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Google Says Website Design Impacts Your SEO Rankings

Google’s John Mueller suggests that your website’s aesthetic and design can influence its place in search results.

On a Google SEO Office Hours episode, John Mueller answered a participant’s question regarding a mysterious drop in site traffic. Over a few months, the site’s traffic decreased even though the business was publishing new content and working to boost its SEO.

Mueller responded with a suggestion: perhaps the business wasn’t focusing on the right factors for its SEO.

What Makes a High-Performing Website?

Your site’s SEO quality relies on more than content or anchor text or other basic SEO factors. Mueller puts aesthetic value and design within the list of components that comprise a quality, high-ranking site.

Remember, your rankings are also based on the user experience. So while your site should provide answers to the questions searchers look for, it needs to do more than that to earn top ranking spots. According to Mueller’s response in the video, visual appeal and design inform the UX. Therefore, you should make significant efforts to design a beautiful site.

Mueller addresses the group:

Sometimes those small differences do play a role in regards to how people perceive your website. If, for example, you have something that is on a financial topic and people come to you and say “well your information is okay but it’s presented in a way that looks very amateurish,” — then that could reflect how your website is perceived. And in the long run could reflect something that is visible in search as well.

When creating your site, remember that your site visitors care about professionalism and aesthetics.

Does Making Design Changes Impact Rankings Quickly

If you need to embark on a website design project and make some design changes to create a more visually appealing site, understand that you won’t see ranking changes overnight. Mueller warns, “these kinds of improvements take quite a long time to be reflected in the search results.”

Anyone who understands SEO web design will tell you that SEO is a long game. As you make changes to the design and presentation of your website, don’t be discouraged if it takes a few months to see an uptick in traffic and your rankings. If you’re hitting the other components of an effective SEO strategy, boosting visual appeal will aid you in your effort to earn better rankings.

Get Unbiased Opinions about Your Website Design

As you think through your design changes, seek input from outside your organization. Mueller encourages business owners to “get independent opinions on what you should be focusing on concerning your website.” Present your site to users and ask for sincere feedback. This gives you a better idea of what targeted users will think and feel about your site when they land on it.

When conducting this research, try to enter in with humility. The goal is to get a realistic idea of what your site communicates to users. Of course, that means you will likely hear critiques about the thing you’ve spent hours crafting and cultivating.

This is a good thing. Honest criticism helps you know which changes to make that will help you earn more traffic and greater visibility on the SERPs. Mueller reminds the chat participants:

Asking users those kinds of tough questions, and trying to take the answers they give you in an objective way, often leads you to finding things that you should be working on that might not be what you’re currently working on.

So that’s kind of the approach that I would take there. Try to get actual feedback from people and try to take action based on that.

Because sometimes if you’ve been working on a website for so long, it’s like it’s your baby, and you know which parts are good, and you’re very protective when someone comes to you and says it’s ugly, or the colors are bad, or something like that. But sometimes that’s what you need to hear.


If you’re doing everything right with SEO and still seeing a drop in your rankings and traffic, consider changing your site presentation. First, welcome honest criticism of your site’s visual appeal, then makes changes accordingly and see your rankings increase.