29 Website Design Elements That Kill Your SEO And Conversions

Everyone hopes to choose the right website design elements for creating a visually appealing website that’s easy to use. It’s common knowledge that good web design can boost sales and help with optimization. Yet, there are certain website design elements that could hurt your site. Using any of these negative elements could hinder your website’s ranking or conversion results. In this article, I’ve highlighted 29 of these website design elements that could harm your SEO and Conversion.

  1. Little to no content
    Having fresh, quality content is one of the most essential website design elements for SEO. Search engines always prefer sites that have a lot of original content they can index and crawl. This was proven in a study conducted by serpIQ that examined the top 10 search results for more than 20,000 keywords. Researchers found that pages showing up in the top 10 list for any keyword on Google had an average content length of 2,000 words.
  1. Excessive use of CSS and JavaScript
    Sure, you can spice up your website using scripts and third party add-ons. However, they’ll take too much precious time loading. Having a slow load time will drag down your search engine rankings and discourage users from converting.
  1. Tiny font size
    Nobody wants to squint while reading your page. Having smaller font size can reduce readability and result in low conversions. This was clearly seen in the case of Numara Software. The company received a 133 percent improvement in their conversions by increasing their font from 10 pt to 13 pt. 
  1. Dynamic websites
    Dynamic websites may be a great way to create an interactive interface for users, but they aren’t the best choice for SEO. It’s challenging to optimize these pages for search engines. Certain website design elements can cause problems with crawling. For instance, the long, non-keyword rich, constantly changing URLs are difficult to index.
  1. Wrong color choicecolor_choice_design
    Which colors you select can significantly affect your conversion rates. A simple color scheme change can draw in more traffic. Orange, yellow, and brown are usually the least desirable colors. The healthcare app CareLogger changed the button color from green to red. This quick makeover resulted in a 34 percent increase in landing page conversions.
  1. Flash elements
    Although Flash can be visually pleasing, too much of these complex website design elements can be bad for your SEO. Avoid making Flash an essential part of site usability because this can negatively affect usability. As a result, the page ranking could seriously flounder in Google. 
  1. Overused stock images
    You’ve probably come across stock images that are used in thousands of different websites. Although stock images are convenient, they don’t necessarily help your site. According to a study conducted by Visual Website Optimizer, real images outperform stock images with a 161 percent increase in conversions.
  1. “Hidden” contact information
    Of course, everyone knows you must have contact information on the website, but leaving hidden will spell trouble. Your address, phone number, email, and other contact information should be easy for users to locate. This helps with building customer trust. Making certain your website contacts are easily available can bring up your search engine rankings too.
  1. Slow-loading page
    [easy-tweet tweet=”Page speed plays a pivotal role in site usability and search engine optimization” user=”shane_barker” hashtags=”SEO, usability”]If your website loads slowly, users may simply click to a different site. Then, they’ll miss out on your excellent content and products or services. A delay of one second can reduce your conversions by seven percent!
  1. Excessive image use
    Images certainly draw in attention, but they must be chosen sparingly enough to not confuse website visitors. In relation to the previous point, too many images and visual website design elements can also slow your website down. Pages that are heavily filled with pictures and graphics usually have lower rankings.

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  1. Large header image
    You might mistakenly feel that a prominent header image is attractive and builds better site design. However, this isn’t really the case. Very large header images detract from content and slow down page loads. This can cause higher bounce rates that negatively affect your SEO.
  1. Improper error page
    404 errors are bad for your conversions. It can be even worse for SEO if you fail to take action on these pages. I recommend that you improve user experience by coming up with a fun, humorous 404 error page. Always include a link to the homepage and the previous page because this can save your conversion rate.
  1. HTML frames
    Although HTML frames are useful for dividing content on a page, they can damage your SEO too. These frames prevent search engines from indexing and crawling the website properly. Try to avoid using them if possible. Otherwise, switch to alternative website design elements like CSS and PHP. 
  1. Infinite scrollinfinite scroll
    Infinite scroll may work for sites like Facebook for delivering linear information in a never-ending story. Yet, this type of website design elements isn’t the best choice for most sites. In addition to overloading users with information, infinite scroll is a heavy element that makes page loads lag. 
  1. Auto-play features
    Letting videos, audio, or animation play automatically on your website can be distracting for visitors. How would you feel if you have to scramble to find the source of blaring audio that starts playing when you open a website. Auto-play features result in bad user experiences and thus lower conversion rates.
  1. Auto-sliders
    Along the same lines, auto-sliders likely aren’t the best addition to your site. Internet users like being in control, so using this feature could easily kill your conversions. According to a test on the Notre Dame University website, autostart image sliders or carousels aren’t effective for conversions. In fact, only the first slide received some interaction (approximately one percent).
  1. Banner ads and promo boxes
    [easy-tweet tweet=”Splattering your website with banner ads and promo boxes isn’t a smart move” user=”shane_barker” hashtags=”banner, advertisement”]These website design elements take up valuable real estate and could put you at risk for Google penalties. Your aim should be to focus visitors on your content so that they stay awhile and make conversions.
  1. Intrusive pop-ups
    Any kind of pop-up can kill your search engine ranking and conversion rates. Visitors don’t like ads and offers shoved in their faces. Instead, opt for light-box pop-ups to get users to subscribe or register. In the case of food craft blogger Nikki McGonigal, this improved conversions. She received over 7,000 additional subscribers over eight months with this method.

