Common Web Design Mistakes that affect SEO

1. Confusing Website Navigation

Websites with poor navigation design impact SEO. Designing a good-looking site is not always enough. It would help if you focused on its usability as well. Visitors tend to quit a site if they cannot find navigational buttons or ways to move about your site.
Search engines find it difficult to index pages when the navigation is a mess.
Avoid the use of complex JQuery and JavaScript codes. These make the site look great but create problems for search engines when they crawl your site. Another design tip is to link the most important pages on your website internally.

2. Using Bloated Images and Media Files

Media files such as images and videos take up large amounts of space on your website. Although they offer visitors a rich experience, they can cause issues too. It takes longer to load images and media on your site, which contains files of large sizes.
Always resize or compress large files to prevent poor user experience. This sends a negative SEO signal to search engines.
You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to run a report. This report tells you which images or media files are slowing down your site speed. Make changes accordingly for a better user experience and higher SEO rankings.

3. Not Using Alt Text

Web designers often overlook the value of metadata and tags for images. Search engines cannot read text overlaid on an image. This must be avoided for images that propel a Call-to-action (CTA) or drive sales. The CTA could be an invitation to subscribe to a newsletter or to request a quote.
You miss an opportunity to add meta tags and image descriptions to images when it's overlaid with text. These tags are essential for SEO. It tells search engines that your site has relevant content to a user's query.
Instead of adding text on an image, use alt tags.

4. Website is Not Mobile-responsive

Mobile devices are playing a prominent role in the modern era of the web. A large chunk of the world's population accesses the internet through a mobile device. Your site must look great on these devices.
Search engines crawl the mobile version of a site first for indexing. A site not optimized for mobile is much harder to rank on search engine result pages.
Ensure that responsive design is a part of your SEO implementation checklist. People tend to quit a site that is unformatted for mobile. These increases bounce rates that hurt your site rankings.
You can check if your website is mobile-responsive at

5. Using Too Many Pop-ups

Pop-ups have been a part of web design for decades. These tiny boxes of information are often a call for action for visitors. When not cautiously used, pop-ups can be plain annoying and frustrating.
Pop-ups on mobile devices are distracting and break the attention of the user. This may cause search engines to lower your site scores. Keep any pop-ups on the site to a bare minimum. Use strategic CTA buttons and engaging content instead.
Pop-ups are a significant factor that leads to diminished organic SEO scores. The most rewarding SEO strategy is to use minimum pop-ups or none at all.
Here is an example of too many pop-ups on a website. It hinders user experience.

6. Duplicating Meta Titles and Descriptions

A significant web design mistake is to duplicate metadata on your website. Designers often tend to overlook this grave SEO error. Each webpage has specific content, and the metadata must reflect its uniqueness. The same metadata on all pages puts your site in poor light with visitors and Google.
Use unique meta titles and descriptions on different pages. The page title plays a crucial role in telling the search engine your page's topic and its relevance to a search.
A common mistake is to stuff keywords in the metadata. This does more harm than good in organically ranking your site.
Duplicate Meta titles and descriptions confuse Google’s crawlers. Google will not be able to distinguish between original and duplicate titles and descriptions.

7. Using Generic or No 401 Redirects

Site errors occur despite our best efforts. Internal link breakage, code errors, and server issues throw up page errors to visitors.
A page error must convey precise information. A generic error is most unhelpful and conveys the signal that your site is poorly maintained. 404 (page not found) messages discourage people from browsing your site.
A good SEO strategy is to add custom messages on pages that may pop-up an error. Generic 404 errors are organic traffic killers. Include multiple navigation options and tips to return to the main pages on your website.
You can identify broken links on your website at

8. Having a Slow Loading Website

Any website that takes longer than 3-5 seconds to load is bad for SEO. It is a clear signal to search engines that your site is poorly designed. This hurts your SEO scores and delivers a below-average user experience.
There are several best practices to prevent slow loading times. Some of these are:

  • Use compressed images and media
  • Use browser caching to increase loading speed
  • Keep pop-ups and plugins to a bare minimum
  • Invest in a reputed hosting service provider

Use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool to check your site's loading times after making any site changes.
You can check your website’s loading speed at

9. Content Presentation: Grammar, Fonts, and Whitespaces

How content displays on your site has a deep connection with SEO. The fonts you use impact user experience and SEO as much as the actual content on the site.
The following factors lead to poor customer experience and impact the SEO of your site:

  • Using unclear fonts which are in cursive or exotic
  • Using inconsistent fonts across the site
  • Using different fonts on the same page
  • Poor grammar with typos
  • Cluttered look due to lack of whitespaces

Pay special attention to these issues. Simply avoiding them helps you rank better with search engines.
Notice how this website has a consistent font, theme, and well-spaced content.

