John Mueller Says Site Appearance Can Affect Your Rankings
Many online businesses and webmasters look for ways to improve website SEO and search rankings, but one thing that some tend to overlook is their site’s appearance. Google tells the SEO community that a website’s appearance may affect search visibility and boost website SEO if they meet certain expectations for quality.
Google’s John Mueller discussed the matter in the Search Central SEO hangout on 25 June 2021, where a site owner asked him how to solve their gradual traffic decline. They said that their site ranking continued to drop over an extended period, and they wondered about the exact cause of their problem.
A gradual traffic decline in general – meaning it is not related to a specific algorithm update – could imply a problem with the site’s quality. If this is the case, one should look at their website’s design. If it does not meet its users’ expectations for quality, it could result in low search rankings.
Mueller advised the website owner to go over the details. Even though these details may seem unimportant to them, in reality, they matter a lot to visitors. For instance, if a publisher writes an informative article on a financial topic on an amateurish-looking web page, readers may still perceive the website in a bad way. What’s more, it could affect search visibility in the long run.
Other Ways Site Appearance Affects Website SEO
Mueller supports the fact that the website appearance can negatively affect a user’s opinion of one’s brand. However, there are many other ways in which website appearances can negatively influence SEO.
- Design affects how users navigate the website
Google wants to give its users only the best websites. One factor in measuring site quality is the amount of time a visitor spends on the website. Therefore, webmasters should promote easy site usability and navigation if they want their visitors to keep reading their content and increase the time spent on their website. Without an intuitive site structure, users will have a hard time navigating the website and will likely leave to find a better alternative.
- Mobile-responsive designs change how search engines rank sites
Most website traffic happens on mobile devices, so having a responsive website for smartphones and tablets is a must. Google’s mobile-first index policy has strengthened the need for a mobile version since the search engine company uses it as the starting point when ranking websites. Having a mobile-responsive design promotes a better user experience for on-the-go readers. This will also lead to more time spent on the site and a higher search ranking.
- Beautiful and clean layouts make a huge difference
A website’s text structure has a vital role in SEO, even though it might seem like an insignificant design element. SEOs should take their time to look at how their content is designed on the web page. This includes the text colour, font, and layout.
One should avoid inappropriate font choices, crammed content, spacing errors, or sizing issues. SEOs should make an effort to create a web page with a beautiful, clean layout, as it boosts engagement from customers and reduces the chances of them leaving a site quickly.
Moreover, one should avoid using images to convey large chunks of text. This is because Google and other search engines crawl websites to pick out key phrases for ranking. Therefore, the content should be completely comprehensive for a higher search ranking.
To improve website SEO presentation, Mueller encouraged the SEO community to seek independent opinions from unbiased sources. He also brought up a Google blog post from 2019 that talks about core updates. The blog article listed several questions on improving site quality that businesses and site owners could ask fellow SEOs:
- Was it well-written content? Or does it look sloppy or hastily produced?
- Does the content have stylistic or spelling/grammar issues?
- Does the web page contain many advertisements that could distract a site visitor from reading the content or hinder their user experience?
- Is the web page content mobile-friendly?
- Is the content outsourced to or mass-produced by a huge group of creators or published across a large number of websites, causing individual sites or pages to not gain as much care or attention?
Businesses and website owners can also ask these questions to their users and gain their feedback. However, they need to be ready to take criticism objectively. Doing this will give SEOs valuable insights on what they need to improve on.
Mueller said that SEOs that have been working their websites for so long tend to be a little too overprotective when someone points out something terrible about its design. However, SEOs need to hear these comments and take them seriously if they want to achieve better website SEO.
Nevertheless, one should remember that making changes to improve the quality of a website may take longer than they expected before they could get better rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It should be considered a long-term effort and not something that would show significant changes month over month.
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