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  1. Site redirects
    Site redirects help in retaining extra online traffic, but they can do more harm than good if they’re set up incorrectly. For example, the page you’re redirecting to may skip the indexing process, which will negative impact search engine rankings. Opt for 301 redirects for SEO-friendly results.
  1. Content management systems
    Content management systems can be useful tools for managing the content on your site. But, many of them aren’t equipped with the website design elements necessary for SEO mark-up. This can be bad for rankings. 
  1. Large files/long download times
    If files on your website are too large, they’ll take longer to download. Having to wait endlessly for downloads will end up frustrating users. Smaller file sizes not only improve user experience, but also help in the indexing and crawling process for good SEO.
  1. Replacing important elements with images
    Images, when used properly, can optimize your page. However, avoid replacing important website design elements and content with images. If visuals are used as a primary form of navigation, search engines may treat them without realizing their functional meaning. This can significantly damage your ranking.
  1. Forgetting about breadcrumbs
    Don’t ignore the importance of leaving behind an easy-to-follow trail of breadcrumbs. It’s crucial for making your site more user-friendly. Also, breadcrumbs help search engines determine your site’s navigational structure for better indexing. 
  1. Improper video embedding
    You’ll only be able to engage your audience using video content if it’s properly embedded. Excessive video content won’t be the best way to optimize your website for search engines. This is especially true when you use custom Java media players, which Google can’t read.
  1. Geo-redirection
    Automatic geo-redirection is usually implemented by multi-language sites catering to different countries or regions. It can actually hurt your SEO though because it redirects away from the homepage. Try to get users to manually pick their locations instead.
  1. Ignoring heading tags
    [easy-tweet tweet=”A heading tag is an excellent way to visually emphasize your content” user=”shane_barker” hashtags=”contentmarketing, headings”]Did you know that heading tags also impact your SEO? Properly using H tags optimizes your content for search engines.
  1. Building an all-javascript site
    You’ve read earlier about how too much JavaScript can cause poor SEO and conversions. Some people take it even further by building an all-Javascript website. This will be next to impossible for search engines to index and crawl. Steer clear of too much JavaScript for keeping your rankings intact.
  1. Boring design
    [easy-tweet tweet=”Nobody likes going through a page that’s dull and lifeless” user=”shane_barker” hashtags=”UI, conversion”]Whether it’s in your usage of color, font, or content, always try to engage users by opting for lively website design elements. Pulse Agency helped improve the search engine ranking for a local upholsterer that previously had an all-Java site. The client’s domain authority increased from one to 16.
  1. New windows for outbound links
    Most users find pop-ups annoying, so it’s only natural that users will be turned off when new windows open for every outbound link on your website. Tabs exist for a good reason. Make use of them to create better user experience and conversions

Do you have more suggestions for website design elements that should be avoided to protect good SEO? Please share them with us below!Seo Marketing Consultant

