During a recent Google Office Hours hangout session, an attendee asks John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, if changing a web design layout can affect a website’s search ranking. Unhestitantly, Mueller replies that web design layout changes can affect a site’s SEO search ranking. The reason for the possible effect on a website’s search ranking is that changing a website design impact’s a website’s HTML and CSS files and headings. These changes influence how Google crawls a website and interprets the context of the website content.
The initial question asked during the session:
“I recently changed the layout look and feel of my blog and moved away from WordPress. And now using Hugo static site generator for publishing my posts.
Does the change in layout impact my ranking and search results?
On a side note, there’s no change in the content and the URL structure. It’s still the same as before.”
“Changing the layout of your pages can affect your search results.
This is something that some people work on actively as well with regards to on-page SEO.
So things like figuring out how to use titles properly on a page, how to do internal linking properly, how to provide more context for the article itself.
All of this can definitely affect SEO.”
John Mueller continued his answer:
“So just because the… kind of the primary content like the blog posts that you have and the URLs themselves don’t change doesn’t mean that there’s nothing else around all of that, that search engines won’t be able to pick up on.
It can definitely affect SEO. And it can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing.
So it’s not that you need to avoid making these changes but rather when you make these changes make sure to double check that you’re kind of doing everything really well.”
To ensure that the new website design is intuitive for both online users and Googlebots, web developers need to design a robust information hierarchy and information architecture and use structured data so that Googlebots can read the website content easily and seamlessly. Once the website has been developed, webmasters can use tools such as Google Search Console to preview the website and double check to see if Googlebots can view the website content correctly.
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