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Google Suggests A Site’s Appearance Can Impact Rankings

Google’s John Mueller suggests that the visual presentation of a website can impact its visibility in search results.

Google Suggests A Site’s Appearance Can Impact Rankings

Google suggests the presentation of a business’s website may impact search visibility if it doesn’t meet a certain expectations for quality.

This was stated by Google’s John Mueller during the Search Central SEO hangout recorded on June 25, 2021.

In responding to a question about how to fix a gradual traffic decline, Mueller advises looking at different site elements that may affect visitor perception.

A general reduction in traffic, which is not related to any specific algorithm update, may indicate there’s an issue with the website’s quality.

The design of a website could be holding it back in search rankings, Mueller suggests, if it doesn’t meet users’ quality expectations.

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Here’s more from Mueller on how visitor perception of a website plays a role in search.

Google’s John Mueller On Importance Of Website Presentation

Mueller takes a question from a site owner who’s traffic continues to drop over an extended period. The site owner asks what the problem could be.

In his response, Mueller says it’s worth going over details which may seem unimportant to the site owner, but matter a lot to visitors.

“Sometimes those small differences do play a role in regards to how people perceive your website. If, for example, you have something that is on a financial topic and people come to you and say “well your information is okay but it’s presented in a way that looks very amateurish,” — then that could reflect how your website is perceived. And in the long run could reflect something that is visible in search as well.”

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To gain insight into how to improve a site’s presentation, Mueller recommends seeking independent opinions from unbiased sources.

He also mentions a Google blog post from 2019 related to core updates, which lists a number of questions site owners can ask themselves in regards to improving site quality.

As it relates to site presentation, the blog post lists the following questions:

  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them?

Site owners can ask users these questions as well, but they need to be prepared to take feedback objectively.

“Asking users those kinds of tough questions, and trying to take the answers they give you in an objective way, often leads you to finding things that you should be working on that might not be what you’re currently working on.

So that’s kind of the approach that I would take there. Try to get actual feedback from people and try to take action based on that.

Because sometimes if you’ve been working on a website for so long, it’s like it’s your baby, and you know which parts are good, and you’re very protective when someone comes to you and says it’s ugly, or the colors are bad, or something like that. But sometimes that’s what you need to hear.”

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It’s important to keep in mind that any changes made to improve the quality of a website can take a long time to be reflected in search results.

It’s a long term effort, and not something where you would see changes month over month.

Hear the full discussion in the video below:

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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