Web design practices that frustrate SEO’s

Bad web design can affect organic rankings

If you have ever been involved in a digital marketing project that has developers and SEO’s working together, then you will know that there are website design choices that have the ability to hurt organic website rankings. A design element on a website might look visually stunning but it could slow down the site or stop crawlers from seeing important site aspects for ranking purposes. Include all of the new age browsers that reduce clutter, hide ads, and protect privacy.

It takes a talented marketing and development team to construct a high-performing website, it’s important for web designers today to understand what they should avoid in order to stop teams from having to go back and change things that could have been better planned out in the first place.

Usability and holistic SEO

Not so long ago, website developers and SEO specialists worked in their own silos where the site would be designed and handed over for optimising.

Something was missing here though; user experience and usability. With the costs of hours going up and capacity going down, a more holistic approach was needed so that the results could be effectively tested and tracked and this approach required the focus to be on causes, not symptoms.

It can take a long time to gain an understanding of why rankings are fluctuating, why bounce rates are increasing, why web pages are being abandoned and why pages are performing poorly. Web design influences this heavily. If you have a bad UX or a difficult-to-follow structure then it will impact rankings and traffic interaction on the site. In order to stop this, everyone needs to work together to make something look beautiful and allow it to have the best chance to rank.

Which Practices Can Interfere With SEO?

In order to have the best chance to rank, a site needs to be crawlable, usable, readable, accessible and visible. If anything goes wrong with any of these elements, then ranking that website well becomes more difficult and even impossible. So, here are a few of the issues that SEO pros find that web designers are guilty of creating that impact negatively on their work

Website Navigation

There are many aspects of website navigation that are unintuitive and prevent users from having the best experience. These include:

  • Confusing or overpopulated hamburger and accordion navigation menus
  • Badly linking dropdown navigation elements which force users to choose one of the sub-categories and not the main category
  • Mega menus that are too big for certain devices to use properly or display off screen
  • Using search parameters rather than filters to create content categories

Poor onpage

There are technical elements of a site that must be done in the right way. These include:

  • Redirecting pages badly
  • Duplicating content
  • Incorrectly using noindex tag, robots.txt file and nofollow attributes on links.
  • Bad internal linking structures
  • Poorly designed navigation
  • Popups that cover important site information and functionality.
  • Coding elements in such a way that crawlers can’t see them or are asked to ignore them.

Uninspiring Design Features

There are many different design elements that are also unappealing to users and which may deter them from remaining on the site. These include:

  • Oversized images at the top of the page as you land.
  • Infinite scrolling, and even worse, with no button to take you back up.
  • Using font-awesome rather than SVG fonts
  • Failing to include an alt text option when images are uploading
  • Lazy redirects that don’t point to relevant pages
  • URLs session ids
  • If decisions about site redesigns have been made without taking analytics on board and by making decisions based on feelings or opinions rather than data
  • Sliders which slow the page down and which carry no title, alt-text or filename
  • Having the site’s logo as an H1 heading
  • Using H-hierarchy as a design element
  • Using slow client-side delivery
  • Automatically assuming responsive design will be the best mobile user interface
  • Failing to allow editorial or admin control of the page level search engine optimisation including canons, robots, and image alignment
  • Using robots.txt for indexation control


















Web design that frustrates web user makes a big impact on SEO and website performance. This can be entirely prevented by testing and studying trends or speaking to experts.

SEO and web development should always be done in conjunction to give your the best of both worlds. You want a website that will look amazing, function well and outrank your competitors.

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