Flashy vs. Simple Websites: Does One Lead to Better SEO?

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It’s easy to get carried away when creating your website because A). Creating a website is fun, and B). There are tons of different options available when it comes to customizing your site.

However, it’s important to make sure that you don’t go overboard and create something confusing and overpowering. If your website is too complicated, you run the risk of scaring off readers (if the page will even load in the first place. If that isn’t enough to get you to stop downloading all of those plugins and upload those photos, consider your SEO. Simple websites often lead to better SEO.

Why Simple Websites Offer Greater SEO Benefits

When you have less to worry about on your website, it’s probably easier for you as a Webmaster to manage your SEO efforts and really make things happen. Aside from just having more time and thinking about other SEO factors you could perform, however, Google actually finds it easier overall to crawl simpler websites.

There are essentially two main reasons that simple websites fair better in the SEO game than the complicated ones:

  • Google Can’t Keep Up. Putting your actual SEO efforts aside, Google bots are not necessarily keeping up with all of the latest design and display technology. It’s hard to believe that Google would be behind on anything, but the truth is that this isn’t the first thing Google has on its mind. Their ability to understand and then crawl all of these new things just isn’t as fast as the rate at which they are developing.
  • Google Outlook on Big Brands. Google oftentimes will make changes because big brands figure a way around their system or they are not earning the rankings Google things they deserve because they are so popular. Michael Gray wrote about this topic in an article posted on his SEO website, Gray Wolf SEO and explained that when Google makes adjustments to their algorithm, it is us (the Webmasters) who will need to adapt. In the latest case, this means making websites similar.

As discussed above, Gray noted that the latest case of big brands getting their way dealt with none other than the infamous Apple. Here he discussed the recent case that sparked this discussion:

  • Apple Case. As we all know, Apple is one of the biggest brands and has some of the best visibility on Google. However, it wasn’t long ago that Google was having a hard time crawling Apple’s website, which led to direct links to apps missing from Google SERPs. This left a lot of people scratching their heads, and once the issue was fixed; it sparked the debate of simple vs. complicated websites.

What actually qualifies as a “simple” website is up for debate, but it certainly doesn’t mean that your website has to be void of color or cool fonts or quality graphics. A general rule of thumb is to make sure you’re not taking too many risks when it comes to the pages where customers can really convert. On your other pages, just use your best judgment (Hint: Tons of videos and fancy flash players might be a bit much).

Photo Credit: revandy.org

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a... Read Full Bio
Amanda DiSilvestro
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  • Lloyd Morgan

    Good to hear that google are lagging slightly. Might give some of us some time to catch up.
    The world of code writing continues to perplex me. But doesn’t stop me messing around with it in the hopes to actually improving our SEO and page optimisation. google to ofter moves and changes its boundaries. What could be positive one month may be hugely negative the next.
    Great blog. Well written. Thank you.

  • Amal Rafeeq

    I just hate Flashy websites. It might look wonderful for newbies, but for someone who does a lot of surfing, the simple websites are much more better. Flashy websites do look spammy too. That’s what I think.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  • Chris Stephens

    This is a perfect example of “Less is More.”

    Also, staying away from heavy graphics, animations, and flash, are great for page speed and user experience.

  • Brian Ahle

    This is my judgement aswell; simple is often better, as long the content is still quality and rich. Very good blogpost πŸ™‚

  • Jeremy Rivera

    “Simple” is not so simple to define! If you go “simple” and have a 1 page, minimalist site then you’re relying on brand, links and traditional marketing to give Google the topical relevance of your site yo!

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      Great point Jeremy! Can’t be too complicated but you can’t be too simple either!

  • Alex Montoya

    I enjoyed reading your post. Seems like we can win as long as we stick to less-is-more. A clean website with a white background, a horizontal header navigation teamed with a footer navigation tied in with a smart side bar and a site map page —– make life easy for the bots and the user.

  • Jeremy

    Great article, to me it really doesn’t matter what the site looks like SEO wise. If you build the site correctly and optimize it plus add a little white hat off site work, You’re going to rank in the top two pages 99% of the time.

  • Chris

    Interesting article. But i didn’t get it, is a site’s complex template a major thing to characterize the website as not a simple one?

  • Chris Irwin

    Thanks Amanda, I was just debating the merits of simple design with a client this morning. The best way I find to illustrate my point is to show them BIG brands that are very successful online in their niche that use simple design. as Steve Jobs said ” Simple can be harder than complex”

  • Johnboy

    Oversight here in the fact that the flashier website is more likely to attract natural links, which at the end of the day is the biggest factor.

  • Fervil

    Thanks for the insights Amanda. Judging up whether to put a fancy design for the site to make it a little more enticing or just keep it simple and not too “flashy” is a hard thing to do. If you’re having trouble with your page speed then you should minimize putting something on the site and troubleshoot the loading time. Creative designs are not worth it if your visitors cannot access the page in quicker period.

    By the way, anyone who can suggest plugins in wordpress to lessen page load time ? πŸ™‚

    • Alex Montoya

      Drop in the WP- SUPER CACHE and the dashboard will list several plug ins that can be used to lessen page load. Hope this helps.

  • Omar Sohail

    If you are referring to the level of aesthetics applied to a website and what I mean by that is have a nice combination of a theme coupled with a flexibility of navigation for the reader, won’t that help the reader?

  • micromax blog

    Great post indeed. I always prefer light themed websites over bulky ones as it’s easy to read, navigate and lots of other features. Good effort Amanda DiSilvestro