5 Signs Your Website Design is Hurting Your Search Ranking

By Allen Kazadi
10 Min Read
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It’s essential to have a good website for your business in 2021. But even if you have a visually appealing site, you might still face issues connecting with your customers online.

That’s because it’s not enough to merely have a website. You also need to ensure that your site is easy to find and easy to use.

Many people assume that search engine optimization will solve all your problems. And while SEO can help your site appear more prominently in search results, it won’t address any underlying development issues.

Unfortunately, those development and design issues can scare off the customers you do manage to attract. That, in turn, can have a negative impact on your position in search engine results pages (SERPs).To avoid this, you can enroll in a website development course to learn how to better maintain your website.

How can you tell whether your website itself is the culprit behind your rankings woes? Here are just five signs that the design of your site could be hurting your ability to rank.

Your Site Seems Slow to Load

You might think that a slow-loading website is a small annoyance. But it’s actually a huge problem for businesses.

In fact, data shows that the majority of web users will abandon a website if it takes more than just a few seconds to load. That means that even a tiny delay could cause you to lose out on major revenue.

Slow websites aren’t only frustrating to customers. They’re also frowned upon by search engines. In fact, Google’s recent Page Experience update, which includes the introduction of the Core Web Vitals ranking factors, revealed just how important site speed is in the evaluation of websites.

If your site doesn’t load quickly and without unexpected layout shifts, your rankings could take a hit. To assess your situation, take a free site speed test and make improvements to reduce lags. These improvements might include:

 

  • Compressing large images
  • Using a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Trying browser caching or a new server
  • Reducing unnecessary HTML and page redirects

Even if slow site speed isn’t the only reason why your rankings aren’t where you’d like them to be, speeding up your site can drastically improve the user experience. You’ll likely start to see improvements in other areas when you address this issue, even if your rankings stay relatively steady.

You Care More About Style Than Functionality

It’s understandable that you’d want a sharp-looking website. But don’t forget that your site actually serves a more important purpose: providing solutions to prospective customers.

Sure, it’s nice if those solutions are delivered in a beautiful package. But it’s better to sacrifice on form than on function. Ultimately, visitors aren’t coming to your website to look at a visually interesting page. They’re trying to find answers to their problems.

You might actually end up creating more problems for them if your design is too unique. Customers aren’t going to care about how cool your website looks if they have trouble finding what they need. Making your customers work harder for the sake of appealing design isn’t the way to go.

In the end, customers will leave empty-handed and with a poorer perception of your brand. What’s more, search engines may have trouble crawling and indexing your site if its design goes against industry best practices.

It’s great to prioritize visual design, but remember that looks aren’t everything. And they certainly aren’t worth sacrificing your rankings over.

Your Site Isn’t Responsive

Mobile-friendly websites have now become the standard. Considering that more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile devices, you can’t deny the importance of having mobile-accessible design.

It’s important to note that mobile-friendly design is different from responsive design. There are numerous features that make a website more mobile-friendly. Responsive design is just one of them.

When a website is responsive, it automatically adjusts based on how it’s being viewed. It provides a consistent experience to all users, but it senses the device being used and changes how it’s displayed to provide the best possible experience across the board.

Not all websites are responsive, but responsive design is becoming more prevalent for good reason. Google now indexes the mobile version of web pages first, meaning that the mobile version of a site counts the most. Having responsive design can eliminate the need for a separate mobile version of a site, as well as the fear of providing a mobile experience that misses the mark.

Older websites are typically less likely to feature responsive design, so it’s worth evaluating your site to figure out when it was last updated. You should also perform a mobile-friendly test to see how your site is rated. If it’s been more than five years since your last redesign or your mobile-friendly score is low, it may be time to consider responsive design for the convenience of everyone involved.

Your Navigation Menu is Confusing

Earlier, we mentioned that you shouldn’t make your website visitors work too hard. If you do, they’ll probably abandon your site within a matter of seconds.

Keep this in mind when evaluating your site’s navigation menu. Again, you want to provide quick solutions to customer problems. That’s a lot harder to do if your navigation menu is confusing to use.

Eliminate any unclear labels and make sure that your drop-down menus make psychological sense. Your navigation should be as user-friendly as possible, providing what visitors are most likely to look for at first sight.

You may need to consider reorganizing your site’s navigation, eliminating extraneous options, or adding a search bar to help visitors find what they need. While you’re at it, check for navigation errors (like broken links and pages) and make sure your site’s footer contains links to pages like your blog and contact information.

A confusing navigation menu will drive customers away from your brand and toward a competitor. Search engines may also have a tough time finding their way around, especially if you don’t have a sitemap. Both of these issues can hurt your SEO, so address any issues that exist right away.

Your Bounce Rate is Higher Than Average

Having a high bounce rate doesn’t necessarily indicate that your website’s design is lacking. But the two factors might be connected, particularly if you’ve already eliminated other possible causes.

Your site’s bounce rate is a measure of how many visitors leave a webpage without performing some kind of action. This metric is expressed in the form of a percentage. If a high percentage of people leave your site without clicking on a link or completing a purchase, for example, that means your bounce rate may be in trouble.

Bounce rate is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means that too many prospective customers are leaving without buying anything. That hurts your bottom line. But it also means that Google might associate negative connotations with your site. Search engines may view sites with higher-than-average bounce rates as providing less value, which may translate into a lower ranking in SERPs.

It’s worth mentioning that the average bounce rate is somewhere around 50%. So if yours sits anywhere between 40% and 70%, you may not need to be overly concerned. However, an 80% or 90% bounce rate is something you’ll want to examine further.

 

Again, having a high bounce rate doesn’t automatically mean that your site’s design is to blame. But bad website design is often cited as one of the top reasons why visitors will take their leave. Fixing any existing design or UX problems may help to bring your bounce rate down while improving user experience and search engine rankings.

Address Search Ranking Struggles at the Source

There are potentially hundreds of reasons why your website might receive as high a ranking as you’d hoped. But if you’ve been diligently optimizing your site and aren’t seeing results after several months, it may be time to take a closer look at your website’s design. By addressing any design and development problems now, you’ll likely improve your position in SERPs in the future.

Posted by Allen Kazadi
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