How Site Design Affects SEO

Jan 14


Susan Melony

Susan Melony

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SEO-friendly web design plays a key role in improving organic search rankings. Navigation structure, avoiding 404 errors, optimizing loading speed, providing a good reading experience and making sure the site is crawlable, and having a well-structured URL all contribute to better search rankings.


There are a lot of elements that affect your organic search rankings. All of the pieces of the puzzle have to come together for your site and your content to rank,How Site Design Affects SEO Articles and one of those elements is an SEO-friendly web design. 

The following is a brief guide to how site design affects your search rankings. 

Navigation Structure

The navigation structure of your site affects important metrics that relate to search engine rankings. For example, the structure of your navigation is going to affect your bounce rate, conversion rate, engagement rate, and average page-on time. Then, these are going to indicate to Google and other search engines the quality of your site content and whether it’s user-friendly, and whether people want to spend time on it. 

Google’s primary objective with search engine algorithms is to provide the best possible experience to the people who are searching for things, and if your site is designed well, the idea is people are going to stay there and look around, so you’ll have better bounce rate metrics and the like. 

When you design your navigation structure to deliver an excellent experience to the people using your site, not only is it going to positively impact your SEO, but it can also potentially increase your conversions and revenue. 

404 Errors

Someone is probably going to leave your site pretty quickly if they hit a page giving them a 404 error. This pops up when a page no longer exists or when there’s a broken link. 

To avoid someone leaving your page and thereby negatively affecting your rankings, you should make your error pages into something user-friendly that will encourage them to stay. 

For example, you can link important pages on your 404 page and then encourage people to take a look. 

Ideally, you don’t have any dead links, but it’s not necessarily realistic. Try to make your 404 page as helpful as you can. 

Loading Speed

One of the important ranking factors in search engines is how fast your site loads. The way your site is designed will impact how quickly or slowly pages load. You can use free tools to check your site speed, and if it’s taking more than one second to load, you need to make some changes. 

Exactly what changes you make will depend on your site and the reasons it’s not loading as quickly as it should. 

You might need to compress your images, use a CDN, minimize your use of redirects, or use caching, just as a few examples. It can also make your site faster if you upgrade your web host. 

Experience for Readers

People go to websites because they want information. That means they’re going to be reading your content, or at least that’s the goal. Search engine users are looking for content that answers their questions. You need to have a site design offering the answers to questions in the clearest, simplest, and most user-friendly way. 

If your reading experience is one that’s pleasant for the people visiting your site, you can lower your bounce rate, have a higher on-page time, and you’ll see an increased engagement rate. These are things that, again, are going to eventually lead to better search rankings. 

For a good reading experience, leave a lot of white space and use large fonts. Make sure your font is easy to read, and don’t use dark background colors. 

Divide your content to make it skimmable with things like bullet points, headings, and subheadings, and keep your sentences and paragraphs short. 

You can also use things like videos, infographics, and images to break up content and make it easier to consume. 


On the more technical side of things is crawlability. Crawlability is how search engines are able to crawl your content to determine what it’s about. Your site needs to take visitors internally from one page to another for it to be crawlable. 

As part of this, make sure that every page has internal links which are logically bridging one part of your site to another. 

Structured data, breadcrumbs, and schema also help with crawling and are part of your site design. 

URL Structure

Finally, your URL structure affects SEO. Your URLs are foundational to your site hierarchy. They pass equity throughout a domain, and they’re what direct users to destinations. 

You want your URL structures to be easy to read for search engines and people. They should contain targeted keywords. Keep your URLs simple for the best outcomes, and don’t overcomplicate them. 

These are just a few of the ways site structure affects SEO, and overall, it’s a big part of your rankings, along with things like your domain authority from links to your site.