10. Stuffing Excessive Keywords

We all know keywords and their relevance in your content form the backbone of SEO. Strategic use of keywords is essential for organic SEO growth.
Designers would stuff content and metadata with keywords to force search engines to rank them higher in the past. This has long changed. Google now penalizes websites that use excess keywords. This black hat SEO technique is called keyword stuffing.
Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs. It is difficult to bounce back to a credible spot on the SEO radar if your site is blacklisted.
Use well-researched keywords in appropriate locations within content and metadata.

11. Duplicate and Slim

When it comes to content, always go for quality over quantity. Good content is relevant to visitors and provides them with the information they need. It sends out a positive signal for SEO rankings as visitors stay for long and engage with your content.
A poor SEO technique to avoid is duplicating content in the hope of influencing SEO. This practice adds no value and can be detrimental.
Another common website design mistake is to have very little content on the site. Sites with slim content give off an unprofessional feel. Visitors and search engines do not trust sites with sparse content.
You can check if your content has duplicate content at smallseotools.

12. Infinite Scroll Damages SEO

Infinite scrolling is a popular web design technique. It loads the website content dynamically as the visitors scrolls a page. It helps load pages faster as not all contents need to load at once.
However, it poses a problem for search engines. Search engines cannot scroll down a page. They simply look at the contents already present when they crawl and index them. This could prevent indexing content that loads dynamically.
It is advisable to follow Google's best practices on infinite scrolling to get the best of both worlds without compromising on SEO. Avoid this design practice if you are unsure of how it works.

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13. Poorly Designed and Positioned Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons

Call-to-action (CTA) buttons fulfill a vital marketing role. You see them on most websites. Examples include buttons that ask you to click to:

  • Signup for an online subscription
  • Register for a membership
  • Start the purchase process for a product or service

The location and position of these buttons influence customer experience and SEO. Optimize them to drive maximum engagement and leads.
A few design tips include:

  • Select a bright but contrasting color for the buttons
  • Use strong action verbs like "buy," "join," etc.
  • Design the button to stand out from the rest of the page
  • Use a button graphic instead of a link
    Here’s an example of well designed Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons:

14. Not Optimizing the Page URL's

The text within a site's URL affects SEO as much as the site content. A typical design mistake is not optimizing these URLs for SEO. Remember, search engine crawlers first crawl through the URL. It helps them understand what the page is about.
Your URLs must contain keywords or words that you want to target. Do not use spaces between the words; use hyphens instead. Optimizing static URLs is a lot easier than dynamic URLs.
Do it during the design phase to prevent excess rework after the site goes live. Use canonical URL to tell Google which URL to index for specific content.
Here’s an example of a URL that is optimized for search engines:

15. Under Optimized JS and JQuery Code

Poor design practice is to bloat your backend code. Many developers add a lot of code in JavaScript or JQuery to the website. While this improves functionality and user experience, it isn't good for SEO.
Lengthy code snippets slow down the website and can make it buggy. This directly impacts SEO and must be avoided. Encourage the use of short and simple code snippets that are optimized for speed.
If there are multiple code files, consolidate all of them into one file. Remove excess spaces and lines and make the code as compact as possible to improve SEO.
You can detect code that is bloating up your backend using

Importance of SEO-friendly Website Design

1. Drives Increased Visitor Traffic

The primary purpose of SEO is to get your site featured among the top listings of a Google search results page. A site displayed on the first page of a Google search encourages visitors to engage with it.
An increase in visitor traffic builds credibility with people and search engines. You might have a great product or service, but no one will know about it without promoting it online through SEO.
SEO gives you the power to reach a global audience looking for products or services in your domain.

2. Amplify Your Brand Visibility

SEO projects your brand into the limelight on the internet. It is a method of bringing visibility to your product or service through your website. SEO must be a key component of your online marketing strategy.
Most visitors tend to click on one of the websites displayed on the search results' first page. They tend to trust the brands shown on the main result pages. This presents an excellent opportunity to build your brand visibility online.
Brand visibility helps drive organic traffic to your website. An increase in traffic drives sales.
An SEO-friendly website makes your domain appear at the top of search engine results.

