relevance.

Web design/SEO at the page level

When I think of web design and SEO at the page level, I think of the following elements.

How can I optimize a landing page to best fit the customer journey of the specific page? I try to think in the following way:

    Someone searches for the keyword SEO specialist, what are they looking for? What can I do design-wise to accommodate this? And what are the pages the searcher wants to read on my website before he/she converts?

    On the page itself, these are usually:

    1. placing the right buttons to the right pages in the right place;
    2. Use the right unique images;
    3. Writing quality content (also part of design);
    4. Use colors that match the target audience;
    5. Don’t make stupid mistakes in design;
    6. add a piece of conviction (think reviews or a portfolio).

    As mentioned, think carefully about where in the customer journey a searcher is and adjust your design accordingly.

    Web design/SEO sitewide

    When I think of web design/SEO for sitewide, I think of much broader issues:

    1. What does my logo look like and how does it affect website visitors;
    2. what are the colors of the website;
    3. the pages are consistent with each other where they should be;
    4. Are the call-to-actions consistent with each other.

    Also important to get this right. It’s all about getting positive user signals. Google goes very far with this in making website quality measurable.

    Conclusion

    When you are working on the web design of a page, go for the things that also affect SEO. When you’re working on SEO, also deal with the things that affect web design.

    After all, you want to generate conversions with your website, it would be a shame if you are working with one of the two and not using both channels to generate those conversions. Good luck!

    The most complete book on website speed

    I’ve written so much about speeding up websites and everything involved that I like to divide it into different sections; general, tools, speed improvement points and tips. Feel free to see and consult all the links below to learn more about tools and tips for speeding up your website.

    General

    Tools

    Verbter points for speed

    General tips

    Senior SEO-specialist

    Ralf van Veen

    Senior SEO-specialist
    Five stars
    My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

    I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

    With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

    This article was originally published on 22 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 5 June 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.