Influence of design on search results

Started by Jack Call, Dec 09, 2022, 06:22 AM

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Jack CallTopic starter

Hi there. My job is to find promising websites and improve their performance before selling them. Recently, I stumbled upon a site that ranks 5th for a specific search phrase, but only 10th for other keywords. While the site has a lot of strengths, its design is outdated and impractical. I'm considering purchasing the site, revamping it, and then selling it. However, I have a question for SEO experts: will changing the site's design impact its search engine rankings? It's worth noting that the current owner has had the site for 5 years and the domain name for 10 years.


Modern search engines rely on complex algorithms that use morphological and lexical analysis to determine the relevance of a page to a particular query. The primary aim of any search engine is to provide users with the most relevant information possible.

One critical factor affecting a site's ranking in search engines is the position and density of keywords on the page relative to other words. Website design must take this criterion into account. Search engine robots should be able to access necessary information quickly upon visiting the site, with a reasonable density of relevant keywords on the page. Therefore, it's crucial to allocate enough space in the design project for text content and position it appropriately relative to other layout elements.

Here are some of the key requirements for web design from a search engine perspective:

Page size: Search engine robots only download page code, not graphics. However, they may not index parts of the page code beyond a certain size (e.g., 200 kilobytes for Rambler). An optimal page size range for search engine optimization is 5-80 kilobytes.

Clean code: Large amounts of JavaScript code, CSS style sheets, and extra tags generated by various HTML page generators can negatively impact search engine promotion. Standard HTML editors and separate files for scripts and style sheets are recommended.

No frames: Frames complicate site promotion and should be avoided whenever possible. Including an HTML noframes tag with the text of the document and links is recommended.

Text blocks: Site design must include space for text blocks and avoid creating "entry pages" that redirect users to the main website page.


Changing a website's design can potentially impact its search engine rankings. It largely depends on how the redesign is executed and whether it addresses known SEO best practices. If the current design has technical issues affecting performance or user experience, a well-executed redesign can positively impact rankings.
However, if the redesign overlooks important SEO elements such as proper URL structure or on-page optimization, it may have a negative impact on search engine rankings. It's essential to carefully plan and execute the redesign while keeping SEO considerations in mind to avoid any potential negative effects.

When redesigning a website, it's important to consider a few key factors to minimize the impact on search engine rankings:

1. Maintain URL Structure: Try to keep the URLs of important pages the same or use proper redirects (301 redirects) to ensure that search engines can still find and index the content.

2. Preserve Content: Ensure that the redesign doesn't result in losing or significantly altering valuable content. Maintaining the core content that ranks well for specific keywords can help preserve rankings.

3. Optimize On-Page Elements: Take the opportunity to optimize on-page elements like meta tags, headings, and keyword usage while redesigning. This can potentially improve rankings for desired keywords.

4. Consider Mobile Optimization: Make sure the redesign includes a responsive or mobile-friendly design to meet the needs of mobile users, as this is an important ranking factor for search engines.

5. Prioritize User Experience: A well-designed and user-friendly website tends to perform better in search engine rankings. Aim for improved navigation, faster load times, and intuitive layouts that provide a positive experience for visitors.

6. Monitor Performance: After the redesign, closely monitor the site's performance using tools like Google Analytics and Search Console. Keep an eye on any changes in rankings and analyze how the redesign has impacted traffic and engagement metrics.

7. Keyword Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to understand the current ranking keywords and identify new opportunities. Use this information to inform your content strategy during the redesign.

8. Content Optimization: Take the opportunity to optimize existing content or create new, high-quality content that aligns with your target keywords and provides value to users. Ensure proper keyword placement, formatting, and readability.

9. Backlink Preservation: If the website has built a strong backlink profile over time, it's important to preserve those links during the redesign. Be cautious about changing URLs or altering the site structure, as it could potentially impact existing backlinks.

10. Site Speed: Page load speed is an important factor for both user experience and search engine rankings. Make sure the redesigned website is optimized for fast loading times by optimizing image sizes, minimizing plugins, and leveraging caching techniques.

11. Redirects and Broken Links: Implement proper 301 redirects for any changed or removed URLs to redirect traffic and preserve link equity. Also, check for any broken links on the website and fix them to maintain a positive user experience and avoid negative SEO impacts.

12. XML Sitemap: Generate and submit an updated XML sitemap to search engines after the redesign to ensure all new and existing pages are properly crawled and indexed.

The design of a website can have an indirect influence on search engine rankings. While search engines primarily prioritize factors like relevant content and quality backlinks, the design of a website can impact user experience and engagement metrics, which indirectly affect search rankings. Here are a few ways design can impact search results:

1. User Engagement: A well-designed website that is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and provides a seamless user experience tends to keep visitors engaged for longer periods. This can result in lower bounce rates and higher click-through rates, signaling to search engines that the website is providing value to users.

2. Mobile Responsiveness: With the increasing number of users accessing the internet via mobile devices, having a responsive design that adapts well to different screen sizes is crucial. Websites with mobile-friendly designs tend to rank higher in mobile search results, as search engines prioritize mobile user experience.

3. Page Load Speed: Slow-loading websites can negatively impact user experience and discourage visitors from staying or returning to the site. Search engines consider page speed as a ranking factor, so a well-designed website that prioritizes fast load times can have a positive impact on search rankings.

4. Readability and Accessibility: Design elements like font choice, color contrast, and proper use of heading tags can enhance the readability and accessibility of a website. An accessible website that is easy to read and navigate will provide a better experience for all users, including those with disabilities, and may indirectly contribute to better search rankings.

It's worth noting that while a well-designed website can positively impact user experience and engagement, it's important to strike a balance between design aesthetics and SEO optimization. Ensuring that the website's design aligns with SEO best practices is crucial for achieving optimal search engine rankings.