SEO News You Can Use: Changing Your Website Layout Impacts Your Google Search Rankings

SEO News You Can Use

For the longest time, it’s been believed that a website redesign can be undertaken without losing out on your hard-earned rankings and traffic. This rings especially true if you are careful not to change any of your content or your URLs. But in a recent Google Office Hours hangout with John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, we learned that your web design layout could directly affect your rankings in Search. 

The viewer who asked the question reiterated that his content and URL structure were unchanged, although his layout was updated and he moved to a different content management system (CMS). It’s often forgotten that whatever web design layout you choose will inevitably include design elements that directly impact your on-page SEO and, therefore, your ranking. So, in most instances, the answer to whether web design layout affects search results, rankings and traffic, is no. 

Here’s what Mueller said in response: 

“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.”

This question, the answer provided and the conversation around this topic bring to light many fallacies in the SEO community. For instance, SEO is not a one-dimensional exercise – there are many different types of SEO practices and advanced SEO tactics that all work towards boosting a site’s rankings. Also, on-page SEO doesn’t only comprise of content and correctly named URLs. Even when using web design templates considered primed for SEO, you will still need to make on-page and technical SEO adjustments. SEO success is only achieved when it’s an ongoing effort and you have consistent checks in place. 

Mueller continued providing insights into why you should expect changes when updating your website, saying: 

“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.”

Updating your web design and site layout is a big undertaking. In recent times, it’s proven necessary to have a good grip on managing an update or overhaul of your site. For instance, WordPress recently went through a major update and, in doing so, 50,000 sites were dramatically impacted and needed immediate attention. Also, sometimes sites need to be updated to suit various regulations or by-laws. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) calls explicitly for all websites to comply with accessible design standards. To do so may require a site design update or layout change, and in the course of making these changes, you need to check your optimization every step of the way. 

More SEO News You Can Use

Study Finds That Google is Rewriting Meta Descriptions: Portent, a digital marketing agency in Seattle, examined 30,000 keywords for a recent study and found that Google is rewriting meta descriptions up to 70 percent of the time. More specifically, Google rewrites meta descriptions on mobile about 71 percent of the time and on desktop at a rate of 68 percent. This study underpins the importance of meta descriptions and why SEOs need to get them right. Learn the specifics of meta descriptions to avoid a full rewrite. 

Google Has Announced Free Listings in its Shopping Tab for Everyone: Google has announced it’s bringing its free listings to the Shopping tab for all countries across Asia, Europe and Latin America. In April, Google opened up Google Shopping to free listings for American merchants, which extended to the main search results pages. Opening up this feature to all merchants globally elevates Google’s appeal to eCommerce sellers and their consumers. Paid ads will continue to function as per the norm. However, SEOs and marketers in the eCommerce sector can expect their organic product search optimization efforts to be boosted. This will take effect in the middle of this month. 

The Holiday Season is Upon Us, So Your Holiday Marketing Strategy Needs to Be Evaluated: As we enter the fourth quarter, digital marketers are re-evaluating past holiday marketing strategies. Tactics proven successful in previous years may not work out this year as we don’t know how consumers will approach the holiday season. Tyson Stockton, Director of Enterprise Services at Searchmetrics, has much to say on this matter. Listen to his idea for the best approach to executing your holiday marketing strategy in this Voices of Search podcast episode. 

How SaaS Companies Must Use SEO to Stand Out in the Saturated Marketplace: The software as a service (SaaS) marketplace has seen unprecedented growth this year, making it more difficult for companies in this sector to remain competitive. Basic SEO is not enough to beat the competition. SaaS companies need sophisticated search marketing tactics and robust optimization practices to ensure success. Here are three advanced SEO tactics for SaaS companies to consider if your ultimate goal is growth and success in this sector. 

Google Search Has Suffered Two Outages Recently: Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed in a Tweet that Google Search went through two outages over the past week. One affected mobile indexing and the other had to do with canonicalization impacting the handling of duplicate content and how it was being shown in the search results. Many SEOs reported dropped URLs and the community was scrambling to try and fix these issues. Search Engine Journal managed to find a fix – here’s what was discovered.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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