3. Increase in Sales and Revenue

SEO can help you achieve your business goals by driving more traffic. It achieves this by increasing your visibility and online reach on a global scale. Prospective visitors trust a website featured among top search results.
An effective SEO plan presents more opportunities to generate sales leads. Make sure that you have a plan to engage new visitors and old customers consistently.
SEO helps you establish a strong web presence. This is key to building brand trust and credibility. Investing in SEO marketing is more cost-effective. It has a global reach compared to traditional marketing methods.
As your brand gains more visibility because of SEO, you will also witness a tremendous growth in sales and revenue.

4. Outstanding User Experience

SEO works in tandem with UX design. These two together help in delivering a memorable customer journey. The more attractive the site, the longer a visitor spends time on it. A well-planned SEO campaign has a positive effect on the user journey.
Any SEO plan involves creating great content and easy navigation for visitors. A great-looking site builds trust with visitors.
The following SEO best practices pave the way for outstanding user experiences:

  • Designing a mobile-ready site
  • Increasing your page loading speed
  • Using friendly fonts and colors

Plan your SEO, keeping in mind your customer journey for maximum impact on SEO scores.
You can check if your website is mobile, tablet, and desktop friendly at Responsive Design Checker

5. Domain Leadership

Top SEO scores make your site stand out amongst competitors. An increase in site visitors builds trust for your brand and site. Very soon, you are recognized as a key player in your industry. SEO is crucial to building a solid brand image.
This authority gained from SEO helps in many ways:

  • It generates organic traffic
  • It leads to faster conversions
  • Quicker word-of-mouth publicity

Your search ranking remains consistently high when SEO is done right. A steady stream of visitor traffic is a positive indicator for search engines.
Focus on a long-term SEO plan which aims at solidifying your brand outlook and reputation.
An SEO-friendly website boosts your Domain Authority (DA). You can check your DA score using Moz’s Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool.

Website Design Mistakes & SEO FAQs

1. What Are Some Common SEO Website Design Mistakes?

Poor design practices lead to unappealing websites. This hurts SEO and confuses visitors. Every web designer must follow a checklist to avoid these five common web design mistakes that affect SEO:

  • Using small or illegible fonts
  • Using infinite scroll on pages
  • Excessive pop-ups on all pages
  • Not making the site mobile friendly
  • Large-sized images and media files that slow down page loading time.

Being aware of these pitfalls helps you be a better designer while influencing positive SEO results.

2. Does Website Design Directly Impact SEO?

The short answer is, Yes. Website design has a direct bearing on SEO and customer perception. Your website is at a disadvantage if its design does not factor in SEO best practices. You lose out to competitors who have implemented SEO in their designs.
Your website is the first thing a prospective customer sees before they decide to engage with you. Visitors quite your site if the design is messy. This is tracked by search engines and lowers your SEO scores.
Take a look at this CTA button. Embedding the text within the image is an example of bad website design as Google cannot crawl it.
Placing the text over the image is an example of a good website design. This way, Google can crawl the text. And in turn, it impacts SEO positively.

3. What Tools Can I Use to Discover SEO Website Design Mistakes?

It is prudent to audit your website for SEO errors stemming from web design before launch. You can use a wide range of tools to identify common mistakes and fix them.
Here are a few popular tools that can help:

Perform design audits regularly to boost SEO ranks.
Here’s a report on website design using Google PageSpeed Insights:

4. At What Stage of Website Design Should SEO Planning Begin?

It would help if you considered SEO right from the planning stage. Doing so will ensure that your site is SEO-ready before launch. Implementing SEO-related changes late in the design journey is bad for SEO. It also impacts customer experience adversely.
It is wise to use an SEO checklist with items relevant to web design. Some of these items include page structure, font choice, and navigational trees. It's easier to measure SEO impact if design changes are implemented early.
It is advisable to start planning SEO from when you design the website. If you want to optimize your website at a later time, you can always use Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

5. What Are Some Common SEO Mistakes While Designing Landing Pages?

Landing pages play a key role in online marketing and sales campaigns. They are the main cogs of any digital marketing campaign. Under-optimized landing pages hurt sales and SEO.
Avoid the following common SEO mistakes while designing landing pages:

  • No call-to-action on the landing pages
  • Cluttered design with poor color contrast
  • CTA buttons position not apparent to visitors
  • Unclear or vague content on the landing page
    Here’s an example of a cluttered website:

Pay attention to landing page design to improve SEO scores and drive visitor traffic. Get in touch with us to speak with our Web design & SEO experts

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