Here’s How Your Web Design Might Be Hurting Your SEO (And How To Fix It)

By Vicky Carrillo

By Vicky Carrillo

Vicky Carrillo is EWR Digital's Technical SEO Manager and senior web developer. Read Vicky's blogs, and find out more about what EWR Digital can do for your web design and Digital Marketing.

This post was written by guest contributor Aljaz Fajmut, founder of RankTrackr and Nightwatch.

Web design is really important to your online success. If your web design is fully optimized, easy to use, and looks beautiful, you’re onto a winner.

On the other hand, if it looks horrible, site visitors are going to bail out pretty quickly. That means conversions will be down.

But did you know that web design can also hurt your SEO? It’s a double whammy. When users leave your website quickly, it says to Google that your site’s usability is poor. As a consequence, your ranking goes down.

And because SEO is also really vital to your online success, you can’t afford to play yourself with poor web design any longer.

Let’s take a look at how web design might be hurting your SEO – and what you can do about it.

You Aren’t Optimizing (Or Using) Header Tags

H1s, H2s, H3s and so on all play a key role in helping Google determine what your page is all about.

For example, this is a header tag for a page about abandoned carts:

Shopping Cart - EWR - Digital

Optimize Your Checkout Page

Combined with the other headers, it helps Google better understand about what the page is about – and thus what queries it should rank it for.

If your header tags aren’t properly optimized, Google won’t understand what your page is about, and it thus won’t rank you for your targeted keyword.

This means you’ll miss out on lots of crucial traffic.

Header tags help Google better understand what the page is about.

The key is to not confuse Google. Make it crystal clear what your page is all about by properly optimizing your header tags. Your H1 should be your page title and your H2 tags need to specially and yet compellingly clarify what is on the page. They should also contain your main keyword at least once.

H3 and H4 tags come in handy for long form content when you’re going more in-depth into a particular topic.

Header tags also improve readability because they break up text and help readers scan the page. If you haven’t used header tags, your text will look chunky, intimidating, and hard to read. Many readers will TLDR (too long; didn’t read).

It will just be huge blocks with no orientation points for the reader. Break it up and make it clear what each section of your page is all about with header tags.

Your Images Aren’t Optimized

It’s important that you pick beautiful, high-resolution images that catch the eye.

But you’re losing if you don’t then optimize your images.

Your images need to:

  • Have the right format
  • Be compressed
  • Contain relevant alt text

Failing to compress images is still a major issue for some websites. You can use an image compressor tool to reduce the size of your images. This is really important because images that are too big will slow down your site speed. If a website takes too long to load, users will exit in a hurry and your bounce rate will soar.

Alt text, on the other hand, is even easier for web designers to miss, especially those with little SEO experience. Alt text is the description of an image. Google displays it whenever an image fails to load.

It tells both Google and the site visitor what the image – and thus the page – is all about. So optimize all your images’ alt texts with keywords and clear, descriptive language.

BMW front car - EWR Digital

For example, if I’ve got an image of a black BMW, my alt text might be this:

Black BMW Convertible

For the image format, meanwhile, always stick to JPG, JPEG, or PNG.

Try to stick to JPGs, JPEGs, and PNG files.

You’ve Got Pop-Ups Popping Up Everywhere

Look, pop-ups can work. In fact, the best pop-ups have an average conversion rate of 9.28%.

But they only work if you get them right. Sumo has carried out extensive research into pop-ups and what works and what doesn’t. They found – as many other marketers have found – that pop-ups which appear too soon are extremely off-putting to the end user.

The best pop-up ads have an average conversion rate of 9.28%.

If a user takes one step into your store and you instantly bombard them with offers, they’ll probably bail out. This leaves you with a high bounce rate, which is bad for SEO.

Pop Up - EWR Digital

The general rule of thumb for good web design and SEO is to wait 60 seconds before unleashing your first pop-up. If someone has hung around your website for at least a minute, it means they’re interested in what you’ve got for them.

You Don’t Have a Mobile-Friendly Design

Social Media Sharing - EWR Digital

Google rolled out mobile first indexing in 2018, which means it uses the mobile version of your website for ranking.

This is fine if you’ve already optimized your website for mobile and got a mobile responsive design – but it’s bad news if your website is a few years old and you haven’t gotten on board with the mobile revolution yet.

See, desktop web design looks different than mobile design. If you haven’t made your website responsive, the mobile version of your website will look messy, and it will not be user-friendly.

If you haven’t upgraded to a responsive design, now is the time to do so. Here’s an excellent resource for web designers to help you make a website responsive in just 15 minutes.

Your Layout Sucks

Social Media Marketing - EWR Digital

What internet users and Google want is a clean layout that improves readability, navigation and usability.

When anyone arrives on a website, they want to be able to find the information they were looking for as soon as possible. For this reason, you need to provide the answer to their question as soon as possible. If, on the other hand, you’ve pushed the valuable content below the fold (so that they have to scroll down before they can see it), the usability of your website is poor and users might bail out.

Put the most important information above the fold.

Don’t push valuable content down with oversized hero images. Make the content they came for clearly visible above the fold. Make life as easy as possible for your site visitors and don’t make them wait – or look around – for the content they came for.


These are a few ways web design might be hurting your SEO. The good news is that optimizing your web design so that you rank higher isn’t impossible.

Implement the tips in this article and keep doing the right things from now on. Before you know it, your web design will drive more traffic to your website and it will help keep people on the page.

How Your Web Design Might Be Hurting Your SEO (And How to Fix It) | EWR Digital – Houston, TX