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

24 Comments

  1. […] Everyone hopes to choose the right website design elements for creating a visually appealing website that s easy to use. It s common knowledge that good web design can boost sales and help with optimization. Yet, there are certain website design elements that could hurt your site. Using any of these negative elements could hinder your website s ranking or conversion results. In this article, I ve highlighted 29 of these website design elements that could harm your SEO and Conversion. Little to no content Having fresh, quality content is one of the most essential website design elements for SEO. Search engines always prefer sites that have a lot of original content they can index and crawl. This was proven in a study conducted by serpIQ that examined the top 10 search results for more than 20,000 keywords. Researchers found that pages showing up in the top 10 list for any keyword on Google had an average content length of 2,000 words. Excessive use of CSS and JavaScript Sure, you can shttp://shanebarker.com/29-website-design-elements-that-kill-your-seo-and-conversions/ […]

  2. Tom Watts 18-10-2015 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Shane,

    Very comprehensive list here. It’s important to note that it’s hard for small bloggers and beginners to optimize their sites for every single one of these. And to be honest, in most cases you’re not going to achieve perfection in every area.

    • Shane Barker 18-10-2015 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Hey Tom! I totally agree I created the list and there are certain areas that should be focused on first (i.e. low hanging fruit). You have to create a plan with short and long term goals.

  3. Saminu Eedris 19-10-2015 at 1:38 am - Reply

    Hello Shane,

    This is my first time here, i never knew breadcrumbs can be very helpful to my blog’s SEO, i will make sure to put it on y blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Shane Barker 19-10-2015 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      Awesome Saminu!

  4. Sam 20-10-2015 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Great post Shane.

    There’s a few on here that my clients insist on doing – it can be pretty frustrating.

    Still – I think you need to have a balance between usability and design.

    Breadcrumbs are a key point – I always use them, and search engines are even better at understanding them now that they can be marked up using Schema.

    • Shane Barker 20-10-2015 at 8:53 am - Reply

      A balance between usability and design is key! It can look great but it doesn’t convert or is easy to use, that is a problem.

  5. Patricia 20-10-2015 at 3:13 am - Reply

    Thank you!! That’s very true and useful

    • Shane Barker 20-10-2015 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Thanks Patricia!

  6. Francis Kim 20-10-2015 at 5:05 am - Reply

    It’s a nice list you have – some of these are I guess very easily overlooked

    • Shane Barker 20-10-2015 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Thanks Francis! Many are overlooked and that is why I put the list together. #TopOfMind 😉

  7. Jane Kryukova 20-10-2015 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Very good cheet sheat. Thank you, Shane. I would also add unreadable captchas to your list.

    • Shane Barker 20-10-2015 at 8:57 am - Reply

      Good one Jane! That is worst! I hate it when I have to refresh a captcha 100 times to find the one readable captcha! #DamnYouCaptchas 😉

  8. Mariachiara 26-10-2015 at 1:37 am - Reply

    Formatting content by bolding the most important words and concepts.

  9. […] 29 Website Design Elements That Kill Your SEO And Conversions […]

  10. Andrew 27-10-2015 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    This is all very informative. I will have to remember this advice. I recently started my own blog, and I am having trouble effectively monetizing, driving traffic, and earning money from it. This will be very useful information. Thank you.

    • Shane Barker 27-10-2015 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      The pleasure was all mine Andrew! Keep in touch my friend.

  11. Growth Hacks Top 10 29-10-2015 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    […] 29 Website Design Elements That Kill Your SEO And Conversions […]

  12. dragonspearl 02-11-2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    I thought HTML frames had been depreciated years ago, in light of the style sheet DIV class? This list reads like a web designers nightmare. It reminds me of all the mistakes I made when I thought I was smart enough and knowledgeable enough to build a web site on my own.

    • Shane Barker 03-11-2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

      I think we have all made similar mistakes in the past. #LessonsLearned

  13. Nicole 05-11-2015 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    This is some great information. I just love the look of your site – it is so much easier to take marketing advice from people who have perfect websites. Tiny font size has always puzzled me on website, I am so glad someone else has finally pointed it out! When you are talking about HTML frames being detrimental, does that include the new HTML5 framework?

    Thanks

    • Shane Barker 05-11-2015 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Hey Nicole! Yes tiny fonts suck! And no HTML5 Framework is all good. 😉

  14. Landon 10-11-2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Great read, and very interesting information. Another great tool for ensuring conversions are never lost is conversionlocker.com, which allows webmasters and website owners the freedom of knowing their contact forms are fully functioning 24/7. I think this could be a great tool for others to use.

    • Shane Barker 10-11-2015 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing Landon, I’ll have to check them out. 😉

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